Clear Expectations: What Procedures to Practice in the Elementary Music Classroom


Clear Expectations:
What Procedures to Practice in the Elementary Music Classroom

By NAfME Member Jessica Peresta


As music teachers, our main goal is to teach and instill a love of music in our students. There is so much that goes on in those 45 minutes of an elementary music class. Students want to be successful, and believe it or not, love knowing the procedures and what we expect from them. So, I want to share with you what procedures to practice in the elementary music classroom.


1. Coming into the Classroom

Every school has different school-wide procedures in place. One of those is getting the students from their homeroom to the music classroom. Once students get to your room, there needs to be a procedure in place for how to enter. Students may have a spot on the risers or carpet to go to, a body percussion warm up they do together, or a song they sing as they enter each day. Whatever procedure you come up with is up to you.


elementary music | DGLimages


2. Getting an Instrument

The smaller instruments are usually kept on a shelf in bins. Procedures need to be in place for how students get an instrument, what to do when they get an instrument (like not playing it until you tell them to), and how to put the instrument back when they’re done playing it. For the drums or barred instruments, procedures need to be in place for where to put their hands before it’s time to play, how to play the instrument correctly, and how to remove the bars correctly when playing a particular part.

One of the main problems with any classroom instrument is that students want to play it the second they get it in their hands. That is completely normal, and sometimes a simple warning or reminder of what the procedure is will help.


3. How to Switch Parts

After a song is learned, most of the time rhythm instruments, barred instruments, recorder, or movement parts are added. Sometimes the class as a whole will learn these parts, and other times, students will be split into group of 3-5 people. You could have students rotate when they hear the drum pattern on the hand drum or assign students to parts for that particular day. It is completely up to you as the teacher how to go about switching parts on each particular song.


4. Going From One Activity to Another

Like I said earlier, so much learning takes place in the short amount of time we have the students for music. In any given class period, there will be 4-5 activities planned. A sample class period might have a warm up, review a song, add instrument parts, learn a new song, learn a folk dance, and read a story to the class. Procedures for how to transition from one activity to the next need to be in place. One of the hardest things for me is scheduling too many activities and then running out of time. Leaving enough time for cleanup and transitions is important and kids will get used to these procedures.


elementary music | FatCamera

5. Lining Up to Leave

Leaving enough time at the end of the class period to line up is important. I always like to have time left in case we need to practice lining up twice. Students will know what you expect of them if your “lining up to leave” procedure is in place. Ideas include having the students make a quiet bubble with their mouths, calling the quietest row, asking questions about what was taught and the kids who give the correct answers line up, or follow the school-wide procedure for lining up. Whatever procedure you have in place for lining up is totally up to you as the teacher.


What procedures are implemented in your classroom? Do you notice your class time runs a lot more smoothly when your students are familiar with the procedures you have in place? Share your responses in the comments below.


About the author:

Jessica Peresta

NAfME member Jessica Peresta is a music teacher, piano instructor, and music education blogger at She is a mom of three little dudes and wife to one tall dude. She’s a Netflix-binging, sushi-eating, worship band playing, nature-loving, football-watching kind of gal. Jessica LOVES teaching and inspiring others and is in love with all things music.

Follow Jessica Peresta on Facebook page, Facebook group, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Did this blog spur new ideas for your music program? Share them on Amplify! Interested in reprinting this article? Please review the reprint guidelines.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

Brendan McAloon, Program Coordinator, September 1, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (