Elementary Music, Management

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

This post may contain affiliate links. You pay the same and I get a small commission. Yay! (Please see my/our full disclosure for further information.)

Classroom management is so important. Without classroom management, no one learns anything. These are a few phrases for classroom management in the music room.

Everyone develops different phrases to keep their class running. These are the phrases that keep me grounded. They keep my classes running. They keep my students (mostly) in line. I hope that some of these phrases for classroom management help keep your class running smoothly too!

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room

If you play before I say, I will take your instrument away

I found this one on Mrs. King’s Music Class and it changed my life! I use it with every class kindergarten through 5th grade. And I am serious. The first time I hear a noise, they have to put their instrument away.

It has really helped. At the beginning of the year, it was rough. I would have half of the students sitting out.

Now that it is the end of January, the students are finally getting it! We did instruments this week and only a handful in the whole school had to put their instruments away.

Thank you so much for the idea! Check out the rest of the article here for good information.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Put your hands on your shoulders

This goes directly with “If you play before I saw, I will take your instrument away”. I use this mostly with the younger kids. I tell them to get their supplies, sit down, and put their hands on their shoulders.

I find that having a specific thing to do with their hands rather than just “don’t touch it!” You could do hands in lap or folded or whatever, just the more specific the better.

With classes I trust more, I change the phrase to “Don’t touch them. A good thing to do would be to put your hands in your lap or on your shoulders so you do not have an issue.” The older students seem to respond to the options.

Regardless, give them something to do instead of something not to do.

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera

Think it in your head

This is a life saver! As soon as we started working on rhythms, it was a mess. I would hold a rhythm and immediately they are trying to figure it out. Which is good, because they are thinking about it. But not good because it was loud.

So we started “Think it in your head.” I will have the younger students point to their heads to remind them to think the rhythm in their head. I always say I should not hear noise if you are thinking it in your head.

And again, that is from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Not only is there less noise, but they actually pay attention to the what they rhythm is so they know the rhythm when we all read it together.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room

I’m looking for….

I’m looking for people sitting criss cross applesauce.

I’m looking for people with their instruments on the floor and hands on their shoulders.

I’m looking for people in a straight quiet line.

Whatever you are looking for. I say one of those phrases, and then I look around pointing at whoever has what I am looking for and say “Good.”

Once the good’s start going around everyone else starts falling into line. Sometimes literally.

Also read: Positive Management Strategies for When You Don’t Feel Positive

Show me don’t tell me

I love to have students show me answers. We learn hand signs for the first few letters of the alphabet. We use fingers to show how many beats a rhythm gets. We use thumbs up/thumbs down for yes or no questions.

These are all really great, but as soon as you ask a question, students’ first reaction is to yell out the answer.

So I started the “show me, don’t tell me”.

I use it with questions, with form, with opinions, even when I help with small groups in the afternoon in third grade (Yes, that is a thing. And no, you probably don’t want the music teacher helping with 3rd grade math and reading.)

This is also one of my go-to phrases for when I want the class to behave. I like to hold games and instruments for the end of the class so that I can hold it over their heads.

That sounds bad. But we all do it.

So I’ll use phrases like “Show me you can play the instruments” or “Show me you can handle a game”.

Also read: The Best Classroom Purchase Ever!

If you can hear my voice, clap once

This is one of my phrases for getting the class to quiet down. “If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice.” And so forth.

I also like to do this when I’ve got a class lined up and their teacher is not there yet. I start with “If you can hear my voice, touch your shoulders. If you can hear my voice, touch your head.” And I keep going. Then I stop talking, and just have them mirror me. They particularly like it when I change my actions really quickly. And then I try to trick them. And they think it is wonderful.


Here are some books in case you want to read some more. Click on the pictures to see more:

So those are my favorite phrases for classroom management! What phrases do you use? How do you keep your class in line? Let us know in the comments!

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room

Please follow and like us:

13 thoughts on “Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room”

  1. I use most of those as well. Great job figuring them out in your first year. You’re on your way to long term happy teaching! I also had to help with 2nd and 3rd grade math and reading in my last job. Sometimes the teacher had to teach me the method first before I could help the kids. Common Core math is very different from math in the 80’s. Good luck to you!

    1. I completely agree! I often have to ask a student how to do something before I help someone else. I’m glad some of these are commonly used! Anything that I left out that you use?

      1. I say “123 eyes on me”. Students respond with “1,2 eyes on you”

        Also, just saying “uh oh” to a young class gets them quiet quickly since they are wondering. What’s up?

        1. I have seen lots of teachers do the 1, 2, 3 and it seems to work. I use “uh oh” a lot– sometimes if it’s really loud I will just look at them with the best shocked face I can muster. It usually does the trick!

    2. These ideas are excellent and I’m going to try them. I’ve tried something new this year- and it’s working well so far. I’ve started to regularly start the quiet game when kids are lined up, waiting for their classroom teacher. to pick them up. The student who is the chooser gets to play on a cool instrument (like a gong, drum, frog guiro or something they all would love to play). After the chooser plays the instrument, then they choose someone else who is waiting quietly in line- then they get a turn to play the instrument, then pick another quiet student a turn, etc. This is also a fun way for the teacher to introduce instruments.

  2. I use a montesorri approach sometimes.
    I Will hold up a pictogram showing f.i. Form a circle or a line or find a partner. Then playing the music they know from a montesorri game, they have to do the movements to that specific game (usually tiptoeing) While forming the line.
    I also often explain rules of a game without words if I want the game to be quiet. Show, not tell.

  3. I learned from a master teacher these words, “hands here” and they look up and my hands are on my shoulders. Then I say “hands here” again as I move them to my knees or something. Works for instant quiet.

  4. Great article. Thank you for sharing. I got this idea from a teacher that I worked with. It works well for a noisy transition. You just start playing this game. Clap on one. 1. Clap on two-12. Clap on five , 12345. Clap on one, 1. Clap on three, 123. You just keep changing the number and students have a great time trying to clap on the right number. I like to use 1 a lot even a few times in a row. Once you get into a pattern the brain has a tough time shifting. This makes them laugh or groan or roll their eyes. It gets them focused very quickly.

    1. I love that! I do “If you can hear my voice clap once…. if you can hear my voice clap twice” but I like the idea of making them listen and wait for it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I am fond of saying (in the voice I would prefer to use, when I feel my voice rising over them just to be heard) “if you can hear me, touch your nose.” I will say this a couple of times until everyone is touching their nose looking at the one or two that still aren’t doing it. They have now started touching their noses to let me know they are ready to learn and waiting for the class to quiet down. Eventually the rest of the class follows. Thanks for the tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *