Friday, April 23, 2010

Music History Websites for Kids

I recently discovered the Classics for Kids Website. It is a fun resource that I have used to introduce my elementary students to the periods of music history and expose them to the lives and works of composers from each era. Children are more likely to play expressively when they are exposed to great music, even if it is not keyboard repertoire. Each week during piano lab I assign them a different era to focus on. They select a few brief composer biographies to read while listening to the samples of their music. Then they write a couple of interesting facts about 2 or 3 composers on their Periods of Music History Worksheet by Joy Morin.

Another favorite site for my students is Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. This has been a great incentive for students to finish their lab assignments quickly. They love this site so much I reward them by allowing them to play it when their regular assignments are done. While journeying on a "safari," students are introduced to the various instruments of the orchestra. They play ear training games along the way and in the end learn about fugues. This is ideal for students who can read fluently, but even my 5 year old enjoys playing it with a little help. is the biggest hit for my preschool children. Although it is primarily aimed at helping children learn to read, I love how classical music is incorporated throughout many of the pages and the "It's Fun to Read" section introduces young children to the composers Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Offenbach, Joplin and Tchaikovsky. It provides the perfect introduction for very young children to learn about music history.

What are some of your favorite sites for introducing music history to children?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hand Over the Pencil - Actively Engaging Music Students

I've enjoyed putting together the newsletter for our local music club this year. It has helped me to actually put into practice many of the ideas floating around in my brain. Following is one of the recent articles I wrote.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quarter Note Cookies

A few weeks ago I spotted my candy cane cookie cutter in the drawer and I realized if I flipped it over it could make a perfect "quarter note cookie." My students had a great time decorating them for piano preschool. I also used white frosting to put in the middle of a few to transform them into half notes.

Piano Preschool Lapbooks

Piano Preschool Lapbook Cover with music rhythms and notes
Teaching Piano to Children with Piano Preschool Lapbook including Music Alphabet, Finger Numbers, Rhythm
After reading the post about piano lapbooks on Laura Lowe's blog , I decided to create my own preschool piano version to send home with my piano preschoolers. I let them decorate the covers with various musical symbols. Inside are pockets for Music alphabet/finger # and symbol flashcards from (Faber primer flashcards). I also included a laminated mini rhythm pizza (see and colorful piano for them to play Susan's Snowflake and Shamrock Keys games on. The back cover had a laminated Grand Staff which they can use for "M&M's stepping on the staff" game.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Composer Fruit Basket Game

Lately I've been introducing my students to composers in various periods of classical music. I thought of this variation of "fruit basket" to help them become more familiar with composers and their musical eras.
Materials to make composer "necklaces":
Small Pictures of Composers (Two excellent places to find these are: D'net Layton's or Natalie Wickham's
Hole Punch
How to play:
Each student chooses a composer necklace to wear. Form chairs in a circle with one less chair than the number of people playing. The student w/o a chair stands in the middle of the circle and calls out a specific music period (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary)or "Music History." The student with composers in the specific period have to hurry & find a new chair while the person in the middle tries to "steal" someone's spot. The last person left standing calls out another musical era. If "Music History" is called, everyone must switch to a different chair. Students can switch necklaces after several rounds to help them become familiar with the periods all of the composers fit into.
Instead of using necklaces, you could post pictures of the composers on the chairs. Then students have to check their chairs to identify what music period they are in.