Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

Do you want to know something? I love Hispanic heritage month. I love all things multi-cultural, and Hispanic Heritage month gives me the perfect excuse to do a lot of Spanish songs, Spanish dances, etc. My students are not Hispanic, and I am enjoying being able to expose them to different things through music. For my Kindergarteners, that has been through the song Que Llueva.

Now, my kindergarten and 1st graders have actually had the least amount of Hispanic Heritage month fun out of all of my grades. That is because they do a program called Musical Explorers, where they learn about six different styles of music a year. After I teach those, and we work on our normal beat and singing voice, we are out of time. So this is actually the only Spanish song that they were getting this year.

But it will probably be ok.

This lesson features singing (mostly sol-la-mi with one low do. You could change that if you want, but since melody was not my focus, I did not worry about it.), soundscapes, beat v. rhythm, and—of course—the rain stick. If you have one.

I have a Teachers Pay Teachers resource (right here!) for this lesson. It has the melody, rhythm, words in Spanish and English, and rhythm cards. Everything in the resource is in both stick notation and regular notation. You can definitely do the lesson without it, but it does enhance the lesson.

You can also check out the YouTube video (right here!) that explains everything here and give pronounciations! Don’t forget to subscribe while you are over there.

You can tell, I really liked this lesson.


Here it is.

Also read: Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

It’s Raining and Que Llueva

  • Teach the students the song It’s Raining by rote. Have them keep the steady beat while they are learning to sing it. It’s the same song as Que Llueva, just with English words.
  • After they have learned it, have them play the rhythm of the words while they sing it. My students are not looking or reading the rhythm yet (and won’t for this song, because single eighth notes? I don’t think so), just playing as they sing the song.
  • Talk about how the beat is the same, but the rhythm changes.
  • Sing the song again, but with sound effects. You can have a student play a rain stick (get one here!) or an ocean drum.

Lesson Extension: Make a sound scape

You could also have students make a soundscape. To make rain, you could start by using “sh” sounds. Then tap two fingers together. Then tap your legs. You could even have them stomp. Then bring it back down to get quieter and quieter. Bonus points if you use a thunder clap like this one.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

  • Teach students the Spanish words. (I like to tell them we are singing it without telling them abut the language change, and then start singing in Spanish because they get so confused. It’s quite funny. That’s really mean, isn’t it? Oh well.)
  • Once they have learned it in Spanish and English, then you can work on the creative extension.
  • If they don’t know about ta and titi, take a moment to introduce that aspect of rhythm. For my students, this was the first time they had heard of it. We didn’t even say ta and titi. I just said that rhythm has long sounds and short sounds. We did some echos of “long short short long short short” and other versions of that. My first graders already know about rhythm, so they did the example rhythms in the Que Llueva TPT product.
  • Then we said that rain was our long sound (or ta) and llueva was our short sound (titi). Like I said, this was a Kindergarten and 1st grade lesson, so my first graders already knew about rhythm.
  • I arranged the “rain” and “llueva” cards on the board (it helps if you have heartbeats or something to show the beat. I used chairs to represent the beat, and put the words over the chairs.)
  • After I arranged them, I would read the words and students would echo back to me. After a few tries, I had students come up and do a rhythm on the board that we would all say.
  • Then you can break into groups and have them create their own rain-llueva compositions.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

Lesson extensions:

  • If student are already notating, you can have them write their compositions down.
  • Have students come up with their own rain soundscape in groups.
  • Sing Que Llueva and read a student composition as a B section.
  • Sing Que Llueva and have students improvise with rain and llueva as a B section.
  • Sing other rain songs like “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”.
  • Have students draw pictures of rain storms.

So there’s my lesson! Full disclosure, this took about three lessons in my room. Not necessarily because it was too much for one, but because it sinks into them better when you pull something out a few days in a row than if you do it all in one day.

You can do it however you’d like, of course.

Check out the YouTube version of this lesson (so you can hear the pronounciation!) and the Teachers Pay Teachers resource for it!

What is your favorite Hispanic heritage month song for Kindergarten and first grade? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

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3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage month is one of my favorite things to teach. Many people have schools with large groups of Hispanic students. I do not. But it is still fun.

If you do not usually do music lessons from different cultures, this Hispanic music is one of the easiest ones to start with. A lot of kids know some Spanish words or have seen Dora the Explorer, so they are used to some Spanish.

And it is super fun.

I do a lot of music from different cultures. And Spanish songs are some of my favorites.

How do you celebrate Hispanic heritage month?

Also read: Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. Becca's Music Room.



There are tons of Hispanic folk dances. Last year we learned the Mexican hat dance (well a variation of it), and it was super fun.

This year, my 2nd and 3rd graders are going to learn Los Machetes. I found it on Pinterest, and here is the link to the YouTube video so you can try it too. And as I was looking for a video of it, I found this one which just happens to be of my college music professor teaching this to his elementary music class. I am not sure how that happened, but it did.

The salsa is always a good one—and actually pretty easy to learn.



There are a ton of Spanish folk songs. You can sing them in English or Spanish (but it’s so much more fun in Spanish!). Here are some songs that my students are learning this year, or learned in the past:

  • Al Citron: This was super fun. Here is a link to a video of the game. I used old tin cans instead of rocks. I found this from Pinterest. (try with grades 3-4)
  • Los Pollitos: This is a super fun song for younger students about chickens. It is fun and it can lead to very interesting discussions (like how Mexican chickens say pio). I learned this song from the podcast Make Moments Matter, which is fabulous, by the way. (Here is a link to a red hen puppet, if you are into that.) And here is a link to the words.
  • Que Llueva: This is basically a Spanish version of “It’s Raining”. That is actually how I am going to teach this to my K and 1—they will learn “It’s Raining”, then we will learn “Que Llueva”. And I will be pulling out the rain sticks! Here is a link to my TPT version of this song that has the solfege, rhythm, Spanish, and English words, and rhythm cards.
  • Vamos a la Mar: I found this song on this website. I am going to do the lesson pretty close to how she wrote it. The only difference is that I wanted larger rhythm cards so that we can do the composition activity together before they do it alone. Because I wanted them larger, I actually created my own rhythm cards (some of the rhythms are different than hers, because I did them independently of those) which you can check out on my Teachers Pay Teacher page here.
  • Las Mananitas: I love this song. I actually sang an arrangement of this in college choir, and I loooove it. So when I found it in one of my textbooks at school, I knew we had to do it. Some people use this as a birthday song, so we are going to learn it and do an informal compare and contrast with our birthday song. Here is a link to a mariachi band singing it.
Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. Becca's Music Room.
What the Spanish rhythm cards look like when you don’t have a colored printer… My kids did not seem to care!


You can play instruments with the songs or with the dances, or with something totally different. Of course, you can use Orff instruments or ukuleles or whatever you have in your classroom, but try using some Hispanic instruments like these:

  • Maracas: always a good one. We all have maracas.
  • Castanets: I just got a few of these (the cheap plastic ones) and I love them! We used them a few weeks ago and the kids loved them too. A lot of them said they liked them even better than the drums. Here are plastic kid ones and here are some wooden ones.
  • Claves: Claves are super cool. If you only have one or two sets (like I do), you could totally cheat and have most of the students use rhythm sticks, and just let one person use the real claves. They can switch out.
  • Cajones: So I do not have these, but they are on my wish list, because they are so cool.
  • Guiros: Instruments shaped like fish? Yes please!



I like to include some videos so that students can see more of the Hispanic culture. I can’t bring in professional mariachi bands in their costumes to my classroom (if you can, then go for it!). But there are YouTube videos about with professional mariachi bands in their costumes!

Here are some videos that are fun to show the students.

I would also suggest showing the students some pictures of Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Venezuela, etc. You can just google (ahead of time so you know what will pop up!) “pictures of Mexico”. It really helps when the students can see these places, so they know they are actual places. Without the pictures, you may as well be talking about Middle Earth for all they know.

And please, please talk about places other than Mexico. I love Mexico– I used to live there– but let the students know that hispanic heritage means everywhere that speaks Spanish, not just Mexico.

Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. Becca's Music Room.

And of course, you can use my Ocean Animals Rhythm Cards in Spanish and English to practice rhythms, composition, and for centers or my Que Llueva lesson to practice beat v rhythm!

And I have a YouTube channel now! Check it out here!

How do you celebrate Hispanic heritage month? Do you use songs and dances from other countries? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!


Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. Becca's Music Room.

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Elementary Music

Things I’m Doing Differently in my Second Year of Teaching

My first year of teaching was ok. A lot of people have these stories where every single day of their first year of teaching is awful and they almost quit and so on and so on. I will say that I did not hit that point until about February.

That’s a pretty good time line, right? That’s quite a while for my first year.

Now that I am in my second year of teaching, I am realizing just how many things I did wrong in my first year. Or things I may not have done “wrong” but really, REALLY could have been better.

I thought all summer about things I’d do better in my second  year, and now that I’ve gotten through a week of school, I am able to nail down some of the things that I wanted to do differently but didn’t know how.

If you are in your first year of teaching, go ahead and take these tips so you won’t have to bother with as much of the first-year-ridiculousness. You can skip right into second year ridiculousness.

If you are a second year teacher, then go ahead and ake some of these ideas to help yourself! And if you are past the first and second years, hen you can still steal some of these ideas. They may still help.

And let us know in the comments what you learned your first year to help in your second year, and beyond!

Things I'm Doing Differently in My Second Year of Teaching. What did you change from your first year to your second year of teaching? The short answer is everything. Find out what mistakes from my first year teaching elementary music that i am not going to relive! Becca's Music Room.


Teaching Rules and Procedures

I’ll repeat that: teach rules and procedures.

People always said that, but I had no idea to what extent that meant. Or even how to do that.

Now, I got really lucky in that I teach at the school where I student taught. That meant I already knew a lot of the students, and I kept a lot of the procedures the same.

And thank God I did. Seriously. Because if I had not, it would have been a mess. Because I did not do a very good job teaching the rules and procedures in the beginning.

So what does that actually look like?

On the first day of school, have kids come inside. Give them assigned seats. I’ll repeat that: GIVE THEM ASSIGNED SEATS. Seriously. It helps you learn their names and keeps the chaos down. Not to mention the talking.

Have them go back outside and come in correctly. Correctly meaning walking straight to your seat, quietly, etc. This is something that I did not do on my first year, and it has made a huge difference already.

Let them do something quick and fun, then go over some of your procedures. What procedures are we talking about? Here are some ideas:

  • Getting water
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Fire drills
  • Answering questions
  • Getting tissue
  • Exiting class
  • Everything else
  • How to sit
  • How to stand

Kids need really specific procedures. And they need you to be a bit over the top.

For example: When talking about answering questions, I tell them that I only call on people sitting quietly and raising their hands. We talk about how you have to hold it high, so I can see it. If you wave your hand around, I will not call on you. If you say “Me me me!” I will not call on you. And we practice all those things in the correct and incorrect ways. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.

And then you have to stick to that. When students call out answers, I say, “I’m sorry, I can only hear you if you raise your hand.” If they aren’t sitting correctly, I will make them fix it before I call on them. If they are making a bunch of noise, I don’t call on them until they stop.

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Giving them something to do immediately

Last year, I had a hard time with students coming into my classroom and running to their seats and acting ridiculous. I got a suggestion from a vetran music teacher to give them an assignment as soon as they get inside, to give them something to do. So far, it has been working well. You may want to check back in with me in February.

I have been doing this all week with my 2-5 graders. My k and 1 are usually ok with just coming in and sitting down.

Some examples of things that I have used so far:

  • Putting rhythms on the screen for students to play
  • Putting on music and having students keep the steady beat
  • Putting up a picture and having students guess what it may have to do with music
  • Reading lyrics to a song
  • Putting a question on the board for them to think about

Now, you don’t have to do all of these. Especially starting out, you can just pick one. Like every day, they will come in and find the steady beat. Or every day they come in and read lyrics to the song. Don’t stress.

It has made for really interesting conversations, and all of these require higher order thinking skills and autonomy. It doesn’t have to be perfect—they don’t even have to do it. The point is that if they have something to do, they will (hopefully) be calmer.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Not giving out pity points

In my classes, students earn class points. They get points for coming in correctly, participating, listening, lining up, transitioning, etc. I have had different versions, but the idea is that the class earns some sort of reward from the points.

In the past, I would sometimes be a little too loose with my point giving—especially at the beginning of class. I have moved to a if I hear any talking at all when you walk in, we do not earn the first point system. Although this may seem overboard, I am sticking to it, because I want them to actually earn the points.

Now, if I have one kid that is just ridiculous all of the time, I’ll ignore the one. Other than that one kid, we all work as a team. And if there is always that ONE, I will even say, “I can ignore so and so as long as the rest of you are correct.”

Also read: 3 Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Reviewing and referring to the rules

The first day we spent a lot of time on rules. And my first year, and that is all that happened. This year, we have reviewed them everyday (five times). We have talked about specific things I have seen to nip them in the bud. And on top of that, when people show what I expect, I point it out.

For example, one of our expectations is “Be respectful”. When I hear a student saying something nice, I say, “Thank you so much! That is really respectful!” And I literally point to it on the wall.

This way, the rules—sorry, they are supposed to be expectations now—are not just something that we go over once, but they are involved all the time.

Calling parents early

Y’all. I’m just going to be honest. I was TERRIFIED to call parents my first year of teaching.

I know, I know. Ridiculous. But seriously—did anyone else feel that way? Or is it only me that was a wimp?

Anyway, it took me a loooong time to call parents.

And once I did, I realized it wasn’t that bad.

This year, I started early. Like third day early.

But I called all of my students that can get a little more wild, but hadn’t yet, because it was so early. And I said, “Your child is doing a great job in music!”

This created a few things. 1. It establishes a relationship with a parent you may need on your side. 2. The kid gets really excited, and they continue doing a good job to get the same attention. 3. It changes the culture—my parents sometimes don’t even bother answering the phone when the school calls, because they get so much bad news. Sending home a positive phone call can really help change that. 4. You may find out things you did not know.

For example, I called a parent today, and she happened to mention that her religion does not allow them to sing songs that are not about God.

Y’all. I had no idea. I thought this girl was just refusing to sing. Honestly, she has some other behavior issues as well, so it wasn’t far fetched. But knowing that is valuable information! I talked with mom about what is and is not ok, and on Monday I am going to talk to the girl and make sure we are all on the same page. Because right now I’m not sure if she thinks she can’t do anything in music, and that is the problem. Even if it isn’t, at least she’ll know I am not upset with her about not singing.


Teaching my choir kids songs for later in the year

Last year, I got a choir together, and realized I had NO CLUE what I was doing.

I feel so much more prepared in my second year.

I haven’t started the choir yet (we’re only 7 days in!), but when I do, I have more of a plan.

I have a concert in December, one in January, one in February, and one in May. And possibly more. But at least those.

Last year, even without the January concert, it was a mess. It was a mess because I wasted my first few weeks when it is too early for Christmas music. Then after Christmas, we did not have a lot of time to get all of the pieces ready for February, and it was stressful.

This year, I am going to teach my students the songs for January and February right off the bat. This way, they already know some songs, and they will have something to do if we are asked to do a surprise concert.

Also, I am going to try structuring my choir rehearsals like this:

5 minute warm up

10 minute theory lesson (to help us learn sight reading)

15 minute work on new material

15 minute work on parts we already know

This way we are not working on the same thing for too long. I am hoping the pace will work out well.

Also read: How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical (and why you should!)

More assessments and more centers

I don’t mean that every day we will sit down and write papers, but I want to do a better job knowing what my kids know.

This could mean that I just watch them play instruments to see them learn rhythms, walk around and listen to their singing voices, etc. I am trying to find something to assess in every class. That doesn’t mean that everything is a test, it just means that I am trying to know what they know.

Because if they know a concept, we can move on. And if they are struggling, then we can’t.

For some reason, this was hard as a first year teacher. I think you get caught up in the idea of assessment as sitting down and taking a test. That is part of it, but not all. In my second year of teaching, I am really exploring different (easy!) ways to assess students.

Yesterday I had my second graders playing rhythms on drums. I literally just watched a different student each time, and marked down whether they got it or not. It seemed to be about half and half (although I was happy to see that the students I had last year did better than the ones I did not). So that told me we can stay on the concept longer.

It also told me how to group them. So next time we do rhythms on instruments, I can group together those who got it and those who did not. Even if I don’t do “centers” specifically, I can still put them together and help the struggling group more. (By having them repeat the rhythm, deconstructing it, pointing to the rhythms as they play, etc.)

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Closing Activities

I still struggle with this one. But when you teach kids, you should always have some sort of closing activity where THEY tell YOU what they learned. With the little people, this might take some prodding, but from second on, you can just say, “What did you learn today?”

You can have them tell their partner. You can have them do a Kahoot! I am personally loving (although I still it from a first grade teacher who I think got it on pinterest) having 2-3 students tell we what they learned, and then having them write it on a sticky note. They get to put the sticky note on my anchor chart that says, “What stuck with you today?”

Guys. They. Love. It.

Like they are super excited to write on a sticky note. And most of my students hate writing. But this is exciting.

The other things is that I can use what they wrote and transfer it to anchor charts. So I can take all of the stickies talking about rhythm and put it on a poster that talks abut rhythm.

Your administrators will be so impressed.

And you can do this every day until you run out of sticky notes. Then you can buy a bunch from Amazon through this link. 

Or this one if you want them to be pretty colors.

I also have all of my students tell me what they learned (or answer a question) as they walk past me while leaving the class. I have learned SO MUCH from their answers. You could also write them down to help you remember.

I avoid writing exit tickets because it is such a pain to get all the stuff out as they are leaving. If any one else has this figured out in your second year of teaching, let me know!

I’m still learning more about closing activities, so if you have ideas, leave them in the comments!

If you are reading this looking for ideas and feel overwhelmed– don’t. I know. It is a lot to think about. Having something for students to do immediately and closing activities and assessing…. That’s a lot of stuff.

But you can do it! If I can, you can!

Just pick one thing from the list– or from your own list of things you want to change– and work on it. Once you get that thing, add in another thing.

What about you? What did you do differently in your second year of teaching? Or your third or fourth? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

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Differentiation, Elementary Music, Management

Setting up Centers: The First Day

Hey everyone! As the school year just started (or is about to start), every teacher in the world is working on rules, routines, and procedures. For a lot of that, rules, routines, and procedures include centers. But what do you actually do on your first day of centers?
Let’s talk.
I came up with this post because I overheard some second grade teachers discussing centers with the assistant principal at school yesterday. The AP was describing how she used to set up her centers for math.
And you know what? It is the same thing that I do.
Well, it is the same thing that I do after that first terrible centers experience that I had, which I outline in my post about centers with “bad classes”.
The first thing that I will say is that your first round of centers does not have to be magical. It does not have to be the absolute best lesson you have ever done ever. There is time for that later.

Setting up Centers: The first day. How do you get started on the first day of centers or workstations in the music room? Here are some ideas to destress you centers time and help your students understand the routine. Becca's Music Room.


In your first day of centers, go for simple

You may love having four or five or seven centers (although I seriously advise against that!), but don’t. On the first day of centers, start with two.
If you did centers last year, then you can go ahead and do three or four. But if you have new kids, have never done centers, or have students (like mine!) who forget ALL procedures over the summer, then just do two.
One group works independently, and one works with you.
If you are adventurous, maybe go for three groups. Two independent and one with you.
That leads me to my second point…

Have a group work with you

I know they may not have to, but try it anyway. This does not necessarily mean that you are teaching the same lesson to each kid 50 thousand times. It just means you are doing an activity with them. Now, for the first day of centers, it can be something they can do by themselves, and you supervise and are available for questions. But this is the time to work with one of the groups. You can assess or extend depending on the group you’ve got.
There is a reason that the classroom teachers do this—because it works.
It’s extra fun to have your group work with instruments. Because they are with you, you can supervise their playing better. But if that is too much for your first day of centers, don’t bother.

Also read: Tips for Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

Have the independent group do something they already know how to do

This is THE BEST classroom management technique I could give you for centers.
Have you ever had a group that sat down to do centers and just sat there and did nothing?
Or they play with other kids the whole time?
Or they throw things and knock things over and run around the room?
Because no matter how much you talk about what they are doing, how many directions you write on the board, or how many times you explained it, they still don’t get it.
I do not understand why, but it is a thing. Maybe your school doesn’t have this problem, but my school does.
Literally. They would sit at the center and do nothing.
Because no matter how many times I explained it, they did not hear me.
So this is the antidote to that.
Take an activity that the students already know how to do. Use a game you did in class as whole group. I sometimes have them practice something the class before. For example, when I introduced Kaboom!, we played it the day before. I had four sets, and it was in groups, but everyone did the same thing.
Then when we played it in centers, they already had the procedures down.
Then you can take that same thing and make it harder—like they could add melody to the rhythms, they could put rhythms together for a quick composition, they could do different body percussions for the rhythms, etc.
But independent work should be something they can do easily.

Like my students know how to do this rhythm bingo, so it works well as a group activity.

Really emphasize the procedures

In my class, we earn class points. On my first day of centers, I tell them all of their points are connected to centers procedures—keeping voices down, transitioning, being kind to each other, etc.
Seriously, it is more important for the students to understand the routines than for them to learn music today.
I know, you hate me now. Let me be clear, the FIRST day of centers is for procedures. The rest of the days of centers are for music learning.
It’s like the first day of school. But in small groups.

You can read more about my classroom management ideas here.

Focus on being kind

The thing about centers is that you cannot watch all of the kids all of the time. Yes, sit so that you can see them. Occasionally circle while your group is busy. But you cannot necesarily hear everything.
So preface this with a pep talk on being kind.
I tell them that they are a team (that’s why they earn class points as a team). You have to work with people on your team, even if they aren’t your favorite. We go through what to do when people are annoying you, we talk about keeping our personal space, etc.
And then I tell them that if they cannot handle centers, we won’t do them anymore.
And they usually like centers because I usually have lots of games for them to play.

Then what?

Now that procedures are down, you can experiment more! I would suggest having only three centers, but like I said in this article, break the groups down further. So I have six groups, but they only do three things.
Now you have to decide how many centers to have. This will vary greatly based on time and space, but give the kids enough time to enjoy a concept. They need at least 5-10 minutes to actually do something productive.
Use your centers to differentiate (I hope you didn’t gag when you heard that word) to help students understand concepts more fully.

Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

If you have any tips of questions, put them in the comments. We would love to hear anything that works in your classrooms! Good luck in these first couple weeks!
Happy teaching!

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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice

Kindergarten music. It is so much fun. And so terrifying.

As I allude to in this post about teaching rhythm, I felt a bit apprehensive my first year about teaching 4 and 5 year olds EVERYTHING about music. I mean, these students come in and don’t know anything. We have very few students who attend pre K, so the first week of Kindergarten goes like this:

“Look down underneath you. That is a dot. It is shaped like a circle. It is a red dot. What color dot do you sit on? Raise your hand if you sit on a red dot.”

Seriously. I have to reseat kids anytime we stand up and sit down because they will have already migrated.

Where do you even start with music?

Steady beat and singing voice.

That is the answer. If you are not sure what to do with your Kindergarten kids at the beginning of the year, do those two things.

This lesson is the one I am using for the first week of school. I did a very similar lesson last year, but I am tweaking a few things for this year so that it will run smoother and be more effective. (It was too much sitting last year, so I am hoping that the actions will help students pay attention!)

I adapted this lesson from this one that I found from Pinterest, but I cannot for the life of me find it to tag for you! If I remember correctly, they used cups to represent each of the voices: singing, whispering, shouting, and talking. I did this with puppets and stuffed animals to represent each voice (for example, I had a lion for yelling– and this one is adorable and affordable). This worked well, but I think it was just too much for the very first day.

This year, I am adding in a tiny bit of steady beat work, and focusing on just singing v. talking voice. The next week we will talk through whisper and yelling voices, but for the very first day back, two will be plenty.

Also, this ended up turning into like two or three lessons, because we had to take out time to talk about things like where you sit and how to raise your hand, etc. So feel free to spread it out or pick and choose what you do. Make it work for you! (And tell us in the comments how you did it!)

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room

Singing Voice v. Talking Voice



I can identify and use my talking and singing voices.



And although I don’t need them for this lesson, I just found these finger puppets while I was looking for the other ones to link for you and I want them so bad! My birthday is in October, if anyone wants to get them for me.


  • Greet the children when they walk into the classroom.
  • If this is the first week of school, go over seating charts, classroom procedures, etc.
  • Warm up: Have students listen to a song and tap the steady beat that you show. You tap your arms, legs, march in place, etc and students follow you. On the first week, I do not even tell kindergarten what this is, I just say “Try to match me!” I’ll introduce it later, but that is not my MAIN focus today. For my first grade I will say to show me the steady beat.
  • Next, pull out your talking voice puppet or animal. Introduce the kids to it (I like to give mine composer names like Bizet or Mozart).
  • After that, tell the students, “My friend here loves to talk. He talks all of the time. When he talks, he uses his talking voice. Can you say talking voice? Our talking voices are not very loud, but they are also not very quiet.”
  • Practice using your talking voices by saying kids’ names around the room. I use the chant “Name, name, say your name”. I’m not sure who came up with it but it goes like this: students tap the beat (when I saw it done they did pat, clap, pat, clap, but I am just going to pat our legs). Everyone says “Name, name, say your name”, and then one person says “My name is Ms. Davis.” The whole class repeats “Her name is Ms. Davis.”

Also read: Tips for the New Music Teacher from My First Year of Teaching

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room

  • Once we finish that, pull out the owl stuffed animal. Ask if anyone knows what an owl says. Somebody will figured it out and make a “hoo” sound. Have everybody try the hoo-ing sound.
  • Then ask: Did that feel the same or different than your talking voice? Owls use their singing voice.
  • Have students echo-sing some hoo’s with you like the owl does.
  • Then have everyone practice their singing voice. I do this by having students sing “My name is Ms. Davis” and having everyone repeat “Her name is Ms. Davis” on sol and mi. (I learned that in my college general music methods class.) Allow students to hold the owl while they do this so that they can sing to it.
  • While students sing, jot down whether they used their singing voice or not and you have an assessment grade!
  • Next, read “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly”. Emphasize that this is your talking voice. If you don’t have the book (and your library doesn’t either), you can watch this video where they read it to you. Stop throughout and let them do motions that go along with the song, like these:

Fly: Put thumb and first finger together and move around like a fly

Spider: Move hands like in itsy bitsy spider

Cat: Move fingers through imaginary whiskers

Dog: Hold hands in front of you like a dog

Cow: Make a circle in front of you like you have a big belly

Horse: Move hands like using reins on a horse

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly: Hold hands out for question

Perhaps she’ll die: Wave finger in front of you

Also read: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching

  • Ask students if you were using you singing voice or talking voice.
  • Tell them that now you are going to sing the song, and see if they can do the actions still.
  • Sing the song while turning pages in the book. If you don’t know it, look it up here.
  • Have students try to sing along with you. You are not looking for mastery if it is beginning of the year, just trying to get them to do anything in their head voice.
  • Have students answer the following questions for closing:
  1. What two voices did we talk about today?
  2.  Which voice does my owl use?
  3. Can you make an owl sound?
  4. Do you think your singing voice feels different than your talking voice? How?


And that’s it! It is nothing revolutionary, just pieces that I have picked up from different places meshed together.

Also read: Calming Down Activities for Music Class

How do you teach about singing voice? What do you teach the first week of school in Kindergarten? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Organization

Elementary Music Classroom Tour

Oh classroom tours…. how I love them.

But yet, there never seem to be enough classroom tours when it comes to music teachers.

Guys– I want to see your classrooms!

I figure that others must feel how I do to, so I am doing a classroom tour today! Now, it is not 100% clean (we’ve already had 7 days of school!) or 100% matching and gorgeous, but it is pretty good.

My classroom is huge. Really and truly, I am so spoiled by how big my classroom is. I have a general theme of blue-orange-yellow. I guess that’s a color scheme, and not a theme, but still.

Honestly, I don’t like to spend too much money on my classroom. I spent some last year and hardly any this year. I am slowly finding ways to make everything match a little bit better without breaking the bank.

And my back wall needs some serious help (like a paint job), so if you have ideas, let me know!

Also read: Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room


Welcome to my classroom!


Front section

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is the very front of my classroom, where the board is. Students sit on the dotted carpets. I LOVE them. You can get them here. OR you can get sit spots, which are significantly cheaper.

And I have a whole blog post on that cart, which I LOVE! Buy it here, or read the article here.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is immediately to the right of the board. I have my piano, word wall, standards, and I can statements. I always keep my djembe within reach, because I love it.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is a close up of the table in the front. I got this chalkboard super on sale at Hobby Lobby. The buckets were Easter baskets my grandma gave us one year.

The blue one holds papers and pencils. In my fourth and fifth grade classes, when I see students listening, following directions, participating, etc, I tell them to “Go put your name in the envelope”. They come up and write their name on a paper and put it in the envelope with their grade level on it. On Friday, I pull out three names, and they get to go to the treasure box. Works like a charm.

The pink one has sticky notes. At the end of class, I have a few students write what they learned on sticky notes. There is a picture of where they put it further down. (Keep reading!)

Scarves and a few xylophones are stored under the table.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

They love it.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Standards and I can statements are in sheet protectors. The clothes pins have thumbtacks glued onto the back of them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

On the left is my main classroom management tool. Each class earns up to five class points during a lesson. The points are represented by the owl magnets being put on the blue paper in a sheet protector (seriously, I use these for everything!) and is taped up. At the end of class I record the number on the sheets of paper (in sheet protectors!) above. They try to earn game time on Fridays. 20 points gets you 10 minutes of game time and 25 earns you 20 minutes.

We use music games they already know so I don’t have to teach them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

I’ve been using my wind chimes to help students get quiet (although I really want this handheld one!). In my younger classes, they raise their hand as soon as they hear it. In 2nd grade on, they wait until it stops ringing, then raise their hands. This requires them to be really quiet to hear it. If they do it right, they get a point for it.

I got the idea from this post, which is a godsend for chatty classes. Seriously. It is for classroom teachers, but you can transfer a ton of the ideas.


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Expectations poster. On the first day, I play a rhythm and have students guess which one I am referring to. After that, we sometimes clap and chant the expectations at the beginning of class.


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Manipulatives! This is my bookshelf for all things centers. I eventually want to get some kind of file folder system, but this is ok for now. See those orange boxes in the middle? They are shoe boxes covered in fabric (with hot glue!). This has been my #1 way of coordinating my classroom without breaking the bank. The yellow tub was at my house. The blue ones were in an old science classroom. I have bass boomwhackers in the black home depot 5 gallon bucket.

Also here: white boards, markers, rhythm cards, treble clef battleship (read about it here), dominotes, clipboards (from a Donor’s Choose project), etc.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

These are just some fun things in the corner of my room– a Mahler poster, owl poster, Mozart and his family, people playing sackbuts (if you didn’t pay attention in music history, those are medieval trombones), and a picture of my college choir. These are all things that were in my house and we didn’t want post-moving.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Behind my piano is most of my smaller instrument storage. You see more shoeboxes– and paper boxes!– covered in fabric. I haven’t finished them all, but it is some. I also keep my copies of choir music on the shelf so it is easy to find.

All those can drums and drum sticks are for my Artie Almieda stick stations. If you don’t have those– you should. Check out the book here!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Another view of my word wall. I call music vocabulary fancy shmancy music words.

For example, loud is a word, but forte is a fancy schmancy music word. So I wanted to include that.

Also, I totally color code grade bands. K-1 is orange (white here, because orange would not show up on the background), 2-3 is yellow, and 4-5 is blue.

Side of my room

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

These are new additions this year– owls playing instruments! They are so fun. Owls are our school’s mascot. And you would be surprised how many of my students have asked who painted these, and then are surprised when I say I did.

If you want some mascots playing instruments paintings, head over to my Etsy shop!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Close ups.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

More instrument storage. These jazz posters are the ones that come from the NAFME magazines. The blue cups with mallets were super on sale at Hobby Lobby (I think I paid $2 a piece for them). These are just a few of my Orff instruments. Most are in my closets. The bottom is full of textbooks. I don’t really use them to have students do activities out of them, but I do use a ton of the folk songs out of them. They have a wide array of songs in them. The ocean drums are super cool.

One day I’m going to spray paint all of my milk crates to match.

The suitcases don’t hold anything at the moment (but that might change).

And do you see that there are FOUR sets of handbells in this picture?! I have more in my closet. I don’t know who ordered all these handbells, but I have a lot. And no idea what to do with them.

If anyone has fun handbell resources, let me know in the comments!

And yes, those are music note curtains on my windows.

Desk area

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Here is my desk area. Yes, my desk is crooked. It was waxed to the floor crooked and I can’t get it up.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

On top of one of my filing cabinets is my sub plans. I keep this binder standing up so that it is visible. Everything for my emergency sub plans is behind it, with some extra resources (books, papers, CDs) in the little magazine holder. You can download the template for free here!


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This bookshelf has most of my things that I use a lot– paper, hole puncher ( this is seriously one of my most useful gadgets ever), CDs, kid books, bingo, etc. My lesson books are in a closet.

The containers are really awesome here. I have a wire basket on the shelf, and one on my desk. They are from Office Depot. The one on my desk is my “to do”, and the one on the bookshelf is my “to put away”. The magazine holders are from Target dollar spot las year. One is for copies (anything that needs to be copied gets put in there, along with paper so I don’t forget it), and the other is for things I use everyday– clipboard and notebook. In between is my seating charts.

The back wall


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.Does anyone else have to have a standards based classroom? We do.

Part of that is my focus wall, where we put anchor charts and stuff we are working on. These bulletin boards are just foam with fabric hot glued onto them and ribbons hot glued onto them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

The 4-5 one is not posted, because it fell off the wall.

All these doors are closets (I know– I am so spoiled!) The signs say “Audience 1”, “Audience 2”, and so forth. This is my time out system, because when you are in the audience, you are watching and not participating.

I don’t actually plan to have 5 kids in time out at the same time, but it is so much easier to say “Go to audience 2”, than to say “Go sit against a door”. I’ve even had kids this week say, “Which one?” when I asked them to go to the audience. It is just a lot less confusing.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is my data wall– another part of my “standards based classroom”. It is empty, because school just started. It will have graphs of pie charts to show the percentage of students that have mastered the standards in each class.

In addition, on my door I am going to put “I can use my singing voice!” and “I can keep a steady beat!” for the kindergarteners.


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is my keyboard area. I do use the keyboards, although I am still working on the best way to use them. The kids love them though. I have some instrument posters on the back (that are intentionally crooked, because I’d never be able to get them all straight). This wall really needs something different…. suggestions?

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

And that’s my classroom! Thank you for sticking with me until the end! If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour! Ideas for organization (for cheap!), and a standards based music classroom. Becca's Music Room.



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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

Funny story: Last year, I was working really hard to get my students to learn the notes of the treble clef. Towards the beginning of this adventure, I gave them all staves to look at, and bingo chips. I’d say, “Put a chip on line one. Put one on space four.” And on and on. In the middle of one of these, I thought that it sounded similar to the game battleship.

And I actually gasped and said, “We should play battleship!”

And all of my poor, board-game-deprived fourth graders looked at me like I had totally lost my mind.

Which is ok, by the way. If they think you are a little crazy, they are less likely to do something ridiculous in your room.

And so the brain-storming began.

Little did I know that other people had done this too… but I’m going to pretend I made it up. Because I did arrive at it independently, I promise.

Anyway, even though about two kids in each class had played battleship before, it was a lot of fun. It really helped them to learn the staff.

We also played it in centers, but if you do this, I suggest playing it all together first, so that you can explain to students what they are doing.

I also used this for assessment—I just walked around and watched them play. One person will say, “Do you have a battleship on A?” and the other will say yes or no, and you can see if they mark it on the right line/space.

I will also put the rules for how to play at the bottom, so that you can check it out!

If you need some help with using centers with crazy classes… check this post out.


DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

Musical Battleship




  • Print out two treble clefs on the same sheet of paper. I downloaded this one from Teachers Pay Teachers (for free!). Then I printed two out, cut them, taped them to a clean sheet of paper, and copied them. I know that sounds like a lot, but it wasn’t! I added the words “yours” and “theirs” so that we understood the game a bit better.
  • Stuff treble clefs into sheet protectors (you could also laminate, but this was quicker, and you can put other things inside them if you wanted!).
  • Staple sheet protectors into the file folders. I just put two staples in the top. I tried to make it so that I can put other things inside of them.
  • That’s it!

Also read: Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat, Take a Seat

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

Rules of the Game:

  • Students pair up. Each person gets a battleship game. We used expo markers and drew on them, but you could also put bingo chips on the lines/spaces.
  • Each students makes three dots for on the staff marked “yours”. These are their battleships.
  • Students take turns asking where the other student’s battleships are. It should sound like this:
  • “Is there one on B?” (You could also do second line, third space, etc. depending on what you are teaching them.)
  • “Hit” if they hit and “miss” if they miss it.
  • The students mark their guesses. If they guess correctly, on the staff marked “theirs”, they put a dot. That way they know there is a battleship there. If they miss, they put an x. Make sure they do this, otherwise they will ask the same place ten times.

That’s it! I played this with 3-5 grades. At first they really did not get it, but they slowly started to comprehend as time went on. And they LOVED it!

Also read: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

What are your favorite DIY music manipulatives? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

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Differentiation, Elementary Music

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room

Differentiation. Woo that is a scary word… especially if you teach elementary music. We tend to sit through lectures and professional developments about differentiation and shudder in despair.

I can’t do that, we think. This doesn’t apply to me.

Well…. Yes and no.

Now, some lessons really don’t lend themselves to differentiation. Some do. And when you think about it, you already do differentiation. Even when you don’t realize it.

Here are some easy-peasy differentiation ideas. Some of them are things you already do, just need to be more aware of them. When you are aware of them, you can make sure to point them out (to the kids and administrators!). Others will take more effort, but none of these ideas are difficult or time consuming.

Also read: Music Centers Classroom Management for “Bad Classes”

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room


This is an example of differentiation that you already do. If you use any kind of dances or movement activities, you use differentiation.

Naturally, when preforming dances, students who are struggling will do less and students who are doing a good job will start to add more to their moves. Think about it—if the child is struggling to do movements while walking in a circle, they are naturally going to just walk instead. That is automatic differentiation.

Now that you know that is differentiation, you can use it consciously!

When I teach students a new dance, I tell them ways they can make it easier or harder. Like if we are walking in a circle doing a dance, then I’ll tell them to make sure to do the walking and not worry about the rest.

If students are doing a good job, I’ll ask them to push it harder—how can you make this movement look like the music? What could you add to make it better?


You can also observe them throughout the class and put them into teired groups either for part of the class or for the next class. You can give them different ways to do the dance, and they can perform it for the other groups. Have each group add extra movements, but change the difficulty of each of the dances. This way they will each look different– without them knowing that some groups are more advanced than others.

Also read: Boomwhackers and Science Lesson



There are two different types of instrument lessons. There are instruments to accompany songs or books. Then there is recorder karate or rainbow ukulele.

As for the first type of lesson, there are ways to make it different. If a student is struggling with a rhythm, you can have them just play the downbeat, or you can put them onto a different instrument that may be easier.

You don’t even have to sort them– you can just say, “OK guys, if that’s too hard, then try playing the steady beat on mi and sol. If you think this is too easy, then try playing this rhythm on different notes.”

To tier it up, you can have them sing the song while playing the instrument. You could have them make up their own accompaniment. If you want everyone to play the c-e-g-c on the quarter notes, you could have more advanced students play different rhythms one the same notes.

Recorder karate is literally made for differentiation– students who understand more quickly move quickly.

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room


Singing may seem like it is hard to differentiate, but it is not.

How do I tier a song down to make it easier? Easy. When teaching, you can break it down with solfege and rhythmic notation. When singing, you can have students sing on “loo” instead of with the words. This is helpful, especially if the song is in another language. (These are all things you can do in your whole group lessons!)

To make songs harder, you can add dynamics or phrasing. Ask students to make up movements to go along with the song. You can do the song as a round, and allow students who are excelling fend for themselves while aiding the other group.

Also read: Blue Skies Jazz  Lesson



Now this is a form of differentiation that you have heard of before.

But good news—you can use this is the music room.

Here are two easy ways to differentiate with centers:

  1. Flashcards: There are lots of centers activities including flashcards—singing the solfege on them, reading rhythms, performing rhythms, etc. You can use two sets of them—or three or four. You could have students play rhythms on one note of an instrument, and to tier up you could play the same rhythm on different notes. (Check out some rhythm flashcards here)
  2. Working with students: When I do centers (and how they advise to do them in professional development meetings), I always have one center that is an activity with me. Sometimes we practice writing rhythms or melodies, identifying notes on the staff, composing rhythms, etc. Sometimes the students really don’t need me, but I station myself there anyway. These are ridiculously easy to differentiate, and allows you to see more easily who understands the concepts.

Easy-peasy, right?

How many are you already doing?

Probably all of them.

Anyway, those are some really easy ways to differentiate. Most of them are already being done, but when you realize that, you can point them out to students and write it into your lesson plans to help emphasize that you are doing those things.

This year, I plan to dive deeper into differentiation (which, of course, also includes better assessment… yuck…), so look subscribe for more posts about differentiation and other music teaching stuff.

How do you differentiate in your music class? Do you find it easy or difficult? Let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room

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Choir, Elementary Music

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical

Are you doing an elementary musical? Need to pick your characters? You need to hold auditions.

I know, I know. Nobody wants to audition elementary school kids. They think they are too young, too sensitive, whatever.

But you should.

My choir did a musical this year. It was super simple, all of thirty minutes. But it was fun.

I held auditions—terrified of what would happen—and was so glad that I did.

Why should you hold auditions?

Well there are the easy answers—you don’t want to appear to favor any of your students. Also, you need to know who is interested.

But the other thing is that you may not have an idea of the talent that is in your kids.

One of my main characters was a girl that I did not know had that much talent. She was the very best out of all of the students. And I had no idea.

I felt terrible about it, but I had no idea. She was quieter, so I didn’t hear her much.

But she was so good.

Moral of this story—you should really hold auditions.

Now—how do you hold auditions?

If you are curious, this is the musical we did. It was super fun, 30 minutes, easy to learn, and has lots of parts. I highly recommend it. Click on the picture to learn more.

You can also read more about things to do when directing an elementary musical here.

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.

Talk to them about what to expect in an audition

This is super important. If you are doing an elementary musical, they have probably never had to do auditions. For anything.

Tell them what will happen in the audition. Tell them what you want them to sing. Tell them the things you are looking for (diction, dynamics, etc.). Ask them what they think the lead roles will be. The most honest you are, the better they will do.

Also, I had one kid ask me, “Do you want me to sing it like how we sing in here or like how I sing?”

I assume she meant that she didn’t want to sound as classical. I told her just to sing it like she would do onstage, but that I taught them to sing that way for a reason: it really is easier on your voice, and it is the style that we use in choirs.

Also read: 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science

Pick a song they know

There are a few ways to do this. If it is the beginning of the year, you could have them pick a song. I know other teachers who hold auditions for choir and tell students to sing a song they learned in class or at church or on the radio.

If you have had your students longer, you can pick a song. I highly suggest this. It is easier to evaluate students when they all sing the same thing, so you have a few things to really look for.

I chose a song that we had just finished singing in concert, so I knew that they knew it well. They knew what I was looking for, because it was all of the things that I had discussed during rehearsals. This way students are less worried about whether or not they know the song, and can focus on doing their bests.

Have them Sing in Front of Other People

I know this is super intimidating– but it helps you see what the students will do in front of an audience.

I did auditions during a choir time. The students sang in front of their peers. This helped me see who would be ok singing in front of the whole school.

I know this sounds bad. We had a loooong talk about audience behavior before. I used a point system for the auditions, and I subtracted points for any bad audience behavior. Anyone who laughed or talked went down a point. This worked very well– I think I only had to subtract one point form one kid. Most of them were so nervous for themselves they were not thinking about the others.

Also read: Music Centers Classroom Management for Bad Classes

Consider the whole child

Your kids have lots of talents that you can use. Even if they don’t get the part they want, you can use them somewhere else.

I had three main characters, and four really great auditions. For the fourth one, I felt terrible. Because she was really good. She did get a smaller part, and then I added more responsibilities to her. She was in charge of the CD player, so through rehearsals, she started and stopped the CD. It wasn’t a huge thing, but it really helped her feel more involved and less disappointed.

I had other students in charge of taking care of props or painting costumes. All of these seem minor, but they help the students feel involved.

The most important thing is that the students feel involved.

After our musical, I had a lot of other teachers say, “How did you get them to care so much?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer that, but I guess it is because I had them get involved. I only had one student who didn’t show up to the show– long story– and for my school, that is a BIG deal. As a contrast, only about half showed up to the previous concert. And unfortunately, that is normal for our kids.

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.

Let them know every part is important

Tell them that not everyone will be able to get the parts they want. Tell them that it really stinks when you audition and don’t get the part. Tell them that every part is important– because it is!

They may not believe you, but still. If someone is absent from a rehearsal, use it as a chance to show them that everyone is important. Point out– not in a rude way– how difficult it is without the other person there.

Also read: Calming Down Activities for Music Class

Have Understudies

I know you don’t want to, but do. I came within two minutes of needed to use the understudy for my main character, and in the terrifying moments, I was so glad I had a backup.

Explain to them what an understudy is, and give them another part (a smaller part) as well. Include them on all rehearsals with the main characters so that they will learn what to do.


I like our musical last year so much that I ordered another by the same person for this year. Hope we like it as much! You can check it out by clicking on the photo:

You can also read more about things to do when directing an elementary musical here.

Have you held auditions for an elementary musical? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.

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Elementary Music

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical

At the beginning of my first year of teaching, I got a great idea. We should do an elementary musical.

I needed some microphones, applied for a grant, and forgot about it.

And then I got the grant. And because it was now January and I was significantly more worn out than I was in September, I thought, “Great, now we have to do a musical.”

An elementary musical.

Great idea, Becca.

I am actually really glad that we did it. It ended up being really great—the students were really into it. They did a wonderful job, and it was fun for me too. Some days, rehearsal was the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning.

On the way, I learned a lot, because when I started I knew NOTHING. Like, nothing at all about an elementary musical.

So none of these things are from a textbook or wonderful pedogogy. These are all things that I learned on my own. I hope that they help you!

If you are curious, we did this musical: It’s a Jungle Out There. It was perfect– 30 minutes long, catchy songs, lots of different parts. I would highly recommend it, especially if you are new to directing musicals. I liked it so much I ordered a new one for this year: Once Upon a Lily Pad.

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.

1. Do Hold Auditions

For some reason, in elementary schools, teachers are hesitant to hold auditions.

Do it.

Why should you hold auditions? It makes it more fair, prevents favoritism, and surprises you.

Y’all. There was so much talent in my choir that I am ashamed to say I was not aware of. Some of the people that did the best were complete shocks to me.

I was truly impressed by how well the auditions went. I was so glad that I made them audition.

I used a song that we had just performed, so they already knew it well enough to be comfortable singing it. I had them do it in front of each other, to make sure that they would be ok in front of people.

But make sure that you talk to the students about how the auditions will go, and how to be proper audience members. I used a point system, and told them that any rude comments, laugh, etc, would take a point off of their audition score.

I have a post coming about auditions, so make sure to subscribe so you do not miss it!


2. Do Plan Rehearsals

This was something I was so relieved about. I went through each rehearsal and wrote down what I wanted us to go through each time. And I was so glad I did, because it helped us stay on track, and ensured that we had enough time to do everything.

It doesn’t have to be crazy (like Monday we will work on measures 1-5 of this song….) but just general. Like: on Monday we will work on the second song and learn the words to the third song.

Just make sure your expectations are realistic.

3. Do be Creative with Rehearsal Times

School schedules can be crazy, so it is helpful to be creative with rehearsal times. During rehearsal season, we did have after school rehearsals. I sometimes kept kids during my lunch (after testing was over, so their teachers would relinquish control!), before school, etc. All of these little times helped add up to students who knew their stuff.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

4. Do Draft Other People

You will be surprised about how much talent there is in school. I could not have done the musical without help.

I only had one person who helped with rehearsals—not many rehearsals, but anything is helpful. What I found most helpful were the people that helped with costumes and sets. People found random things all over the school that were so helpful when it came to costumes and sets.

I also got someone to help run lines during recess, which added some more help to the arsenal.

Ask if you can make an announcement during a staff meeting or send an email asking people for help. You will be surprised. One of our teachers had a degree in Theater—and I had no clue!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know it is difficult, but do it anyway.

5. Have fun!

Both you and the kids need to remember to have fun. Rehearsal get stressful, kids get tired, but if you are not having fun, it will not be fun. And if they are not having fun, it will show.

To have fun, try switching up the activities part of the way through. Usually about halfway through, I would have them sing and dance however they want to our songs, or have them get into groups to work on their lines. The change of pace helps to keep things fun.

Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.

Have you ever had an elementary musical? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.

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