In this blog post, I will be sharing my favorite tips on “how to set up your music classroom for maximum effectiveness.” Every music teacher has different classrooms with different resources available to them, and some have no classrooms at all. Teaching is done a lot by trial and error and so is figuring out the best way to arrange your classroom so that maximum learning takes place.
1. Setting up your classroom
I want to start by going over the things MOST music classrooms will have. You will have your desk, chairs, a rug, or risers for your students, a variety of instruments (which I will discuss how to store on #2), maybe some books, a smart board, and maybe 1-2 student computers. For me, it took several years to figure out my favorite and most efficient way to arrange my classroom.
Front of the room
Since I started teaching in 2004, my school had music books (that I rarely use because they were from when the dinosaurs roamed the earth) so I set those on a rolling cart right by the door where the students come in. I have two student computers that I set on a table at the front of the classroom that I use on Fridays when I do centers. Most of my visual aids, bulletin boards, and procedures are at the front of the room so students can see them most of the time. Then, the smart board is usually right at the front, unless you want to store it at the back until you need to use it.
Back of the room
My desk is set to the back of the room as well as the risers. Students sit on a carpet, unless they are playing a drum when they will sit in a chair. The instruments are stored in the back of the room, as described below. My main goal is to make sure the students have plenty of space to move and create and to make sure the classroom stays open. So, the middle of the classroom will have tons of space and the sides, front, and back, is where all the “stuff” you need to teach will be.
2. Instrument storage
When I got my first teaching job, I was handed the keys to a classroom with barely any instruments. The instruments I did have available to me were falling apart. It was through grants and stipends that I was able to slowly build up a nice supply of instruments. So, IF you are lucky enough to have rhythm instruments, I want to share my favorite instrument storage ideas. For the larger drums, set them by a wall in your classroom so they are out of the way until you are ready to use them. For the smaller drums or any other rhythm instrument (rhythm sticks, maracas, guiro, tambourine, etc), organize them into bins or boxes that are easily accessible to your students. If you have bookshelves in your classroom, this is the perfect place to store these. For the melodic instruments, I know every teacher arranges these differently in their classroom. For me, I like to keep them set up on one side of the classroom so all I have to do is tell a student to walk to that particular instrument and it is already set up.
3. Teaching materials
Any of your curriculum, teaching materials, lesson plans, and videos or CD’s will be best placed behind your desk. Hopefully you will have some bookshelves to put your materials on. I like to keep my curriculum organized by subject matter so if I’m teaching a lesson and I need to grab an idea real quick, I know where to look.
How do you like to organize your classroom? Do you have any ideas to share that I didn’t mention? I would love to hear about it!
If you are a parent, student, or teacher who wants to learn more about music, connect with other musicians, or wants to post their latest videos of what they’ve been working on, I would love for you to join my Facebook group Music Education Connection. Collaborate, learn from each other, and grow new friendships. This is a place to receive encouragement, positive feedback, and to ask questions.