Four Music Teaching Ideas

Great music teaching ideas.

The ideas we use in our lessons have a real impact on our teaching lives. Firstly, the music teaching ideas we choose affect the rapport we have with students. They also affect engagement levels, fun, and class behaviour. Our ability to retain students is also affected.

We don’t want bad music teaching ideas, do we? We don’t want average music teaching ideas either! We don’t even want GOOD music teaching ideas! We want amazing, GREAT music teaching ideas to in order to engage and motivate our students.

The great news is that you don’t have to be an out-of-the-box thinker! You don’t have to be clever or be a skilled musician to grab their attention.

The core problem with music teaching ideas.

Not every idea will be GREAT for every teacher.

Music teaching ideas that work well for one teacher, might not work for another.

Getting across those music teaching ideas between teachers can be challenging.

Ideas may not communicate as well on paper as they do in real life.

Where can you find outstanding music teaching ideas?

Option 1 – You can use your own experience.

This might sound strange, but the best ideas are your own. In teaching, you will do better when you’re doing something you’ve done before.

Take one of your own ideas and expand it. That may end up being the best possible approach.

Option 2 – You can rely on expensive training and conferences.

Speakers, trainers and experts.

Today, they’re everywhere! Even here on this website.  😀 You can find amazing, wonderful ideas from them.

There are two issues with this approach:

  1. The ideas people promote are trying to sell you something. A book, a training course, the next level of certification. Many times authors or speakers might not share their best and greatest music teaching ideas. This is because they want to have something to sell you in the next step. We don’t do that here on this website! We share our BEST ideas with you. Plus, we use them in done-for-you solutions in our products.
  2. The core problem above: not all ideas work well for all teachers. A teacher may have amazing success with a music teaching idea. They might be incredible, and they write it down. However, because of the challenge of conveying the idea it just doesn’t work for everyone who tries it.

Option 3 – You can rely on the experience of others.

Today the internet gives us a wonderful gift. It allows us to connect with others doing the same job that wasn’t possible a generation ago.

Today we can connect through social media, through blogs, and through online communities. We can post and ask for ideas, and we can read through others suggestions.

The problem with that? It’s the same, or much WORSE than option 2 above!

We can drown in information with this approach, while starving for ideas that WORK.

Today, I’m sharing my 4 most-powerful music teaching ideas. These are ideas that grab my class’s attention every time. Implementing these music teaching ideas has helped me have one of the top websites in music education.

Who am I, and why am I sharing this with you?

My name is Janice Tuck, and I’m a music teacher just like you. I’m also an author, speaker and co-owner of the Fun Music Company.

I’ve taught in every type of school from private and public, through to special needs. I’ve taught private instrumental, classroom and made a business teaching preschool classes. In music teaching I’ve been there and done it all!

I created the Fun Music company to serve music teachers with outstanding teaching materials. Materials that are easily accessible and fun for students.

Janice Tuck creator of the music curriculum program

What makes GREAT Music Teaching ideas?

Today, I’m sharing my 4 most-powerful music teaching ideas. These are ideas that grab my class’s attention every time.

But what is it that makes a GREAT music teaching idea? What makes it better than an average or even a good one?

GREAT music teaching ideas are those that:

  • Keep students engaged, even if they show little interest in music.

  • Get children to behave, especially in those upper primary or elementary grades.

  • Encourage children to sing and retain songs.

  • Allow students to take on new and more complex information.

  • Keep music relevant and fun!

Using these strategies will greatly shift your own passion for teaching. You will also create lasting impact with your students.

Four GREAT music teaching ideas.

Idea #1 : Poison Rhythm Game

Grab attention and get them focussed and engaged with this fun game!

This is a simple, effective and fun rhythm listening game! It will get any class or group focused and listening in less than a minute. In the game children have to listen and echo rhythms that the teacher claps. However, not if the teacher claps the “poison” rhythm:

Music Teaching Idea poison rhythm - don't play rhythm.

Everyone has seen a teacher clap a rhythm to get attention. It isn’t difficult to clap a rhythm and have a group of children echo.

The teacher can use any rhythms, depending on their experience teaching music.

Begin by randomly clapping rhythms like the examples below. Then clap the poison rhythm. If they copy it – they’re out!

Music teaching ideas sample rhythms for poison rhythm

They will also be out if they don’t play one that wasn’t the poison rhythm.

Children will get good at this quite quickly. You may wish to make it more difficult by varying the dynamics (volume) and the tempo (speed). This will make it more difficult to spot the poison rhythm.

See the music teaching idea played on video:

Want a done-for-you solution?

There are many variations of this game in the Fun Music Company curriculum. We have chosen suitable patterns for each grade, and even provided suitably paced backing tracks and recordings. Therefore, you don’t even need to think up the patterns yourself!

Idea #2: SQUILT Listening

Stereo listening music teaching idea

Set up time in each lesson for Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time.

Listening time. This is something that isn’t done enough. Yet, it can be one of the most powerful things we can do in music education!

We don’t recommend sitting your children down and pressing the play button on a long requiem or symphony! Expecting them to sit there and “appreciate” the music is madness. That just isn’t going to happen!

Music listening idea squilt worksheet

Instead, try this idea. In the middle of a lesson, put some music on in the background. Then have the children draw along or write with it playing in the background. We call this learning by exposure to music. You can use all kinds of music from different eras, cultures and genres.

Children will get used to hearing music while they study and work. Then, they will start asking questions about the music. Then give them a SQUILT listening journal page. They can then answer age-appropriate questions based on the music.

Then, use open and closed questioning techniques to further pique their curiosity.

If possible, we recommend using specifically crafted questions and activities for each piece of music. This is obviously very time-consuming to create yourself. That is why we have extended this area into CONNECT in our full K-6 music curriculum.

Idea #3: The Musical Pizza

Drive knowledge about rhythm using this fun music teaching idea

musical pizza music teaching idea

A pizza is something most of your students will be familiar with. Therefore, it becomes a great metaphor for making a “musical pizza!”

This is called word association and most music teachers will be familiar with it. The idea is that students associate familiar words with rhythm patterns.

What is great about a pizza as a source for word association?

It has toppings!

We can use the metaphor of a pizza to build a musical composition. This can encourage creativity and teach rhythm skill development at the same time.

You can do this as a warm-up while standing in a circle, or you can do it sitting on the floor.

Begin by clapping, or stamping the beat strongly saying “base”. Then, try clapping and saying some other “toppings” listed here:

Students can then make up their own four-beat rhythm, and the class can copy their rhythms.

Pizza Rhythms Music Teaching Idea

Watch the music teaching idea on video:

Idea #4: Classroom Tic-Tac-Toe

musical pizza music teaching idea

Build retention of music theory concepts with this music teaching idea.

Want to know one of the BIGGEST secrets to getting children excited about music? Just mention the word GAME and you’ll see the instant excitement in their faces!

When we first stumbled across this music teaching secret we thought it was just a simplistic game. However, what we found is that games such as this one encourage students to actively learn.

A game like this is an active learning strategy.

One of the biggest benefits of active learning is that they think they’re just playing a game! However, they’re actually learning! They are developing real musical reading skills and knowledge. This knowledge can be used later for performing and creating music.

And that’s why we include active learning strategies throughout the Fun Music Company curriculum.

How to play classroom Tic-Tac-Toe:

Step 1: Prepare in advance a set of flashcards. This can be from a music theory or Musicianship topic you are working on. Younger students may use a set of pictures of different musical instruments. Older students might use a set of music theory symbols or musical terms.

Step 2: Draw a classic “tic-tac-toe” grid on a whiteboard. Then, use whiteboard markers or magnets to play the game.

Step 3: Divide the class into two teams. Assign one team to be the “X” team, and one team to be the “O” team.

Step 4: Call a student’s name and show them a flashcard. If they can name the picture or symbol, they earn the right to place an “X” or “O” on the grid for their team. If they don’t know the answer, they lose their turn. Then, give someone from the other team the opportunity to answer.

Step 5: Play continues until a row is completed and the round is complete.

Tip: It is always a good idea to alternate which team gets to go first!

Example music teaching idea flashcards:

See it on video:

Would you like more Music Teaching Ideas like these?

These four, plus five more of our BEST music teaching ideas are included in our completely free Music Teaching Secrets ebook. Enter your name and email below and we’ll email it to you right away.

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Want a done-for-you solution?

The Fun Music Company Curriculum includes many more versions these music teaching ideas. Plus it has more of everything you need to build your full music program!

  • A proven system that works.

  • A structured program based on curriculum requirements.

  • Lots of different versions and extensions of these activities.

  • Customization of the activity for each grade level.

We also offer a risk-free trial which means that you can check out our program today. So why not start by requesting a quote for your program today.