Save Time & Increase Engagement With These Christmas Lesson Ideas

Last week I was telling you about my top favourite traditional Christmas songs for quick and easy time saving lessons.  (You can read Time Saving Christmas Lessons right here) But don't we all have those students who shun the beautiful traditional Christmas songs and carols (or SHOCK HORROR have never heard of them!!!!) and are only interested in the more rock/pop/modern hits.

I am sure, like me, you have found that the majority of these songs are actually quite complex to play and can create quite a lot of workload to take down to a level where students can learn independently.

Thinking about January already?  Not sure what to teach?  Have a look at this list of 100 Curriculum Ideas for some inspiration and receive a new resource every week in your inbox!

So here are some quick and easy ideas on how to approach the trickier songs.

Karaoke O' Clock

Yes, Christmas songs will persuade even the most reluctant of performers to open their...

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Time Saving Christmas Lessons

Love it or hate it, Christmas is on its way and as music teachers we all know this is going to be a big time of year.  Personally I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!  Concerts, carol services, community singing, what's not to like?   And you have the added bonus that you can do all the boring admin style jobs whilst singing some timeless and cheery Christmas hits!

On the downside the extra extra-curricular may result in you having to set the dreaded cover.   Or just being far too busy/tired/exhausted to plan amazing lessons right up to the end of what will have been, quite frankly, an interminably long term.  (When was the summer?  Can anyone even remember it now??) . Time to do anything else at all becomes a major problem doesn't it?  

So why not spend a couple of lessons focussing on keyboard skills?  I find the old ones are the best when it comes to finding accessible Christmas tunes for students to learn independently.  And...

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Whole Class Percussion Without The Pain: A Step by Step Guide

Class percussion lessons can be enormous fun and hugely rewarding for students and teachers alike.   Hand percussion is so accessible for all students, regardless of ability or experience and enables them to join in with a subject where they can easily feel out of their depth.  And for teachers, getting a whole class jam going, and seeing students really enjoying themselves is priceless.

Not sure what to teach next?  Get some inspiration from our FREE  100 Curriculum Ideas checklist.  Just Click Here to download.

However, compared to a lesson of keyboards-with-headphones, this is noisy music at its best (or worst, depending on what experiences you have had!!).  If students aren't sure of their rhythms or are intent on just randomly hitting stuff it will just devolve into a terrible noise.  This can be unpleasant for everyone concerned and can easily put students off, rather than showing them how exciting music truly...

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How to read TAB: 5 Top Tips for Non-Guitarists

I always think of TAB as a bit like playing by numbers.  Or a grid reference on a map.  For years it confused me.  Why is it upside down?  What do the numbers mean?  Which line is which?  How do you know what rhythm to play?

For a lifelong wind player, learning a whole new notation system by myself has been a bit of a challenge.  But when I show students it is all worthwhile.  Suddenly a student can pick up a guitar and play a melody.  They may not know what notes they are playing or anything about the theory of music, but they are making music and having fun.

Have you downloaded the FREE KEYWORD SUPERFOLDER yet?  An amazing time-saving, workload-reducing pack of resources containing all keywords needed for GCSE/BTEC, with listening links and definitions.  Check it out HERE. 

So this is a post for you music teachers out there who, like me, have never been taught guitar or TAB but would love your students to...

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Learn To Play Bass Guitar: 5 Top Reasons Every Student Should Try

Before I became a music teacher I had never even touched a bass guitar.  In week 1 of my first job I realised that I was going to need to step away from my woodwind comfort zone and understand how guitars actually work.  

In week 3 I played the very simple bass line (I'm talking 3 note sequence in semibreves simple) at a band rehearsal.  And it was great.  That exhilarating feeling of learning a new instrument came back to me all over again and it was a whole new way of visualising note relationships.  I even began to understand TAB.  

Have you downloaded the FREE KEYWORD SUPERFOLDER yet?  An amazing time-saving, workload-reducing pack of resources containing all keywords needed for GCSE/BTEC, with listening links and definitions.  Check it out HERE.

I encourage all of my students to have a go at a bass guitar at least once and the majority love it.   And here's why I think it's a great thing to try.

1. Learn...

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Keyboard Lessons: 6 Common Complaints & How To Solve Them

Having taught music for over 15 years I have come across a range of problems and issues when leading a keyboard lesson.   The most irritating 'problems' are surely those of malfunctioning headphones or wrong settings.  The 'I can only hear in one ear' scenario and the 'My keyboard isn't working' (is it actually switched on???) issues are usually quick and easy to solve, but sometimes students actually have valid problems that need help.


Have you downloaded the FREE KEYWORD SUPERFOLDER yet?  An amazing time-saving, workload-reducing pack of resources containing all keywords needed for GCSE/BTEC, with listening links and definitions.  Check it out HERE.


Here I have compiled my Top 6 Keyboard Complaints along with ways you could solve them.

1. I'm left handed

I never know whether to laugh or cry when I hear this one.  It usually starts with me asking students to learn a melody with the right hand only.  Why?  So that...

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5 Simple Ways To Teach Piano Keys


 So here is a phrase most of us hear on loop every day.....

"Miss, where's the A?"

Ah yes, the sound of students trying to work out where the keys are on a piano.  I find that keyboards and pianos can be highly deceptive.  It is so easy for students to actually create a sound that it is easy to forget that they don't know what they are playing, or understand the structure of the keyboard in any way.  

In some schools where I have worked, the whole notion of actually learning the piano keys seems to be glossed over and students spend the whole of KS2 or KS3 just relying on letter names written on to the keyboard.  But would you write the letter names on to a cello or a trumpet?  Would you deface your violin with whiteboard marker?  I certainly wouldn't, so why not teach the keyboard or piano notes properly in the first place?

I am fully aware that it is difficult for students to learn notes off by heart when they play this instrument for...

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Cakes, Jumpers & Music: Ideas On Teaching Texture

'What is Texture?'

I'm sure you have asked that question many times, asking for some intelligent answers about lines of melody and the way they interact, or layers of sound, or something, anything, vaguely related to what you have taught them. 

Instead, you inevitably end up with half a dozen students looking at their jumpers in confusion and someone who starts talking about Mary Berry's sponge comments on Bake Off last night.  

'That cake had a great texture didn't it miss?  Paul Hollywood loved it!'

'We learnt about texture in textiles, miss.  My jumper has a smooth texture.  Miss Jones said so'.

And so then you have to weave in (ooh quick accidental texture joke there!!!) cakes and jumpers to your lesson about musical texture.  

Which isn't always a bad thing, if you can get off the subject of the failed chocolate gateau in the technical round of Bake Off. 

In my world, there are 8 main textures which students should understand for KS4 level....

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Musical Instruments: 7 Ways to Teach Them When You Don't Have Any!

And this, class, is a picture of a 'cello.  

And this is a trombone.  And here is a clarinet.  And here is a viola.  It's basically a big violin......


And so it goes on.  Teaching about the instruments of the orchestra but not actually having any instruments to show or demonstrate to the class.  

Would you do a virtual cake making demonstration?  No.

Would you show a class pictures of a football game but never actually go and play?  No, of course not.  

But us poor music teachers somehow have to teach about the range, sound, appearance and uses of a multitude of various instruments without our students ever even seeing them.  

Have you downloaded the FREE KEYWORD SUPERFOLDER yet?  An amazing time-saving, workload-reducing pack of resources containing all keywords needed for GCSE/BTEC, with listening links and definitions.  Check it out HERE.

If you're lucky, as I once was in a school far, far, away..... you may...

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6 Pitch Activities To Learn Music Notes Fast

In our technological age of students learning by Youtube and playing by ear, many do not see the value in learning basic music notes.  It is only when they want to progress and play more complex pieces or can't find a tutorial video for a piece that they come unstuck.  

I have lost count of the number of times a student has asked if I have the music for 'Fur Elise', only to look horrified when I give them exactly what they asked for.  

'But miss, I can't read that!'

'Well, that's the music you asked for.  What were you expecting?'

Of course, being the patient teacher that I am [ahem, clears throat] I then carefully write in the notes for them, without any irritation showing at all in my face and knowing, deep down, that I will still only ever hear the first 9 notes and that section B will never, ever, get a look in.

Anyway, I digress!  Teaching clefs and notes is a vital and very basic part of music education.  Just as students cannot access English...

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