Music Classroom Set Up

Setting Up Your New Elementary Music Classroom

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And just like that, it’s time to set yo your elementary music classroom! Whether you just tore yours down, you’re looking for new ideas, or you are about to get into your classroom for the first time, classroom set up can feel super overwhelming… But it doesn’t have to be.

Before we get into it, just a few back to school reminders:

  • Your classroom does not need to be 100% ready for the first day of school. You have time to make it pretty and organize it later.
  • Your classroom does not need to be Pinterest perfect– just make it warm and inviting and CLEAN

Get the right stuff to set up your classroom

When it’s time to set up my classroom, I always order a few things:

In addition, I use three things a TON during classroom setup:

  • Hot glue gun: I have this hot glue gun. It’s pricey, but it’s SO WORTH IT. It’s battery powered, the charge lasts forever,  and it gets really hot. I’m able to set up so much of my classroom at one time without being tied to the wall. 
  • Laminator: My school has a laminator, which I use as much as possible, but sometimes I just have a few things that I need to laminate, or there’s a wait. In these cases, it’s super helpful to have your own. I use this one that I got for Christmas one year (it’s no longer available), but this one is also supposed to be good.
  • Paper cutter: Again, the school has one, but it’s soooo helpful to have your own. This year I ordered this one and I loved it so much I bought one for home too. HIGHLY recommend this one, even if you don’t get the others two things.

Graphic that says music classroom setup hacks for back to school from a blog post about setting up your elementary music classroom for back to school by Becca's Music Room

The classroom setup plan

When you set up your music room, start with a plan. The most important part of the plan is thinking about where students will sit. Make sure you think about the things you commonly do– learn at the board, play games, move around the room, folk dance, play instruments, etc. 

Set up your classroom so that the students are ready for whatever they need, but they are especially ready for whatever they need to do the most. 

I have mine sit in rows facing the board to help minimize distractions. We also get into circles, and when we do, we sit on the outside of the “square”. (So I guess it’s not a circle). I don’t like having them sit in a circle when I’m teaching, because it’s super distracting. We also scatter throughout the room, so I leave most of the room open. 

Here’s a look at our sit spots. I talk about them in this post.

Think about what students are doing and where they will do that. 

Also think about our spaces– you desk, your teaching area, and your piano if you have one. 

My teaching area is in the front near the board. I keep a box with all the things I use the most– white board markers, hall passes, my clicker, etc. My desk is at the back of the room so that it’s not in the way and so that I can see the door. I rarely sit there when students are in my room. My piano is facing so the back is towards the classroom so that I can stand behind and play and see the students. I also put it in the corner (ish) so that I can put things behind it.

Which leads to…

Storage in Elementary Music

You’ll have different kids of storage in your room, mainly: Things students need to access and things they don’t.

The rule of thumb is this: With kids, if it’s visible, it’s probably doing to get touched at some point. This was a HUGE deal at my previous school because behaviors were really rough. Anything we were not playing was put away in the closets and locked. My new school doesn’t have as much storage space, but I keep things in buckets on shelves. If it’s too big, it goes on top or it gos behind something. 

If you don’t have space for that, then line up your big stuff against the least used wall, and you can even throw fabric on top to discourage people from messing with it. 

front of classroom setup for elementary music with storage, centers, and posters from a blog post about setting up your elementary music classroom for back to school by Becca's Music Room

For things they are using, I have a shelf labelled in the front of the room for each grade level with things we are using that week. I always keep pencils markers, crayons boards, etc up there too. 

My main storage area. A few colored boxes go a long way!

Hanging things on classroom walls

As music teachers, we’re going to have things on our walls. I like to keep up references we need like rhythm or melody, the rules, etc. All of the things on my walls are actually available in my TPT shop. 

To put them up, the best thing is bulletin boards. Use any that you have.

If you don’t have bulletin boards, then you’ll need to get creative. Here’s some suggestions:

Use the walls: Just hang things on the walls!

DIY boards: Use poster board or foam board covered in fabric to make your own wall dressings! I used poster boards on the walls with commands strips for years. I’ve also have these foam boards for years. I’ve always been able to find a random nail or lean them up against something. If that’s not possible, gt a big command hook instead.

You can see some foam boards covered in fabric in this photo– the yellow and orange.  

My desk area is in the back.
Here’s what they looked like in my old classroom. This one was HUGE!
This poster is just on a poster board I bought for $1 at Target!

Clipboards: Attach clipboards to the walls with command strips or hooks, and then put things on the clipboards. This is great for paper size items like hanging up student work. Or you could do mini posters!

What do I use to put things on the classroom walls?

Tape: This is one of the worst aways to post things, but the most obvious. You’ll have to try different types of tape to see what works on your walls. Painter’s tape works on mine for the most part… until it doesn’t. 

Command strips: I always buy a bunch of these at back to school time! Use them to hang literally anything on the walls. They are the best thing I’ve found for hanging on cinder blocks. 

Clothes pins: One of my best hacks is to use clothes pins. I hot glue them to the walls to hold anchor charts or banners (picture below). You can also glue them to push pins and use them on your boards This is great for things you need to hang around the room or if you need to switch things out. I often use this strategy for things like standard and I can statements, since they change often.

Clothes pins holding up my instrument bunting.

Hooks: Of course, hooks are immensely helpful. I buy command hooks and use them to hang everything in the world. 

Hot glue: If you have cinder blocks, use hot glue. It’s the best. 

Note: You may want to ask veteran teachers’ their preferences because every building is different. 

Seating arrangements in elementary music

When it comes to where to sit, there’s a lot of ways that you can take care of seating charts. First off, I would highly recommend having a seating chart. It makes life easier. But where do they sit? Here’s a few options:

  • Rug: If you have a rug, use it! Have assigned seats on your rug. At my previous school, I had dots on my carpet so that students could sit on a dot. Some rugs have squares. 
  • Sit spots: I use sit spots in my room. I got them off of amazon (here) and added the numbers to them like in this post. They do have a set with the number, but the colors were random and I wanted rows. They have held up pretty well– I’m writing this in May (because  #batching is a lifesaver) and I’ve only had problems with two– and for the whole year, thats’ pretty good. I do make a HUGE deal about not messing with the dots. 
  • Lines: Use tape or velcro to make lines on the carpet for students to sit on. (Bonus points if it looks like a treble clef!)
  • Grid: Give students a reference. I observed a teacher once who have each student line up their spot with two things in the room. The rows were marked by thumbnails on the wall. So you might sit in line with the green thumbnail. Then, you lined yourself up with something in the room. So you might sit in line with the green thumbnail, in front of the flag. This sounded crazy to me, but she was at a difficult school, and all those students knew exactly where to sit. 
  • Risers: Many teachers use the riser that are in their class for spots. I would still mark individual spots with sharpies or tape. 
  • Chairs: You can use chair, but I would recommend against it. We do a lot of moving in music, so if the chair are out, it’s difficult to move around the room. 

classroom set up from a blog post about setting up your elementary music classroom for back to school by Becca's Music Room
My students sit on there sit spots
elementary music classroom setupfrom a blog post about setting up your elementary music classroom for back to school by Becca's Music Room
My old classroom featured these dot rugs.

Lining up

Just a mention, you may want to have an assigned area for students to line up. The first few weeks at my new school, I just had them line up in front of the door and it was a mess. I added the black sit spots, and voila! Problem solved. Now if you sit on 1, you stand on 1. The lines are always straight and everyone knows where to go. 

Graphic that says music classroom setup you need to see with a photo of an elementary music teacher holding boomwhackers from a blog post about setting up your elementary music classroom for back to school by Becca's Music Room

Make Music Classroom Setup Easy

If you want to make your music classroom setup a breeze, then you should get some print and go classroom decor packs! These make your setup really simple, because all you need to do is print, laminate, and hang things up!

These decor packs include USEFUL decor like vocabulary words, I can statements, standards, rules posters, instruments of the orchestra posters, and more!

Click the photo to purchase!

We could go on and on about classroom set up, but instead, I’ll share two classroom set up vlogs that I did last year when I set up my new classroom! You can see the whole thing from start to finish (and if you’re a youtube person, hit subscribe while you’re over there!)

Happy teaching!


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