Music to My Ears

musicanimal1_LargeWideMusic is an easy and effective way to manage the mood and atmosphere in your classroom, and it’s a common aspect of all Best Practices training sessions.  With the right music, you can energize your students, calm them down, signal transitions, and minimize undesirable behaviors.

Each BP trainer uses music a bit differently and has his or her own personal style.  My personal guidelines for including music in my training sessions include:

1. Entering, exiting, transitioning: When participants are entering and leaving the training location or during transitions between activities, I try to choose music that is about 120 beats per minute (BPM) and is likely familiar to many people.  Often, these songs have lyrics.  My collection for training includes music from the 1950s to today, with a heavy emphasis on mid- and late-1990s music.  Most of the songs are pop-ish, though I have some other styles in there, too.  My goal is that everyone will hear at least one song they can connect with.

2.  Quiet times: For quieter moments of a training session, such as when participants are reading a text or otherwise working alone, I choose music that is most likely unfamiliar and does not include lyrics.  If the activity requires focus, lyrics and familiarity can be distracting.  This music also is about 60 BPM, a sort of walking tempo.  Most of the song clips that I use during these times are from movie soundtracks.

3.  Small group discussions: I don’t use music when participants are talking with one another.  The background noise is distracting and just adds to the din, causing participants to have to shout to hear one another.  That’s definitely not an atmosphere or mood that I want to promote.

I have had many people ask for my playlist of songs.  I usually respond that it is just my iTunes library.  That is true!  I have created a carefully curated playlist of upbeat music from my >7,000 song library.  I tweak it regularly and limit it to about 200 songs.  Each day, I just press “shuffle” on my iPod, so the order is different at each training.

Finally, for those of you who have asked, I am sharing my current “Upbeat for Training” playlist.  Additionally, I have listed the snippets of songs that I have built into my Keynote presentations for New Lead Teacher Training and Work Sampling Online.  Some of these are upbeat, transition pieces.  Others are slower, quieter pieces that promote individual focus.  Take a look below and enjoy!

Upbeat for Training
Because of the length of the playlist, I have included it in an Excel spreadsheet.  Follow the link to download the file: Upbeat for Training. If you are unable to open it, feel free to email me, and I can send it to you in a different format.

Transition Music
“I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow
“Ramblin’ Man” by The Allman Brothers Band
“We Like to Party! (the Vengabus) (Airplay)” by The Vengaboys
“Shinjuku Nights” by Ray Manzarek and Bal
“The Only Thing” by Orba Squara

Quiet/Focus Music
“Sleep [Instrumental]” from Juno soundtrack
“Lesionnaire” from Angels in America soundtrack
“Dream Children” by Edward Elgar
“Kiss Breakdown” from The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack
“Bethesda Fountain” from Angels in America soundtrack
“Snow [Instrumental]” from Brokeback Mountain soundtrack


I train Georgia PreK teachers and dabble a bit in the art of blogging. Have an idea for a blog post? Email me at On the web: Facebook: Twitter: @bestpracticespk

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