Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Music - Musical Chairs: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Music - Musical Chairs: Resources

Article excerpt

Strike a different note by rearranging the furniture.

"Aw, what?!" is a cry I have often heard from my students, accompanied by exasperated looks, eye-rolling and moody stomping across the music room floor. What is the cause of such displeasure? Not homework. Not nerve-jangling assessment. Not even the impending demands of a deadline. I have simply changed the layout of the classroom. Again.

The arrangement of a room can have a fundamental effect on the quality of learning that takes place in that space. The tone of a lesson is set from the moment the pupils enter and the arrangement of classroom furniture can send an important message. Rather than allowing pupils to determine the seating plan, I prefer to move their seats.

Using classroom space to facilitate learning is crucial to good musical teaching. How might the following arrangements affect the learning in your music room?


The basic horseshoe shape works really well for music-making. It allows pupils to be seated behind desks, while creating a clear central space for performing. The teacher can engage and involve all pupils in a practical and effective arrangement for classroom music.

Table groups

This can be great for differentiation, mixing up pupils who play different instruments and encouraging those from different musical backgrounds to share ideas from their own perspective. Resources can be centralised for easy access, but some thought needs to be given to how these tables are arranged, so that pupils do not have their backs to you. …

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