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Tompkins Cortland Community College

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Using Music in the Classroom

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Strategy Rationale

--Using music in our classes and learning environments has several benefits, such as promoting a relaxed emotional state, stimulating the brain to be creative, or aiding in memory formation. Click here to see a full discussion of the use of music to enhance learning.



CD or tape player
CD's or cassette tapes



It's important to select music appropriate for the learning activity in the classroom. The following list is not intended to be complete, but rather to give examples of types of music that can be used effectively.

Opening music
Relaxation, Concentration or Visualization

Breaks and Transitions

Community Building

Background music for concentration, quiet activities

Brainstorming or Creative Problem Solving


End of Session

Personal Favorites


To begin a learning session, use lively, cheerful music:

Divertimentis, Mozart
Thus Sprake Zarathrustra (2001 Theme)

Blue Danube, Strauss

Fantasia, Disney

Suites for Orchestra, Bach

Toy Symphonies, Haydn

Musical Joke, Mozart

Desert Vision and Natural States, Lanz and Speer

Bolero, Ravel

Well-Tempered Clavier, Prelude in D Major, Bach

Hungarian Dances, Brahms

Movie Soundtracks:

Chariots of Fire

ET, Rocky

Lawrence of Arabia

Born Free

Dr. Zhivago

Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oklahoma

All James Bond 007 soundtracks

To create a relaxed atmosphere or for visualization activities :

Silk Road, Kitaro
All recordings of Daniel Kobialka

Sea Peace, Georgia Kelly

All four of the " Seasos" recordings, George Winston

All recordings, Steven Halpern

Trois Gymnopedies, Eric Satie

Barefoot Ballet, John Klemmer

Classical guitar

Classical piano music

To signal a break or transition from one activity to another:

Hooked on Classics, Philadelphia Harmonics
1812 Overture, Tchaikowsky

William Tell Overture, Rossini

Peanuts Theme, Giraldi or Benoit

Rawhide Theme

To accompany community building activities (ie., get to know each other activities):

Disney soundtracks
Hap Palmer songs

Hokey Pokey

Million Bottles of Beer

Camp songs--ie., She'll be Coming Around the Mountain

As background music (using low volume):

Divertimento for Strings, K. 136, Mozart
Four Seasons, Vivaldi

Water Music, Handel

Brandenberg Concertos, Bach

For brainstorming and creative problem solving:

Piano Concerto #5, Bethoven
Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky

Etudes, Chopin

Claire de Lune, Debussy

Piano Concerto # 26 & 27, Mozart

To celebrate:

Three Dog Night, Celebrate, Madonna
We will Rock You, We are the Champions, Queen

Grand March from Aida, Verdi

The Creation and the Seasons, Hayden

Celebration, Kool and the Gang

Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah, Handel

Fanfare for the Common Man, Arron Copeland

Rocky Theme, Bill Conti

Theme from Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark

To end a session:

What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
Theme from Happy Days

Happy Trails, Roy Rogers

These suggestions are a compilation of suggestions from Rhythms of Learning (Brewer & Campbell), Joyful Fluency (Dhority & Jensen), and Super Teaching (Jensen)

Peronal favorites (CD sets I've enjoyed using):

Music for Concentration, Advanced Brain Technologies (Availabe from the Brain Store)
Music to De-Stress, Advanced Brain Technologies (Availabe from the Brain Store)

Music for Productivity, Advanced Brain Technologies (Availabe from the Brain Store)

Music to Relax, Advanced Brain Technologies (Availabe from the Brain Store)

Music for the Mozart Effect, Spring Hill Music

Music for Accelerated Learning, Steven Halpern, Open Channel Sound Co.

Mozart Morning Meditation, Phillips Classics Productions

Mozart on the Menu, Phillips Classics Productions

Mozart for Your Mind, Phillips Classics Productions

Music for the Spirit, Domo Records

Classical Music for your Active Lifestyle, Delta Music, Inc.


*While music can promote brain activity that enhances learning, it is important to value the unique learners in our classrooms when we use music. For some, it may be distracting or interfere with learning. We need to be sensitive to the needs of all of the students in our classes. Ask for feedback from the students on your use of music.

*Music should be used judiciously. Brewer and Campbell (1991) recommend that music be played no more than 30% of the instructional period.






We suggest using music to enhance the learning experience in many of our learning activities. Annette has compiled this list to assist teachers in selecting the most appropriate music for their particular situation.

As always, whenever we use music, we need to be sure that we are considering the three components of our model and that the music does in fact promote learning.



Click here to email Annette questions, comments, and suggestions.

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Click here to read more about our model.