Win a $50 itunes voucher and contribute to a new e-book!

penandpapeIn the past, many of our best resources and upgrades have come about because of direct suggestions from music teachers just like you.

Last year that we ran a competition that resulted in a fantastic e-book called “Lifesavers for the Music Teacher” and everyone who got their story published got a free copy of the book.

This year, all you have to do is let us know the SINGLE BEST idea or lesson plan that can be used for a substitute music lesson.

What do you do when you have to fill in for another teacher at a moments notice?

What do you give a substitute to fill in your lessons in your place?

This may be included in a new ebook which we are putting together called:

“Substitute Lesson Lifesavers For The Music Teacher” (or something similar!)

  • What if you could get access to a collection of the best simple and practical ideas, that make music teaching, easy, effective and fun and can be easily printed out ready for your next substitute music lesson?
  • What if you could get the best collective wisdom of 10,000 music teachers across the globe, and all their simple and always work lessons and solutions?
  • How good would it be to get access to this information for no cost whatsoever?

This year what we’d like to do is compile a collection of simple ideas for substitute music lessons: They can be lesson plans, lesson plan ideas, worksheets, games or other activities that can easily be written down for any substitute teacher to take at a moments notice.

Last year, there were over a hundred ideas and we narrowed the entries down into forty. What we are looking to do with this information is to create a small bonus item which will be given away with some of our other music teaching products.

Your Reasons for Contributing:

1. You’ll will go into the competition to WIN a $50 itunes or Amazon (Your choice) sent direct to your door with our compliments and congratulations, as well as a preview copy of our latest module of “Printable Music Lesson Plans- Great Composers ”

2. Everyone Who contributes will get a copy of the e-book when it is compiled. Think about it – you’ll get the collective wisdom of everyone who contributes!! Last year it took us approximately 3 months to compile – which means you’ll have it ready for the start of 2010.

How to contribute:

All you need to do is send me an email with your idea – just use the contact form on this page.

  1. Remember that the idea does not need to be long
  2. The idea does not even have to be original – you can share an idea that was shared with you from a mentor, friend or teacher
  3. It does not need to be in any particular format; just something you can write down and easily explain in an email.
  4. You can choose whether or not you’d like your name and/or contact details published with the idea: just let us know!

The Competition – Win a $50 Itunes or Amazon Voucher

At the Fun Music Company we love giving things away, so we’ve decided to give away a free itunes or Amazon voucher. The winner will be the person who has suggested an idea which is the most practical and useful for everyone.

The competition will close on the 31st October, 2009, after which I’ll pick a winner and announce it the following week in a further email – so keep an eye on your mailbox!

Some quick rules, which you agree to by entering:

  1. If there is more than one person who has made the winning (closely related) idea, the winner will be picked at random from all those who made that suggestion.
  2. You can only enter once – just give us your best idea!
  3. No Compensation will be paid for your ideas, other than the prize as stated, and sharing of the e-book on its completion. You agree to release the idea to us for publication in our ebooks and anywhere else appropriate with no compensation paid.
  4. Please don’t submit anything that violates any persons or companies copyrighted material – just use your common sense!
  5. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter, or over 21 if you are in the United States. The Voucher will be sent to the winner within 28 days of the competition close date.

Here’s to making music lessons fun for all!

Printable Music Lesson plans


  • By Lonna Possehl Reply

    I draw a host of music symbols on the whiteboard and they name them as I go. After that I have them turn their backs (or I turn the white board around) and erase one. They must name the missing one. We keep going until they are all gone. They love this game and if I sub again, they remember and ask for it again!

  • By Kathryn Pelletier Reply

    I find this is fool proof…and I have used it from Kindergarten to grade 5…for substitute lessons or just a filler when we have a few extra minutes.
    TREASURE HUNT game. Select 4 instruments (any that you like…I go with a scraping sound, a hitting sound, a shaking sound and a pitched percussion or barred instrument) Each instrument will represent a sound (left, right, forward, backward). Practice moving around the room to the sounds. Choose 4 students to play instruments, 1 to be the “treasure hunter” and 1 to be the “conductor.” The hunter should go near the door and close his or her eyes (you can use a blindfold too if you like). Then place something (stuffed animal, etc.) somewhere in the room. Everyone else has a seat on the ground like a “rock” in the ocean. The conductor tells what instrument to play in order for the hunter to move around the room and find the “treasure” (while their eyes are closed!!!) If they bump into a rock, the game is over and new players are chosen. If they “find the treasure” they are giving an “Authentic Music Treasure Hunter Certificate.”

    This can be used especially when working on timbre…in older grades the students have brought in their band instruments….and we use a brass, woodwind, string and percussion instrument for the 4 sounds!

  • By Joy Shreckengost Reply

    My best idea for a sub was to have the kids watch a portion of a dvd about the group STOMP. Afterwards, the kids got to pick out unique objects from a box and create their own verison of STOMP. Near the end of class each group had to perform their creation in front of the class. The kids had a blast and the sub got involved in making sound effects as well. It covers the National Standards of playing instruments alone and with others, improvising, creating, listening, and showing respect for other’s perforamnces.

  • By Gerrie Durrheim Reply

    I have several movie soundtracks (orchestral scores) and I let the the subs teacher put one on. The students get a short response sheet, which asks them questions related to what scenes in the movie they think the music is related to.

  • By Chin Wai Ling Reply

    Here’s a listening Game for students to identify different articulations and dynamics . Give the students a worksheet with a few groups of rhythm in 5 crotchets. Then the teacher make up any tunes with 5 crotchet beats rhythm or plays a scale from C to G in different ways. E.g. slur on the 1st two notes and staccatos on the remainings, all legato or staccato etc. Crescendo or Diminuendo. Accent on the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes etc. Have the students listen and write the dynamic and articulation marks on the rhythm and play them after they have written down the dynamic and articulation marks.

  • By Dianne S. Cox Reply

    I photocopied a page of music that was specifically chosen and had students use different colored markers to identify intervals and articulations. (ex. harmonic 3rds-blue, melodic 4ths-orange, staccato marks-green). This took an ample amount of time and was used in groups of students so the younger could be helped by the older students. Candy prizes may be given for all correct answers.

  • By Elizabeth Nakou Reply

    Dear Janice,

    thank you for giving us the chance to share our ideas and learn from each other. I would like to share one lesson plan consisting of activities that I have tried in lessons and were successful.
    My name and contact details are available for anyone wishing to contact me.

    When you are called for a substitute lesson you may not have all the equipment (instruments, percussion etc.) you have in your regular lessons and you can’t really know the actual level of the students and their abilities. One idea is to focus on rhythm. You only need a C.D. player but you can manage without. Here is a lesson plan that every teacher and every student could easily follow.

    1. Listen to a popular song that the students know. Can the students clap the rhythm of the song? It could be either an interesting introduction, the chorus or any other part the teacher finds appropriate. What instruments can they hear? Can they divide them in categories (strings, brass, percussion etc.)? You can also show them how to conduct the piece (for example four movements for 4/4) and how they can use their arms to show the change of volume.
    For this activity you will need a C.D. player and the C.D. with the selected song.

    2. Have students imitate your rhythm.
    Teacher claps a one bar rhythm and students imitate directly after him/her. It is best to use a four beat bar for the first time. The rhythm pattern could be adjusted to the age and level of the students. If you have a rest in the fourth beat it is easier to give a cue.
    You could also try to divide the group into teams. One team keeps a steady beat and the other imitates the teacher. The first team could keep the beat using a pencil on the desk and the other could clap. This way everyone can easily hear the steady beats because the sound is different. You could try a fast tempo if you have a good class.

    3. Ask students to write a rap song.
    This is something that it is easier for older students. Divide into small groups and ask each group to write lyrics. You could give them a theme, could be about school or anything you like, and you can also prepare something at home and demonstrate so as to give them an idea about rhyming. If you have recordings with appropriate lyrics for their age, it is also nice to have students listen to them.
    At the end you can ask each group to present the rap song in this way, if you like:
    one “sings” the lyrics and the other members of the groups keep the rhythm either by clapping or using objects or even with sounds that make with their mouth.

    I hope you find these ideas useful.

    Happy teaching to all!

  • By BoneGal Reply

    Lesson about function of the various instruments in a jazz band and basic charting. Not simply “piano player” or “guitarist” but function. Listen to various styles of jazz and pick out who is performing a “rhythm” function, a “lead” function, an “accompaniment” function, and different kinds of “background” functions as the song progresses. Could make a timeline of the song on the board from left to right as the song progresses and also indicate basic flow of the song: intro, verse, chorus, bridge, tag, ending.
    At the end, have the students demonstrate each of the functions, and go around the room trading functions.

  • By Music Teacher Reply

    Thanks for this opportunity to share ideas and experiences. You are all great music teachers. As I read the post and the comments, I can really sense how motivated, dedicated and inspired are you – something your students has to be proud of. Keep it up and all the best. Just in case you want additional music teaching tips and resources specifically in teaching how to play some musical instruments, check out the link and see what it can do to you and your teaching strategies. Good luck!

  • By Nicolene Turnbow Reply

    An activity that I have found that my students (I have a private piano studio) REALLY love, It is a game in which counting, and note value is reinforced. I have a bag containing small round discs, (similar to the size of a poker chip – sorry to use that example, but that is the size.) On each chip I have drawn a combination of notes…i.e. 3 quarter notes, a whole note, a dotted half plus a whole…any combination up to a value of 10. I have around 50 chips, with Values from 1 count to 10. Use your imagination and have fun drawing them. Then to play the game, divide the chips between the students (I usually have two or three play at a time) Then they take turns rolling a pair of dice. Whatever the dice count is, they must match that to the counts on the chips. They can use as many or as few chips on each turn. The game is over when they have to pass 3 times without matching counts, or when they have all their chips gone. This is one of the games that I have that my students ALWAYS choose first. They really like playing it.

  • By Ilona Jauss Reply

    I do lots of drumming and rhythm games when I have to fill in and have no guidelines on what to do or where the children are in their curriculum. I usually leave a fully planned and written out, fool proof lesson for my substitute.

  • By Dorothy Weir Reply

    I like to place the kids in 2 lines facing the board. Front people are given a mathmatical equation that the final answer equals either 4 (whole note/rest), 2 (half note/rest), 3 (dotted half note) or 1 (quarter note/rest). I start the equations with only addition and subtraction and then before we are done use multiplication and division. The answer must be drawn on the board in the form of a musical note. I give them 30 seconds after reading the equation twice and then it goes to the next person in line. I keep track of each teams correct answers and the winning team gets stickers. I usually do this with grades 3 to 6 and vary the equations on what they have been doing in their classrooms. I try to leave a sheet of equations for the substitute.

  • By Pam D. Worley Reply

    I have a game called the Maze Game. After I construct a maze on my classroom floor from music textbooks, the object is for one student to go through the maze blindfolded. Here is the fun part. Movement directions for the student are given through various instrumental tone colors such as sticks for right; triangle for left; rachet for turn until the sound stops; hand drum for forward; or cabasa for backwards. If the blindfolded student’s foot touches any part of the books in place for the maze, they are out. I use a gong sound for out. The student must remember what sound for what move and one sound is made for every step the student is ordered to take. Small steps are piano(soft)sounds and big steps are forte sounds. One student is appointed per instrument. A field judge is also appointed to be the one to determine directions or to make a judgment on whether the blindfolded student’s foot touched a book or not. If the candidate makes it through, both he/she and the judge get a prize. Grades 3-4-5 beg to play this game again and again.

  • By jocelyn rabaya Reply

    Dear janice,
    Thank you for your effort to share what you learn..I’m a choir director in our church and I would like to have a lesson for the choir member so that they will know how to read and understand more the piece they will be singing.
    Thank you!

  • By Kathy Hester Reply

    I use Mortinson Math blocks to illustrate rhythm when teaching bebinners. “One” blocks are quarter notes in their normal position, but turned over (they are hollow inside) they become quarter rests. “Two” bars are half notes. And so on, any bar being a rest up-side-down. I use toothpicks (sharp ends cut off) for bar lines. When I talk about measures, I take the “Four” bar to use to measure 4 beats at first, but the children can usually just see it.

    Later when we study 3/4 time and other time signatures we use the appropriate bar to “measure” the beats per measure. First we look at small portions of music and translate them using blocks, then we use instruments to rhythm them. The next step is to make a rhythm with blocks and then write it out on paper.

    If you search “Mortinson Math” you will see what these blocks are.

  • By Margi Diab Reply

    Hi I tried something different with my beginners a while ago – ages 7 – 8yrs and they enjoyed it. I drew semibreves, minims, dotted minims, crothchets and crotchet rests on the board in random order. They had to walk forward a step and count 4 for the semibreve, 3 for dotted minim etc and no moving for the rest. To make it a little more interesting if the tail of the minim or crotchet was down they walked backwards and if up they walked forwards. As the game progressed I added staccato notes where they had to jump not step. They really enjoyed it and it made the idea of the different notes more meaningful as well as the difference between the dotted note and the staccato. I also grouped them in different time signatures and so they realised that 2/4 finished sooner than 4/4. As most children they were quite competitive so there were races and then those that were eliminated if they got something wrong. I only allowed this after they were comfortable with the concept.

  • By Nicolene Turnbow Reply

    A fun activity that my students have enjoyed, is similar to the Memory game. I have cards with music symbols and/or words on them. Turning them over so they are upside down, they are laid out in rows. The students take turns turning over two at at time, trying to match the symbols or words. When they find a match, they are to say what that symbols or word means. My students have fun trying to win the game, but they also learn and remember the symbols and words better.

  • By Jedda Decker Reply

    I have had a lot of fun with the kids getting them to design themselves as an instrument. They must think of their personality etc and describe the instrument, how its played and how it sounds. They have to name their instrument and explain how it is them, and how they would sound in combination with others… Its gets them to think about how they see themselves, and how others see them as well, and also helps them to explain the concepts. I have used this successfully with Stage 4 and 5, but I get the stage 5 to do it in more detail.

  • By Janice Tuck Reply

    These ideas are all terrific and thanks for being a part of our
    i-Tunes voucher contest.

    It’s so great to see all of your ideas and I know the e-book is going to be of enormous value to all music teachers needing substitute music lessons.

    We’re going to have a hard time choosing the winner later on today for the I-tunes voucher, but we’ll let you know soon and post a blog article about it all- so stay tuned!

    we’ll definitely let you know when the ebook is compiled, and as
    contributors’ you’ll all be among the first to be able to download it.

    Kind Regards

  • By Stacey Smart Reply

    Great idea! I love collaborating with my collegues and all benefiting from sharing experiences.

    I am an instrumental percussion teacher, so usually use this game with 2 similar level students as a mini competition. But this particular idea could easily be adapted for the classroom using students own instrument, or for students at the stage of learning basic treble clef or keyboard. Can also be used for learning any other clef too.

    Using manuscript (or a board) I draw up notes that spell out a word: (eg. “edge”, “dad”, “face”, “cabbage” etc..) one point is first allocated to the student who correctly identifies the word.

    Then I get the students to ‘play’ the word on the xylophone. The first to accurately play the notes in correct octave position wins a point.

    Most points wins. (Prizes optional.)

    Great game to establish if students if students are correctly working out pitch and whether they are thinking of up as going left instead of right (which I find quite common.) Also to take out rhythm can be useful when focusing on pitch. And most of all it’s fun!

  • By Audrey Reynders Reply

    I begin by asking if anyone can think of a two-beat song. If not I suggest ‘Row, row, row your boat’ (Or age appropriate if they are older)then I get the group to clap down on their knees for the down beat and click for the upbeat. Ask if they notice the difference in dynamics. Explain why the downbeat is louder.

    Do the same for a three-beat song (eg. ‘Happy Birthday’) and four-beat (eg. Twinkle Twinkle)

    Then I play some contemporary kids music and ask them to ‘conduct’ or clap/click the rhythm as soon as they hear it. When I see a child that has it I indicate they must stand and stop conducting. The game is over when all are standing. Play the songs in random order ie first a four-beat, then two-beat, then three-beat etc.

  • By Kendra F. Beagles Reply

    by Kendra F. Beagles
    Anything can be found and used to make noise/sound, thus the term ‘found sound’. Since children love to make noise, ask them to locate an item in the classroom and experiment with the sounds that item can make. Give them a short amount of time to experiment, explaining that at the end of the specified time, they will be given an opportunity (if desired) to share their unique instrument/’found sounds’ with the rest of the class. After everyone has shared, let the class vote on the ‘found sound’ they thought was most unique or made the most interesting sound. After this, if there is still time left in the class period, the substitute/teacher can extend this lesson by connecting ‘found sound’ to other subjects. For instance, students could write an article about their ‘found sound’, then read it to the class; a dramatic presentation could be written and acted out using one or all of the ‘found sound’ instruments; students could teach the how-to’s of playing their ‘found sound’ to their fellow classmates; students could connect their ‘found sound’ with their favorite song/CD/IPOD recording and fit the two together creating a musical piece. Science and Math could work into this project. The ideas/extensions could go on and on.
    Since students aren’t usually given much time to be creative during an average school day, this ‘found sound’ lesson could be a catalyst to releasing a child’s creativity. Ask for further ideas from the students and be pleasantly surprised at their ideas!

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