Integrating Music Across Subject Areas

Adding Music to Every Subject

Music is not just for music class! In fact, several studies have shown that when we work to integrate music across all subject areas, our brains are more engaged and more easily able to remember content. Music can be such a powerful tool in the classroom, so here are some easy ways to incorporate more music into your day–no matter what subject you’re teaching!

General

  • use music as a signal to transition between center rotations
  • use music as a timer (think ‘Jeopardy’ theme song)
  • brain breaks (especially Go Noodle)
  • mnemonic devices to help students memorizes lists, facts, and more 
  • have a classroom dance party to celebrate accomplishments
  • use the rhythm game to practice student names
  • work together to create and record your very own class song!
  • sing a song to teach the days of the week (sung to the tune of ‘The Addams Family’)
  • play a song to signal it’s time to clean up at the end of the day
  • write your own lyrics to well-known tunes like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”,  etc. to memorize content

History/Social Studies

  • Use videos of battle marches to teach about the American Revolution or the Civil War
  • Teach about the Great Depression using Woody Guthrie songs
  • Play ragtime tunes to introduce students to the changing times at the turn of the last century
  • explore the nuances of the tunes sung by enslaved African Americans and how they communicated important messages
  • play Native American traditional music when learning about a certain tribe
  • have a ‘country of the week’ and play songs from that country
  • Sing “50 Nifty United States” to teach students about our states
  • rap the names of the former presidents
  • collaborate to write a musical about history

Art

  • play a song and have students draw what they feel the song communicates
  • discuss how different pieces of music make you ‘feel’ different colors, textures, or temperatures
  • create “joined art” (make a painting or sculpture and pair it with a piece of music)

Science

  • make a “thunderstorm” by rubbing hands together, snapping fingers, and slapping your thighs
  • explore how different frequencies of music make water dance
  • explore how different volumes of music make affect water in a glass

Language Arts

  • Use music to make the environment calm for writing time
  • encourage students to interpret poetry through freestyle dance
  • teach the parts of a story (exposition, rising action, climax, resolution) using music like Peter and the Wolf
  • have students listen to clips of music and explore how tempo, volume, and different instruments could signal different parts of the story
  • Use instruments to enhance engagement during Reader’s Theater 
  • use songs to teach letter names and sounds
  • sing rhyming poetry
  • read rhyming books (like those by Dr. Seuss) in a rap
  • read books about well-known composers and play their creations in the background

Math

  • teach fractions using music notes
  • use songs like “Five Little Ducks”, “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”, and “Ten in the Bed” to teach basic subtraction
  • count music notes in a line of music (either played or read)
  • use music to teach and practice making and recognizing patterns
  • use notes to practice number order (have students arrange from lowest note to highest)
  • arrange instruments from biggest to smallest
  • explore the relationship between instrument length and pitch, then graph it together

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Amy is a recent college graduate and now an elementary school teacher. She loves getting kids excited about learning and fostering their love for reading. Her other love is linguistics and she has enjoyed several experiences teaching English both in the States and abroad. Amy is a foster parent, avid traveler, tea drinker, and left-handed writer who hopes to author a few novels someday.

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