Posts Tagged ‘Classroom Ideas’

Free Songbook? Yes, Please!


So I’ve been teaching a few undergraduate courses in music education the past couple of years, and one thing that I always make sure to tell my elementary education majors about is the Utah State Office of Education Songbook.  It’s a children’s songbook that you can download for FREE from their website:

Utah State Office of Education Songbook Website

What I love about it is that quite a few of the songs include Orff accompaniments or other activity suggestions, and there is even a section for folk dances with detailed instructions.  An added bonus is that you can access MP3’s for all of the songs!  Oh USOE songbook, if only I knew about your awesomeness during my first year of teaching elementary general music when I had absolutely ZERO resources aside from a class set of rhythm sticks and a couple bongo drums to my name!

My Funny Valentine

It’s that time of year!  Every isle of every store seems to be dripping in pink and red!  With Valentine’s day a couple of weeks away I thought I would remind you that this is the PERFECT time to buy lots of these…


So that you can make these…


Rhythm hearts are great for rhythmic dictation and composition activities!

You can even pair them with a cute little song like this…

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 11.24.56 PM

But how would you pair the two activities you ask?  It dawned on me during my extremely lengthy commute this morning that you could use the song and the rhythm compositions to make a larger piece–great opportunity to talk about form!  First teach the song.  Once the students are familiar with the song have all of the students compose their own 8 beats of rhythm using the foam hearts.  Pick one student to walk around with a “valentine” (special decorated heart, note in an envelope, whatever you like) while the class sings the first verse of the song.  By the end of the first verse the student with the “valentine” should place it in front of another student who will then perform their rhythm composition (hands, rhythm sticks, orff instruments set in the C major pentatonic scale, your choice!).  Once the student finishes playing their composition they pick up the “valentine” to pass off to another student while the class sings verse two.  Rinse and repeat!

Download the ValentineCircleSong here

If you do this activity let me know how it goes!



I love the recorder. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was while learning the recorder as a third grader in Mrs. Cox’s music class that I discovered how much I loved music.  So a few months ago while stalking perusing facebook I stumbled upon a post from a really good friend about JoyTunes.  If you haven’t taken a look at JoyTunes you are totally missing out!  JoyTunes teaches students how to play the recorder (or piano) via a series of video games that get progressively more difficult as the student becomes more accomplished.  I’ll confess that upon learning about JoyTunes I spent the afternoon in my office with my recorder trying to beat all levels of the game.  I know that people walking down the hall were definitely passing judgement–my office is located in the music building of a university after all–but it didn’t deter me one bit!  I’ll also throw out that I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love JoyTunes!  I introduced it to my general music methods class a few months back and within seconds of playing the first game they were whipping out their iPads to download it.  Legend has it that some of my students were even practicing recorders in the student lounge after class.  Yes, it’s THAT COOL!

So why is JoyTunes the greatest music tool invented since the metronome?  First of all, it’s free!*   You can use it on the computer OR you can download the free app from iTunes.  It doesn’t require any fancy equipment.  All students need is their recorder and a computer with a microphone or iPad.  JoyTunes is a great way to encourage your students to practice, I mean who doesn’t love playing video games?!  Also, JoyTunes is set up so that teachers can monitor student progress from their practice sessions at home.  For the recorder there are two different programs: Recorder Master and Recorder Express.  Both are a ton of fun, but Recorder Express is wonderful if you happen to be using Artie Almeida’s Recorder Express method book since it shares the same learning sequence.  How cool is that?!

*JoyTunes is free on the computer but the iPad app does cost $1.99