10 English Music idioms

These music idioms are often used in everyday conversational English.  An idiom is a fixed phrase that doesn't change. The meaning is metaphorical rather than literal so you cannot usually know the meaning from looking at the individual words. I have created several different lists of idioms and infographics to help you as study English idioms.


An infographic with 10 music idioms listed on this webpage with their meanings and sentence examples.

More examples of music idioms

Here are a few more examples to help make the meaning of these music idioms even clearer:

Make a song and dance about something:  To make a fuss or exaggerate and complain about something that isn't really important.

  • We're just going out to dinner, don't make a song and dance about it.
  • Don't get frustrated. The boss always makes a song and dance about the year-end report but everything will be just fine.
  • I thought your girlfriend was cool but she made such a song and dance about us watching the game at your place.


swan song:  The last or final work, effort or performance.

  • This game is our swan song so let's win it!
  • The singer announced the concert would be her swan song.
  • If I had known this play would be my swan song I would have tried to enjoy it more.

sing from the same songsheet:  You say the same thing or follow the same plan.

  • I love working with this volunteer group because we all sing from the same song sheet.  
  • I hate group projects at school, most of the time none of us sing from the same song sheet.  

fine tune something:  To make something more precise or perfect by making repeated small adjustments.

  • I need to fine tune my choreography for the school dance.
  • We have several products being fine-tuned for production in the next couple of months.

like a broken record:  To say something again and again (which becomes annoying to the listener.)

  • Ugh! You sound like a broken record! I already said that I would pick up your dry cleaning after work. 
  • That's the fifth time my new manager bragged like a broken record about going to Harvard. 

toot one's horn: To boast or brag about your talents, successes or accomplishments.

  • In general, men find it easier to toot their own horns than women. 
  • If you want to succeed at this firm, you need to actively seek out projects as well as toot your own horn. 

fit as a fiddle:  To be in great shape or health.

  • My 81 year-old grandmother is fit as a fiddle. She can still do cartwheels, pull-ups and push-ups. 
  • When I ran track in high school I was fit as a fiddle. Now I breathe heavily just walking up the stairs.

play it by ear:  To do something without planning, preparation or practice.

  • Yes, I'd love to play tennis but I'm not sure what the weather is going to be like this weekend. Let's play it by ear. 
  • My parents are complete opposites: my mother likes everything planned in detail and my father always wants to play things by ear.

march to the beat of one's own drum:  To be unique by doing things in your own way.

  • We raised each of our children to be independent, have opinions and march to the beat of their own drums
  • It's very American to march to the beat of your own drum, but life can be very different for people in cultures where community and family are paramount.

for a song: Very cheaply; to buy or sell something at a very low price.

  • Check out this watch I got at the flea market. I got it for a song!
  • I bought this bag for a song five years ago and it's still stylish and in great condition.

Did you enjoy these music idioms?  There are lots more music-related idioms and I've created another infographic here if you want more practice.


Your turn to practice these music idioms

Time to practice these music idioms. Select an idiom from the list and write an example sentence. I'll provide feedback on your sentence.


› Music Idioms

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