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 Teachers Pay Teachers 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?
I love giving my students in lesson challenges. Sometimes they run for a month or two, sometimes a couple of weeks. This is a one lesson challenge.
Wendy Stevens has a number of great resources on her website ComposeCreate.com. I found her set of snowman flashcards several years ago and have used them every winter since.
The basic principle is to match the top to the correct bottom. This set covers many levels of learners. They come with intervals, white keys, note names on the staff (up to 2 ledger lines!), and steps & skips.
Best part? They're free!
When I first used these flashcards in lessons, I didn't think to time my students until a little one asked how fast he did it compared to himself previously, and his 2 sisters.
And so, The Great Snowman Challenge was born!
I created a simple spreadsheet to track my students' times and had each student choose two categories to complete.
Here are a few things I love about this challenge:
1. It takes less than 5 minutes of lesson time including setup and cleanup.
2. My students get instant feedback about their learning.
3. I get a good view of my students current strengths & weaknesses.
An extra bonus is my kids seriously love this challenge!
Wondering about rules? I only have 1: Everyone must start with their hands on their heads!
If you're looking for an alternative activity, Sara Campbell over at Sara's Music Studio uses these flashcards to play Go Fish with her students. You can find more about it on her blog post.
Here's a link to the free snowman download: Snowman Flashcards
Here's the link to my tracker: The Great Snowman Challenge Tracker