Production Music

Mar 25, 2013

Every once in a while, there's a need to add some music to a project.

I came across a website offering a varied selection of music that was designed for video production... which is a short step away from e-learning production in many ways.

The best part... it's royalty free; here are the only requirements:

* All music in this online collection created by Jason Shaw Released under Creative Commons License 3.0. You are free to use the music (even for commercial purposes) as long as you provide a link to this website from yours OR credit us with, "music by". Must be part some other created works. No further permission is required.

May be worth a listen:

Free is good!

8 Replies
Russ Sawchuk


Thanks for that great link! However, the next questions I have are: 1. When is it appropriate to use music? and 2) what music is most suitable?

I added background music to one of my nursing quizzes. Feedback showed that about half loved it and half hated it! Go figure.

I would love to hear the experiences, strategies and successes of others in incorporating music into their e-learning.



Scott Hewitt

Hello Russ,

We could apply the 50/50 rule to many elements of creative work!

If we have used music, sound effects or narration that we've tended to allow the user/learner the option to turn the sound off. We've created a number of e-learning models where we've provided 2 versions - interactive and documentary. In each version we've still allowed the user the option to turn off the sound effects and the sound track.

If you have a look at our website we've completed some mini-games and we've uploaded them on our game based learning page. The first one is called wants and needs and it has used sound effects - you might find it useful to have a look at it!.

Recently we've found that a lot of our clients don't support sound - either their machines don't have speakers or the ability to plug in headphones so we've not been able to include sounds. When we have integrated sound we've need to think about where the course is going to be used - Is the environment quiet? Will it be irritating to other people? Will it distract the learner? Does it serve a purpose? Can we get good quality sounds?Will the course have a lot of repeat/play/users? Is the sound/music frustrating?

Hope this helps,


Dave Neuweiler

Hello Russ, here are some examples of when and how I use production music in e-learning. You’ll recognize the same kinds of techniques used in television and movie production.

At the title screen, I insert some introductory music. The length is usually between 6 and 15 seconds, and this depends on the amount of information provided on the title screen; for example, if it’s text and graphics only, it’ll be on the short side. If there’s narration as well, it’ll be longer. If there’s narration, I typically set the music at 10% of the voiceover volume. The music can be a “stinger” (a complete piece of music with a beginning and end, but short in length), or an edited part of a longer piece of music, in which case it would fade down to silence as the slide plays toward its end.

At the concluding screen of the module, music to provide an aural cue that we’ve reached the end. For continuity, I like to use a variation of whatever was used at the title screen. Once again, it might be a “stinger” or an edited piece that fades up as the slide plays.

If there are sectional slides for different topics in the course, a few seconds of the same music used for the opening and closing works well, and if added as audio in Presenter instead of as a playlist, it can be used to auto-advance to the next screen for the user.

If there’s a “framing scenario” for the module, background music can set the desired tone. What I mean by a framing scenario is telling a story about the module that frames the overall objective. For example, a HAZMAT course could begin by telling a story about how a HAZMAT spill occurred (oops!), what incorrect actions employees took (yikes!), and the consequences of taking incorrect actions (ouch!). The course then teaches the correct actions to take.

Finally, for knowledge checks, quizzes, learning games/activities, I like to use a short piece of music that cues the learner that a question or task is coming. “Thinking music,” if you like (just think, “Final Jeopardy” and you get the idea).

All of these examples use short music durations and likely won’t bother users. On the other hand, if you lay down one or more playlists for an entire module, I think that can elicit complaints, so it’s important to give the user the option of having the music or not.

If the module is text only, that’s not a problem as they can use the volume control. But if there’s narration, using the volume control would mute the voiceover as well. In this case, there’s an audio widget available from eLearning Enhanced that adds this functionality to Presenter:

So in short, I think that adding music can enhance a module by enhancing the user’s enjoyment, by proving continuity (in much the same way that a PowerPoint template does), and by providing emphasis at important points in the course.

Dave Neuweiler

Russ Sawchuk said:

Thanks Dave,

I am just now finishing up an narrated e-learning project built using StoryLine. So I guess I will go and add music as you suggested. It will be interesting to see what the client thinks.

Again, thanks for the useful advice and tips.


You're welcome, Russ. I hope your client has good feedback for you! 

Jenise Cook (

Hello, everyone:

Most of our clients only want music on Title and Subtitle screens, to create a sense of "separation"...end one lesson and begin a new lesson.

For first responder courses, a different example, sound effects of sirens, vehicle crashes, hospital sounds, creates a sense of "place" in a virtual learning environment.

On a different note ("note", a pun, sound, audio... yea, I know!)

I use

They're beginning to offer free stock media files also:

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