Music for Activations

Soundtracks to Activate Learning

Here are a variety of different music suggestions useful when students are working with subject matter.


Slow harmonious selections with little emotional content work well for thoughtful reflection or reflective  reviews using visuals or reflective activities (writing drawing, etc). The reflective piano suggestions tend to create a quiet and introspective mood. You can also use selections from Calming and Mid-Level Energy Sound Suggestions in the classical and contemporary instrumental styles as well.

These selections have some emotional elements and varied energy levels. They work well for eliciting personal feelings and thoughts.

Classical instrumental
For Your Dreams, various artists (collecdtion of short reflective classical selections)
The Four Seasons, Concerto in E Major, Antonio Vivaldi
Misterioso Venezia, Rondo Veneziano
Music for Imagination and Creativity, volumes 1 and 2, OptimaLearning Classics
The Planets, Gustav Holst

Contemporary Instrumental
Excalibur and Medicine Woman, Medwyn Goodall (guitar, synthesizer, acoustic instruments)
Land of Enchantment, Deuter (flute, guitar, synthesized sounds, and nature sounds)
Oceans, Christopher Peacock (piano with strings and wind instruments)
Sketches on an American Journey, David Arkenstone (keyboards, guitar, wind instruments)

World Music
Breathing Spaces, Jiang Xiao Qing (Asian fusion)
Emerald Castles, Richard Searles (Celtic)
Visions and Rhythms, Natural Visions (compilation of Native American Music)

Movement Music

Use these selections during movement activities or times when you want to encourage students to participate in active classroom tasks. They also work well for a quick warmup activity, such as Brian Gym.

Classical Instrumental
Bond, Born (contemporary versions of classical themes with percussion added)
“Sabre Dance” from Gayaneh, Aram Khatchaturian
“The Thunderer March”, John Phillip Sousa
“Thunder and Lightning Fast Polka”, Richard Strauss
“1812 Overture” P. Tchaikovsky, especially Thunderous Classics version, page
The Very Best of Hooked on Classics, Louis Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Contemporary Instrumental

“Baby Elephant Walk,” from Hatari, Henry Mancini
Big Band Music of the 30’s-40’s, Tommy Dorsey: “Royal Garden Blues”, “Boogie Woogie”, “Opus One” Count Basie: “One O’Clock Jump” Glenn Miller: “In the Mood”, “Jim, Jam, Jump,” “Chatanooga Choo, Choo”
“The Entertainer,” The Sting
“The Hustle,” V. McCoy
Transitions to Go! Eric Jensen, Corwin Press
“Wipe Out,” The Surfaris

World Music Selections
African Highlife and More, Various Artists (African Vocals)
Arabic Groove, Putamayo Music
Bakongo (African vocals, various tempos)
Earth Tribe Rhythms, Brent Lewis (Drums)
Leahy, Leahy (Celtic Instrumental)

50’s and 60’s upbeat music, such as recordings by The Rebops “Boogie Fever,” The Sylvers
“Boogie Wonderland” from Madagascar sountrack, Earth, Wind & Fire
“Boom Boom Boom,” Outhere Brothers
“Dance,” The Beach Boys
“Dancin’ in the Street,” Martha and the Vandellas
“Electric Boogie,” M. Griffiths
“Everybody Get Up!” Five
“Everybody Groove,” Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys
“Get Up, Stand Up” Bob Marley
“Gonna Make You Sweat,” Everybody Dance, Various Artists
“Hot, Hot, Hot,” Alphonsus Cassell
“I Like to Move It” from the Madagascar soundtrack, Erick Morillo
“La Bamba,” Ritchie Valens
“Loco-Motion,” G. Goffin, and C. King, Isley Bros,
“Stir It Up,” Bob Marley
“We Will rock You,” Queen

Special Movement Selections
Creative Dance, Vol 1 to 4, Eric Chappelle (especially “All in One for a unique fast, then slow selection)
An Dun: Calming the Emotions, Wind Records, Asian music for slow Brain Gym Cross-Crawl or other slow movements

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