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Music Idioms

4 min read
23 December 2020
student playing guitar

If you're studying English, speaking more like a native will be music to your teacher's ears. Kaplan research has discovered that music is frequently used in both English teaching and learning, and listening to music can be helpful for those learning English. Improve the way you speak English by reading this quick blog post and learn to use these music idioms in everyday conversation by checking out the example sentences. 


1. Elevator music

Meaning: Pleasant but boring recorded music that is played in public places.

Example: “Kevin hated going shopping in the mall. He was tired of all the elevator music!”


2. Ring a bell

Meaning: Something that sounds familiar.

Example: “Tina was sure that she had heard that music idiom before. It certainly did ring a bell!”


3. For a song

Meaning: Buying or selling something for a very cheap price.

Example: “Roy was selling his collection of toys very cheaply. They were going for a song!”


4. Like a broken record

Meaning: Someone who repeats the same thing again and again.

Example: “Hazel was tired of listening to Rob talk about Manchester United all the time. He sounded just like a broken record!”


studends playing instruments inside the school
Jam session anyone?


5. Blow your own trumped

Meaning: Proudly boasting about your own talents and successes.

Example: “Chase’s boss told him to 'Blow your own trumpet' after he succeeded at work.”


6. Jam session

Meaning: Playing improvised music in an informal setting.

Example: “Daryl and John got together in the studio for a jam session. They were thinking up ideas for their new album.”


7. Call the tune

Meaning: Making important decisions and controlling a situation. 

Example: “Juan was keen to call the tune in the meeting. He wanted to take control of the team.”


8. Blow the whistle

Meaning: Reporting an illegal or unacceptable activity to the authorities.

Example: “Martin had to blow the whistle at work when he saw Hazel stealing from the stationary cupboard.”


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9. Change your tune

Meaning: to change your opinion about something. Commonly used to refer to the act of changing your opinion on something completely, especially if that thing is suddenly working to your advantage.

Example: "You used to hate listening to The Killers, you've changed your tune!"


10. Clean as a whistle

Meaning: Someone who is clean as a whistle is well behaved and doesn’t get involved in illegal activity.

Example: "I never get driving tickets, my driving record is as clean as a whistle."


11. Face the music

Meaning: Probably the most ominous idiom of the bunch, this one is used to refer to someone receiving a punishment or accepting the unpleasant results of their actions.

Example: "Rory you know you were in the wrong for missing class, now you must face the music."


12. Music to my ears

Meaning: Referring to something as music to your ears means that it is something you are pleased to hear.

Example: "Hearing that you've completed the assignment early is music to my ears." 


Did any of these idioms surprise you? Make sure to test these idioms out with people around you to make you sound like a native speaker. 


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