Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson

All month, I have been sharing Jazz resources with you (since April is Jazz month!). I shared ideas for incorporating jazz and a jazz lesson on the song Blue Skies (which includes scarves!). This week I have another jazz lesson on the song A Train.

Now, if it is not April, do not panic. Jazz is great to teach all year long, and can be used to incorporate many different aspects of music—pitch, steady beat, instruments, mood, etc.

This lesson has some steady beat, but the bulk or it is actually making up lyrics for a writing connection. Because as we all know, incorporating academics is very important. I did this lesson with K-2, but you can definitely tier it up and use it with older students. Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room

A Train Jazz Lesson

Focus: I can keep a steady beat while listening to Jazz. I can make up my own lyrics based on the song A Train. Materials:

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room Procedure:

  • I started this lesson with a review of the song Blue Skies from the week before (which you can read in this lesson). Students kept the steady beat, moved their hands up and down with the contour of the melody on the chorus, and pretended to play each instrument during the solos.
  • Tell them: We’re going to listen to another jazz song. This one is a little bit different, because at the beginning, they use instruments to sound like something that is not an instrument. If you think you have figured it out, give me a quiet thumbs up.
  • Have students close their eyes and listen to the beginning. I always have them close their eyes because than they are not concerned with their neighbors. Be prepared, some of them will start laughing, because it is funny.
  • Ask: What did that sound like? (Keep letting them guess until they guess train) It sounds like a train! They use a drum to sound like the tracks, and a trumpet to sound like the whistle. What do you think the song will be about? Let’s see where we are going on the train…
  • Allow students to listen to the rest of the song, and determine where the train is taking them (to Harlem).

  • Tell them: This song is like a map. It is giving people directions to Harlem. Harlem is a place in New York where people would gather and write songs, write stories, make paintings, and do other artsy things.
  • You can do the next part as a class or individually (or in small groups!). Have students come up with three directions to get to Harlem—the sillier the better! I put things on the board like “Go over….” And let them fill in the blanks. With some classes, I had three people pick and we wrote them on the board as class lyrics. Some classes have better writing skills, so they got to make up their own.
  • Have students write their three directions and then “That’s how we get to Harlem!” on the bottom.
  • Have students illustrate their map. Make sure they show all of the directions.
Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room
Here is an example of one of my kids’ map!
  • Put on some Jazz music while you finish up!
  • Have students share their maps with their classmates.

  PS– Here is a really great video of Duke Ellington’s band playing the song!

And there you have it! This was a hit (even though I made them write) with all of my classes. And for those who cannot handle pencils and clipboards (yes, I have those classes and if you need some help with them you can read here), we came up with lyrics and then we just danced in our seats to the music.

What is your favorite jazz song or lesson? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

 

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Management

Routines You Need in the Music Room

All teachers know that classroom management is essential for learning. This is very true in the music room—without classroom management, how can you play instruments or do dances? An essential part of classroom management are routines. Routines keep things orderly. And if students do them enough, they will be so second nature that you do not even have to help (or at least that is the end goal—we may get there one day!).

Honestly, even though it is March, not all of my classes are to the autopilot stage yet. There are a lot of factors that go into that fact, but honestly, I think a lot of it is that some classes just don’t care. I think this because I have a lot of classes that can do all of the routines we will talk about without any help.

So what kind of routines do you need? This will be different for every class and every school. you have to think about things that students do often in your classroom. These would the very basics:

  • Entering the room
  • Exiting the room
  • Getting supplies
  • Bathroom/water/tissue/etc
  • Movement in the classroom

Now, you may have more routines than this. You may have centers movement, turning in work, dealing with instruments, etc. These would be the very basics of routines in the music room.

Again, these will all be different depending on your classroom. We all have different classrooms with different students and different set ups. We all have different “crazy tolerances”. (AKA how much we are willing to let students wiggle or sit strangely, etc.) All of these things affect how you do your routines.

I am going to let you know my routines, as well as ways that I have seen other teachers do it. If you have anything to add, please leave it in the comments!

And don’t forget to subscribe!

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room



Routine #1: Entering the Room

I will admit, this is one that my students and I have not totally figured out yet. Now, my kids have assigned seats (and if yours don’t, fix it quick!), so they come inside and sit on their assigned dots. They know (and I tell them every single day) that if they come in quietly and quickly, they will get a class point (you can read more about that here).

For people who do not have assigned seats, I have seen other teachers that brought the line inside and made a circle, keeping the same order. They held hands just to make sure it looked good and then they sat down.

I have also seen where they sat in assigned seats, but the teacher had music playing that they were listening to immediately. This is something that I have not done, but am going to try. I’ll let you know how it goes!



Routine #2: Exiting the Room

Again, depending on how you have students set up, this will change. My students have assigned “dots” that they sit on. We skip some rows so that they have space, so I have students on green dots, purple dots, red dots, and “brown dots” (carpet squares). To line up, I have the green dots stand and walk towards the door. Then the purple dots stand and walk away from the door so that they can go down the green row. Red and brown follow. This has worked very well for me.

Line order? You may ask. I always tell them we will get in Mrs. Davis’ line order first. Then I count down from ten to give them time to get into their line order.

Note: Some classes have had problems getting into their line order, so I just say that their teacher can do it in the hallway if they want to.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room

Routine #3: Getting Supplies

This one is so important! Especially if you have a lot of supplies to get in a day. Try to make it as streamlined as possible.

For example, if we are coloring, then I put the paper, clipboards, and crayons right next to each other. This way it is easier to get all of the things.

I do this by rows as well. I tell them I am looking for a row sitting criss cross applesauce and quiet to pick. Once I pick a row, they stand up, stay in the same order and come up front. Then the walk around to the other side and go down their row. This way, no one walks through the carpet (AKA less likely to step on a hand). They should all still be in the order the sit in when they get back.

If you have tables or have students in groups, you could have students pass out the supplies. You could have them pass the supplies down the line until they get to the end. But there must be a system.

And if you do have that sort of system, I would definitely get these organizers.

Use the same system for picking up the supplies as well.



Routine #4: Bathroom/Water/Tissue/Etc

That is very vague, I know.

This routine is for all of the extra stuff. Are you going to let the students go to the bathroom during class? Do you have a sign out sheet? Do they ask you? Can they just get up and get tissue?

In my class, I like to minimize movement as much as possible. I do not like students walking around if I don’t know where they are going, so I require students to raise their hand to ask for these things. Even tissue. Especially because a lot of them like to go to blow their nose or go to the bathroom when they are bored. And they like to intentionally walk past people to talk to them. Yes, that’s a thing.

I only do bathroom as an emergency, and I tell them if they go they will not get a ticket (PBIS—same as a Dojo Point) because we are not supposed to go during music. This deters most of the kids who are just trying to play.

With blowing noses, I will let them but only one at a time so they don’t talk. Again, they have to raise their hands.

And I don’t do water unless someone seems like they are dying.

Note: if we have a really active day, like dancing or parachute, then I will usually play a video at the end and let them get water one at a time.

A lot of people use hand signs so that the teacher knows without calling on someone what they want. I do not. If you do, let me know how it works.

Another idea that I like but have not tried is having students write their name and destination on a dry erase board stuck to the door like this.

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

 

Routine #5: Movement in the Classroom

This is also a vague name for a routine. Essentially, what will students do the rest of the time? Like if you have to move from one activity to the next.

Again, this totally depends on your activities and what is going on.

A big on is centers.

If you are moving from one center to the next, what do you do?

I indicate the end of centers by playing a rhythm and having them clap it to me. (This requires them to put down anything in their hands.) Then I say “1, 2, 3, 4 put everything down, get off the floor AND FREEZE!” Students clean up their stations and stand. I always make them point to the next station to make sure they know where they are going. Then I say, “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” And they go to the next station.

This took a few times of doing it before students really got this down, but now it is like second nature.

Also, I did not make that up. I got it from my mentor during student teaching and I have no clue where she got it from.

For pretty much any other movement, I call students by row. And I always tell them I am looking for the row that is sitting the nicest.



So those are the main routines for the music room! Of course, there are quite a few other routines that are not as major. Again, everything is going to depend on your students, your lessons, and your room. And of course, your “crazy tolerance”. (I totally made that term up, by the way.)

Subscribe and check out my Pinterest page for more classroom management and music lesson ideas!

What are your favorite routines in the music room? Feel free to share your routines in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!)

As a music teacher, I try to encourage academics in music as much as possible. That does not mean that I sacrifice musical integrity or that we just read textbooks all day, but it does mean that I try to fit in math, science, social studies, and reading wherever possible. This lesson, with Five Little Monkeys, incorporates math and reading perfectly!

I am pretty sure I got part of this lesson I got from another website, but I cannot find it anywhere. I had already planned on using this rhyme, and the high/low fit perfectly. And if you can know what website the high and low part came from, please let me know so I can link it!

You can also do this without the book, although without the book, there is no reading aspect to it. You can read extension ideas at the bottom of the post.

You can read about my 3-5 Boomwhacker and Science lesson here.

And don’t forget to subscribe for more ideas!  

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!) Really fun lesson for younger music students to teach high and low and steady beat. Also includes reading and subtraction/counting. Becca's Music Room.

Five Little Monkeys

Focus: I can differentiate between high and low. Materials:

  Procedure:

  • Start by gathering the students together and reading the book Five Little Monkeys. Most of my students knew the book already, so just be aware that may happen. Have students hold up five fingers at the beginning and lose one each time. After every monkey ask (So five take away one is what?).
  • PS: At least in Georgia, Kindergarten phrases it as “take away”. During 1st grade, they learn subtraction, but depending on what time of the year this is done, you may still need to say “take away” instead of “subtract”.
  • Tell them that we will read it again, but this time a little bit silly. We are going to use our high voice and our low voice. So we will read the first part normal, but when we get to “Mama called the doctor and the doctor said” we use our high voice, and when we do “No more monkeys jumping on the bed”, we use our low voice. Demonstrate this for the students.
  • After demonstrating the first time, allow students to join with you if they have figured out the words. They can also do some simple actions (Hold up the number of fingers for the monkeys, pretend to bob their head on bumped their head, and then put hands up for the high part, and down for the low part.).
  • Go through the rhyme again, but this time, after each monkey, have a few students write on the board (or have everyone write on their own board) the subtraction problem. So the first time it will be 5-1=4. Pick different students each time so that everyone gets a turn. Be prepared to fix some of the problems, even though it feels like they ought to be able to do it themselves.
  • Performance time: Have two students come up to the front. Everyone in class will do the first part of Five Little Monkeys. One student will have a solo in their high voice on “Mama called the doctor and the doctor said.” And one student will have a solo in their low voice on “No more monkeys jumping on the bed.”
  • Continue until time runs out or everyone has had a chance.

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

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!) Really fun lesson for younger music students to teach high and low and steady beat. Also includes reading and subtraction/counting. Becca's Music Room.

Extensions:

  • Students could play rhythms or keep a steady beat on instruments.
  • Students could act out the scene, starting with five “monkeys”, a mom, and a doctor.
  • Students could write down each of the math problems and then draw pictures to accompany each one.

My students (even my second graders) really enjoyed this lesson—even more than I anticipated! They were asking for weeks if they could do the Five Little Monkeys rhyme. From a teaching standpoint, it is great. Students keep the steady beat, move with actions, differentiate between high and low, and use reading and math skills. Talk about a win for everyone!

Don’t forget to subscribe for more content, or check out this Pinterest board for more teaching music ideas.

Click the picture below to check out the book!

What is your favorite book to use with you students? How do you incorporate academics into your classroom? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

 

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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

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

This is one of my favorite games! I learned it from my mentor during student teaching. I am not sure where she got it from. I haven’t seen it in any books or on the internet. If you know where Extra Beat Take a Seat comes from, feel free to let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

I have also used it during a long term substitute job, and the first week of school during my first year.

It is easy to figure it out, musical, and fun.

It is also good if you need to travel to classrooms. I have used it many times for that. Just do it with hands instead of rhythm sticks.

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

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



Extra Beat, Take a Seat

Focus:

I can count rhythm patterns.

Materials:

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



Procedure:

  • Have students sit on a circle on the floor.
  • Start by having students play a short rhythm on repeat. I like to use quarter note, quarter note, half note. I play the first two with rhythm sticks on the floor, and the last note tap together. This, by the ways, is the “We Will Rock You” rhythm, so get ready to hear someone sing that.
  • Once they have the rhythm down, tell them to put their sticks down and listen. Tell them you are going to play the rhythm three times and three times only. And then do it. Count out loud so that they can hear what you mean.
  • Have them play it with you, three times and three times only. Someone will keep going—use that as an example.

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

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room
Here are the rhythms in notation. D for playing on the floor, and u for playing sticks together.



  • Tell them that you are going to play a game. They have to play the rhythm first three times and three times only. If they make an extra beat, they have to take a seat (sit in the middle of the circle). Then the class will try it again. Once the whole class (or whoever is left!) gets it right, then the round is over and everyone can rejoin the circle.
  • Once students get three times down, the round is over. The next time everyone will play the rhythm five times. Keep moving up by two each time. I usually go to eleven, and then find a new rhythm. You can do that or choose something else.
  • Once they get to whatever your magic number is, get a new rhythm.
  • My second rhythm is quarter note, quarter note, two eighth notes, quarter note. Play the rhythms as down-down-up-up-up. Again, if you make an extra beat, then you take a seat.
  • The third rhythm that I use is eighth notes, eighth notes, quarter note, quarter note, quarter note. this one goes down-down-up-up-down-up-down

A few tips:

Use a djembe to play the rhythms, because students can hear it over their sticks. This will help them keep the beat study.

You can play this without the sticks—just have students tap their legs and clap. This makes it great for the classroom.

You can add in some simple math practice by asking questions like, “If I have three notes and I play it three times, how many notes do I play total?”

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

So there you go! It’s not too difficult, but it is very fun! What is your favorite rhythm game? Let us know in the comments!

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, Management

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Classroom management is so important. Without classroom management, no one learns anything. These are a few phrases for classroom management in the music room.

Everyone develops different phrases to keep their class running. These are the phrases that keep me grounded. They keep my classes running. They keep my students (mostly) in line. I hope that some of these phrases for classroom management help keep your class running smoothly too!

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room



If you play before I say, I will take your instrument away

I found this one on Mrs. King’s Music Class and it changed my life! I use it with every class kindergarten through 5th grade. And I am serious. The first time I hear a noise, they have to put their instrument away.

It has really helped. At the beginning of the year, it was rough. I would have half of the students sitting out.

Now that it is the end of January, the students are finally getting it! We did instruments this week and only a handful in the whole school had to put their instruments away.

Thank you so much for the idea! Check out the rest of the article here for good information.

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

Put your hands on your shoulders

This goes directly with “If you play before I saw, I will take your instrument away”. I use this mostly with the younger kids. I tell them to get their supplies, sit down, and put their hands on their shoulders.

I find that having a specific thing to do with their hands rather than just “don’t touch it!” You could do hands in lap or folded or whatever, just the more specific the better.

With classes I trust more, I change the phrase to “Don’t touch them. A good thing to do would be to put your hands in your lap or on your shoulders so you do not have an issue.” The older students seem to respond to the options.

Regardless, give them something to do instead of something not to do.

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera



Think it in your head

This is a life saver! As soon as we started working on rhythms, it was a mess. I would hold a rhythm and immediately they are trying to figure it out. Which is good, because they are thinking about it. But not good because it was loud.

So we started “Think it in your head.” I will have the younger students point to their heads to remind them to think the rhythm in their head. I always say I should not hear noise if you are thinking it in your head.

And again, that is from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Not only is there less noise, but they actually pay attention to the what they rhythm is so they know the rhythm when we all read it together.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room



I’m looking for….

I’m looking for people sitting criss cross applesauce.

I’m looking for people with their instruments on the floor and hands on their shoulders.

I’m looking for people in a straight quiet line.

Whatever you are looking for. I say one of those phrases, and then I look around pointing at whoever has what I am looking for and say “Good.”

Once the good’s start going around everyone else starts falling into line. Sometimes literally.

Also read: Positive Management Strategies for When You Don’t Feel Positive

Show me don’t tell me

I love to have students show me answers. We learn hand signs for the first few letters of the alphabet. We use fingers to show how many beats a rhythm gets. We use thumbs up/thumbs down for yes or no questions.

These are all really great, but as soon as you ask a question, students’ first reaction is to yell out the answer.

So I started the “show me, don’t tell me”.

I use it with questions, with form, with opinions, even when I help with small groups in the afternoon in third grade (Yes, that is a thing. And no, you probably don’t want the music teacher helping with 3rd grade math and reading.)

This is also one of my go-to phrases for when I want the class to behave. I like to hold games and instruments for the end of the class so that I can hold it over their heads.

That sounds bad. But we all do it.

So I’ll use phrases like “Show me you can play the instruments” or “Show me you can handle a game”.

Also read: The Best Classroom Purchase Ever!



If you can hear my voice, clap once

This is one of my phrases for getting the class to quiet down. “If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice.” And so forth.

I also like to do this when I’ve got a class lined up and their teacher is not there yet. I start with “If you can hear my voice, touch your shoulders. If you can hear my voice, touch your head.” And I keep going. Then I stop talking, and just have them mirror me. They particularly like it when I change my actions really quickly. And then I try to trick them. And they think it is wonderful.

 

Here are some books in case you want to read some more. Click on the pictures to see more:

So those are my favorite phrases for classroom management! What phrases do you use? How do you keep your class in line? Let us know in the comments!

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room



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Elementary Music

Questions I was Asked at my Teaching Job Interview (For Music Teachers)

Questions I was asked at my teaching job interview is a post that I have wanted to write for a long time. You can look things up online, but hiring someone to teach is totally different from hiring someone to fix computers or do paperwork. Those things are not bad, but they are just very different.

And all of the resources I found last year were about general job searches, not teaching job searches.

Annnd I recently found out that my school is being taken over by the state, so we all have to reapply and reinterview for our jobs. Great.

But it did make this teaching job interview guide a little more important.

Most of these were asked of me at my teaching job interview, and a few I heard from friends that the had to answer at their teaching job interview.

If you read to the end there are some questions that you should ask them at your job interview.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Questions I was Asked at My Teaching Job Interview Becca's Music Room



What is you classroom management system?

This is a biggie. If you don’t read anything else, I hope you read that. This is the number one question at a teaching job interview.

And I did not know it when I interviewed.

So I fumbled. I knew what my strategy was, but I did not know how to articulate it.

Take the time to articulate it out loud.

And repeat after me: I am really big on PBIS.

Your classroom management system should include what to do if a student is acting up AND what sort of incentives there are for if they are doing a good job.

If you need some ideas, you can read them here: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room



What would you do with a particularly difficult student?

The way this was phrased during my teaching job interview was “If you had a difficult student, would you call the administration?”

I’ll give you a hint: they want you to keep the student in your room as long as possible. So move the student away from others and give them an alternate assignment would be your first step. Then I would say to call mom. Then, only if the student is posing a threat to the other students, should you call the administration. Again, only if they are posing a threat to the students or you. As long as they do not look violent, do not bother.

Remember the boy who cried wolf. Only call if it is an emergency.

Also read: Questions to Ask Yourself when the Class is Off the Chain

What is your instrument?

The answer is easy. Although watching non-music people trying to phrase this is interesting.

Also read: How to Get the Most Out of Student Teaching

Questions I was Asked at My Teaching Job Interview Becca's Music Room



How would you continue to have the choir (or ukulele club or whatever) succeed? Do you have a plan for accompaniment?

I’ve heard this phrased different ways, but it seems to be a common question.

For me, I told them that I have been in choir for years, and that I did observations at two different choirs, so I would be prepared. As for the accompaniment, I will get someone I know to play, or find tracks online.

Be honest. If you have never been in a (insert club here), tell them. Because they will figure it out quickly if you lie.

A good way to phrase that would be, “I do not have very much experience with choirs. I have been in band for years, and they are similar, so I know how to conduct. I plan to talk to choral directors and research children’s choirs so that I will be prepared, if I get this job.”

You want them to consider you, but you need to be honest.

Also read: The Best Classroom Purchase Ever!

How do you stay organized?

I don’t think this is as common, but I did hear it.

So… what do you do? Do you write everything down? Do you set reminders on your phone? Do you make a list each day? Look at the calendar? Whatever you do, let them know. If you don’t do anything, then figure out something to tell them.

Also read: Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher



What does a typical day in your classroom look like?

Put some thought into this! This is a very common question.

Do you start your class with a warm up? End with a game? Do you do a lot of Orff material? Play singing games every week? This is where you let them know.

My answer would be this: I start the class with stretching and then some kid of warm up that relates to the lesson we are doing. I always include movement, but it could be a dance or a song or just some movements. Then we have the bulk of the lesson. This could be a song or playing instruments or a movement activity or centers. I like to use different methods of teaching music so that all of the students are encouraged to join in. I try to end the class either with a game that reinforces the lesson, or with a preview of next week’s lesson. I try to include something for the next week’s lesson every week if possible.

Of course, don’t say that if it is not what you do. But this is where you tell them what your teaching style is—orff, Kodaly? Dalcroze? Instruments every day or singing every day? Whatever you do, let them know.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form



How do you use…..?

Chances are, whatever the old music teacher was using is what they think should be done. They may ask about how you use Orff instruments or ukulele. They may throw out how do you use Kodaly?

How do you assess? What do you do with assessment data? All good questions.



Questions I was Asked at My Teaching Job Interview Becca's Music Room
An example of Social Studies in Music: We put each song we sing on the map.

How can you reinforce academic concepts in your classroom?

I am noticing this more and more from administration. They want to see you mirror academics in the music room. I do this, and most of it comes organically. Here are some ideas:

Math: Counting songs, Five Little Monkeys, adding beats together, using fractions to describe rhythms, etc.

Science: The science of sound, making soundscapes to describe biomes, etc.

Social Studies: I probably do this the most. Whenever we sing a song, we find it on the map. Sometimes we talk about the culture of the country. If we talk about a composer, we talk about the time period they lived in, etc.

ELA: Writing stories about music, reading about composers, reading books about songs or singing books, pointing out rhyming words, etc. Here are some of my favorite books. Click on the pictures to read the description from Amazon.

Do you have any questions?

The answer is YES. This is your chance to find out what you need to know about the school. This is how you will determine if you want to accept the job.

Now, don’t ask stupid things. Look up the school on the website and see what you can find. If you see that they have a musical every year, ask about it!

  • Here are some ideas of things you may want to ask:
  • What does the schedule look like?
  • Are there after school programs, clubs, or concerts that I will be responsible for?
  • What is the current teaching doing that you would like to continue?
  • Is there something that is not currently being done that you would like to see in the future?
  • Is there a PBIS plan in place?
  • What does the room look like?
  • Would I be able to do XYZ (whatever you want to do in the future)?

That’s what I have! I hope you find this helpful. What were you asked in your teaching job interview? Let us know in the comments!



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Elementary Music, Management

Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Classroom management systems in the music room…. It can be a difficult thing. It is difficult because elementary music teachers teach every single kid in the whole school. And some classes are better behaved than others.

And unfortunately, we still have to deal with the really difficult classes.

And we all know, that nothing gets done without good classroom management systems. You can’t teach anyone anything if the behavior is not decent.

As a disclaimer, you should know that I am not a classroom management master or anything. These are techniques that I have seen other teachers do while I have observed. I will let you know later on in the post what I do in my classroom.

3 Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room. Becca's Music Room. Three positive classroom management systems for people who teach elementary music. Theses are proven effective with kindergarten through 5th grade.



Class Points

This is what my (awesome!) mentor teacher used. I’ve actually been in two classrooms that do versions of these classroom management systems. The class at a whole has to earn points throughout the class. They earn points by walking in calmly, having the whole class participate in an activity, paying attention, etc.

Throughout the class, draw points on the board or put up magnets (bonus points if they look like music notes!) for a period of time that goes well.

I have seen one teacher do three points and one do five. I think it is mostly a personal preference.

At the end of the class, record the points somewhere on the walls with a chart so everyone can see.

I have seen one teacher record smiley faces or check marks for good days and x’s for bad days. She recorded for every class, and at the end of the semester the class with the most smiley faces gets a party.

The other teacher I saw did it on a more individual class system—every time a class earned nine smiley faces or checks (hypothetically once a quarter) they got candy or music free time or something to that effect.

I like this one of the classroom management systems because it provides immediate feedback and there is a long term reward, but not every single day.

Also read: Questions to Ask Yourself When the Class is Off the Chain

3 Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room. Becca's Music Room. Three positive classroom management systems for people who teach elementary music. Theses are proven effective with kindergarten through 5th grade.



Red Card, Green Card

This is an awesome system that I observed from a teacher in my district.

Through out the class, she would give out “green cards” (literally like pieces of laminated construction paper) to students who answer questions correctly or who are trying hard. She always emphasized that it wasn’t who sounded the best, but who was trying the hardest.

Students not on task were told to get a “yellow card”.

A student who did something bad (like one student refused to dance with a partner during a dance) received a “red card”.

In this system, the cards can change. If the person with yellow got themselves together, they would be able to return it. If they continue to misbehave, they would get a red card.

At the end of class, the students with green cards would get to play the instrument of the day—and it was a big deal. Only those students would stand up. She would tell them about the instrument and then show how to play it, and they would get to play a rhythm on it and pass it to the next person.

Yellow cards would miss out on an opportunity like playing a game or playing instruments or something to that effect.

Red cards (which are rare) would get a phone call home and lunch detention. They would have to come to her room during their lunch and sit in the corner. And they hate it.

Just so we know, you will need to have the teachers’ and administrations’ support for something like that. Not that I can see anyone being opposed to it, but still.

This is really good because it gives specific feedback to the students and it the rewards are musical.

Two classroom management systems down and one to go!

 

Also read: Lessons from my First Semester Teaching Elementary Music



Class Dojo

Now, this would be kind of a last result.

If you don’t know, Class Dojo is a website. You type in each of the kids’ names. They get a monster. Throughout the class, you can give and take points for behavior. You can leave it on the board so that all the kids can see how they are doing.

I would give them a point goal and students who get to the goal would get a prize.

One of my teacher friends said that she has done this with specific classes when they needed the extra motivation. She said it helped quickly.

I said this should be a last result because if you have 750 students… this is just a pain. But if you have one or two classes that just really struggle, it can help.

 

Notice, all of these classroom management systems have a reward, whether it is daily or semester-ly (totally not a word). The kids need something to work for. There are very few kids who will do what they are supposed to just because they want to be good.

 

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories



What do I do in my classroom?

In my classroom, I do a version of the points system. The students earn points throughout the class. They always want to earn the “magic five” by the end of class. I write the number of points they get on a chart on the door. At the end of the school year, the winning class will have a party. I did one in December, and then I started the competition over in January until the end of the year.

In the fall, I just did a smiley face or x, but I needed a more specific way to record feedback. I had lots of days where I wasn’t sure what to put because they weren’t great but weren’t bad. This really helps with consistency.

Also, I only do parties twice a year because I don’t want to have them happening all of the time.

Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Here are a few books in case you want to read more. Click on the picture to view in Amazon.

Do you use one of these classroom management systems? Do you use something else? Let us know in the comments if you have any helpful information!

3 Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room. Becca's Music Room. Three positive classroom management systems for people who teach elementary music. Theses are proven effective with kindergarten through 5th grade.



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

I love using scarves in my music class. They encourage movement, can be used for many different types of activities, and they are just plain fun. This is a scarf routine to Sempre Libera from La Traviata.

If you have read some of my opera lessons like this one (Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories), you know that I spent a lot of the first semester teaching my students about opera. It was partly because of a curriculum that we do in my county, and partially just because I love opera.

And I wanted them to love opera too.

And it worked!

One of the pieces the students had to become familiar with was Sempre Libera from La Traviata (you can find it by clicking here).

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson! First, I showed them a YouTube video of Sempre Libera in an opera. Then we talked about how to use facial expressions and body language to show how we feel.

Then we watched it again and I asked them how they think she felt, and how they knew that. (Ex. I think she was excited, because she was dancing.)

I really like this video of Sempre Libera because it shows her excited when she is singing about being free, and upset when the guy is singing to her.

I explained what the aria is about. The guy wants to marry her, so he is singing about how wonderful she is. She does not want to marry him, which is why she doesn’t look happy when he is singing. When she is singing, she is talking about wanting to be free and happy and not with this guy.

After all of this as an intro, I had the kids get scarves.

After the usual explanation of, “If you hit anyone or if your scarf leaves your hand, then you will lose your scarf!” we started.

I started out the week having the kids “Show me what the music looks like.” This worked very well (I go into more details in this post). I, of course, was also showing how the music sounded.

And I noticed that I kept doing the same thing. So, this is how I came up with the Sempre Libera scarf routine.

If you are interested in more scarf lessons you can check them out here:

And get your scarves from Amazon by clicking on the picture below (affiliate link). Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson!

Sempre Libera from La Traviata

  • During the main part (sempre libera…) move scarf from side to side in dotted quarter notes. Make it very bouncy (and you will want to make it bouncy, just because of the music).
  • During the runs, follow the melody with your scarf. Move the scarf quickly so that you show the vibrato.
  • Repeat twice (just like the music does).
  • At the coda, move the scarf in large circles in front of your body.
  • At the end, follow the melody. It should end with the scarf up in the air moving quickly to show vibrato.
  • And freeze!

Side note: I always end scarf routines by freezing, to help control chaos. So there you have it.

Make sure to check out my other opera and scarf lessons!

You can find some of my favorite scarf routines in one of my favorite books:

How do you like to use scarves? What is your favorite scarf routine? Let us know in the comments!

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson!

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Elementary Music

Lessons from my First Semester Teaching Elementary Music

The week before Christmas break was hectic. It included my first PTA performance, my first field trip, eight parties for good behavior, 43 Christmas sing alongs, three songs sung in front of the church (twice!), a church Christmas party, one dress rehearsal, and two concerts. And that is not to mention the actual teaching part of my job.

And then it was over.

And I realized that the end of the second marking period means that I am halfway through my first year of teaching. Yay!

And I haven’t even killed anyone yet.

I have done some things well, and a lot of things not so well. Not necessarily badly, but I can definitely improve.

So here are some lessons (and things that need improvement!) from my first semester teaching.

Lessons from my First Semester Teaching Elementary Music. The first few months have been fun and eventful! Check out what I learned, and hopefully something will help you! Becca's Music Room.

Classroom Management is Everything

Now, I had heard this in student teaching. During student teaching, we worked a lot on classroom management. My classroom management is decent for a first year teacher. It could definitely improve, but for the most part my classes are good.

This is more of a lesson I have learned from watching other teachers.

If you are a teacher, I am sure that you can already think of a few teachers who have zero classroom management. I am thinking of one in particular. Her students do not respect her, they look like wild animals in the hallway, and they are ridiculously late for EVERYTHING. And all I think is that there is no way that learning can happen in that classroom. I have been in there, and there is very little learning happening. I hope that it was just the day I happened to be there, but I doubt it.

Don’t let your classroom be like that.

Need help with classroom management? There are a few key aspects.

  1. Clear expectations
  2. Consistent follow through
  3. Rewards for good behavior

Kids have to know what is expected—in every situation. The more specific, the better. And they need something to work towards.

Check out my classroom management posts here and here.

 

Be Flexible

If you have read this post (Best Classroom Purchase Ever!) or this post (Traveling Teacher: What to do when Not in Your Room), then you know that my classroom got flooded this year. I spent two weeks travelling to classrooms, a month in another classroom, and two weeks where we were in my room but it was a disaster.

My lesson full of Kidstix Stations was not going to work.

I learned flexibility really quickly.

My dad is an assistant principal in our district. He says, “We make the lesson plans due before we tell teachers about all the things that mess up their lesson plans.”

And it is so true!

Assemblies, field trips, testing, etc. All of these things are told after the fact. I cannot tell you how many times I had my lessons all ready and only one class actually had the lesson due to all of the other stuff.

My suggestion? Have some ideas like anything from this book or this book that you can whip out when things are not happening like you want.

 Lessons from my First Semester Teaching Elementary Music. The first few months have been fun and eventful! Check out what I learned, and hopefully something will help you! Becca's Music Room.

Don’t Be Afraid to Repeat Lessons

I thought I had all of these ideas about lessons and games. A few weeks into the school year, I realized that I had very few.

Which makes lesson planning difficult, because I need to find more lessons every week.

To make life easier on myself, I teach the same thing to K, 1, and 2 and then the same thing to 3, 4, and 5. The kids don’t know and it makes my life way easier. Especially because I only have to have two sets of instruments out instead of six. It also allows me to really know my lesson. This helps me to teach to the best of my ability, and is especially helpful with classes that have more severe behavior issues.

You can read more about my lesson planning tips here.



Kids Get Rhythm Faster than Anticipated

I do not know what it was about rhythm, but I could not figure out how to explain it. I was fine with the older kids, because they already had the foundation for it. If they already know about beat and quarter notes and eighth notes, then explaining sixteenth notes is easy.

But I was stumped when it came to kindergarteners.

How do I explain rhythm to kids who barely know their letters?

I finally got over myself, and did this lesson featuring a Halloween song and Popsicle sticks.

And y’all. They got it. Immediately. Even the lowest achieving kindergarteners got it.

Then I got stuck teaching other lessons in preparation for a field trip (like this scarf routine and some of the ideas on this list) so rhythm took to the back burner.

A month and a half later (I know, I’m terrible!) I pulled rhythm back out and added rests and they got it immediately.

Moral of the story: don’t be scared to teach something to the kids. They are smart. They will get it.

And if they don’t, then you can try again next time!

 

Hold onto the Good Stuff

Teaching is really great. It is also not always so great.

I keep a journal where I write funny or touching things that kids say. This way, when I have really crappy days where everything goes wrong and no one learns anything, I can go back and read them.

We all know those teachers that are just way too worn out. They are tired, frustrated, and generally done.

Those teachers have lost sight of the good parts of teaching.

Don’t be like them.

We all know that not all parts of teaching are good. Some parts really suck. And some days really suck.

But you know what? A lot of parts of every job suck.

Don’t let yourself think that it is just teaching. Or it is just this school. Not every day is going to be good.

So don’t forget about the good things. Hold onto them.

And when a day really sucks, try some of the things on this list to help you get over and move past it.

Remember that every day is a new day.



I don’t want this list to be too long, so I will stop there! There are a lot of things I can improve on, like having my lessons more connected and incorporating more instruments.

The good thing is I have another semester to work on those things!

What have you learned this year? What did you learn your first year? Let me know in the comments!

Lessons from my First Semester Teaching Elementary Music. The first few months have been fun and eventful! Check out what I learned, and hopefully something will help you! Becca's Music Room.



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

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

If you have been reading my blog, then you have hear me mention that my Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders spent a lot of time this year on opera. We use the Musical Explorer curriculum (currently available in Savannah and New York City, and I heard rumors that they are trying to get it elsewhere). Every semester, students learn about three styles of music, and then they go to a concert. This means that by the time they finish, they have gone to 6 concerts and learn 18 styles of music.

Which is awesome!

I really cannot sing its praises enough.

Anyway… this semester was Ringshout, Opera, and Blues.

And we spent a lot of time on opera.

You can read about our Creative Movement with Scarves lesson here, or our Bizet Scarf Routine here. (Do you see a theme? I truly love scarves in the music room!)

You can click on the picture to buy some for your music room!

This lesson is all about the opera stories.

Now, opera stories can be a little bit on the ridiculous side. Some of them are reeeeally complicated (Can you say Magic Flute?). Or inappropriate (Can you say Carmen?). This made teaching the opera stories really complicated.

So here are a few ideas to help out…



Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Becca's Music Room

Tell the Story Around the Aria

The two piece the students were supposed to learn were from Norma and La Traviata.

Have you ever tried explaining either of those to Kindergarteners? It’s difficult.

Instead, I just told them the story right around the aria. I basically just explained what they were saying.

For example, with La Traviata, instead of trying to explain the whole thing in its ridiculousness, I just talked about the aria.

We watched this video. First, I told them to try to decide how she was feeling by her facial expressions. I stopped it every once and a while and ask. I like this video because she looks happy while she sings, and then upset when the man is singing.

Afterward, I told them what was going on—that she is talking about wanting to be free, so she is happy. The man wants her to marry him, but she does not want to marry him. This is why she looks upset when he is singing.

And that is all they really needed to know about that.

First story down!



Pick a Beginning, Middle, and End

The next of the opera stories we learned was The Magic Flute. Now, the Magic Flute is another one of those operas that is just kind of all over the place. It is complicated, and there are a ton of things going on.

I did something terrible—I only told them about the first act.

The first and second acts are just so different that it was too difficult to try to get it all in there.

We watched this video of the Papageno/Pagagena duet. They thought that it was HILARIOUS. They laughed so hard at the part where they were singing “Pa… pa pa….. pa… pa pa…” I got a wonderful video on my Instagram of some of my first graders singing along with it.

Then we talked about how all stories have a beginning, middle, and end. In this one, the beginning is when Princess Pamina gets captured. In the middle, Papageno and the Prince Tamino go and look for her. At the end, they find her!

Yes, I know. Only one act and extremely simplified. But that’s what Kindergarteners need.

After the video and the discussion, we did this coloring sheet which I got for free on Crayola’s website. I cut them out ahead of time (you can have the kids do it if you are feeling adventurous), and we drew pictures of the beginning, middle, and end. The boxes are pretty small, so I did have the older kids write “beginning, middle, and end”, but I did not have them write what was happening.

You can get the coloring page here.

If you want a writing connection, you could give them a piece of paper and have them write a sentence or two for each part.

My main focus was “Opera is fun!” rather than “We need to know exactly how The Magic Flute goes.”



Compare and Contrast

Pick an opera that has a common story, like Cinderella. Talk to the students about what an opera is (People acting out a story by singing all the time). Then tell them sometimes when a composer writes an opera, they use a story people know.

Watch a video from the opera Cinderella. Then watch a video from the Disney movie Cinderella.

Make a Compare/Contrast chart. You could do it on the board, or have them do it individually or as groups.

Depending on the videos you pick, they will say different things. I would focus on differences like setting—opera is live, so the setting cannot change as much as a cartoon. Vocal quality—they will probably say the opera sounds “bigger” or “louder”.

Also read Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form

Read a Book

We did not do this one, but it is probably the best option.

Read a book about an opera, or with the same story. Here are some examples with The Magic Flute.

After you read the book, watch a few videos from the opera.

Extension: Have them act it out! You can read the book, or have a student read it, and have the characters move around to act out the story. You can pause and listen to the arias as they come up in the story. (This would be great for older kids.)

You can click on these books to check them out.

Watch a Video

I was flipping through the channels one day and hear the music from Carmen. I stopped, and realized that it was an episode of Arthur!

In this 15 min. video, Muffy and her dad are going to the opera. She thinks that she won’t like it, but after she tries it, she does.

The great thing is they use real music! There is one scene where they change the plot to make it kid-friendly and have the characters singing in English. At the end, they are snippets of the real music from Carmen.

We watched it and the kids loved it! And since it is shorter, it didn’t take up too much of the time.

Check it out here.


And a Bulletin Board Idea….

For this month, I did an opera bulletin board. I made three of the coloring sheets with the school’s poster maker (in other words, I didn’t spend any money). I wrote the sentence that corresponds with the beginning, middle, and end. Then I put it up along with some of the kid’s drawings. the drawings are form the Crayola website which is above under “Beginning, Middle, and End”.

I added the title and the answer to the question “What is opera?”. And I wrote that we were doing The Magic Flute.

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room

How did it turn out?

Great!

My opera lessons were huge hits.

When we watched the Arthur video, I told them “Some people think that opera is boring, and they don’t like it!”

You should have seen their shocked little faces. They gasped and said “No!”

I said, “Yes. Do you think opera is boring?”

“No! Opera is fun!”

This is a big deal in any school, but in my urban, inner city school, it was an even bigger deal.

What opera strategies do you use? Do your kids keep an open mind? Let me know in the comments!

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room



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