How to Design the Perfect Classroom for Little Music Learners
What kind of world do students enter when they walk into your classroom? The way you set up your room sets the tone for what’s ahead! Arranging a music room entails far more than simply deciding where things should go. You’ll need to find a way to make sure everything is arranged in a way that’s organized, logical, appealing and inviting! Let’s take a look at the essentials!
One of the best ways to turn your classroom into a really special space for students is to choose a theme. You can make the walls of your classroom serve as a living homage to musical greats of the past. Additionally, you can hang posters and artwork representing the best musical shows and performances of all time. A theme is a great way to weave inspiration right into the fabric of your classroom. Here’s a quick rundown of some fun, engaging themes:
- Letters of the alphabet using instrument names.
- Animals playing instruments that sounds like the noises they make.
- Famous operas.
- Famous musicians.
- Famous composers.
- Instruments by country.
- A musical period in time.
- A single genre like jazz, classical or contemporary.
You can collect or make artwork or decorations that represent your theme before class begins for the year. You can also make it fun by having the class participate in building your theme. This can be done by simply having the class vote on a theme on the first day of school. Next, the first homework assignment is to bring in some type of visual representation of that theme!
A Large Bulletin Board With Classroom Current Events and Essentials
Confusion is the enemy of creativity in a music classroom. Students should never have to guess about when assignments are due, when performances are scheduled and when meeting times are changed. That’s why it’s so important to keep a very large and visible bulletin board in a spot where everyone can access it easily. Of course, it will be your job to make sure the bulletin board is always updated with the latest information regarding all things pertaining to your class!
Your class board should also have all class rules and expectations posted clearly! This is also a place to put all procedural and contact information. A bulletin board is simply a great resource for making expectations clear and keeping everyone on the same page!
A “Local Happenings” Board
This next suggestion is actually something that can fit nicely right outside the door to your classroom. The best way you can support the arts as a teacher is to share live and local events happening within your state, town and community. You can maintain a board that showcases upcoming shows and performances that will be coming to town for all who pass by your door! That means that students, teachers and parents will all be inspired to attend local events that support your local arts scene. As you know, the biggest obstacle to keeping a thriving local arts scene is a lack of knowledge regarding what’s out there!
A Designated Spot for Teaching Materials
A classroom can become a very messy and chaotic spot just a few weeks into the school year. Unfortunately, most teachers are familiar with the fact that teaching materials can get misplaced or ruined rather easily once people are coming in and out of the classroom. Music classrooms are particularly vulnerable to chaos because instructors and students are frequently moving around chairs or making room for in-class performances. You really need a designated area where all teaching materials can be placed. You may even find that you need a locked cabinet that ensures your materials are never moved around or discarded by accident.
Music is often infused with movement. It’s so important to have plenty of open space within your classroom to ensure that students have room to perform without being “stifled” by a crowded feeling. Try to create a “stage” area near the front of the classroom that offers open space for the instructor to demonstrate. It’s also important to leave plenty of room for moving around chairs and instruments without the need for lots of shuffling. It is often necessary to move seats quickly when students partake in partner exercises or groupings.
A Large Carpet
A large carpet can provide a perfect space for students to sit and watch demonstrations. A carpet is especially useful for a classroom with young learners. In fact, the very act of getting on the carpet symbolizes the act of transporting to a space of focus and learning for little students.
Why does a map belong on your classroom wall if you don’t teach geography? The answer is that music is the universal language! This is precisely why you’re going to want to keep track of the places you “visit” musically throughout the year. It’s a great idea to try to integrate one international song or musical tradition from a foreign culture into your music plan each week. Make sure you’re marking the map each time you cover a country or region. Your students will be able to look back at an entire year of cultural learning at the end of the year!
Never underestimate the importance of storage in a music classroom! There’s a very good chance that you’re going to “run out” of storage space by the middle of the year if you don’t plan wisely. A generous donation of new equipment or grant for instruments can fill your classroom up pretty quickly! Here’s a look at some easy storage and organizational tips for music teachers:
Place smaller instruments like maracas, tambourines and rhythm sticks in smaller bins or boxes that can be stacked.
Use bookshelves to store melodic instruments. The different tiers of a bookshelf can be used for different classes.
Put larger instruments like drums in any closet space that’s available. Take advantage of corners to store large instruments if closets are not available.
Bring in lockers for fragile or expensive instruments if closet space is not available.
The big thing to keep in mind is that you want instruments to be accessible for students at the start of each lesson. Setting things up so that you’re wasting valuable time at the start of each class session just to get instruments out can eat away at valuable lesson time! Don’t forget to ask parents to donate any shelves or lockers they can if you’re struggling to find places to safely keep instruments stored.
A Special Section “Away” From the Music
As all teachers know, some students have sensory issues that can make a music classroom a stressful setting. These feelings can often creep up without warning. Of course, it can be embarrassing for a student to raise their hand to ask to be excused from a classroom. Research finds that sensory processing disorders affect 5 percent to 16 percent of school-aged children.
One of the most valuable features a modern teacher can add to a music classroom is simply a “quiet” area where students can sit when they need a moment to be outside of what’s happening. A soft chair with noise-canceling headphones that faces away from the class is really all that’s needed to create a comfortable space for an overwhelmed student. You can simply refer to this area as the “thinking corner” when introducing it to a class. Make it clear that all students are able to utilize this space on a no-questions-asked basis when they need a moment to think or decompress. Having this space within your classroom is a good alternative to sending a student to the main office or phoning a parent. In fact, you will be able to continue your lesson seamlessly while a student gets the relief they need.
Is Your Classroom Ready for the Modern Student?
The music you’re exposing your students to is timeless. However, modern students have some pretty specific needs. Make sure you’re designing a classroom that encourages clarity and creativity within the learning process. A very clean, organized space that offers the perfect mix of inspiration and instruction can awaken a true love for music! Putting some thought into the kind of environment your classroom is creating is the easiest way to start the year on the right note!
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