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Classroom Music

  • 1.  Classroom Music

    Posted 08-20-2019 11:27 AM
    I'm wondering what kind of music teachers play in birth to five classrooms. Do you use music made for children, or listen to adult music and stations, such as oldies. I want to ensure that children are exposed to different rhythms and musical cultures, but there are a lot of music made for children that has this diversity. I've tried to look for research on this with no luck. Can anyone help me with this?

    Suzea Millerhebert
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    New Orleans LA

  • 2.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 12:02 AM
    New Orleans is one of my favorite cities!!! You have amazing music there! My husband is a musician and music (orchestra) teacher. I use kid's music, Praise music (I'm in a parochial school), classical music, and jazz. I'm not a huge fan of rap, and I always make sure the lyrics are appropriate. I think it's important to expose children to all genres of music.

    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI

  • 3.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-22-2019 09:08 AM
    One more suggestion to the list of wonderful suggestions here.  When I was teaching in the classroom I often played one of my favorite musicians, Angelique Kudjo.  The children--any age, every year--loved to dance to her songs and sing as they danced,  They especially loved the songs Afirika and Tumba from the album Black Ivory Soul.  She sings in English, French, Swahili, Yoruba, and several other African languages.  I highly recommend playing many kinds of music from many places, not only music labelled as children's music, though you'll find a lot of wonderful children's music also.  Have fun listening!

    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA

  • 4.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-23-2019 08:16 AM
    Typo in my previous post:  Angelique Kidjo is correct.

    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA

  • 5.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-22-2019 10:11 AM
    It's so wonderful that you are playing music for children!  I agree with many of the responses you've already received.  Variety is important and ALL music is appropriate, as long as lyrics are appropriate.  I would also encourage you to use instrumental music as much as possible, for 2 reasons.  One is that children hear music (songs) with lyrics most of the time so this expands their "musical vocabulary."  The other is that children become so language focused (a good thing!) that when they listen to music with lyrics they typically focus on the lyrics and not the music.  Let me know if you'd like some research references for that.  So playing instrumental music, with no lyrics, and singing to children without lyrics on occasion is important to their musical development.  Another source for interesting and quality music is the Come Children Sing institute:

    I hope this is helpful to you!

    Joanne Rutkowski
    Professor Emeritus, Music Education
    The Pennsylvania State University
    State College PA

  • 6.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-22-2019 10:31 AM
    I am also in the NO area, and I would agree that we have lots of music options to share with children of all ages.  Johnette Downing is a wonderful local resource with several terrific albums and books made from songs.  Her first and second albums, Music Time and From the Gumbo Pot were staples in our infant classroom, and her later albums explore more interesting rhythms, incorporate scarf games, and introduce a variety of musical genres.  She also is very active on the local performance scene and often offers free concerts through the libraries and the tourism board.
    Putamayo also has some great compilations of music from around the world (including a wonderful New Orleans CD) that range from lullabies to faster rhythmic and dancing music.  They are great as background or for use with activities. We will often just have the radio on, as well, either for classical or "easy listening" music.  The teachers enjoy being able to sing along and the variety of tempos can mix up the action in the room.

    Holly Dalferes
    George Cottage at St Martin's Episcopal School
    Metairie LA

  • 7.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 03:53 AM
    Dear Suzea Millerhebert,
    Exposure to a variety of music types during early childhood has been found beneficial across multiple developmental domains time & time again!  This is true for music created for children specifically and also music made for a general audience. You are correct that playing  music that varies in rhythm, tone, & cultural background is an essential ingredient to helping children develop their ability to recognize pitch & tempo- seeing adult caregivers making music, and being allowed to sing & play along are two more pieces critical for primary musical development. Ideally, young children should have a chance for musical play every day! One great source for research in this area is Music Together. Their teacher training is an amazing resource and rich in DAP and guided play. The program is research-based, and includes songs carefully selected to be multicultural, and expose children to different tones and rhythms, helping them develop their "inner ear."  You can find the Music Together app online, even without enrolling in a class, the app has great songs to share!
    Another wonderful source for research on music in early childhood is NAEYC! Just search the topic and you will find many great NAEYC article on music in ECE.  I linked to one of my favorites below. It highlights the work of Ella Jenkins-she was  my starting point when I put together my own weekly music classes: her song collection is multicultural and multilingual & reflects the wonderful musical heritage of the USA.
    I definitely suggest using some current top 40's music, but I would not recommend playing a commercial station in class- just too tricky to be sure what is heard will be appropriate and creates the risk that the children are exposed to advertising- I try to give kids a break from advertisers during school!
    However, at home I love to listen to Sirius XM's Kids Place Live channel (channel 78 in your car if you have the service). They play a great variety of independent Kid's Music artists like Elizabeth Mitchell, Justin Roberts, Dan Zane, They Might Be Giants, Recess Monkey, Ralph, Agent 23 Skiddo, Laurie Berkner and so many more!
    When I was searching for songs for a Spring concert ( mind you, I think concerts are not great for preschoolers as they often stress out children, parents & teachers, a sing along Party is much better), I deliberately searched for a top 40's song I thought children had likely heard played in their own homes, and found Bruno Mar's "Count On Me"- it was a a little stretch for the children to learn the words, but they loved both the song & singing it! I felt like it wove us all together in a musical community.
    And speaking of creating community- that is one of the top benefits of singing together- it creates community and relieves stress! Don't be afraid of "imperfect  singing" by adults- you can't hurt their perception of pitch with out of tune singing. Especially if they do get to hear in pitch singing & music from other sources, singing with real adults is only beneficial!
    While a variety of recorded music every day is wonderful, please give them plenty of quiet time too, or I mean time without recorded music.  Children need quiet time to process in between songs, and the chance to "hear" the music in their head, and plenty of time to play at creating tones and melodies themselves.
    please don't play music with words, or recorded stories during lunch or snack - mealtimes are really fantastic opportunities for conversation skill building with teachers & peers, and trying to quiet chatter during meals by playing songs with words is disruptive to children's social skills learning. Meal talk should be child centered, and spontaneous- not extra lesson time...
    Also please, as you play a variety of music from all over the world, remember to play music without words too! Children tend to focus on verbal content of songs over pitch, tone or melody. Playing music without words ensures that young children deeply attend to the melody and rhythm - without words includes just singing la la la, humming, or other non verbal vocalizing- meowing, barking, mooing, & all other animal sounds are great for this!

    hope this helps; coming from New Orleans, with it's amazing, rich & diverse musical roots, I bet your classrooms sound fantastic!
    Margro Purple,
    Rockville, MD
    here are a couple more links to great ECE music research & articles:

    Margro Purple
    Rockville MD

  • 8.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 08:04 AM
    Good morning!!!  We are a Christian Child care center.  We only permit Christian music or classical music.  Children's song CDs are fine for movement activities.  We do have a set of music only CDs that feature music only from artists like Elton John which we use at naptime.  We forbid Country music, listening to pop stations on radio or hip - hop due to inappropriate vocabulary or concepts.  There are plenty of kid friendly CDs out there - even for school age children. Try Kaplan for music CDS.  I have had good luck with them. 

    Lauren Jerome
    Harrisburg Presbyterian Church Child Development Center
    220 Oakley Dr. Harrisburg, NC 28075
    704 455-5800   Fax  704 454-5102

  • 9.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 12:30 PM
    Hello Laurene Jerome,
    i love the music sources you mention, and that you tailor the music to your school's Christian philosophy. My one hesitation is that by limiting the content to Christen, you may miss more varied rhythms and the chance for singing in other languages. Exposure to multicultural music is especially important for classrooms with diverse backgrounds and dual language learners. I love the idea of reaching out to families for songs from their own home cultures if possible. Additionally, in Maryland, we have a public school kindergarten teacher that is putting together multilingual songs as a resource, especially in languages that may be underrepresented in most song books. I suspect may of the multilingual songs she is collecting may have Christian roots. I will ask her about getting a link to her resources.
    Another interesting source of Christian music that features other languages and rhythms may be found in looking back in time- European Church music from the renaissance and early often used unusual meters and singing in rounds. I'm linking a couple of examples if you are curious. At first listen they might seem odd for children's music, but young children are often captive by their uniqueness:

    As an aside, I was surprised at how this piece I picked to share during International  week celebration resonated with the two year olds! They could not stop singing and dancing with joy:

    Not Christian music specifically, but they mix the music of different cultures together, and this piece has gospel as well as Arabic Khaleeji rhythm and Indian instruments- quite a mix!

    one last resource: if you do not already know this one, Justin Roberts has an amazing 2 cds of songs based on the Bible. They are beautifully done, fun and catchy. Before he became a "kindie" musician, he studied religion; I find his songs make lesser known stories of the Bible relatable for children:
    hope this shares some great new resources for awesome music

    Margro Purple
    Rockville MD

  • 10.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 12:35 PM
    I also have a collection of multi-lingual songs that I have put together and use on a regular basis.
    I also do a teachers' workshop on this topic exactly, called Different Is Not Dangerous.  Using music is an excellent way to demonstrate that concept.

    Joanie Calem
    Columbus OH

  • 11.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 10:39 PM
    Here is another link to the Children's Music Network YouTube channel.  This page has a huge variety of songs of mostly educational content.
    Though I agree with everyone about screen time at school and in general for young kids, if you do choose to show them music videos, these are all quality ones!

    Joanie Calem
    Columbus OH

  • 12.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 08:52 AM
    We play all sorts of music for infants and toddlers. Many of our cds come from the company Puntamayo for its international appeal. We also have some classical and folk music and even lively music to dance to (for toddlers).
    Also we have quite a bit of time when there is no music. We also sing with help from the song book Wee Sing.
    Susan Smith, Director
    Heart and Hands Montessori
    Center for Infants and Toddlers

    office: 303-444-0181
    cell:    720-217-2359

  • 13.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-22-2019 12:17 PM
    I'd like to reiterate Susan's mention of Putumayo music - their line of Putumayo Kids is is committed to providing culturally authentic music for children with an upbeat, melodic sound.  Each CD includes a booklet with child-friendly facts and insights relevant to the music.  It's a genuine way to introduce children to high quality music that reflect a variety of cultural traditions. 

    Leslie Silk Eslinger
    Director of Education and Development
    Becker's School Supplies
    Pennsauken, NJ

  • 14.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-23-2019 03:32 PM
    Interesting topic!

    I also play Putmayo Kids and Angelique Kidjo. 

    Zap Mama, lullaby versions of The Beatles and The Cure, the soundtrack to Garden State, Mum, The RTTs

  • 15.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-24-2019 02:10 AM
    We use gonoodles in our classroom.

    Teacher assistant
    American International School of lagos
    Lagos LA

  • 16.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 11:17 AM
    Hi Suzea,
    As a preschool music teacher, I commend you on wanting to expose your kids to music and make that part of your day!!

    Check out The Children's Music Network

    These are all musicians who have lots of CDs out there that are guaranteed to have appropriate kid-oriented lyrics with first class music that will be interesting to all ages and engaging rhythms, reflective of different musical cultures and genres.  (Full disclosure, I am a member and think that I fit that description :-)

    Here is the YouTube channel (though I am not a fan of kids watching more screens and school using time for screens, these are all CMN members videos and have great music and visuals.)

    Johnette Downing is a New Orleans native, and an amazing preschool music professional:

    Another really important part of exposing kids to music is exposing them to music-making, with a collection of classroom instruments, and providing time for them to explore these instruments, both on their own and as a class.  If you don't have the budget for that, let me know as The Children's Music Network also has people who would be happy to donate money or instruments for that purpose, and sometimes there are grants to get the money for this as well.

    And of course the best way to expose kids to music is to expose them to music makers who are child oriented, ie preschool music professionals,  and sometimes there are grants to get the money for this as well.  So many children think that music only comes from our devices, so when I walk into a preschool, start playing a live guitar and singing, hand them bells or shakers or drums to play along with me, bring banjos and ukeleles and accordions and flutes (I can't bring a piano but I so wish preschools still had pianos!!) you can literally see lights go on in kids heads as they make the connection that they too can make music.

    And sing!!!! Don't under-estimate the power of teachers singing regularly with students.  I believe that there is no such thing as a bad singer, just rusty voices that aren't comfortable and/or used to singing.  Kids do not judge on-tune or off-tune, they just enjoy singing with adults.

    And yes, I admit that I am biased towards using as much music for as much of the day as possible.

    you can contact me privately if you want to follow up on any of the leads that I suggested here.

    Joanie Calem

    Joanie Calem
    Columbus OH

  • 17.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 12:59 PM
    Hi! We have a wonderful CD by a woman who is a music teacher at our school, BlueSkies Songs for Singing Families

    We also use Raffi's CDs and some world music for children CDs and generally stick to classical music and/or teachers singing with the infants under one year (twinkle twinkle, itsy bitsy spider, etc.).

    We avoid radio and current pop songs because children get a lot of exposure to those outside of school/in their home lives.

    Hope that's helpful!

    Christa Edwards
    Assistant Program Director
    BlueSkies for Children
    Oakland CA

  • 18.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 02:56 PM
    Hello Suzea,

    I'm a teacher and I do not play any adult music in the classroom. I use children's music on CD's like Jack Hartmann, Dr. Jean, etc... They both have lots of music on YouTube.

    Hope this helps you!


    Girija (Molly) Babu
    Membership Chairperson
    Rolling Mdws IL

  • 19.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 03:42 PM
    Hi  Suzea,
    I am working on implementing  a project in which the children will be expose to the different popular music for adults. If you  are interested please stay in touch. I will try to do that at our university children lab school ( preschool for children 3 and 4 years old) and my colleague from the University in Wroclaw. Poland will try to that with young children there.

    Krystyna Nowak-Fabrykowski ( Ph.D.)Undo
    Professor of Early Childhood Education
    Early Childhood Education Masters Program Coordinator
    Central Michigan University
    195 Ojibway Court, EHS 455
    Mt. Pleasant, MI  48859
    Office: (989)774-7527
    Fax: (989)774-3152

  • 20.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 04:22 PM
    So much great music!
    With so many suggestions coming in from YouTube, I just wanted to add a comment on whether or not to watch the video: I have used many song clips from You Tube in my Preschool music classes- children will seek to watch my phone screen, even 2 year olds are used to watching musical content on screens.  While watching some videos, or shows can be fine with older children, children watch screens very differently than they respond to hearing recorded music play, and also how they interact with real, live singing and instrument playing.  If you are looking to highlight musical development, tuck the screens away. I choose to use a wireless speaker with preclude music to avoid the children being distracted by a phone or iPad.
    when kids watch screens, they are much more passive, for musical development, you want them moving their bodies to the beat, and seeing how YOU keep the beat too!
    For the most part, kids get plenty of screen time at home, so I believe in keeping screens out of Preschool.  However, in some cases, and for some types of care, occasional watching can be fine, as long as an adult shares in the viewing and it is a joint activity that facilitates interaction, and not a conversation interrupter.
    As for some real gem musical gems only found on YouTube,  Buffy Saint Marie's songs from SeamenStreet's early years are amazing, as are songs by the other cast members, and guests.
    one reason I chose to use Buffy Saint Marie's song about the Wind was that not only is it a beautiful, meaningful song about nature that is very relatable for young children, but also it allowed me to share American Indian drumming and chanting with the children.  As a white woman, I would have felt very inauthentic trying to sing Buffy's songs in her style.  My childhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota put me in regular contact with American Indian teachers & educators, but in Rockville, MD, children don't meet so many Native Americans. I wanted to extend their thinking about Native Americans beyond "Museums and cartoons."  Some of the children did giggle at the opening chant, as I predicted they would. Because of this, I spoke to them briefly before I played the song. I let them know that was okay, we often respond like that when we hear something new, but that we were going to listen to another people's style of singing, and how important it is to respectful as well as curios. They danced with scarves during the song, and I had a large frame drum for them to see first hand too.
    one more song by Buffy, "I'm an Indian where ever I go" - I never figured out a way to use it in music, but I love how she talks about coming from more than one cultural background, and discusses cultural identity so honestly and respectfully. Here are the links:

    Margro Purple
    Rockville MD

  • 21.  RE: Classroom Music

    Posted 08-21-2019 04:38 PM
    Dear Margo,
    Thanks so much for these ideas. I am trying to plan project with my colleagues in Poland  about  teaching/ implementing  "adults' "music to the curriculum , the music that they are hearing on the radio etc.
    Please keep me posted about your program and I will send you information what we are planning to do .