6 ways to start music class
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Pondering the best way to begin music class? In today's post, I'll write with my favorite ways to start a lesson.
Please note that there is no right or wrong answer for how to welcome your class. It's totally up to you and what you think is best for your students. You might try changing it up a bit to see which way you like the best!
1. Singing game
This is my preferred way to begin music. I want my students to be immediately singing and experiencing joy, so playing a singing game is a great way to do that! One of my favorites for Kindergarten is "Grizzly Bear":
The kids love the song, as it starts very quietly and gets louder and louder, until they shout, "Roar" at the end! For the game, I have students walk in a circle, counter-clockwise, until they repeat the first phrase.
Then on "Please be very quiet," students stay still and put a finger to their lips. For "If you wake him, if you shake him..." students step louder and louder to the beat until they roar at the end! (I have them put their hands up like they are claws when they roar!)
One child pretends to be a sleeping bear in the middle as all of the movement is going on, and then on "Roar," that kid stands up and tries to tag one student. I have one spot that is the safe zone (my white board).
2. Listening to music
I've heard of many music teachers beginning music class by playing a piece of music, such as Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" or Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turka." As students come in listening to music, they could mimic your beat motions, they could echo your rhythm patterns, they could copy your choreography...whatever you'd like!
3. Vocal exploration
Having your students echo you as they begin class can be a great way to warm up their voices. You can have your voice go from low to high, or high to low, or low to high to low, and students echo you. They could also echo you on different sounds such as "ch ch ch ch ch" (to the rhythm "ta ta ti-ti ta"), then change the sounds and/or rhythm and have them echo the new pattern.
4. Name game
Name games can be a great way to welcome students and learn their names better! One of my favorite name games for lower elementary is called "Rickity Rackity."
Students put the beat on their laps as they say it, then each child says their name, and we all echo. (So, we say the chant, a kid says his/her name, we echo, we say the chant again, etc.) I love this name game because it's great for steady beat and it's a great way to get their names in my head. I also have had them clap their names, which is a great way to prepare/ practice rhythm.
5. Gathering song
I sing a gathering song with my Kindergartners and first-graders after we play a singing game, but I've heard of some music teachers starting immediately with a gathering song.
The song I use is "Here we are together," to the tune of "The more we get together." Instead of, "'cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends," I sing all the students' names around the room, so the lyrics are like:
"Oh here we are together, together, together,
Oh here we are together in music today.
With Jenna, and Macy, and Scott, and Aileen....
Oh here we are together, in music today."
This is a great way to welcome students to class, and to learn their names better!
You could begin your lesson by listening to students solo sing. You might want to have the entire class first sing back to you (i.e., "Hello class"/"Hello Mrs. Miracle," "How are you today?" "I am great.").
Then, you could listen to 4-5 students sing solos. I'll sing to them "Hello ________," using solfa we're preparing/ practicing, such as s-m-s-m or s-l-s-m, and they sing back "Hello Mrs. Miracle." Then I'll ask them a question, such as "What's your favorite color?" or "What did you do this weekend?" or "What's your favorite food?" It helps me get to know them better, helps me hear who well they are matching pitch and is a great way to welcome them to class.
You could also combine some of these ways, such as starting with a singing game, then going to solos, or starting with a piece of music, then doing vocal exploration.
I hope this has been helpful for you! Happy teaching!
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