Image Map

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Centers in the Elementary Music Classroom

Just a few short years ago, centers were a totally foreign concept to me. Now I absolutely love them and use them with almost every grade I teach! With limited class time, so much material to cover, and back-to-back classes of all different grade levels, it can be hard to make centers work in the elementary music classroom. Today I want to share some of my top suggestions for making them work for you!

1. Come in with a game plan

It's so important to work out the logistics before you start! Where will you set up each station, what materials will you need, how many students will be at each station, when and how will they switch, and how will you make sure they know what to do with so many things happening at once? Here is my post on how to manage all of those logistics (and answer all of those questions in the simplest way possible):

2. Know your purpose

I say this for a lot of things... but for good reason! Don't just do centers because it sounds cool. What is your purpose for doing centers? When it comes to teaching, I don't do anything unless I believe it will help students learn music better. For centers, I see two main purposes:

     1) to give students a chance to explore/ practice musical skills, concepts, and materials through a variety of learning styles and approaches
     2) to give students an opportunity to experience specific music learning activities that can best be done in small groups (whether because of space/ resources or the nature of the activity)

To make centers truly successful, it's important to think through the reasoning in choosing when and how to use centers, and which center activities to choose. Here are my favorite center activities for elementary music:

3. Use sparingly

If you have thought through the purpose of doing centers then this one will probably take care of itself, but I think centers are best used sparingly in the elementary music classroom. One way I use centers most often that allows me to use them sparingly, with purpose, while also filling an important role in my classroom climate and behavior management, is to use them as a whole class incentive. You can read about how I do that in this post:

Have you used centers in elementary music before? What are your top tips for making them work? What are some of your favorite center activities? Let's hear them in the comment section!


  1. Hi. I'm an aspiring teacher and in Philadelphia, music has been eliminated due to funding with the focus on literacy and math only. Can I still create a music center and if not, how can I do it but relate it to math or literacy?

    1. Hi! I'm happy to help as much as I can but want to understand your question. Are you thinking about setting up centers in an elementary homeroom class and having one of the centers be music-related?