Noteflight Mystery Song Assignment

To see the end result that students will be creating before reading this lengthy post, click here!

This lesson plan is COMPLETELY FREE to use – however to build from here, I recommend purchasing my Mystery Song Bundle from my TeachersPayTeachers store.

To get started on this lesson plan, all students will need a computer (or tablet, though this was done on a computer), a Noteflight account (FREE, info below), and a copy of this PDF “Mystery Song Part 1”.

Have students sign up for a FREE account at Noteflight.com.

Students will need to enter an email address, verify that email address within the email, and then they will be able to create a username and password.

OR – Check out Noteflight Learn – the cost is very reasonable, and the added features you receive are definitely worth it! Free accounts will work absolutely fine for this project.

From your Noteflight home page, click on in the upper right hand corner.

Select “start from a blank score sheet” and click OK.

This is not a guide on how to USE the notation features of Noteflight. I encourage you to mess around with it on your own to get yourself used to it. To me, the software can feel a little backwards at first use, but after you get used to it – it’s very simple. Students will be a little confused and frustrated at first as well! Noteflight has amazing help resources available as well. Just search for what you’re trying to figure out how to do!

From this point forward this guide will assume you have associated yourself with the basic features of Noteflight. Again – if you can’t figure something out, use the search function!

For now, remove the bass clef, so you only have treble clef remaining.

(Click on the bass clef and hit “backspace” on your keyboard)

We’re ready to begin Part 1!

PART 1

Pass out “Mystery Song Part 1” to students. Have them go through the steps listed.

This is also a great first assignment to get students associated with the basic features of Noteflight!!

When they have completed the steps listed, their score should look like this. Again – this first part will probably take time for those new to Noteflight. It may take several class days JUST to get to this point – that’s fine!

PART 2

Now that we have completed part 1, we are ready to move on to part 2. Part 2 will involve adding a bass line to accompany our melody. Referring to our “Mystery Song Part 1” sheet, remember those letters above the music that we ignored the first time? This is where they come in to play! I added them into my score – you do not need to, as the students can glance back at their original sheet to see.

From this point forward I recommend working in “Strip View” mode – it’s easier to manage, in my opinion. Click on “Page View” in the top right and then select “Strip View”.

The first thing we need to do is add a bass instrument. Click on “Instruments”. This will open a side menu, then click “Add Instrument” within it. Click on “Plucked Strings,” and then select “Electric Bass.”

From here, I explain it to the students as, “We are going to add the written in pitches in a rhythmic pattern.” For example, the first note we need in the accompaniment is D. So the first pitch we add to the bass line will be a D. Any rhythmic pattern is fine, but use mine if you choose. I chose 2 eighth notes and a quarter note. You don’t need to add anything to the pick-up measure (but feel free).

We have the first measure done. Now what? There isn’t a letter above the next measure! We are going to continue using the previous letter until we see a new one. So the next measure will be the exact same!

Now that we have a new letter, we are going to use that pitch instead of D. So G! Still using the same rhythmic pattern. We will continue this way until the entire bass line is full. When you get to the “Bm” – just ignore the “m” for now and place a B. If you understand how chords work – you’ll see that this is no sweat!

Now that the bass line is finished – give it a listen. It’s starting to sound like an accompaniment!

PART 3

Our next step is to add chords to our accompaniment. Don’t sweat if you or your students aren’t a master at chords! I explain it to my students in a very simple way to build the appropriate chords needed (for simple songs like this one).

First step is to add another instrument (follow steps in part 2) but this time let’s add a “Guitar” (under Plucked Strings).

We are going to continue using those letters above the melody line, just as we did with the bass line. But this time we are adding even more than just a single note.

The first note that needs placed is the given letter (so again, D).

Then we are going to stack 2 notes on top of it. I explain it to students as if it’s on a line, stack the next 2 lines. If it’s in a space, stack the next 2 spaces.

Again we will be doing this in a rhythmic pattern. I chose dotted quarter eighth note.

Continue to enter the chords in exactly like the bass line. If it’s a new note – start there and stack. Keep the rhythmic pattern going throughout the guitar line.

Give it a listen!

PART 4

Now for the fun part – adding drums! Once again – add another instrument, this time “Unpitched Percussion” and “Drums (Standard)”.

Drums are a different staff, with each line/space creating a different drum set sound. Again – we are going to create a rhythmic pattern.

And we are going to take that pattern through the entirety of the song (no need to change for different letters).

If you haven’t learned how to copy and paste measures yet – now would be a good time! It works the same as it does in just about any other piece of software.

Give it a listen!

I realize that accompaniment instruments do not play the exact same thing for the entire time they are accompanying a song – this is just a starting point and a learning tool! From here I often have students add an ending, drum fills, etc.

This is just the first attempt at a project like this. After this I typically have students take on a larger scale song. Sometimes I will step them through the steps again – other times I will give them a new mystery song and say GO!

You can purchase my “Mystery Song” bundle from my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE!  This will give you 12 songs that work great for this activity. Plus you get the added bonus of them having to listen to the melody to discover what the song is!

I hope you found this guide useful – I apologize if it was confusing, I did try my best to keep it clear and concise without getting overwhelmingly lengthy!

Good luck!

Chrome Music Lab/Boomwhacker Activity

Okay – first of all, if you’ve never heard of Chrome Music Lab – you need to check it out!  It has tons of FREE tools that are great to use for various things in your classroom, even if it’s just for a “fun” day.

Here is one SUPER fun activity that you can do with just about any grade.

Possibly my favorite tool in Chrome Music Lab is the Song Maker.  My class and I were exploring the tools of the lab and we discovered that the colors used in Song Maker match the colors of the Boomwhackers!  So we decided – let’s make a song and PLAY it!  We started out with something simple (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

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As it plays back it gives you a bar to follow along, just pass out Boomwhackers and push play – so easy!  All you need is a projector and Boomwhackers!  Then I had students start calling out “requests”.  I told them it had to be simple – but through doing this I ended up discovering you can change the time signature, length of the song, and a bunch more!  We played BINGO, Row Row Row Your Boat, Clementine, and quite a few more.

This activity turned out to be a blast for my middle school students.  I had my 2nd graders give it a go – and they did well also!

 

 

Music Up – A game for the music classroom!

musicup

Music Up is a cooperative educational game to help students learn music terms. Word-lists for musical terms, instruments, and composers.

If you’ve ever played Ellen’s “Heads Up” game – it’s the same idea – just with musical terms for the music classroom!

Topics include music terms, composers, and instruments.

The best part of this app?  It’s completely FREE!  It is currently only available on Android devices.  Download it now by clicking here!

Incorporating Writing into the Middle School & High School Music Classroom

For those of you who JUST want the link to the growing free Writing Prompt document: click here!

For those of you who are here to read about the entire process – continue!

We’ve all sat through the in-services.  We’ve all had our administrators declare that we must include this as part of our classroom.  Our school improvement team did a study over the summer and discovered that our students were severely low on test scores in the categories of Communicating Reasoning and writing in general.  It is our goal as a staff to improve these scores.  If you’re looking for something simple (but hopefully effective) to do just that, look no further!

Two quick things before we dive in: I teach at a very small school, and we have one-to-one computers for grades K-12.

First of all, this entire process is being done via an online learning management system (hooray for not wasting paper).  This is also an easy way to incorporate technology into the classroom if you struggle with that as well!  I’m using Google Classroom, but almost all learning management systems are capable of accomplishing this.  If you don’t have access to any of those, or don’t know what they are – you can still do this, but you’ll have to adjust!

For a quick “how-to” start on Google Classroom, check this out! Google Classroom Quick-Start Guide (this is NOT my guide – just a resource for you to use!)  All you need is a Gmail account!

I am doing basically the equivalent of online discussion posts that you’ll commonly see in online classes.  At the beginning of each week I post a question on Google Classroom for students to answer.  They have to respond to the question, and then throughout the week respond to at least three other students posts.  This encourages healthy discussion techniques while students work on their writing skills.  I have them due at the end of each week.

For example: Our first week of doing this activity, I asked the question, “What does it mean to have musical talent? Do you think a person is born with musical talent or is it learned?”

For our first discussion, I saw some interesting comments!  The students really provided some thoughtful posts and responses to students.  For a growing list of my weekly discussion questions, check out the link to this Google Doc!  I will try my best to keep it updated.  I’m borrowing some from other sites, and coming up with some of my own!

I grade the students using a rubric our team came up with.  Since I didn’t develop it, no I won’t be sharing it (sorry!).  It’s nothing revolutionary, just a basic writing rubric!  Essentially each week this is an assignment worth ten points in the grade book.  Easy points they can earn in a few minutes.

My middle schoolers have struggled a bit more with some of the questions.  They also have just struggled with committing to writing well in the posts.  I am seeing improvement, but at first, it was a little painful!

I will say, if you’re like me and don’t appreciate an excessive amount of grading – you can forego the required student responses and just have them write the initial post.  I ended up doing this with my middle school just to lighten my grading load.  You can also pick and choose which weeks to grade – don’t tell them otherwise they won’t do it.  But if you take a week off, then grade the next week’s they’ll never know what to expect!

Make this system work for you!

I started this process this year.  I feel it’s extremely useful and beneficial for students, and I have plans to continue doing it for awhile.  It’s also amazing because it doesn’t take up ANY of your class time!  Students know how to complete the assignment, and understand it’s due every single week.  Hooray for not cutting into rehearsal times!

Check out my other blog posts HERE!

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers resources HERE!

Check out my Pinterest Boards HERE!

 

Velcro Piano Display

Sometimes when you’re learning about music theory it is easiest to just show students on a piano.  I say sometimes, but the more complicated music theory seems to ALWAYS require understanding of a piano.  This year my husband and I created Velcro piano displays for both our band room and our choir room.  Here’s our “how to” blog post for creating this great simple classroom tool.

Step One: Create a piano.  You can buy mine HERE (for only $1.00), this gives you two options for printing (regular black and white or colors matching boom whackers pitches) print out however many octaves you want, and put it together.  You can use any piano that works for you, however!  I would recommend laminating to make it more durable.

pianoplain

Step Two: Apply Velcro dots to the keys you want to be able to label.  You can purchase these at almost any department store.  I would recommend buying the CLEAR dots as they make it look a little nicer when you don’t have any labels on it.  For the black keys I use two dots so I can apply the pitch and then a sharp or a flat.velcro

Step Three: Create the labels and apply the opposite Velcro to the labels.  If you purchased my piano it includes a page of appropriately sized letters and some sharps/flats/naturals signs.  I would also recommend laminating these to keep them more durable.  From this point you’ll be able to attach and detach labels as you see fit!

sharps flats

The finished project will look something like this (apologies for the glare!):

final

This can be used for SO MANY things in the classroom.  I like to do a quick a review and pass out the labels to different students to have them place them in the appropriate place on the piano.  We go to the piano all the time when we are learning theory!

I hope this helps you in your classroom!

The 5 Minute Challenge

The 5 Minute Challenge is something I do with my students K-12, though mostly with K-8.  We use MusicTheory.com’s Note Identification Exercises. You can customize them however you would like in the top right corner.  I give the students 5 minutes, put the activity7 on the Smart Board, we make a loop around the room and GO!  If they talk, they get put on pause but the timer is still going.  I keep track of my scores on the white board.

I have each grade do an exercise that is appropriate for their level.  For these scores, my Kindergartners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders did ONLY the treble clef notes.  3rd and up did the entire grand staff!  As you can see, third grade is a little slow – but they are accurate!  7th grade is currently leading the challenge.

This is just a great activity to promote a little healthy competition among my classes.  I will say, that my high school choir does not do this very often, so please don’t judge me for their lower score!  As you can see, they don’t even have a regular spot on the board!  We’ve been swamped with contests this time of year, so they rarely get to do the 5 Minute Challenge.  Also – Kindergarten is on the bottom because they originally weren’t in the competition, later when they started learning the notes of the treble clef (yes, they CAN do it!) they joined.

 

Classroom Tour

I have a bit of a unique classroom – it is half of what used to be one HUGE room.  A few years before me, teacher situations changed.  They took the music room, cut it in half and made separate band and choir rooms.  So, to get to my choir room, you actually have to walk through the band room – it’s a little different but it works!  Also, when I took these pictures we were prepping for a concert, so I had risers out in my room.  Typically I have chairs set out in rows.  But here is my classroom!

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I love my back wall!  My mother-in-law let me borrow her Cricut a few summers ago.  I cut out a ton of music notes.  Several of them didn’t survive the first year, but the ones that are still up have been on the wall for about 2 years now – not bad!  I also love my Boomwhacker storage (velcro on the wall, small strip of velcro on each boomwhacker – works great).

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Here is the front of my classroom.  This is where I spend quite a bit of time (the piano, the Smart Board, etc.)  You can also see our tubanos which we just got this year through a big Donor’s Choose project!  I leave the left side of my board dedicated to keeping track of our 5 Minute Challenge Scores (read more about that here!)  On the left side of my white board is my dynamics display.  These are great to have front and center in the room to help forgetful students.  Purchase them from my Teachers Pay Teacher’s Store HERE!

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Up next is one of my students’ favorite parts of my room – Dave, the minion!  I drew the minion and colored him in by hand (much cheaper than a big print).  This is another Pinterest find!

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This isn’t the prettiest part of my room – but it is definitely practical.  Here is the obligatory folder rack.  I get so much space and function out of this beast!  Choir folders, microphones for jazz choir (keeps them organized and protected), and my elementary folders.  Each class has a color folder (K=Red, 1st=Orange, etc.).  Each student has a folder with a number.  When my students need to get their folder they go to their slot number and find their color folder.  So each slot will have 5-6 different colored folders in it.  It let’s them find their folders quickly without taking up a ton of space!

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This is my “stuff” wall.  We have all our ballots from contests throughout the year, pictures from our events, our calendar, and our classroom rules.  You can purchase my classroom rules from my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE!

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I can’t remember where I came up with this next idea – maybe it’s my idea originally – who knows!  On the back of my door I keep all of these little signs to tell my students what they need to bring when the come in to the classroom.  I put the signs I need on the opposite side of the door, they take a look and grab what they need for class without me having to say a word.  Works like a charm!  I now just use a whiteboard and write what the students need to grab when they come in the room!

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Only a few stops left!  This is my word wall and solfege display.  Sorry for the glare in the pictures!  Purchase my solfege display from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here!

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Our last stop is on our way out the door.  I have the students line up at this door before they leave.  If they’ve had a good day – their behavior was “Grand” and they get to move up in the staff.  Read more on my Grand Behavior system on my other blog post by click HERE!

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That’s it folks!  Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you enjoyed!