Music on a Cart

My Story: How I Ended Up Teaching Music on a Cart

January 14, 2017 9:49 AM By Danielle
How I Ended Up Teaching Music on a Cart |

I’ll never forget it. It was the spring of my senior year of college, which for many education majors means “student teaching” time. All of us music education students met together with our professor once a week to debrief on our daily teaching adventures in the classroom. I remember sharing about all the amazing instruments and resources my music teacher mentor had available in both of her elementary music rooms (she taught at two schools) and how I enjoyed writing and implementing all sorts of musically engaging activities. Another friend of mine also shared about the lessons she successfully taught, however there was one big difference: her mentor was on a cart, therefore, she also had to teach music from a cart.

I distinctly remember saying how much I admired her being able to teach under such circumstances and how challenging it must be. She shrugged and said it wasn’t as bad as she expected it would be and that it was a good experience. In my head, I thought, “Ugh...I’d never be able to teach on a cart.”

One of these days I’ll learn to stop saying the word “never”

Two years later, after completing my master’s degree, I sat in an interview for my dream job teaching elementary general music and chorus. It was a position opened due to a retiring music teacher who had, years prior, been given carte blanche to update her music room with numerous xylophones, metallophones, and other cool percussion instruments. I was excited at the prospect of working in such an environment, but in the back of my mind a question kept lingering. When it came to the “Do you have any questions for us?” portion of the interview, among other things, I asked about any possibility of the music room being taken away, repurposed, or changed. The administrators said they didn’t foresee it, but couldn’t rule out with absolute certainty that it would never happen.

Three years later . . .

I was called into the same office and told that due to an increase in kindergarten enrollment, they would need a 5th classroom. And mine was it. I would be placed on a cart. Cue dejection, disappointment, and tears:

Music teachers on a cart, you are not alone! |

There will be future blog posts detailing more specific steps of what to do to prepare for teaching music from a cart, but for now here’s 3 points to remember should you also find yourself in a similar situation of finding out that you’re losing your music room.

1. Accept the Hurt

There’s no denying it. It absolutely stinks to be told that you’re getting kicked out of your room. Yes, there are most definitely worst things in the world and everything can be put into perspective, but for this situation you have every right to feel hurt. It’s hard when people might say things to you, such as:

“It’s *just* music, so it’ll be fine”

“If you’re a good teacher, you can teach anywhere”

“The kids can still have fun singing songs”

Such thoughtless remarks can leave you feeling:


  • Marginalized
  • Unimportant
  • Misunderstood
  • Disposable


The list goes on. Being bombarded by such things is difficult, which leads me to the next point:

2. Take it one day at a time

Whether you’re told a week in advance or 6 months in advance, it’s hard to know where to begin. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don't chuck your whole curriculum. Don’t think you have to start from scratch. Plan your lessons from a cart in small increments and be open to inevitable adjusting and tweaking along the way. You don’t have to have it ALL figured out RIGHT NOW. Just take it one day at a time. And while you do that, be sure to...

3. Surround yourself with the positive encouragement

You’re going to need constant reminders that:

You are important, that your curriculum is important, 

and that you make an important contribution to the school community.

So with that in mind, place positive notes of encouragement where your eyes can frequently see it. Find community among other 'specials' teachers in your school and encourage one another. The MusicOnACart Instagram page is full of encouraging quotes if you're looking for someplace to start. Do whatever it takes to combat negative thinking!

Learn how to stay encouraged and bloom where you're planted on
A poster that's hung up inside my music closet :)

So how about you? Do you fear of one day losing your music room or are you already teaching from a cart? Do you have any other pointers that you'd like to add to this list? Let’s get the dialogue going in the comments below...we’re in this together!

Encouraging you to rock as you roll,

Looking for helpful elementary music teaching resources? Check out the Cart Closet! |


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