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Classroom Management: Music Can Enhance Lessons

Janelle Cox

Have you ever noticed what music can do to your mood? If you crank up your favorite tune when you’re unhappy, it can increase your mood and energy, or if you listen to soft classical music it can help you to relax, focus, and concentrate. There’s no denying that music can have a powerful effect on us. Research has shown for years that music is the catalyst when people want to change moods. So what does science have to say about listening to music as part of our classroom management? Can this form of classroom management help or hinder our students’ learning?

Classroom Management: The Mozart Effect

In the 1990s, Dr. Gordon Shaw developed a theory called the Mozart Effect. The idea suggests that listening to Mozart (or other classical music) will enhance mental function. While the results have proved controversial, many theorists suggest there is something to this idea. In fact, one study found that when children listened to music that they felt was enjoyable, it had a more positive effect on their cognitive capabilities.

What about performing tasks in the classroom while listening to music? Some studies are saying that music can also be distracting. One study found that students who didn’t listen to any music scored better on their reading task than the students who listened to hip hop or classical music. The students listening to hip hop or music that was louder actually had a harder time concentrating on their task and performing well. What we can take away from this information is that music that students feel is enjoyable can have a positive effect on their mental capabilities. However, if it’s too loud or aggressive, it can be distracting.

Music as Stress Relief

Music has been known to aid in the reduction of stress. One thing all students can agree upon is that school can be stressful at times. Luckily, music can be the medium to help students reduce these stressful feelings that may arise in the classroom. According to psychologists, self-selected music can have a calming effect on a person. Listening to soothing, relaxing music can not only reduce negative emotions but help to increase positive emotions. Therefore, listening to soft music in the classroom when the students stress level is high can be a useful stress management strategy.

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Music as a Stimulant

If you’ve ever needed a pick-me-up, you may have turned up the radio to help increase your energy and mood. A stimulating song can help boost your motivation to tackle cleaning the house or finish a project. Marathon runners use pop music to help boost their performance. This is because energizing music engages the body’s sympathetic nervous system. The right uplifting tune can pump you up and give you the energy that you need to keep going. Sometimes putting on some stimulating music in the classroom can be just the thing to help boost your students’ energy. Next time you see your students are in a slump, give them a brain break and turn up the tunes for a few minutes. You’ll see their mood and energy increase in no time.

Music to Master Concepts

Have you ever turned the radio on and heard a song from your childhood and realized that you still knew every single word to the song? Music has a way of embedding in your head and your heart. Songs that you thought you’ve long forgotten have a way of staying in your brain. If you can remember a song from 20 years ago, then don’t you think music can have a huge impact on helping your students learn important concepts now? Children are sponges, and it usually doesn’t take them long to pick things up. Music can be used to help teach any subject. It can help students retain a new language, learn important facts or dates, or even serve as the main lesson. There’s no limit to using music to master concepts.

What teachers can take away from this information is that music can have a major effect on not only a students’ mood and energy level, but how they feel and learn. Listening to enjoyable (not loud) music in the classroom can help students de-stress, while listening to upbeat music can help increase their energy, motivation, and mood. Music can also help students learn and retain information better. Overall, music is a strategy worth exploring.

Do you allow students to listen to music in your classroom? Please feel free to share your classroom management thoughts and opinions on this topic in the space below, we’d love to hear what you have to say.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com