This is it. The last composing activity of the year.
If I'm being totally honest, my heart wasn't in this one when I first started it. There's so much Christmas music out there and my goal with these composition sheets - in addition to giving my young students a different kind of creative outlet and teaching them about composing - was to highlight holidays that don't get as much attention in the musical world.
But I do love Christmas and the further into creating these cute lyrics, the more excited I got about this project, so I present to you today: The Smelly Elf.
His name is Ralph.
Now before you get concerned and start judging poor Ralph, he is not a bad smelling elf.
As music teachers we are in a unique position. Especially those of us who teach privately. We see our students for longer than most teachers do and we are more than teachers to them. We're friends, confidants, & role models.
So, in addition to teaching pick ups and syncopation, this 12-measure piece also gives us the opportunity to teach our students about caring for others by not judging them before we know more about them. Ralph is a smelly elf, but as your student will quickly learn he smells SO good!
This activity will be FREE for a limited time in my store!
Looking for more Christmas activities for your lessons or music classroom? I created a Pinterest Board with many other games, songs and activities!
Hanukkah is a little under a month away and I have a fun little composing worksheet you can use in your lessons today!
"My Dreidel" was inspired by - you guessed it - one of my students. :)
Before I opened the academy, I was a traveling in-home piano teacher. Every year around this time I would say to my new students in hushed-excited tones "I have an exciting surprise, Today, we're going to pick your Christmas song! Then I'll bring it next week for you to start learning!"
And everybody cheered!
Until Jenna. (student's name has been changed for privacy)
Jenna put her head down and barely whispered, "I think Hanukkah is cooler."
My heart sank. I had no idea she didn't celebrate Christmas. I had taught Jewish children before, but they all celebrated Hanukkah AND Christmas, so I never thought twice about offering a Christmas piece. In hindsight, I should've checked with mom first, but you know what they say about hindsight.
I quickly recovered from my embarrassment and said, "You do? That's awesome, let's find you a Hanukkah piece to play! What's your favorite Hanukkah song?" At that her face lit up and her excitement returned. I later discovered that she always felt left out at school because they didn't do much for Hanukkah in any of her classes, so my offering her a Hanukkah piece was a special moment.
Since then, I've built up my Hanukkah song library and created this composing activity.
This activity will be FREE for a limited time on my newly opened TopMusicMarketplace Store!
Looking for more Hanukkah activities for your lessons or music classroom? I created a Pinterest Board with many other games, songs and activities!
I don't know about your students, but mine love composing, so I try to incorporate a composing activity as much as possible in my private lessons.
Today I'm sharing a new composing activity just in time for Thanksgiving!
"I am Thankful" gives your pre-reading students the opportunity to think about what they're grateful for and express it in song.
Usually for composing activities I write the lyrics and choose the rhythms for my students then they plug in the notes/finger numbers then play the song.
This composing activity is special because students get to write what they're thankful for and figure out the rhythms to go with it!
Note: There are guide notes in some measures - which can easily be changed - and others are left blank so your students can create their own rhythm to match their lyrics.
This activity will be FREE for a limited time on my TpT Store and my newly opened TopMusicMarketplace Store!
Looking for more Thanksgiving activities for your lessons or music classroom? I created a Pinterest Board with many other games, songs and activities!
It's barely October as I sit here putting the final touches on this post about Thanksgiving - a post which I started in August - and frankly, it feels surreal to be thinking about resources for a holiday that is still 8 weeks away, but that's what we music teachers do right? We plan Halloween recitals in July and sing Christmas carols in September all in the name spreading the joys of each season through the gift of music.
Christmas is starting to pop up everywhere this time of year. Walk into any store and you're bombarded with a combination of ghoulish and adorable Halloween decorations along with red and green lights, cinnamon brooms, and gigantic blowup Santas.
Now before you think me a Scrooge, I LOVE Christmas with every fiber of my being. But Christmas is at the end of December and there's another holiday between then and now that I also love.
Oh yes, I love Thanksgiving.
One of the main things I love about Thanksgiving is that it hasn't been commercialized to death...granted Black Friday has been creeping it's way in the last few years...but it is still all about family, friends, and above all thankfulness for all the many blessings we have.
Today I'd share a few of my favorite Thanksgiving piano activities, music, and of course recipes.
Piano Activities & Worksheets
Susan Paradis (SusanParadis.com) has a plethora of Thanksgiving themed games, activities, and worksheets. My personal favorite is Color Mr. Turkey
Andrea and Trevor over at TeachPianoToday.com have a great Save the Turkey practice tool.
Piano Sheet Music
Wendy Stevens of ComposeCreate.com has composed a beautiful elementary piano piece called A Thanksgiving Prayer. It's available for purchase as a single use or studio license for this digital download.
Kristin over at EarTrainingAndImprov.com has a cute composition activity that gets kids thinking about what they're thankful for.
Pineapple Lime Cranberry Sauce
I came across this recipe several years ago in an old Country Home magazine and it has been a perennial hit. It also bakes nicely into cupcakes. Yum!
Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs
Not everyone is a turkey person. This slow cooker recipe can be made as written to create a beautiful standalone meal or you can eliminate the veggies, add a few more chicken thighs and you have a non-turkey meat option for your guests.
Looking for more Thanksgiving activities for your lessons or music classroom? I recently created a Thanksgiving Pinterest board with many games, songs, and activities that I will be trying this year and in the future.
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving Resources? Let's keep the conversation going in the comments!
This October we will be having our 7th annual Candy Corn Challenge! I know candy corn is a hotly debated candy, but I promise this is a challenge that works!
A little while back I wrote about how I use sticker cards as an ongoing incentive program.
This program had worked splendidly for 5+ years of my teaching, but I was noticing that several of my older students were getting frustrated at how long it took for them to complete 25 pages of music...especially compared to the little ones.
Then, something I've known for a long time finally hit me. If I'm to reach my students where they are, I must acknowledge the importance of instant gratification in addition to delayed gratification in their lives.
Every generation experiences a faster paced and more stimulating world than the one before it. It's only natural that this generation needs immediate feedback more than I did growing up. Now I run a studio-wide incentive program every few months that provides them with instant feedback.
For the first Candy Corn Challenge, I put together personalized theory packets for each student. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, but putting them together took ages and keeping track of those packets turned out to be a nightmare.
Last year, I overcompensated for my mistake and played Halloween themed games. It was fun and the planning was easy, but in addition to taking up a lot of lesson time; the older one's were bored with some of the games and the little one's hadn't learned many of the concepts yet.
This year's version of the Candy Corn Challenge is a hybrid of the last two. I've laminated some of the theory sheets I created that first year and added some letter name and interval cards. Starting next week, all students of the academy will start their lessons with a level-appropriate theory task. Every correct answer and every wrong answer that they fix on their own earns them a piece of candy corn!
Still wondering why candy corn?
1. You get a lot of candy for a little money. 4.5 pounds for under $10 at BJ's. Score!
2. They're small candies, so I don't feel badly giving even the little ones a few pieces.
3. I don't like it, so I won't be tempted to eat it. :)
Head over to my store to get your own copy of these Halloween themed worksheets & games.
You know you're a music teacher when you're thinking about Halloween in August.
This year I'm planning a Halloween recital, so I've been thinking about it extra early. I love writing holiday music for my students and I have several Halloween pieces in my store. Today I'll be discussing some of them, but also sharing music for other instruments and fun activities.
Songs & Improv
Midnight Masquerade is a song I wrote for a student who just discovered she could reach octaves! This piece comes with 3 versions, one with and one without octaves, as well as a simpler pre-reading version.
Halloween Piano Improv
I’ve been using this resource from Teach Piano Today since it came out 5 years ago. The simple teacher duet part combined with the creative phrases make for a fun time creating at the piano.
This song is perfect for beginner piano students! The simple repeated patterns make it easy to play and the minor key makes it sound especially Halloween-y. This piece comes with FOUR versions: two pre-reading arrangements in A minor position and two staff reading in D minor position. It's currently free on my TpT Store, but only for a limited time.
Activities & Games
Skin & Bones
Have you ever heard of the song "Skin & Bones"? I first learned this song when I was teaching elementary band. The vocal teacher in my school had her students singing it while playing a circle game. I've since found that it's wonderful in private voice lessons. The repeated "Ooo" is especially useful in helping students explore vowel shaping. I also found this Orff arrangement for classroom music teachers.
Addams Family Cup Passing Game
My students LOVE cup activities. I have no idea who came up with it, but it is brilliant! Someone created this visual and there’s a YouTube follow along video. This year I’m going to challenge my students to perform it with a frown like Wednesday Addams….and let’s be honest, there’s nothing funnier than seeing kids trying not to smile!
Weesing's Halloween song book includes a minor version of Looby Lou with new lyrics. It got me thinking about all of the other children's songs that can be sung in minor to make them sound "spooky".
Bats & Cats Notes
Oh my goodness, how my students LOVE this game by Susan Paradis. It’s easily adaptable to intermediate students. No joke, I had a student request it twice this summer. Definitely a must have!
What would Valentine's Day be without a little music teacher love? Here are 5 of my favorite music activities that I have used with my students over the years:
1. Valentine's Composing A couple of years ago I came up with the idea to have my students compose their own pieces for Valentine's Day. Not all of my students were reading on the staff, so I put together this little composing activity for them to use.
2. Puppy Love is an adorable note reading game from Andrea & Trevor Dow over at TeachPianoToday.
3. Valentine's Cookie Memory I love the many different levels this game incorporates. I'll be introducing a lot of new symbols to some of my little ones and testing the memories of my older ones. I decided to print the black and white version onto 2 sided color card card stock, then I laminated them. Personally, I think they're adorable, thanks Sara for this freebie :)
4. Susan Paradis has a plethora of awesome piano and music activities, games, & songs on her website, I won't list them all today, but here's where they can be found.
5. I have no idea where I got this worksheet from, but it's a hit every year!
Do you do holiday activities with your students? Have you used any of these?