Friday, June 28, 2013

Music in the Classroom

Last week I went to a Kagan workshop on cooperative learning. It was fabulous! I'm actually excited to go back to school, which usually doesn't happen until August. 
One of the many things that Kagan is big on is using music in the classroom. When I taught kindergarten, I used music all day everyday.  My favorite time to use music was for transitions.  I would usually pick one song for coming to the rug, one song for changing groups, and one for other transitions such as getting ready for lunch and getting ready to go home.  I would change these songs around about once a month, mostly so the songs went along with what we were learning, so the kiddo would memorize new skills with new songs.

Dr. Jean was what I played most in my K classroom. I have most of her CDs, but Just for Fun, Sing to Learn, and Totally Math were my favorites.
I also used music at quiet times, like when students returned from recess, to settle students down. This was usually classical music or Rockabye Baby! (nursery music inspired by rock music like Led Zeppelin and the Cure). And, of course, I would sing the "Clean Up Song" (although, according to my daughter, not as beautifully as the first grade teacher).
After I was switched from K back to 2nd, I stopped using music altogether, except for occasionally for celebrations (either parties or because everyone did well on a test or assignment).  I didn't even realize I all but quit using music until I went to this workshop, and I started to wonder why I stopped. I guess it's because the music I had was too babyish for my second graders, so it all got packed up and stored with my K stuff.  Since I didn't have any CDs out to use, I just stopped using music altogether. :(

At Kagan workshops they always have a store of tons of fun Kagan stuff you would love to buy in the back.  One of the fun things I bought myself was two Kagan Music for the Mind CDs.
This is music with no words or familiar beats. It has 60 beats per second and is to use when students are working independently.  Their CDs are all by a composer named Gary Lamb, but I know there are also Mozart CDs similar to this as well.

I also wanted some fun music for when students came in/mixed into cooperative groups and some transition music.  The weekend after the workshop I found a $5 CD at Walmart of "Party Music" that I picked up for fun music.  It has songs like Rockin' Robin and Celebration on it.
This is similar to the one I got.
However, my super (cheap) CD has a couple songs that are inappropriate for school (such as Fight for Your Right to Party: awesome song...but not in the classroom). So I'll use these songs one at a time, but I want something fun that I can play continuously sometimes. So I got to thinking...

One website I love that I've been using since college is This website allows you to create your own playlists of music and access it from any computer that gets Internet. I decided to make a transition playlist and a couple of classroom playlists here.
*Although I loved this website, they changed it to a online radio website a few days after this original post. Do any of you have a suggestion of a website that allows you to create your own playlists online from a large variety of music and listen to it anywhere there is Internet?
I started wondering about what I should use for transition music, so I visited a few websites.  This was my favorite:
It laid out the basics, and he includes a link to each song. The teacher discussed what he used each song for.  I love how he used each song to signal different management strategies, such as getting ready for lunch, putting a certain heading on a paper, and when to return to their seats.

So now I'm off to add music to my playlists. How do you use music in the classroom? What songs are your students' favorites (besides what's popular right now, which always seems to be what my students want to hear)?


Here are some other websites to check out:

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