Social-Emotional Learning: Stress Release Techniques for Music Class


There is much discussion about incorporating more social-emotional learning (SEL) in schools during the next school year. Music class is certainly one of the perfect places to help students grow in this area. Music naturally incorporates the processing of emotion and the development of social skills which come from working with other students.

An SEL curriculum specifically teaches five core competencies to students: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The first two core concepts, in particular, may be more challenging as students are processing recent events.

To address these areas, Pepper recently hosted a webinar with music teacher Lesley Moffat. She is the author of two books: I Love My Job, but It’s Killing Me and Love the Job, Lose the Stress (available through the webinar below).

Moffat wrote these books as she was learning to contend with health problems that arose from the stress of working as a music teacher. She says she originally made some changes in her classes for her own benefit and found that those techniques had a significant effect on the students as well.

First, Moffat says she refocused on her core goals. She centered on:

  • Care – What do you really care about? (e.g. helping your students create beauty, making good decisions, building relationships, etc.)
  • Clarity – How can you best communicate that? (being clear what your goals are with students and administrators)
  • Consistency – Doing it every day (incorporating practices that you do daily to help achieve the goals you care about)

To get off on the right foot each day, Moffat uses what she calls “the Four-Minute Protocol” in her classes. She starts each class the same way by turning down the lights and guiding the students through breathing exercises. She says this helps clear their minds and gets them ready to learn – giving them better self-awareness and self-management skills. Moffat notes that she has seen great improvements in her students since she added this protocol to all her classes.

She walks through a demonstration in the webinar and gives more details about the journey that brought her to where she is today. The webinar can be viewed below.

Link to the full interview here. (The video below also has the full webinar now.)

For more details, view Lesley Moffat’s book I Love My Job, but It’s Killing Me.

For more information on social-emotional learning in music class, view Scott Edgar’s book
Music Education and Social Emotional Learning.

Mary Rogelstad
Mary Rogelstad
Mary Rogelstad joined Pepper in 2018 as the company’s Marketing Content Coordinator. Previously she worked as a journalist in the international media and as a communications specialist at various nonprofits. In her free time, Mary has enjoyed singing in various choral groups and performing in musical theater.


  1. I was really enjoying the discussion and looking forward to hearing the four minute protocol and the video stoped. Will you be adding this at some point? Thanks

    • Thank you for making us aware of this problem, Ron. We did not realize that our attempt to offer the full webinar via YouTube was unsuccessful. Another link to the webinar has been added. This will take you to a website where you can enter your email address to see the rest of the webinar. We’re so sorry for the inconvenience. We are still learning how to use some of these webinar tools!

      • We have now loaded a link where the full webinar can be viewed without providing an email address. We are working on loading the full webinar on YouTube as well and will have that loaded shortly. Thanks again for making us aware of this problem.

  2. Thank you for fixing the link to this webinar. I believe it will be very beneficial going forward. Lots of great ideas and experience to draw from.

    • Thanks for your note, Mike! We’re glad you found the webinar to be beneficial. We’re so sorry that the full video was not originally loaded, but it’s wonderful you had a chance to go back and watch it!

  3. Thank you for this excellent webinar! It was such a joy to learn about the 4-Minute Protocol and I am excited to begin using this practice with my students this fall.

    • Rena – I’d love to hear how this works for you and your students. Sending you lots of positive vibes for a fabulous experience. 🙂 -Lesley


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