Primary Music Lesson Plans at work

How do you create effective, easy to use primary music lesson plans?

What are the steps to creating Primary Music Lesson Plans?

What curriculum, learning outcomes, intentions and assessments should be in music lesson plans for primary?

How can you create all the primary music lesson plans you need, and still have time to breathe?

This article hopes to give you an insight into how we create primary music lesson plans  here at the Fun Music Company.

In this post, I’ll be breaking down the essential elements to an primary music lesson. I’ll show you the strategies to cover every area of your music curriculum. Plus I’ll show you how to teach a fun primary music lesson as soon as tomorrow!

Who am I, and what do I have to offer?

My name is Janice Tuck, and I’m the creative director here at the Fun Music Company. I’ve been working with teachers here at the Fun Music Company to create resources, materials, and lesson plans for primary for over 20 years now.

Janice Tuck, author of primary music lesson plans

Janice Tuck

Music teacher and creative director
of the Fun Music Company.

Firstly, what is a Primary Music Lesson Plan?

A lesson plan is a document that outlines what is going to happen in a lesson.

In its traditional form, it would include:

  1. A statement of the learning outcome for the lesson.
  2. A list of the resources and supplies needed for the lesson.
  3. A list of activities that the students will complete.
  4. A guideline for the amount of time required for each activity in the lesson plan
  5. A guide for assessing the students learning and seeing how they meet the learning outcome.
  6. A statement showing how the lesson supports the needs of state and/or national curriculum requirements.
  7. A space for evaluation and reflection of the lesson and planning. This, should in theory, make for a more successful lesson from this topic in the future.

Now my question to anyone is:

How many teachers actually have time to create such a document for every single lesson they teach?

Not many, that is for sure!

When surveyed, 92%* of Australian teachers stated they didn’t have time to prepare adequately for their lessons.

Also … 86% of teachers reported they didn’t have time to create a lesson planning document for every lesson. 

Does this lesson planning process cause stress?

Most teachers are typically required to teach most of the day. They may, if they’re lucky get one or two non-contact hours a week. In those few hours they have to fit in ALL their marking, planning, assessments, phone calls and correspondence. Either that, or they take their planning home, spending many hours in the evening and weekends. They then end up tired and burned out.

It’s no wonder that a recent survey* of over 3000 teachers showed that 78% are stressed. Furthermore 36% report experiencing burnout.

So… in short: the chance of teachers making a comprehensive elementary music lesson plan (like the one above) for every single lesson they teach is very unlikely!

We believe that this lesson type of planning process is unnecessary. Plus we believe it is actually CAUSING the stress that finds teachers leaving the profession!

It’s a myth that any music teacher should be preparing each lesson to this degree. Instead what music teachers need is a simple lesson planning system. A system which saves time on preparation and does not create more work and stress!

What is the #1 piece of advice regarding Primary Music Lesson Plans?

We have spent the past two decades of talking and learning from the best music educators in the world.

What is the #1 piece of advice we’ve learned?

CONNECTION and RAPPORT  with students is the most important skill that any music teacher can possess.

We believe all music teachers should have time in each lesson to think about their students and what their needs are.

Our wish is that any teacher should be able to show up and teach. They should have a step-by-step consistent program with the activities set. Then the planning is easily handled! It shouldn’t matter how much experience they have.

That’s exactly why we make our elementary music lesson plans simple and easy to use. They require little if any preparation time from the teacher.

What SHOULD be in your primary music lesson plans?

What are the critical parts of a primary music lesson plan?

1 – A statement of the learning outcome for the lesson.
2 – The lesson activities

That is it. The rest of it should be handled by the overall program of lessons … not on an individual lesson basis.

Links to curriculum? That needs to be handled by the structure of the overall program that is put in place. A balance of activities linked to all the curriculum outcomes achieves this.

What about Assessments?  These can and should be handled by the framework of the overall program. Students in primary/elementary music should be assessed once or twice per school term. These assessments should be done in the easiest possible manner. To do more than that takes away time from valuable learning opportunities and FUN in every class.

The rest of it is either unnecessary, or can be handled by consistent repetition.

For example, creating a list of supplies for the grade level is often redundant. The instruments and resources we need for a grade are often the same for each lesson. Instead, organize the teaching space so that all instruments and resources are available when you need them.

Critical piece #1

Statement of the learning outcome for the primary music lesson plan

This is a critical piece of the puzzle. In doing anything from making dinner to running for a leadership position, the first step is always to set an outcome.

A learning outcome is just an intention. However, if a teacher is doing this themselves they have to think  “ok … where do I start with creating a learning outcome?”

So they may start by looking at a curriculum document such as the Australian curriculum. Here they will find a content statement such as this:

“manipulate elements of music to communicate ideas, perspectives and/or meaning when composing and practising for performance”

(from Australian curriculum v9, Music, Years 3 and 4)

However, this can leave any person feeling confused and vague about what to actually do!

A curriculum content statement is not a lesson outcome!

The content statement above is not intended to be an outcome for ONE lesson. Instead, it’s intended to be a part of an overall structure of the curriculum.

For this reason The Fun Music Company spend many hours thinking about these content statements. We spend hours and hours thinking up ideas that focus on sections of the content statements. Then, we create a primary music lesson plan around it.

We then look at the entire program of lessons and work out whether we have covered the content statement appropriately.

For example in the COMPOSE section of Grade 3 we have a lesson for this curriculum statement were the learning outcome is:

“Students will work together in small groups to create an untuned percussion piece which tells a story using dynamics.”

So our curriculum statement requires that students manipulate an element of music, and they are doing this in this lesson by  using dynamics.

They are also communicating perspectives and/or meanings through the means of telling a story.

There are similar lessons through our program for each of the elements of music: pitch, melody, rhythm etc.

Teachers should not have to think up lesson outcomes!

It is our firm belief that teachers shouldn’t have to come up with their own lesson outcomes. Instead, they should be able to choose from a range of them, and go and teach the lesson! Total lesson preparation time: 5 minutes.

If a teacher has to come up with an idea for a lesson based on the curriculum outcome it will take anywhere from 3 to 4 HOURS to come up with a lesson idea and write the lesson plan.

And what teacher has time for an extra 3-4 hours of out-of-school preparation every night after the school bell rings?

Critical piece #2:

The lesson activities of the primary music lesson plan

(Stepping AWAY from the curriculum to the common sense corner for a moment)

Before I get into the lesson activities and how they are structured … I just want to take a moment to step AWAY from the curriculum, and think about what we are doing and why.

Music. That is the subject we are involved in.

As the great, late Richard Gill has said… “Music is important, and music is good.”

If you have not seen it, take a moment to watch Richard’s famous Ted-x talk from 2011:

Richard Gill was one of my mentors, a wonderful man and advocate for music education.

Richard passionately believed that children should be involved in SINGING and PLAYING music.

In this speech above, and in many of his speeches he said:

“Music is the RIGHT of every child, no matter where, and what the circumstance.”

Children have to be engaged in music, and this requires focus.

Therefore, what we believe here at the Fun Music Company is that all music lessons should include singing and playing music actively.

So while the curriculum is very important, the means by which they need to access the curriculum must always include singing and playing, and children actively involved in music making.

Richard also says in his famous speech above:

“Through singing, is how we engage every child”
“Through singing, is how we teach children to be literate, to read and write”
“Through singing, is how we teach children to analyse.”

So while the curriculum is important, we have to make sure that we involve the singing and playing of music every single lesson. Also singing and playing is in the curriculum anyway, so its not like we’re doing anything different or contrary to the curriculum.

That is why in our Fun Music Company curriculum program we involve the singing and playing at every level, in every lesson.

How we make primary music lesson plans at the Fun Music Company

So to plan our lessons, this is the basic structure that we work on when we create music lesson plans for the Fun Music Company curriculum.

1. A SKILLS warmup. (aligned to the curriculum.)

2. Singing and playing music (aligned to the curriculum.)

3. COMPOSE or CONNECT activities (aligned to the curriculum.)

At times, the COMPOSE or CONNECT activity can more than cover the entire lesson time, however there is still singing and playing instruments at the heart of what we do.

At times, the singing and playing music could take more of the lesson if needed – however the COMPOSE or CONNECT activity is always there.

This is a screenshot of an outline from our NEW Fun Music Company curriculum V2.0, from Grade 2:

Primary Music Lesson Plans Example

In this lesson the students do a quick SKILLS warmup. They then get into singing and playing with a great song called Bow Wow Wow. Finally they do a COMPOSE activity developing sound and silence.

Here is a PDF of the lesson plan for the COMPOSE lesson guide for grade 2, so you can see how the sequence of lessons links to the curriculum.

Primary Music Lesson Plan Example PDF

How to teach a usable Primary Music Lesson right now

As we’ve described in this article, the two single most important factors in creating any primary music lesson plan are:

1. having an outcome in mind


2. having a set of fun planned activities that help you progress towards your specific class’s curriculum and learning needs.

Becoming an impactful music teacher is not about being the most skilled musician or singer or having all the answers upfront. It’s about having a systematized approach, being prepared to try new ideas and putting the needs of your students first.

So start by downloading our free music lesson activities by entering your details below.

Music Lesson Activities for Primary School Music Lesson Plans

We’ve collected the six most effective work-every-time music lesson activities for primary music lesson plans below.

Music Lesson Activities and Primary Music Lesson Plans

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* Teacher well-being survey by Education support UK.