Setting the Stage: Intentional Classroom Design

by Abby @ Quaver on August 18, 2014

in In the Quaver Classroom!

We’re kicking off Back-to-School Week here on the blog with an in-depth look at how one teacher sets up her music classroom!

We’ve invited Sherri – a new Quaver Curriculum user in Rochester, NH – to share her thoughts on setting up a functional and fun music classroom to help you meet your goals for the year!

Take it away, Sherri!

Set the Stage for a Successful School Year!

If you are like many teachers right now you are filled with “back to school excitement” and have begun planning out an amazing school year. While many are busily getting acquainted with Quaver Music, planning engaging lessons, centers or meaningful assessments, I would encourage you to think about setting up a successful learning environment. Think of your music room as a stage for your teaching performance. Creating a well thought-out learning space before school starts is essential to both the success of the learners and of the teacher. No two classrooms will be the same as each will serve the needs of the teacher and students using it. Here is a list of questions which collectively point to a space which should support the learning goals you set for your students.

Ask yourself these questions while designing your dream music room. Setup can take some time and a lot of thoughtfulness but will make a huge difference in your everyday life at as rock star music teacher!

1. Does the environment you have set up show the students what you value in behavior and learning?

You might have to take a step back and rethink what you value in behavior and learning. My two schools follow a PBIS model and value respect, responsibility and safety so I set my stage to do the same. I post these values in my room and use those keywords in my teaching and in behavior support. All of my classroom procedures and guidelines follows those 3 core expectations as well.


Editor’s Note: You might add our downloadable The Quaver Five poster to remind students of classroom expectations!

2. Is the focus wall/space clear of distractions and filled with your chosen “attractions”?

Your focus wall is the wall where you present your main instruction; if using Quaver, this will mainly be your wall where the projector is pointed. Avoid hanging unnecessary, distracting posters in this area.


Here is my focus wall. It is pretty blank as my lesson plans are not fully done for the first weeks of school yet. Our goals will be posted for all to see once I finish.

3. Is the space tidy, clean and free of extra materials?

Got clutter? Even a pile of messy papers can change the ambiance of a learning space. Does your room have clearly defined spaces for putting things away? Create a space to put instruments, files, music, paperwork, and loose papers. Place all like items together.  If spaces are clearly defined students will be more able to assist in the care and upkeep of the room. 


4. Are the materials you regularly need while teaching readily available?

I often need a pen, pencil, white board eraser/marker, smart board pens in place, pointer, iPad, sound system, computer, chargers, bell, tambourine etc. What an annoyance to not have the things you need while in the midst of a lesson! Making these things a priority will ease this frustration.


5. What is hanging?

Are your visuals current, clear and connected to the lesson? Do you want students to be thinking about what they see everywhere or to focus on the lesson at hand? Since my students only have music for 45 minutes a week I try to keep visual input very clear and specific allowing for my students’ brains to focus on the current learning goals.I start the year with pretty blank walls and add and take things down as I go.

6. Have you sat where you students will sit?

Can you see the board, anchor charts, the teacher? Are you comfortable when sitting in your student’s spot? Do you have enough room? Each student should have their own place for sense of well-being. 

7. Is there room to move and groove?

As an elementary music teacher, keeping the floor plan flexible and easily cleared is a high priority for me. For me all materials, chairs, etc. need a home base so we can be ready to move, groove and activate our learning! Are your things: desk, lunch, coffee, coat, pocketbook etc. in the learning space? If you answered yes – remove them. I even downsized from a big teacher desk, to a computer desk, to small cart, to nothing!


This is the cart I store my laptop, iPad, sound system, iPad charger, and other technology related things on at the front the room. It is on wheels so can be easily moved if needed.


I keep the floors clear and add more time for music by having a number line so the kids know exactly how and where to line up each time they leave the music room. Anything that gives more music time to my students is a huge asset! It is a perfect example of classroom staging causing more effective classroom management.

8. Do you love your room?

If you don’t then neither will your students. Add something in your favorite color or pattern. Add a picture of people you love. Update an ugly piece of furniture with contact paper, fabric, or duct tape!


Thanks Sherri for these awesome questions!

We’d love to hear from you – and see your music classrooms! Consider posting a photo of your music room on our Facebook Page or email them to for our Quaverific Classrooms Gallery!


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