Music Classroom Changes for COVID-19

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We typed up some changes to implement in our classroom due to the pandemic.  We plan on sending this home as an addition to our yearly syllabus and/or commitment contract.  I wanted to share it with as many people as possible just to give some people ideas and a starting point!

This document has information on things we are doing to help keep our classroom safe and a general plan of what we’ll do in the event of a closure and distance learning.

Also – be sure to check out our growing list of Distance learning content.

E-Learning – Distance Learning & Music

Untitled presentationThis is an interesting time to be a teacher.  I wanted to put together a list of ideas and products for music teachers who are suddenly looking at a possibility of E-Learning for at least a short period of time.  I’m not trying to benefit off of a difficult time – and I do have some great free resources included in this list!

I created a new category on my store that contains all the products listed below and the ones I believe could be adjusted to work in an e-learning situation.  View the full list here!

UPDATE – August 2020 Music From a Distance – A completely no prep packet for distance learning that can be used digitally or printed.

UPDATE – July 2020  Music Theory MEGA Bundle – We’ve been hard at work creating a flexible music theory unit that works for in person teaching and for remote learning.  The idea behind this is if a district is forced to close for a short or long period of time you can continue with this unit when students are learning from home.  We have created 3 different levels to work for all ages K-12, you can purchase them as a bundle or individually as you need.  Each lesson contains instructions and guides on the page for students to be able to learn on their own or with a parent’s help.  In the future we are planning to make lesson videos to go along with each lesson.

FREE – I highly encourage everyone to take a look at my Noteflight Mystery Song Assignment Blog Post – This is a great FREE activity that teaches students about chord progressions, creating a bass line, etc. – It also helps them learn how to use notation software!  From there, if you want to continue along this path, I recommending looking into my Mystery Song Bundle.

Second FREE thing I put together is something I plan to use as a one week safety net review plan mostly using MusicTheory.net  This incorporates perfectly into Google Classroom with people dealing with a 1-1 computer situation.  You can literally copy and paste the information directly out of this and make assignments in Google Classroom!  View the Google Doc Unit Plan here.

Third FREE thing I want to share is my growing list of fantastic free resources including links to many great websites that can educate and entertain students!  This is a bit of a catch all list – if you have suggestions to add please let me know!  View the list here!

For shorter term activities:

I have several research/presentation project activities ready to go – they contain expectations and guidelines for students to create a presentation on a topic.  I have one for Cultures, Instruments, Genres, & Composers.

I also have a more in depth Music Genre Research Project that is supposed to be a group activity – but it is an editable file that you could adjust to fit your needs!

I also have my Performance Alternative Assignment that could be used just as a quick guide for students to write a research paper.

For something longer term:

Music Time Period Research Project – A hefty research project for middle school/high school students. Students select one of 6 music time periods (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or 20th Century) and complete a general overview of the time period, instruments unique to or used in the time period, and composers important to the time period.  I used this assignment over a 3 week span of time and assigned 1 part of the project each week.

We recently added Digital Guided Notes to our Music Cultures of the World Unit.  This means that this entire unit can be done by individual students completely online!  I created a brief YouTube video to show how to integrate the new digital guided notes into Google Classroom – view that here.

Our Composers Unit and Instrument Families Unit could be adapted fairly easily to accommodate an e-learning environment – especially if you’re willing/able to print out packets and send them home to be worked on!  These are all guided note units, meaning there are note packets with missing information that needs to be filled in to be completed as you go through the presentations.  Typically these are used in a classroom lecture setting, having students fill in the notes as you go through the presentations and videos as a class.  But you could easily send (email/Google Classroom/etc.) the presentations to the students and have them complete printed out packets at home and just watch the videos on their own.  Furthermore – if you have students without internet access at home – there are printable versions of the presentations included (obviously then there will be no video access)!  Yes – that’s a lot of printing, but sometimes we have to do what we have to do!  — Hopefully I will create some digital guided notes for these units as well soon!

Music Theory MEGA Bundle (as listed above)

I hope this list at least gives you some ideas to help during this difficult time!

 

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 on the linked PDF, 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!

2

Your students have probably figured out the song is BINGO at this point, so we can go ahead and give them the lyrics to add in, and they can title their song.  Use this PDF with Lyrics to show them where the lyrics fall and have them add them to their score (or if you prefer you can start with this PDF instead).  Now our scores should look like below:

 

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)

chrome.png

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!

American Folk Songs for the Modern Classroom

American Folk Songs for the Modern Classroom

American Folk Songs for the Modern Classroom
A collection of 20 folk songs and sing-along audio files to be used in any classroom.

2Hello readers!  I received a grant from the Mary Chilton DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Foundation to create a songbook of folk songs to be used in the modern classroom.  American Folk Music is an integral part to America’s culture and heritage.  Sadly, many of these songs are no longer being taught as they are seen as “too old,” or “not standards aligned.”  These songs are a huge part of our culture and used constantly within other compositions.  Students are missing out on the experience of them simply because they do not know them!

Check it out at my Teachers Pay Teachers page.  It is my featured free download.

These files are 100% free to you and ready to use.  Simply download and enjoy!