13 MUSIC idioms

Hi English learners! Today’s lesson is about 13 music idioms. Here is the list:

  • Blow your own trumpet
  • Call the tune
  • Change your tune
  • As clean as a whistle
  • Face the music
  • Fiddle while Rome burns
  • As fit as a fiddle
  • For a song
  • It takes two to tango
  • Music to my ears
  • Play by ear
  • Play second fiddle
  • Ring a bell

Blow your own trumpet

 If someone wants to tell out loud and proud to everyone about their achievements we say that they blow their own trumpet.

  • Peter just can’t stop blowing his own trumpet ever since he was rewarded as the best employee of the month.
  • Although he was the best golf player in the company, John’s never blown his own trumpet about it.

13 MUSIC idioms

Call the tune

The person who calls the tune is in control, meaning that they can make decisions and tell people what to do. The original full saying goes – he who pays the piper calls the tune.

  • While I’m away, Malcolm will be the boss here, so do everything he says because he’s the one who calls the tune now.
  • Ask Brenda about the party. She’s the one who calls the tune.

Change your tune

If you change your tune, you begin to behave in a different way after the situation changes.

  • After the teacher told the students they won’t go on an excursion unless they do the homework, they immediately changed the tune.
  • The waiter told us there were no free tables but he changed the tune after we gave him some money.

13 MUSIC idioms

As clean as a whistle

Someone or something as clean as a whistle is very clean. 

  • Chris and her brother threw a party for the weekend while their parents were away but they made sure everything was tidy and as clean as a whistle when they returned.

It also refers to something honest and legal.

  • Paul had a few fights back in high school but he doesn’t have a criminal record; he’s as clean as a whistle.

Face the music

To face the music means to accept the criticism and punishment for something you’ve said or done.

  • After breaking the expensive vase, Mary had to face the music and tell her mum what she did.
  • Now when you’ve failed the exam, you’ll have to face the music and accept responsibility.

13 MUSIC idioms

Fiddle while Rome burns

When someone is doing something unimportant when there is an important issue at hand they should be dealing with, we can say that they fiddle while Rome burns.

  • You can’t just go on holiday while grandma is sick in the hospital. It’s like fiddling while Rome burns.
  • With climate change going on, world leaders seem to fiddle while Rome burns.

As fit as a fiddle

Here is another simile. It refers to a person who is healthy and in good shape.

  • Look at my dad. He is as fit as a fiddle after our skiing holiday in the Alps.
  • Although 84, my grandma is still as fit as a fiddle.

13 MUSIC idioms

For a song

 If you sell something for a song, then it must be really cheaply.

  • There is a final sale at Woolworth. Everything is going for a song because they want to clear out the storehouses.
  • The family needed money fast so they sold their apartment for a song. 

It takes two to tango

We use this idiom to say that both parties involved are responsible for something bad happening, not just one.

  • They broke up because their relationship was one-sided; we all know it takes two to tango. 
  • The negotiations failed because no one wanted to compromise. It takes two to tango.

13 MUSIC idioms

Music to my ears

You can say that something is music to your ears when you hear something you are very happy and pleased to hear.

  • It was music to my ears when I heard that my son is getting married.
  • The bell ringing at the end of the class was music to my ears as I almost fell asleep.

Play by ear

Sometimes, we don’t make a plan when deciding what to do but try to deal with it as the situation develops.

  • I forgot to take the notes for my presentation. I guess I’ll have to play it by ear.
  • We don’t know if it is going to rain tomorrow so we’ll have to play it by ear. 

13 MUSIC idioms

Play second fiddle

If you play second fiddle to somebody, then you are in a lower rank or position than that person.

  • Simon left the company because he was fed up playing second fiddle to some people in the office.  
  • If you don’t want to play second fiddle, you have to work hard and get the respect you deserve.

Ring a bell

When something rings a bell, it sounds familiar.

  • Her name rings a bell but I can’t remember if we’ve met before.
  • Now when you talk about it, it does ring a bell but I can’t remember watching that film.
13 MUSIC idioms
13 MUSIC idioms

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1 Comment

12 "Black" Idioms - My Lingua Academy · 9 Sep 2022 at 10:41 am

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