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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.  

If you're lucky, as I once was in a school far, far, away..... you may have some school instruments and can do a little 'show and tell'.  This has happened to me before and I must say, it was amazing.  Students could see the size and beauty of the instruments and could have a go and hear the...

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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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5 Of The Best Rhythm Games

 

Rhythm may well be one of the first topics that you cover with a class.  Pulse and rhythm are so vital to every genre of music that it is really important that our students can at the very minimum feel it.  Preferably they will be able to read notated rhythms and perform them too.  

Often students are taught the basics - 'here is a crotchet, minim, quaver' etc - early on and then they are never mentioned again!  Unless that student plays an instrument regularly, there is no way they will retain that information. So why not add in some fun games regularly to remind them of pulse, rhythm and notation?  

One of my favourites that my students love to finish a lesson with is 'Pass the Beat Around the Room'.  You can read more about that in my post 10 Fun Music Games.

The following 5 games are quick and easy to produce and can be used as starters, plenaries or main lesson topics.  

Have you downloaded the FREE KEYWORD SUPERFOLDER yet?...

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10 Tried & Tested Ways To Teach Tempo & Dynamics

 

Tempo and Dynamics are key elements for students to understand, and arguably, the easiest.  In my experience, these are the two that students find it easiest to retain and explain.  However, they will need to be introduced to the vocabulary like any other concept, and getting students to use the correct Italian words is definitely a higher level challenge.  

It is not, however, necessarily a challenge that must be put off until secondary school.  Why not teach these words in primary school and embed the vocabulary right from the start?  

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.

 

What Should I Teach?

So, stage 1 of embedding the vocabulary is, of course, to teach it.  For KS2 or KS3 I start with the following list:

Tempo:

  • Largo - slow and...
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5 Easy Ways To Introduce The Elements Of Music

What Are The Elements of Music?

The elements of music are the basic building blocks around which all music is written.  Sometimes referred to as the 'dimensions', the elements bring all the basic vocabulary that your students will need to talk about music effectively.  They are particularly vital if your student wants to go on to study at Level 2 or further, as all official qualifications require knowledge of the vocabulary of the elements.  If your student only wants to go on to learn an instrument rather than an academic study, these words are also vital in understanding how the music is played and what certain musical markings actually mean. 

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.

There is much debate in KS1-3 teaching as to how much should be practical, and how much...

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Music Baseline Assessment: 5 Questions You Should Be Asking

 

The 5 Questions

The start of a new term brings with it, for most teachers, a number of new classes.  Whilst we will undoubtedly still be teaching some familiar students, every school will have a whole new intake and each teacher will have several new classes.  In this article, I am going to be thinking about how to determine the current knowledge of those classes in order to plan more effectively for their learning and progress, with a particular focus on secondary education.

Whenever we assess a student, there are certain questions we should be asking ourselves - Who, When, How, Where, and Why.

What is Baseline Assessment?

 

But first, what is a baseline assessment?  This is some kind of initial student testing to determine their current knowledge and skills. It is commonly done in September with a new year group - for instance year 7 on arrival into secondary school - or a group beginning a new qualification - for instance your GCSE cohort.  If you...

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10 Fun Music Games For The Classroom

The beginning of a school year is always super busy, with classrooms to set up, equipment to organise, class lists to print and analyse and possibly new staff to settle in.  

Planning the first lesson, especially if you have new students, can be tricky.  

Firstly, the students will have been out of a learning environment for around 6 weeks.  Whilst some may have been active, getting out and about and still learning in different ways, it is a sad truth that many will have played non-stop X-box or watched TV and barely seen the light of day for 6 weeks.  So waking up your students' brains is a good way to start.    

Secondly, you may have new students.  Your entire intake year will of course not only be new to you but to the entire school and its routines, and students here will be struggling to make friends, find their way around and cope with a number of new routines and teachers.  You may also have new classes across the school with...

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16 Benefits of Music Education

Today I’m going to be answering some questions that I get asked a lot as a music teacher:

So why are we here miss?

Why do we have to do music?

Why is that on our timetable?

These all boil down to one big question….

What are the benefits of a good music education?

And the good news is there are lots of ways to answer this.  Music education is very important for a whole range of reasons.  Let’s not forget that music has probably been around as long as we have.  The oldest musical instruments found are bird bone and mammoth ivory flutes, found in a cave in southern Germany and are thought to be 43 000 years old.  For us to have kept making music for this amount of time must prove that music has some great benefits, or otherwise wouldn’t we just have given it up?

 

Before I go any further, I just want to remind you of the three main strands to music education.  Music education is going to be most effective if it offers a broad...

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5 Quick Ways To Revamp Your Tired Music Curriculum

In the UK we have the exciting prospect of yet another new Ofsted framework to work to.  Yes, in the ever revolving carousel of 'best practise for curriculum planning', we are back to thinking about the basics, this time dressed up as:

  • Intention
  • Implementation
  • Impact

In basic teacher speak, we are thinking once more (as if we ever really stopped doing this) about

  • Why do we teach what we teach?
  • How do we teach it?
  • What is the outcome? What progress did the children make?

So for many, this will be the trigger for yet another revamp of our curricula.  For others, it may just be time to think about how relevant our curriculum is still for our students. 

We all have our favourite topics that we have taught since the beginning of time, are comfortable with, have all the resources prepared for and are aware of 99% of things that might not go to plan.  These are our security blankets.  We like teaching them because we don't have to do lots of new planning...

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5 Easy Ways To Teach Music In Your Homeschool

Music can be a bit 'marmite' when it comes to the homeschool - you either love it or hate it.  With the long list of core topics to cover, it is tempting to put music to one side as an optional extra, to be addressed when there is time.

But this could be doing your students a disservice!  Music is a fantastic tool to help to build many skills that will help your students in all sorts of areas of their lives.  

Teamwork, coordination, fine and gross motor skills and even the working memory will all be improved by listening to and playing music.   Music is the only subject that involves both sides of the brain, and the resulting sparks of neural activity can even lead to an enhanced ability in literacy and numeracy.

So here are 5 quick and easy ways to introduce music into your homeschool.

1. Music Homeschool Meets Community

Photo by Vinícius Caricatte from Pexels

Music is a fantastic way to meet other people and join in a communal activity.  Get your...

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