Thursday, December 6, 2012

What's Our Dynamic?

As music teachers, we are continually trying to discover opportunities to use musical terminology a variety of ways in the classroom.  While browsing through Pintrest, I saw a classroom noise level chart.  This was a very cleaver idea, which sent my mind floating upon ways that I could alter it for music class. So... I came up with this.

First, a chart was created to display the different dynamic levels used in music.  Whenever we are learning a new piece of music, a student is chosen to come up to the "dynamic" chart and move the arrow to the level we will be using for that song.  For example, the teacher may ask the students to find any dynamic markings in the song, then have them come up to the chart to move the arrow.  As the dynamics in the song change, the teacher or a student could move the arrow accordingly.

The arrow was simply made by gluing a clothes pin to a laminated arrow made from construction paper.  Not only do we use this chart when learning about music, we also refer to it for the sound level of our classroom.  When asking a student to read out loud, the teacher could say, "Who would like to read this paragraph about Mozart in a loud forte voice?"  While working in small groups, the teacher could move the arrow to give a visual for the volume level of the class.  Students will begin to understand that when speaking and in music, fortissimo is reserved for special and appropriate times.

This chart has been a great visual and classroom management tool for my class.  Here's hoping it might be helpful to you too!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Looking for a mini musical that correlates with curriculum and works within the skill level of a group of students is of the utmost importance.  About three years ago, the 3rd grade students at my school performed "Twas the Night Before Christmas" By Sally Albrecht. (click the link to view the music) 

This was a perfect musical for students and the social climate on our campus at that time.  This show features unison and 2 part voices, the story by Samuel Clements and parts of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies by Tchaikovsky.  The students had a wonderful time learning the story and the songs, as well as the parents enjoying the performance.  

The stage was a fun combination of ideas and shared items brought in by parents and neighbors.  It became one of the most beautiful sets as our tiny stage turned into a living room.  The look of a living room can be easily made by making a window and framing it with curtains.  Adding items found in a living room, then all of a sudden, you are transported into a home.  
Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Christmas at the O.K. Corral

MusicK8 is such an amazing website, with a great magazine subscription, wonderful shows and links to super music class ideas.  One of the most exciting and fun shows is "Christmas at the O.K. Corral" by Teresa Jennings.  This show is filled with fun songs and speaking parts that are easy for students to memorize.  The teacher's edition has drawings of set design ideas, as well as costume concepts for the kids to wear.  With the help of amazing parent volunteers, the following pictures will show the stage set that came to life for our show.

Click the link below to find our more about how to purchase the show.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's what? - Parts of the Guitar (Lesson 1)

Although it seems basic, one of the first things a young guitar student needs to know is the parts of the instrument. It can be quite a challenge to teach students how to play, if they are unaware of the names of the parts of the guitar.  1st string, 1st fret, finger number 1 and all words that are used as kids learn names of notes and open chords are crucial in helping the student learn.

This power point is lesson #1 in a series of lessons regarding the guitar.
Click the link below to see the slide show presentation

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Where do I put my paper? - A tale of Sponge Bob

It's inevitable that whenever a class of students complete written work, the question as to where to place the papers is always the topic of conversation.  In an effort to recycle items, I decided to began using a SpongeBob Square Pants popcorn tin to hold our written work.  The students quickly identified where to place their papers every time and it helped eliminate continuous questions.  The flow of the class for line up is now great, and the kids love to take a look at SpongeBob on the way out the door.
The tin has a different facial expression on each side.  This could easily be made by simply using a box and drawing four different faces.  I have also thought it might be fun to have four different composers on the box and each day turn to discuss the composer.  Maybe even using music symbols might be a fun and little extra way to add music vocabulary into our day to day activities.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

This Is America

Designing a stage for a show can be time consuming and we all know the limitations of the clock when putting together a performance.  For Veteran's Day, it was decided that we would make something simple, classy and respectful.  The name of the show was "This Is America" and many of the songs for the performance came from the MusicK8 website.

A musical to honor our Veterans

The back wall was covered in dark blue butcher paper and the United States map was made of syrofoam from the local hardware store.  It is important to use paint that will not melt the syrofoam.  We used classroom paint and it worked well once it was dry.  Long pieces of paper were hung from the ceiling to form this unique look.  By adding the title of the show and the flags on the stage, parents and students alike were thrilled as the curtain slowly opened before the show.

I have found great success in using musicals and songs from the MusicK8 website.  Not only are the shows kid friendly, but the show tracks sound amazing!

Click the red title below to find ideas for show songs.

Good luck with your show.  And God Bless America!

Magical Mozart - A music marker for students

One of my favorite times of the day in music class, is when the kids are singing and reading music.  Watching them follow along with such great anticipation to get every word, dynamic and note right is a thrilling moment.  But when a student is lost in the music, I would find myself bent over towards the ground trying to help them discover where we are in the song. Ultimately, I would end up not being very helpful since the book was so far away (my sight has sure changed with age) and end up with a head rush as I stood back up.

Music marker for students
That is when "Magical Mozart" was created.  "Magical Mozart" is a puppet on a long stick (about the length of a yard stick).  Mozart helps kids find their place in the music, divides the class into groups and whispers things into my ear when he has a musical thought about what he is hearing or seeing in class.  The kids love to see Magical Mozart and do recognize him as an historical figure, who is sometimes mistaken for George Washington.

A composition by Mozart is hummed or played as he is waved over the heads of the kids.  They seem to enjoy this and sometimes hum along.  Well, if the kids could become familar with Mozart in this fun way, what other important musical figure could be used...
Music marker for students
None other then the "King of Rock and Roll"!  The students just love to see Elvis.  As a matter of fact, they love him so much, they will pretend they are lost so Elvis will point at their music.  What a joy to see kids engaged and interested.  And all I really would like to say to my Magical Mozart and Elvis on a stick is......"Thank you, thank you very much!"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What's Inside the Box? - (The Kindergarten Hook)

music box for music class
Music class for kindergarten students can be a time of wonderment and fun, but as teachers, we know that finding a way to keep students engaged is of the utmost importance.  The music box is one way to to set up the objective of the lesson in a fun way.  When using the music box, the teacher will sing the call and the students will complete by singing the response.  The teacher begins by tapping a beat on the box, then singing the song.  When the song is finished, the teacher can ask the class what they think is in the box.  By giving clues or shaking the box, students can deduct what will be the objective or an element within the lesson.  A student is then chosen to open the box and discover what is inside.  It's such a fun way to start the lesson, and the kiddos love to sing along!
Here's the song, so you can join in too!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

DIY - Treble Clef Toss Game

Learning about music

Games to learn how to read music

Here's a simple yet fun game that is great to use during center time. This game was made from materials that were on campus; large piece of bulletin board paper, tape, beans (left over from a sound unit project) and cloth.  

The instructions for the game are located on the back side of the game name plate.  In addition, a treble clef staff with the names of each line and space are written on a piece of paper with the point values.  This is to help kiddos who are unsure about the names of the notes, and does not interfere with the students who might already know.
Learn how to read the treble clef staff

Students keep score on a dry erase board, and the one with the most points at the end wins.  This game is great to reinforce addition skills, as the students must not only say the letter name on the staff, but add up the point value to give their score to the score keeper.
It is easy breezy treble clef fun!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Arizona Road Trip - Celebrating 100 Years!

February 14, 1912 is the birth date of my native home of the great state of Arizona.  And this past year, we celebrated 100 years.  Of course, this is cause for a show! The 4th graders in our state study Arizona as part of their social studies unit curriculum, so we designed a show specifically to highlight some of the many wonderful features of Arizona.  An Arizona show would not be complete without the mention and singing of the song, "Route 66".  This sparked the idea of an Arizona road trip and the need for an awesome van to take on the road. (Or at least sit on the stage.)

Our Arizona van could seat 6 passengers at a time, which was great for speaking parts!  The students were able to pass the cordless mic from performer to performer while seated in the van.

As the director of the show, I thought of this crazy idea to have a van but it was the incredible skills of Lori the Amazing Paper Lady that made it happen.  The following pictures will show you how the van was able to remain upright during the show.

Lori used cardboard and some panels of wood to make the frame of the van.  Cardboard slats were placed over the chairs and the kids sat on top of the cardboard and chairs.

 The driver held the steering wheel up and pretended to drive.

And there you have our Arizona van!

To help the students understand the placement of Arizona's counties, they learned a song and made a map on stage in front of the audience.  First, the prop looked somewhat like the Arizona state flag, minus the copper star in the middle.

As the students sang the name of each county in the song, they would attach the parts of the map to the flag until it showed a complete map of Arizona.

The kids enjoyed making the map and the audience had a strong visual of where the counties in Arizona are located.

It was wonderful to see the cross-curricular connections between social studies, cultures, community and music.  To watch the audience sing along and tap their toes to the music promoted an experience between people that only music can provide.  Music really is the universal language.
Happy 100th Birthday Arizona!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Treble Clef Putt-Putt

Here's a fun station for students to go to that helps with note identification in the treble clef staff.  This game, (much like Ping-Pong Rhythms) was designed because my husband had this automatic putting system that was not in use.  (A Father's Day gift from me. Opps!)  Anyway, I was looking at this putting green trying to figure out how I could use it in my classroom and came up with this game.

First and foremost, it must be noted that I have been using this game in class for about 5 years (3rd grade & older for review), and prior to explaining how to play the game to the class, we discuss safety.  We talk about how this is not a "Tiger Woods Monster Drive", but a simple putt.  The kids giggle and then the game instructions continue.

music class ideas - music games  

To play the game, there are 10 golf balls with the a variety of treble clef staff notes written on them.  One ball has the word, "wild" on it.  These balls are placed in a bag and the first player with their eyes closed, takes out a golf ball from the bag.  While showing the golf ball to the other players, the student who picked the ball tells the group the name of the note.  If the student is correct, they then have a chance to putt the ball into the hole.  I have included a treble clef staff on the front of the instructions for the students to refer to if they get stuck and I ask that the kids help each other to learn the notes so that everyone is able to putt.  

music class ideas - music games

If the student makes the putt, the score keeper will give that student 1 point for that round.  If the student misses the putt, the score keeper will put a 0 for that round.  Sometimes a student is very lucky and retrieves the "wild" ball from the bag.  The student would automatically get 1 point for picking that ball and then has a chance to putt.  If they make it into the hole, they would then receive a total of 2 points for that round.  At the end of 10 rounds, the student with the highest score is the winner.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ping-Pong Rhythms

Ping-Pong Rhythms is another game that a small group of students can play.  While others work with the teacher on instruments or on a specific music project, Ping-Pong Rhythm students are content with playing while learning about rhythms.  The idea for this game was discovered when we purchased a dog feeder, and shortly there after found out that our dog didn't know when to stop eating.  So, here we had a dog feeder with no real use.  My attention then quickly turned to music class!  How can it be used?  The beauty of the dog feeder is that because it has an incline, it offers an automatic return for a ping-pong ball.  This was great!  We went to the dollar store to hunt down some balls.

Here are the items that are needed to make Ping-Pong Rhythms:
~A Dog Feeder
~10 Ping-Pong Balls
~One large dice
~Instructions for the game

This next picture shows the instructions for the game.  It has been a great hit!
Music game for elementary age students.  DIY project from

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rock and Roll Forever Soda Shop

When considering the look of a stage for a good old rock and roll show, a great thought is an old fashion soda shop.  For this musical production, we used the show called "Rock and Roll Forever- How it All Began" by John Jacobson and John Higgins.  This program features the music of many old favorite artists, groups and music from the past.  One of the songs from the show was "I Wanna Hold Your Hand".  During this song, the kids rolled out this picture of The Beatles.  When the bridge of the song began, the kids lifted the face of a Beatle, put their face through the poster and started to sing.  Additionally, this poster made an outstanding "photo op" for the kids and family after the show.  Although an overhead projector could be used to trace the bodies, it could also be drawn free hand as this artist had done. (Nice work Mr. M)

The counter for the soda shop was made of black bookshelves from the music room.  They were perfect, as the back of the shelves faced the audience and the opening of the shelves held props that kids took out during the show.  The students pretended to make ice cream sundae's and shakes behind the counter.  It really gave it that 1950's feel!

Make sure to take a close look at the jukebox in the back corner of the stage.  This jukebox was all made of cardboard by Lori Schuermann.  Lori is a mom of one of the students and has a deep love for working with paper and cardboard.  This was a hidden talent that wasn't discovered until she began working on bulletin boards around the campus and sets for the shows.  She is truly amazing and has agreed to share her creations and ideas with us!  Yeah!  Keep looking for our new page called, Lori's Creations coming soon!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Composer of the Month

With time constraints always being an issue in music class, a friend made the suggestion to have a "Composer of the Month".  The idea is to post in a frame a picture of a famous composer.  Then pick a time during the month such as the first week or second week to play one composition by this composer.  It can be played as the students enter the classroom, can be used as transition music or even to exit.  It's always amazing to hear how many songs the kiddos recognize from various life situations.  Life can be so fast moving, but teaching children to stop, listen and make an educated decision about music is truly a life long lesson. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ducky Music Symbols Game

Let's admit it.  Getting 30 elementary kiddos to work in harmony (both literally and figuratively), is quite a major task.  This is why the discovery of musical centers was very pleasing to me!  As most wonderful ideas, this came from a co-worker, who learned it from and co-worker and shared it with many.  (Thank you Shawna and Claire).  Although this specific idea came straight from my little head, it all came to be because of learning experience as a substitute music teacher.

Ducky Music Symbols Game can be played with 1 to 5 players.  Thus making it a great game for students to play while the teacher is working with small groups.
Here's a list of items used to make the game.
  • An old cologne box  (Any small box would do.)
  • 16 small rubber duckies
  • 16 playing cards
  • Sharpie Permenent Marker
  • Printer

The playing cards for the game were made from this wonderful link on

The rubber duckies were purchased at a party store. With a Sharpie marker, each music symbol was written on the bottom of each duck.  This could also be done with rhythms or notes on a specific clef.

Once all the ducks were labeled and flash cards were made, the instructions on how to play the game and a key was typed up and glued inside the box.  The key was added to the game for the students who might not remember what the music symbol looks like just by seeing the name.

The original plan was to have a small container with water to have the ducks float on top, much like a carnival game.  Unfortunately, these duckies continued to float face down, thus showing the music symbol.  So, if you would like to use water, make sure that the ducky is heavier on the bottom than the head.
*Please note an error in the key of the instructions. (mp should read mezzo piano, not mezzo forte).

The kiddos really enjoyed playing the game and it gave me time to work with a small group that needed  some extra help.  Extra time to help students and kids learning music symbols through a game is a win-win!  Have fun!

UPDATE!!  Here is a twist on the ducks.  It shows that anything in the dollar store can work with a little imagination!  Thank you Judy C. for sharing!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Character Counts - Show Set

Here's an idea for a stage set to be used in a "Character Counts" show.  The scene was to show a place where kids come to play and sometimes, not play so well together.  This was a perfect format to sing about trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship!

The trees were made from school butcher paper and the trunks of the trees were stapled to the back wall.  The green leaves of the tree were hung from the ceiling to give the illusion of a very large old tree.

The slide was put together using a ladder and a real sliding board.  Although the kids did not slide down the board, they were able to sit at the bottom of the slide and stand at the top.  This really looked great on the stage and allowed for the parents to have a "photo op" of their little star for the scrapbook!

When this picture was taken, our second borrowed bench had not yet been delivered, but we promise, those two classroom chairs were removed for the performance.

This set was designed by many awesomely creative people, but the loudest shout outs must go to:
Lori S. (The Magic Paper Lady), and (Draw It On the Spot) Victoria! Love you two!

Welcome to Music Class Ideas!

Music Class Ideas is a place where you can find fun and exciting things to do in your elementary music class.  All the concepts have been tried in the classroom and have been successful for a music teacher.  Search through the categories to discover ideas from awesome website links to play sets and costumes!  Many of these lesson plans have been shared by other teachers and if the idea did come from somewhere else, you'll be sure to know.  This way you can visit their sites for more fantastic lesson plans and learn ways to inspire the children you teach to love music!

It is so important to share ideas and things that continue to work in your classroom, so if you have an idea or would love to share your link, please email us at  We would be so pleased to hear from you.  Hey, we know that teaching music is a crucial element in the development of the whole child, so we need to help and support each other to be the best we can for the students.  Sharing is caring and let's not forget what Dr. Seuss says, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not."  So search and share your ideas, because YOU the music teacher are the expert!
Music matters!