Last Updated 08 Apr 2020

Music Classroom Management

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Classroom management is a challenge in any field. Effective classroom management in music classes or performance ensembles has the additional challenge of having to be able to encourage creativity and self-expression.  Gordon reflects that there are significant stress factors in music classes that it is critical that teachers develop all the necessary skills not only to ensure the artistic and educational value for students but also to endure that classes also fulfill teachers (162-164).

Considering these, music educators have to adapt standard classroom management skills to accommodate the nature of music as an expression and art (Moore et al 5-8). This entails an understanding of the students learning and performance, indicators of learning, manner of interaction and physical set up of the classroom. Those these factors are not the only ones to be considered, they are basic factors that are to be considered in any music classroom (Gordon 158-159).

Students Learning and Performance

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Music classes require greater participation form students not only in discussions but also in actual performance. Similar to a physical education class, performance serves as the students’ main means of participation but music students are still required to master knowledge as they would in a science or mathematics class. Therefore, students will need equal amounts of knowledge in literature to allow understanding of notations and technique whiles at the same time just as much instruction to translate it to actual performance (Moore et al 37-40).

According to the Teacher Vision sponsored article Strategies for Developing Basic Music Knowledge, this entails a child learning essentials of form in holding an instrument as much as learning to read notes. Both elements of learning are critical in music education which in a standard classroom for other disciplines may not be required as much. In other disciplines, there is a general inverse relationship between “book learning” and performance.

At the same time, much of the studying that students do for the class lies beyond the direct control of the teachers. Mastery is of knowledge or a piece must be translated by students into practice. It thus becomes even more critical that students are driven to develop positive learning attitudes in students because of the interdependence of learning and practice in student performance (“Discipline Strategies in the Music Classroom”).

Indicators of Learning

As mentioned, there is an equal emphasis on the theoretical and practical application of music learning. However, music teachers also give greater allowance to the manner of performance to accommodate technique or style. Since music is inherently an expression, there should be an expectation that there are variances to the performance (Moore et al 17-23). Though mastery either in performance or form is a common indicator of learning, it should be remembered that it is not universal. Since musical aptitude varies greatly from one individual to another, standards may be developed in a progressive scale (Gordon159-160).

After students learn the fundamental of music, the development of performance indicators becomes more challenging for music teachers. One suggestion for the qualitative indicators cites that learning in music must create value, allow for expression and be a tool for communication.

Teacher Vision suggests that is important that students be able to learn the value of musical learning which can be indicated by the reflection and insight students make from the lesson of musical piece (“Strategies for Establishing a Thinking Music Classroom”). Next, students should be encouraged to use the learning as a means of expression whether directly or indirectly. Finally, music should create a foundation for communication for students whether they are performers or not.

Manner of Interaction

Communication and interaction is one of the most important elements in any music classroom. Since feedback is critical in improving performance, teachers have to develop interactivity among students. This is to be done by developing a communication platform among students and with the teacher that can facilitate not proactive critique and reinforcement as well as encourage accommodation or assimilation of various styles and techniques (“Strategies for Making Music Happen”).

Though these are also critical in any standard classroom, music teachers have to develop this to a higher degree because of its significance in terms of encouraging expression and performance. This is even more critical in classes were there ensembles: in this scenario, individual students’ performances become only an element of the performance of the group (Moore et al 46-48). Students need to work more closely together or depend much more on each other’s performance and this in turn will require greater sensitivity in terms of managing friction among students (“Strategies for Making Music Happen”).

Physical Set Up

In a similarity to learning requirements, music classrooms must be set up to be conducive both to learning and performance wither individually or as a group. It should be helpful to develop specific sections of the room for specific uses or groups so that study can be done independently. Sectional divisions should be appropriately sized according to the needs of a section and ordered according to their association with other sections. These should also afford opportunities for collaborations as they may be needed (Moore et al 22-29).

There should be particular attention given to the care and safety of not only students but instruments. Since most schools also use the music classroom to store or maintain instruments, a portion of the room should serve not only as warehouse. At the same time, there should be common area for performance or instruction. The common areas also serve as cohesive factor for the class (“Discipline Strategies in the Music Classroom”).

Works Cited

“Discipline Strategies in the Music Classroom”. Teacher Vision. 16 April 2007. <>

Gordon, Debra G. Discipline in the Music Classroom: one component contributing to teacher stress. Journal Music Education Research (2001) Volume 4, Number 1. Pages 157-165

Moore, Marvelene C., Batey, Angela L.,Royse, David M. Classroom Management in General, Choral and Instrumental Music Programs. The National Association for Music Education, 2002

“Strategies for Developing Basic Music Knowledge”. Teacher Vision. 16 April 2007. <>

“Strategies for Establishing a Thinking Music Classroom”. Teacher Vision. 16 April 2007. <>

“Strategies for Making Music Happen”. Teacher Vision. 16 April 2007. <>






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