Episode 41 – Music & Physical Education

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast we explore how powerful Music can be in the PE classroom. This includes a look at streaming music services, must have sound systems and other game changing resources you can make part of your classroom tomorrow.

Resources explored in this episode include

Press Play below to listen or visit the podcast page.  Alternatively download a full episode transcript here


00:28 Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone, and welcome to Episode 41 of the P.E Geek Podcast. And as always, thanks for tuning in, and I really mean that. We’ve had a number of really exciting episodes over the last few weeks with some awesome interviews of physical education teachers, and there’s no shortage of those as we go forward over the next few weeks. Now, in today’s episode I’m gonna be diving into something that’s pretty central to not just physical education I think, but it’s really central to humanity. Humans are obviously deeply involved in music and have an affinity with it. I mean, I grew up listening to a whole genre, a whole collection of interesting music and it was a big part of my childhood, and still is a big part of my life. And I think it’s no different in the physical education context, I mean, music can play a really big part. So, the whole episode is gonna focus in and around that, what sort of apps are there, what sort of equipment do I recommend, and the sort of things that you can do to enhance a session and enhance engagement that are all central to music itself. So let’s dive into it.

01:41 JR: I often get asked about recommendations for wireless music devices that can be used with iPhones and iPads that actually do fill the room with a rich noise and music, and for many years, I mean, it was difficult to answer because there really wasn’t anything that I did recommend, until I discovered the UE Boom Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. And they’re exactly what they sound from the name, so simply connect your UE Boom to your smartphone, your iPad, etcetera via the bluetooth connection, no cords, nothing like that and you can simply go ahead and place it somewhere in your gymnasium or in a specific room, and you’re gonna know that the music will be rich, it’ll actually be vibrant and it’s gonna fill the room with that music. So, it’s the perfect solution for anyone who needs to move music, and have it portable and accessible from wherever they are. Now, it’s great if you’re teaching in a physical education space that isn’t indoors and you need to take it outdoors, and you need to… You wanna use music, but for many, many years you’ve just not been able to do it because it’s just been too much of a hassle, so I highly recommend the UE Boom and you can head along to thepegeek.com/ueboom to be able to see where you can get those.

03:12 JR: Now, once you’ve got your music setup, now I mean, I’m sure there are other choices, there are other things, that’s the one I recommend for mobile, but once you’ve got your music setup then there’s ultimately a collection of things that you can get in touch with so that you can play music in your classes. Now, before we go any further, I wanna point out the fact that I have released a brand new podcast called ‘Energize It’. Now, ‘Energize It’ came to me when a number of teachers had emailed me in asking about selections for music and so on that are appropriate. Now, by appropriate they mean they wanna use music in their class, but they’re unsure of songs and so forth that may be appropriate in terms of language, and themes, and so forth, as often some of the top 40 songs are somewhat inappropriate. So, I got thinking that, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a curated collection of music for physical education programs that could work as workout music, or rotation, or station music?” And it led me down the path of creating the ‘Energize It’ Podcast.

04:27 JR: Now, you can head along to thepegeek.com/energizeit, now ‘Energize It’ is spelled with E-N-E-R-G-I…


04:41 JR: Energize with a Z that should say, It. And it’ll take you along to the iTunes Store where you can subscribe, and you’ll be notified and it’ll automatically download all of the latest sessions as they appear. So, much in the same way that you’re listening to this podcast now, it just so happens that ‘Energize It’ is released in that exact method, it’s free. We have new tracks coming out every fortnight, and you can go along and hit download and you’ll have some three-minute tunes that you can use for rotations. Now, we’ve made them three minutes because it works well, it’s enough time to do a little quick activity. They run on the minute, so that you know you can be mindful of that and it helps you plan accordingly as such. Now, it’s not just workout and warm-up style music, there’s also some relaxation and cool-down style of music in there as well. And from all accounts people are enjoying it, and they love the fact that it’s a new song coming out fortnightly.

05:46 JR: Now, if you’re wanting to go in the line of getting access to some music that’s still themed appropriately, then you might wanna check out Tabata music. Now, Tabata music is a collection of songs that are on the iTunes Store. And if you search for ‘Tabata Kids’ or ‘Tabata Kids Music’, I should say, it’ll bring up the search results that have that in it. And as part of that, you can head along to thepegeek.com/tabata, T-A-B-A-T-A, and it’ll redirect you accordingly to the exact spot. It’s just a collection of kid-friendly songs that are all about getting people moving and active. It is a paid resource. However, if you’re looking for something that isn’t being drip fed out, like ‘Energize It’ is, then you might go along and head out Tabata Music or Tabata Kids Music. Now, once you’ve got those general songs cranking in your class, you might be looking for something a little bit more, depending on the age group of your kids, maybe it’s entirely fine, you don’t have any issue with some of the songs that are playing on contemporary radio and so forth. So, at that point, you would probably get in the line of trying something like Fit Radio. Now, Fit Radio is awesome, and I’ve spoken about it before. It is an app that you install on your iPhone or your iPad, and you log in, and then you get access to streaming stations of curated music that are dedicated around getting active.

07:20 JR: So, for example, once you log in, you get presented with variety of different choices and you click it, and it’s playing whatever it’s playing. There is no capacity for you to go and pick songs. There’s literally just capacity for you to pick the streaming station, whether it’s aerobic workout you’re after, or whether it’s something upbeat, etcetera, then you can dive in, click that, and know that the music that’s being played is all about trying to get you physically active. And it’s been done in a really impressive way, lots of fun. There is a free sort of tier, but then there’s also some paid elements as well that you can get access to.

08:00 JR: Now, as inside of that, there actually is a curated physical education channel, and I think it’s pretty impressive. So, down the bottom of the app, there is a workouts option, and as soon as you go into that, it shows you the list of popular workouts. And one of them that smack-bang right on the page is Phys-Ed, and basically, I’ve used that a lot as the easiest way, no fast, no thought process needed to get music into my classroom. Simply connect it to my UE Boom, hit the Phys-Ed station, and then know for a fact that I’m going to have tunes that are also there and ready to go.

08:41 JR: Now, just looking at the workouts that are present in the app right now, there’s everything from a Tabata-style workout, and it shows you the beats per minute. There is a 5K, 10K run, cardio, spin activity, Latin, Zumba, I mean, and all you need to do is just click it and you’re away; you don’t even think about it, which is a great mental burden release from having to choose songs. So, if you wanna check out Fit Radio, then head along to thepegeek.com/fitradio, and it’ll redirect you to the store for download. Now aside from Fit Radio, there are the alternative music streaming sources that you’ve probably heard me talk about such as Pandora. Now, Pandora’s very similar to Fit Radio, in that, you start with one song or one sort of genre, and then the app uses its magic to pick songs that are wrapped around the same style as what you originally picked. So, for example, if had your students that were doing a particular artist, or you found a particular artist that made sense, you would search for that as your “seed song”, and then, Pandora, basically, then starts to work its magic on picking songs that are very similar. Now, Pandora is great, and I’m a big fan of it in my personal life, but the only issue is, it isn’t available in all countries.

10:10 JR: So, you may go and search for it on the App Store, and it is free, and you may not be able to find it, and that’s because it’s only available in just a handful of countries at present. In the same token, we’ve also got Spotify. Now, Spotify is very much the same thing. It is actually the music choice that I personally use in my day-to-day life to listen to all of my music. I mean, I sort of gave up the whole notion of owning music and basically went in the line of having a permanent Spotify account that just enabled me to stream to my heart’s content, and just basically have access to everything. So, Spotify is that.

10:47 JR: Pandora is the same sort of thing, but you don’t pick your music, whereas Spotify, you can actually search for an artist and an album and search for this specific song that you want and click play. And if you have the paid account, then you can actually keep the songs offline and not have to be online to make use of it. So, Spotify is actually something that a lot of my students utilize, and one of the cool features of Spotify is that, you can collaboratively work on the playlist. So, let’s say you’ve got a collection of students that are in your class, then you could very easily create a playlist, and then they could all work on adding songs to that playlist, and that would mean that when you played the music in your class, that it was a collection of all the things that the students themselves had sort of added.

11:40 JR: So, I mean, I have done that before with my year 12 PE class. We were doing some workouts across the six-week training program, and the easiest way to get song choices was just to create a collaborative playlist. They all collaborated and picked a couple of songs here, and then it was just a matter of pressing play like that and knowing that we had a general flavor of everyone in the class in a really easy to manage sort of setting. And aside from that, I’ve also done the exact the same thing, but just had the playlist curated on my own device so rather than having kids work on it, I’ve just asked them for songs selections at the start of the theme over unit and I’ve just spent 10 minutes, searching for those songs and adding them to the playlist and then from then on it’s their song, they’ve got ownership over the music they were playing in the session and as long as it’s appropriate and I feel like it is, then we go ahead and do it in that method, so that’s ‘Spotify’ and you can get to thepegeek.com/spotify and it’s… As I said, my solution for actually listening to music in the classroom. So we’ve gone through a couple of streaming choices right from Fit Radio, Pandora, and Spotify. We’ve had a look at a couple of CDs and MP3s and podcasts and ‘Energise It’ and the Tabata Music.

13:02 JR: Now there is a number of other different things that you can do when you’ve got music on your device and one of these is an application that I myself have built and it was… To be honest, it was one of the first apps I ever made and it’s called ‘Music Workout’. Now ‘Music Workout’ requires that the songs are on your device which means that they actually physically have to be on it. So, you need to have downloaded them with iTunes or got them from other sources and synced it. But what ‘Music Workout’ lets you do is set the work periods and the rest period length so you can create a workout that actually has those things pre-programmed. So, let’s say it starts with three minutes of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest and then you get the picture three minutes, 10 seconds, three minutes and you can set how many times that is to repeat.

13:55 JR: You then select the playlist or the songs that you would like to be part of it and connect it to your speakers and then hit play. And what will happen is that the music will play for three minutes, when it gets to that three minute time it will pause and that is like the audio queue that it’s time to rotate or it’s time for everyone to stop and come back in. And then the rest period will be in silence and then as soon as the rest period is over it’ll start to play again. So, that’s how ‘Music Workout’ has been designed to work and it’s actually being one of the most highly received and most downloaded apps that I ever have put out and it’s become… Because of the fact that once you’ve set them up, let’s say a rotation and you don’t have to to look at the clock and the music is just working, becomes a really a powerful way just to organise your students. You’re not there trying to start and stop CD players or start and stop stop-watches. It’s just doing all of that for you on autopilot.

14:58 JR: Now in the same vein, another app which integrates music in a sort of seamless way is the ‘Music Beep Test’ app. Now, you can go and download this at thepegeek.com/musicbeep and it will redirect to the store and basically it’s the beep or PACER test as all of us would be familiar except rather than just hearing the annoying beep during the beep test or the PACER test, it’s actually using your music. So, what happens is you connect your phone or you connect your iPad into a set of speakers and then you get the students to start the test and the music starts, but when the beep to signal that they need to be at the end goes, the audio sort of ducks down and becomes a little bit less obvious and the beep sounds and then the music fades back up again, so it integrates the beep and the music together so that you end up with this really interesting experience which just makes it more enjoyable to do the beep test and from all of the accounts of the teachers who’ve used it, they’ve had a great experience. They’ve actually been able to see an improvement in the enthusiasm, motivation as the students are listening to tunes that they sort of enjoy.

16:14 JR: Aside from that, I mean, because it is conducting the beep test, you could have a student where and conduct the app themselves on their own device with the headphones in and they could be doing the beep test individually. Starting at different times, finishing at different times, all conducting the test and doing it for the headphones, you not being able to sort of hear it and just good for those students who may have been away and you can simply say to them “Well, just get the ‘Music Beep Test’ app” and off you go. You can complete that in your own just with minimal set up and minimal cost.

16:49 JR: So, lots of different choices here for music whether it’s right back down to using traditional forms of CDs and MP3s and so on or your streaming content. There’s so many different choices and certainly something that I encourage people to explore and trial in their programs. And just to finish off, one thing that I’ve been really fond of, it’s not necessarily PE specific, but I love it as a teacher and I love it at so many different levels and it’s called ‘Focus@Will’. Now ‘Focus@Will’ is an iPhone app, but it’s also a website and if you type in ‘Focus@Will’, you’ll find it. Basically, it is music inspired around helping you be productive with whatever it is that you’re doing. So, for example, it’s pretty much like Spotify or Pandora more to the point, but it’s all music that is geared towards helping you be productive and boost your productivity.

17:49 JR: So it’s stuff like classical music and ambient music and background tracks, cafe-style music, spa, and retreat-style music and the… What I do with it is when I wanna actually do work and focus, I will go to the ‘Focus@Will’ website. I will click play on the classical channel and I just get to sit back, and I know that it definitely has boosted my productivity levels when I’m doing that, and I know there’s multiple sort of studies that have proven it. So, go and check out ‘Focus@Will’, it’s really impressive for helping you create a little bit of atmosphere with what you’re doing and boosting your productivity. I mean, I use it at the start of my workshop. So when there’s still people coming in and there’s only two or three people in the room. You sort of encourage conversation by just having in the background, some of the ambient music, which actually is people conversing and eventually you were down… And I noticed that it works, because we go from being a really quiet room to having this subtle, sort of ambient music in the background. And all of a sudden, people are conversing, which is the net goal. So lots of options here. As always, you can head along to thepegeek.com/41 for a full collection of the notes and resources mentioned today, as well as a full word-for-word transcript. All right. See you on Episode 42.



The easiest way to listen to The PE Geek Podcast is via our dedicated mobile app, which you can download for FREE for iPhone/iPad & Android. The app will let you know when new episodes go LIVE & allow you to listen to all of the episodes while on the go. We even let you store files for offline playback so you don’t need to use your mobile data. Go download here.

Scroll to Top