Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Music Class

Music doesn’t need to be a scary subject to teach. You don’t have to be a musician. You don’t have to be a good singer. You don’t have to have any talent or passion to teach it to your students.

This week’s Teaching Tip Tuesday post is for all the reluctant classroom teachers who find themselves without a music teacher in their schools.

Here is what you need to design your own music program.

Put Music on Your Schedule

Half an hour a week is all you need. I teach my music on Friday afternoons.

I have seen way too many classroom schedules that don’t have weekly music classes. Music is part of the curriculum that you have a responsibility to teach. Please don’t just leave all of your music instruction to the Christmas pageant.

Learn a Song Together

Pick a song that you like and that is easy to sing. I like to start off the year with Yellow Submarine. I create a song map to help students understand that music can be written down and read. A song map is basically a simple diagram that stands in for the words of the song.

Teach basic notes

The best way to teach basic note values is to clap patterns.

I use these overheads that I inherited from a retiring teacher years ago. I scanned them into my computer so I could use them on the SMARTboard this year.

The Rhythm Pattern below is ta, ta, ta, ta (which are all single claps and are timed with a 1, 2, 3, 4) , the next measure is ta, ti-ti, ta, ta (a ti-ti is pronounced tee-tee and is two quick claps but still follows the same time of 1,2,3,4) The Z like shape is a rest and you can clap a rest by bringing your hands apart.

To start clapping this pattern in unison, count the class in.

Say, “Clapping hands ready. 1, 2, ready, go.” You can tap the beats out using a meter stick if you find it helpful.

Teach your students the hand signs.

You can now use the same overhead as above to teach your students how to sign across the top line.

If you have a keyboard, a piano, or a harmonica, you can play a C and ask the students to find their “So”

You should sign too and show them how it make take a moment to hit that note. Don’t be embarrassed. Just try to make your voice sound like the note you played.

You can then sign “So, so, mi, mi, so, la, so” (each so should sound exactly the same and the mi is pronounced “me”)

Play some music games

There are some great books and resources that you can hopefully find in your school or in the public library. I will try to post up some music games and other resources for you in a future Teaching Tip Tuesday post.

You Can Do It

I hope that you have found this post useful. I know it’s hard to teach music if you are not a musician. But trust me, you can do it.

Please remember to check the Table of Contents page for all of the tips I post here every week. They are organized by theme as well

Any ideas or suggestions

If you have any ideas, tips, or advice that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or email me about writing a guest post.

5 responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Music Class”

  1. Great ideas Chase!

    The music curriculum now includes exploring forms and cultural contexts so you can bring in some music from the contemporary culture as well as past cultures. You can link it to your history and geography curriculum (social studies if you teach from Gr. 1 – 6).

    I've been impressed to see how this generation relates to classical music as well as music from other cultures. One of my co-workers plays classical music for worktime in her classroom.

    re. games – I highly recommend world instrument bingo – a little pricey to buy but you get a C.D. and all the bingo forms.

    That's all for now …
    Have some fun

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    I always teach a unit on composers and the students are often surprised that they do know some classical music pieces from either the movies or cartoons. It's pretty cool to see them make connections to their real life.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. If you haven't heard of it yet – there is a
    a massed choir opportunity –

    "Music Monday is a very special demonstration of our love of music – in our lives and in our schools. On the first Monday of May each year, students and teachers take their music programs outside into the open air of their school grounds or into their communities, to perform a short concert. There are outdoor concerts right across the country from the elementary level right through to secondary schools – some small celebrations, some large."

    Please visit http://www.musicmonday.ca to find out more.

    This year, it occurs on : MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010.

    It is an amazing experience to have all the children in your school singing together. I added our hand drums to the mix and we rocked!

  4. Hi Silverfish,

    That is so true. Bugs Bunny taught us a lot about great music.

    Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for mentioning that. I actually am organizing a school-wide choir for the Christmas concert this year. It's a bit of a challenge so far but I really hope that it comes together and we get 150 kids singing all at once. It will be amazing if it works.