Using music for transitions and regulation of mood

Using music for transitions and regulation of mood

Students experience many transitions throughout their school life. For some students change is easy but for many students change and adjustment can be more complex, affecting their ability to learn.

music for transitions activities

Each day students are faced with many different types of transitions. From home to school, changing from one activity to the next, moving from room to room, or from transitioning from the playground to the classroom space. These transitions can be particularly stressful for students in Term 1 and may require additional support or planning.

Research by Dr Julie Turner-Cobb from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath found that some children beginning formal schooling experienced very high levels of cortisol and adrenaline (‘stress hormones’) in the 4-month period prior to school, and these levels remained high for a period after they started school.1 “(This) results in brain architecture that promotes impulsive, defensive action and diminishes the child’s access to higher-level thought processes.”2

Many schools have well established transition programs in place to welcome their new Prep students. Starting school is a significant change for young children. Transition programs can reduce anxiety and help establish important relationships. They make the ‘unfamiliar’ known and set students up for success.

Transition programs are equally important for students moving up into a new class. The same feelings of uncertainty can impact students’ behaviour and their connection to learning. Continuing to support positive transitions is essential to a child’s wellbeing. With a variety of tools to use throughout the school day, teachers can cater to different emotions and needs.

Including a variety of songs to help students transition at school can help students adjust so they are ready to learn. Music can be used as a coping strategy and support a child as they develop new routines and manage their emotions. Young students are often used to engaging in musical experiences before coming to school. Using a song can be a simple way for students learn new routines or procedure in a fun and engaging way. They can have a positive effect on a child’s wellbeing and promote a sense of belonging.

Incorporating musical games or learning experiences into the class routine helps to prioritise wellbeing. Students gain confidence getting to know their peers and it helps them to adjust to their new class setting. A song or musical game builds relationships within the classroom and fosters positive connections. In short, musical activities support children’s emotional, social, physical and cognitive development.

Teachers looking for music activities to support transitions in their classroom can find a selection of easy-to-use lessons and games on ARTS:LIVE. Sign in and get started today.  Or find a list of transition resources here.



  1. Burman, Lisa. (2013) “Times of Transition” Microsoft Word – newsletter Nov 2013.docx (lisaburman.com.au)
  2.  Gunnar, M. R., & Cheatham, C. L. (2003). Brain and behaviour interfaces: Stress and the developing brain. Infant Mental Health Journal, 24(3), 195–211. https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.10052