I teach elementary school (there, I said it. Please don’t judge me 🙂 ) In my classroom, I like to use quiet music in the background when students are working. I know a lot of teachers find the value in a peaceful work environment and students working quietly to the sound of Enya (or something else we would never listen to while driving in our car or sitting in our own living room). The “Old School” way to play your music would be to put on a CD and go.
The new school way is to rip all your CD’s on to your hard drive and play the music from your computer. On a Mac, iTunes will do this for you, on a PC, Windows Media Player will do this for you (both free). Once your music is on your computer you can just load up several albums/artists at a time.
The part that makes you really feel like a tech superstar is creating playlists and then making shortcuts to those playlists. I created a playlist for my classroom music (use the “help” button on the player if you don’t know how). Usually I add some albums more than once because I want the music to play for longer than my school day. Then I right click on the file for my playlist and create a custom shortcut for that playlist (on a PC this can be done by clicking on “Properties”). So, now when I want to start my classroom music I can just hold down CTRL+Alt+m (I chose “m” for music) and my music will play all day long!
I keep the music running in the background all day and just have my students turn up or down the volume depending on whether I am teaching or they are working.
Baroque music works great, as does simple piano music, rainforest music, Native American chants, Enya or anything thematic. Things with words can be distracting though. I also make playlists that are more “pop” feeling for when we are doing art projects or other more active classroom projects.
If your students say they are distracted anyway, you likely have the volume up too loud. Happy listening!