Classroom Strategies

Listed below are some common problems in the music classroom and some possible solutions to those problems. Many times a problem gets out of hand because you are still trying to find out what is acceptable in the classroom. If you don’t know, the kids won’t know either and they will test your limits. Once you have decided what your limits are, enforce it and be consistent.


Always check your school District’s policies and procedures and/ or any individual behavioral or educational student plans first before developing your classroom management/ discipline plan.

Click here for a list of tips compiled from experienced teachers in the field.

Talking Too Much
Change the seating arrangement. Talk to the student after class. Move close to the student – use proximity. Make a phone call home if it is an ongoing problem – a preventative phone call can often prevent a major problem later on down the road.

Stay calm and collected. Don’t yell or argue. Ask to see the student after class. Remove student from room if warranted – make sure you have checked with your principal ahead of time on the school’s procedure for sending students to the office. Always aim to correct the behavior, not criticize the student.

Playing Out of Turn
Ask the student to see you after class. Stand closer to the student if possible. A good way to prevent this is to increase student involvement – make sure they are actively listening to what’s around them; ask questions about what they are hearing; limit your corrective comments to students to ten words/two sentences or less.

*The less down time students have, the less chance they have to get in trouble.

Unmotivated Students
Celebrate successes, no matter how small. Set short term and long term goals – post them somewhere in the room. Find out what their interests are – establish rapport by finding common ground.

Students Not Showing Up for Performances
Provide a calendar of events at the beginning of the year. Send a “contract” home stating that the parents and students understand that the students are expected to attend these events – have them sign the “contract” and return it.

Verbal Reprimand Strategy
(based on “The One-Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson, M.D.):

Use this individually with a student when you are needing to correct a single behavior.

  1. Explain to the student that the behavior they engaged in was not acceptable in your classroom.
  2. Have them explain to you what the appropriate behavior should have been.
  3. Remind them that you value them as individuals, but you don’t approve of the behavior.
  4. Let them know what the consequences will be if it happens again.
  5. Reaffirm that you think well of them, but not their behavior in this situation.

*Remember to focus on the behavior, not the person.