I recently wrote a blog post on the importance of networking for The Music Crew. Here’s the post in case you missed it. Just click on the image below.
Here’s another tool in your toolbox for getting music students to practice their instruments at home. It’s part of the foot-in-the-door phenomenon and works well for all sorts of tasks that we tend to put off.
The foot-in-the-door technique is a way to coerce someone into doing something big by asking them to do something small first. For instance, you could ask your principal for permission to display music advocacy posters throughout the school. Then, when you ask for funds to buy new music stands, your principal will be more likely to say yes to keep the positive momentum going.
There’s also a way to use this technique on yourself. For instance, if you tell yourself that all you have to do is put on your running shoes with no obligation to go for a jog, you will inevitably find yourself jogging more often than not. The same principle applies to practicing. Students must agree to open their cases every day at home. Just open it and nothing else. Students will have to fight the urge to pick it up and play every day. Chances are they will practice a time or two when they otherwise wouldn’t.
Right now is an excellent time of year to do this because winter break is about to begin, and the new year is coming up. Why not have your students make a New Year resolution to do the simplest of tasks that may lead to practicing. Have each section or student commit to something like opening the case, buzzing for 10 seconds on their mp, or putting on their neckstrap once a day. Even sitting for a minute or two and thinking about technique or the clapping a rhythm can do wonders. I’ve added a Small Steps Chart to my Monthly Practice Chart set as well as my New Years Color-By-Note set, but you could easily make your own!
Wishing your students a year of happy practicing!
Need a engaging song to sing with your primary students this Fall? Five Fat Turkeys is a popular one and here’s a little game I came up with to keep the kids interested, while providing plenty of opportunities to sing as a class.
After teaching the song, I wanted to make it the focal point of my lesson by reinforcing the song through repetition. I still had a drawing of a tree on the whiteboard from an earlier activity and this is the game that developed out of that.
- Draw a tree on the white board and stick 5 turkeys on it with tape or magnets. I used die-cut turkeys.
- Tell the class that they need to close their eyes so the turkeys can hide because, they think some of you are cooks!
- With their eyes closed, take the turkeys off of the board and place them out of sight. Tell the class to open their eyes.
- Choose a student to be the cook. While the class sings the song, the cook walks around and tries to guess where the turkeys are hiding.
- Little do they know that you’ve hidden another set of 5 turkeys under their seats/sit spots before they arrived.
- When the song is over, the cook get 1-3 guesses as to where a turkey may be hiding by pointing to another child’s seat.
- The seated child checks underneath for a turkey. If a turkey is found, that child becomes the cook and the game repeats. If all of the guesses are used up and no turkey is found, you can appoint a new child to be the cook.
Hope your students enjoy this fun, fall song!
Did you know that simple routines in your music classroom can knock out a majority of unwanted behaviors? If you don’t have a clearcut routine for most of your lessons, your students walk in not knowing what to expect. Routines also help students transition from activity to activity without feeling insecure. They are able to transition quickly and focus on other things like reading, composing, and listening.
Think about going to the grocery store, what if all the foods were in different aisles every week? Think about your bedtime routine, it’s usually the same every night, and that’s ok! It’s great to have spontaneous moments, but it’s also beneficial to give your students an idea of how your time together will be spent. Ensemble classes like band and chorus may lend themselves more toward a routine. Students know how much time they generally have to set-up, they also know that tuning and warm-ups come before rep. The same can be true for your general music classes. Do this by deleveloping a series of activities. Then plug in old objectives for new ones.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
1. Entering the room: have assigned seats, will students enter with music and/or movement? Pick out a hello song that lends itself to changing with your objective for the day.
2. Roll call. Sing roll or use a chant, just be consistent while also adding new twists as the year progresses.
3. Sing warm-ups. Don’t worry about being boring, children love repetition! Switch it up when you start getting bored, chances are you’ll get tired of the songs before they do. You can start with a simple tune that eventually becomes a round.
4. Review with some fun flashcard games tailored around your objective. You could also use whiteboard or powerpoint games.
5. Teach the new song you have picked out. Maybe on the first lesson, they will only learn the rhythm, and in the next lesson they will learn the melody. Then in their final lesson they will play a circle game with the song.
6. Review something new that you’ve learned with some centers activities or another whole group game. Maybe you will work on a project at the end of class. Taylor to your teaching needs, but be consistent.
7. Exit the same way every class. I’ve used good-bye songs with primary and with the older kids, something as simple as clap 1: stand, clap 2: turn, and clap 3: file out of the room, has worked for me.
Do what works for you, just be consistent! To hear an in-depth conversation on this subject, check out The Elementary Music Teacher’s podcast where I chat with Jessica about my journey in developing a routine!
Happy March! Everyone’s making their March Madness brackets, why not channel some of that excitement towards music history and appreciation? I got this idea from my amazing former co-worker a few years ago who made a book bracket for the media center. I think the big winner then was a Minecraft book or maybe it was Diary of A Wimpy Kid… but probably
This is one of the simplest bulletin/wall decor designs you can make. Just take a piece of paper (printer or butcher), a ruler, and a sharpie and draw some brackets! The design that I’ve used has the traditional 64 spots, but you could easily eliminate the outer brackets for 32 or 16 spots. You could also just use the right half only. If your school has a die cut machine just make a title like “Classical Music Bracket” and you’re done!
How to Set-Up Your Brackets
- Outer columns: 16 brackets per side (4 per page)
- Next column
in:8 per side (2 per page)
- Next column
in:4 per side (1 per page)
- Next column
in:2 per side (top 1/2 of one bracket connects to the bottom half which will be on a second page)
- Winner rectangle in center (turn page horizontally)
Customize Your Brackets
- I filled my brackets with composers from the Medieval to Modern periods but you could do a combo of any genre. I have pieces from the Medieval to Impressionist periods on the left, and Modern pieces (not including Impressionist) on the right.
- You could do Classical vs. Popular to get the kids even more excited.
- I’ve made sure to include some instantly recognizable classical hits (Figaro’s Aria) along with pieces by composers of color that my music history classes overlooked such as works by Florence Price and Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
Ways to Use Your Brackets
- If you have been told to incorporate more “literacy” (insert eye roll here), you could have them write which piece they chose to win and why.
- Students can also have a friendly debate with each other on why they think their piece should win.
- Students can vote for winners, or different classes can choose winners from brackets that are assigned to them. Then, a third class can choose the winner of the two brackets who are up against each other, and so forth.
If you want to literally just print and tape/staple these pages up, you can find the editable PowerPoint file or Print-and-Go PDF on TeachersPayTeachers. Just click here! The final look is HUGE (8′ x 3.5′) and uses about 30 pieces of paper. It will take up a big chunk of the wall so if you don’t have that kind of real estate, just post it in the hallway for everyone to enjoy! 🙂