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15 Techniques for Managing Noise Levels

Noise Pollution Control – As a teacher I had to experiment to get the right level of engagement and focus from my students. As a music educator I was expected to create all sorts of sounds from my classroom. Unfortunately, some sounds where purposeful and others were not. In this article I am going to point out a few helpful suggestions for controlling group noise levels.


As a music educator I work constantly to engage students in classroom learning. Sometimes achieving the right balance with students is not easy and it becomes daunting at times. Meeting the expectations of the music education profession is important however, it is important to know that the classroom chemistry isn’t always there.

Noise Pollution Control

As a result, rather than trying to beat a concept to death I changed my teaching strategy and found ways to incorporate group work. Unfortunately, sometimes when students work in groups the focus of the lesson can be lost and students can become distracting to other groups.


The following are some recommended techniques for managing classroom noise levels to increase group learning.

1. Set a Timer

Setting a timer on a smart board, computer or an external manual device may help students guage the available time they have together when working on a task. The idea is that students have less time to engage in off task conversation and should take part in the actions that will help them complete assignment objectives.

2. Never Shout

I recommend to never shout. First I feel that if a teacher uses shouting as part of their classroom management students will duplicate this action. Not only only does shouting bring up the anxiety levels of all who are involved, it sometimes reinforces a dislike for the individual doing the shouting. Rather, speak in a firm, resonant and confident tone that is respectful toward all members of the class.

3. Reward Groups

Sometimes bringing negative attention to a group is not ideal or necessary. Rather, try rewarding the best group for meeting your expectations. This can cause a domino effect with more groups monitoring their actions more carefully.

4. Seek Suggestions

Your students know what motivates them. Why not ask them how they can most effectively work as a group and manage their own reasonable noise levels. You’ll never know when someone may surprise you.

5. Have a Noise Monitor

Often group work requires the use of multiple student roles. Try using a noise monitor. The responsibility of this student can take some of the pressure off of you so that you can more effectively assist in student learning.

6. Ring a Bell

Ringing a bell can serve as a gentle way to remind students to bring down the volume. This is helpful because it is not distracting and does not stop the flow of collaboration.

7. Flick the Lights

Flickering the lights often gets the attention of students however, depending on the maturity of your students, some may see this as an invitation to be allowed to do this too. I would limit this attention grabber.

8. Stand on the Podium

Standing on the podium is one of the iconic ways music directors have used to get student attention. This is a great attention grabber when rehearsing in a large groups but may have limited effectiveness when working in small groups.

9. Blow a Whistle

Blowing a whistle will certainly get the attention of your students. Please note, that if this done too much you will get complaints from students. Consequently, use this technique in a sparing and perhaps external environment where hear loss does not become a concern.

10. Play Calming Classical Music

If you are in a non-musical-instrument-playing environment, this would be a great classroom management technique. Not only do you remind students of their noise levels but you also get to listen to your favorite composers. The volume of the classical music can also serve as a measurement of how loud students are allowed to get when taking part in collaborative activities.

11. Snap Your Fingers and Have Your Students Snap Back

If the classroom is small and snaps are audible try this technique for cuing your students. Even though not all students can snap they will get the message.

12. Raise Your Hand Until Other Students Raise Their Hands

This is a common technique used in schools across the world. It is one of the universal signs for getting attention. I use this in the beginning of class after I have taken roll.

13. Stand Near a Noisy Group

Student’s attention to something naturally grows the closer an object is to them. A teacher is a no exception. Use this non-verbal cue to say my attention is on you.

14. Place Your Fingers Over Your Lips

Sometimes all that is needed to get the attention of your students is a simple visual cue. Placing your finger over your lips is a great technique to minimizing the noise made in a classroom. Intensify this gesture by looking into the eyes of a student who is particularly loud.

15. Use Your “Teacher Look”

Students often gain a sense of what a teacher is thinking through facial expressions. As educators we have this great tool called the “Teacher Look.” This look often communicates that you, the student, aren’t living up to my standards and you need to change this now!


Getting loud is a natural tendency of students when they work collaboratively. This is commonly observed in the professional world. As a result, being able to monitor environmental factors and having techniques to manipulate these variables is helpful when the task needs to get accomplished. Consequently, a greater awareness of a student’s work ethic and social demeanor will improve as a result of an educator’s commitment to monitoring student progress.



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