Top 5 Procedures in Elementary Music

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a wandering child is in want of distraction. I wonder if Jane Austen ever wrote commentary on the social interaction and distraction of children. Leave just one thing to question, and you run the risk of classroom chaos.

Procedures are vital to classroom management.And as we all know, music teachers face unique challenges. These challenges include, but are not limited to: teaching from a cart, sharing supplies, back to back classes, and students being pulled out in the middle of class. The struggle is real. So, if we want to have any hope of maintaining structure, we need to implement and practice classroom procedures. Below, I’ve compiled my top five procedures, with a few tips sprinkled in for improving classroom management.



I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned to other adults that I had to teach procedures to my students. If I had, it would’ve probably gone something like this…

Me: I have to teach my students how to enter the music room.
Adult: *chuckling* Sure…
Me: No. Really…I do.
Adult: *blank stare*

As adults, we take for granted those things we learned as children, such as standing in line and walking (not running) in hallways. We forget that we ever had to learn those things at all. We may even forget why they’re important.

Teach your students to run on autopilot. Show them where to go and how to get there. You will probably need to practice this procedure several times at the start of the year. You’ll also need to review this procedure from time to time as the year goes on. Don’t allow the procedures to fade away into a puddle. It never hurts to practice procedures.

Practice makes permanent!
If you have back-to-back classes or limited transition time, put itunes on shuffle (from a steady beat playlist). Then, tell students to create their own non-locomotor movements to the music while you finish preparations. You may be surprised what they invent in the short time it takes you to get ready. Plus, it’s great steady beat practice. Download free movement vocabulary lists HERE


I always found exiting class to be a tricky procedure to implement. I spent the entire music class winding the kids up (so-to-speak), and then expected them to be presentable when their homeroom teacher arrived. I had to have activities ready that could be performed as students stood in line, while providing the opportunity to quickly get quiet once the classroom teacher arrived. Thus, the Sound Game was born.Β 

The homeroom teachers thought I was some sort of magician when I made the “freeze sound”. You can download the free game guide and read the details HERE


For every supply or instrument in the classroom, there was a procedure in how to get it, handle it, and put it away. It may seem like a waste of time to show your students how to carry instruments as they walk back to their spot. Trust me though, it will save you many bent Boomwhackers and broken pencils in the future.

My favorite way to teach proper handling of supplies and instruments was to stand in front of the class andΒ melodramatically handle everything incorrectly. The kids would always laugh, telling me that I was doing it wrong. Then, I would ask the students to show me how to properly handle the materials. They would call out answers, and I would model it for them. This gave them the opportunity to show that they understood the procedures.

Plus, you have a much better chance of the concept sticking if you’ve made the class laugh. Pretending to stick erasers up your nose is the height of comedy for some kids. I can’t imagine where I got the idea…


For transitions, I most often did steady beat activities or call/echo patterns. For example, I might ask the students to get in a circle by tiptoeing/hopping/jumping to the steady beat. Usually, I just played a steady beat pattern on whatever instrument was close by at the time. Or I might choose a piece from my steady beat playlist on itunes.

If they needed a short rest from physical activity, I would sing familiar Solfege patterns and ask them to echo back. If they needed extra focus, I would ask them to “name that tune” after they echoed.



My procedures for whole class discussions were simple: wait your turn and listen. I think it’s important to teach the art of conversation, which is that we don’t just hear what others are saying, we listen and genuinely think about what they’ve said. We should be responding to others’ ideas, not just closing ourselves off to our own thoughts.

I wanted them to understand that every voice deserves to be heard. Always.

What procedures do you find vital to your classroom management? Please share them with us in the comments below!

14 Responses

  1. This post is so awesome- I will definitely be sending new music teachers here from now on! Such good things to keep in mind starting out, and they are helpful reminders for us old fogies too! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing. #fermatafridays

  2. Great post!

    I also spend a lot of time with standing/ sitting/ posture.

    Preparing and practicing and reflecting on procedures is essential for sanity as an elementary teacher πŸ™‚

  3. I also teach procedures of when we have a firedrill/tornado/lock-down drill since they will get to practice these in their regular classroom. The neat thing we have is most of our students already know what to expect from us… I practice what to do when an adult calls me or visits our room. We discuss when to speak when others are in our room and when to ignore and continue our class. (I tell them the principal is there to see how well they behave in music class when I am being observed.) We practice using our manners with each other, yes, ma'am/sir, etc.(Shoo Turkey is a great song for that!) And we ALWAYS talk about audience manners. But we also have dance breaks that I call commercial breaks for transition that we practice.
    We are musicians… we practice everything!!! Why not procedures?!?!
    We really do have great jobs!!!

  4. Good list and very true! I also melodramatically models procedures incorrectly to get a laugh (glad I am not the only one!). I also ask them questions like "Should I throw my instrument? Should I hit someone with it?" If I don't say it, I can almost guarantee someone will do one of those.

    What do you do specifically to enter? I have trouble getting students to go straight to their spots and not waste time and walk around.

    1. They had assigned seats. I had my chairs in a horseshoe formation, so they stayed in the same line as they had in the hallway, and then just walked straight to their seat. We practiced it a few times, but since they didn't have to change from what they did in the hallway, they usually caught on pretty quick. Then, I would just have them move the chairs back against the wall when it was time to get up and move. Then, I'd save a few minutes at the end of class to put the chairs back. Once they'd done it a few times, they were quick about it, and I usually didn't have any issues. The bonus being that they were again ready to get in their usual line for the hallway πŸ™‚