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Using musical instruments in the classroom

Establishing routines

It is most certainly the case that children love the experience of playing musical instruments and that this is an essential part of thinking and acting musically. It is also the case that getting instruments out in the classroom can be daunting from the teacher’s perspective. It is therefore important that the teacher develops the confidence that this can be done in a productive and orderly way and that they also have confidence in the routines they establish.

The establishment of routines and expectations are essential, particularly when working with big groups in productively noisy spaces. As well as having routines for getting instruments in and out, you need to find ways of getting attention back to you without straining your voice. In some classrooms such routines are already well established at other points in the school day; for example, having a particular rhythm that children clap back and ‘copying’ games tapping parts of the body to get children to focus or at transitional points in lessons to change the energy, mood or pace. Whether or not these are useful within a music lesson depends upon the context. You need to establish routines that are negotiated, embedded, understood and can be heard above other productive musical sound in the classroom.