There’s a longstanding perception among some educators that using music in the classroom can be a distracting addition that can detract from your ability to effectively engage in classroom management practices. The fact of the matter is, however, that this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, music can be integral to a number of useful purposes in your classroom.

Whether it’s finding new ways to integrate creative curriculum into your lesson plans or setting the perfect mood for a test, project, or study period, you might be surprised at how effective strategic implementation of music into your classroom can work out to be. Try these tips for finding new ways to use music in your instruction.

Controlling an environment

Sometimes, music can give you that extra boost that you need to establish a specific sort of learning environment in your classroom. In fact, as Super Simple Learning points out, it can be a valuable tool in making clear that your classroom is welcoming to new students. It’s reasonable to assume that there’s a fair amount of stress, anxiety and expectation in students upon entering a new class or academic year.

This is particularly true in the case of younger elementary school students. Try playing some lighter, age-appropriate music when students enter your room for the first time. While it may not pose a huge benefit to all of your pupils, it certainly won’t serve as a detriment to their experience, and it is bound to cause many of them to feel more at home. If you experience positive results with this throughout the first few days of the year, then you may want to try it for the first few minutes of most of your class periods. You can explain to your students that the song at the beginning of class is for them to enjoy while they get settled but the music signals it’s time to be ready for class work with the song ends..

Humanizing you and your students

Anyone would be remiss not to mention the incredible power of music to allow individuals to express themselves. What we listen to and what we enjoy can tell other people a lot about ourselves, and we can use these preferences to establish a simple way to get to know one another. As Edutopia has indicated sharing some of your musical preferences with your students may humanize you more in their eyes, which can be integral towards building their respect for you as a person and not just an educator.

If you’re looking for a fun way to allow your students to get to know one another better, try making a game out of this dynamic. For example, you could have each student submit a song and, at the end of each week, play one of these at random and have the class guess on whose song it was. You can include one of your own picks in the mix to add to the fun. One tip: make sure that you’re screening the songs for subject matter and language before playing them for the class, so as not to allow for any inappropriate material to be distributed.

Integrating music into lesson plans

Of course, music can also be used to enhance your existing lesson plans. If you’re teaching a history lesson, try finding music from that time period to share with your students. Have them ponder the ways in which that music differs from what we listen to today. You’ll be surprised at some of the parallels that they draw between the past and the present.