10 'sneaky' tips.
Just a quick blog post as September is such a busy month! Hopefully like you, I am a little bit biased when promoting music in primary education, but it doesn’t take many years of teaching to realize that all teachers have their own specialism and want to promote their subject. It is only when you come to look at the timetable that you wonder where all the time is going to come from to fit it all in! From SATs to new initiatives it seems to be quite a common occurrence to reduce the curriculum and music, and the arts in general, seem to be the first to suffer. This is such a shame as there is a wealth of research into the physical, psychological and social benefits of a musical education.
With that in mind I have put together 10 short points to ‘sneak’ more music into your school day! In other words, times when you can include some aspect of music in a cross-curricular way that you may not have thought about before! If you do use some of these already then, congratulations – you’re well on the way to providing a well-rounded education for your children. Please feel free to add any ideas of your own in the comments section below.
So here they are, in no particular order:
1.Play music as the children enter the classroom (or even during wet play!) – this could be topic-related or from a particular composer or genre. I often use YouTube videos so the children can see instruments being played and performers enjoying making music. I also use this to promote good male role models for both singing and playing instruments. For instance the Piano Guys, 2cellos and Mike Tompkins have great videos.
2.Sing the register! You could sing a simple melody and the children could respond, by imitating, with their name. The same can be done for dinner registers too!
3.Use extracts of music or current songs to give the children instructions such as when to move places to find a different partner or for a particular job, such as moving to the next activity, tidying up or getting into line. Some teachers use a tambourine or maracas to do this but why not an actual piece of music? It is also a very good way to save your own voice!
4. Use simple, short motivational songs and the beginning of the day and calm ones at the end.
5. Play music on an interactive whiteboard or computer to stimulate discussion – pick a composer, topic, style or music about an event. The children could then contribute their own ideas and perhaps make a collaborative wiki or PPT!
6.Make a song part of your topic. The teacher Ashley Booth has done this successfully with ‘River of Dreams’ as part of a topic on rivers.
7.Use songs to reinforce subject content. For instance, I have a new song about to be added to Primary Songs called ‘Can You Feel the Force?’ with lyrics including the important scientific concepts we teach about forces. It’s one way to make it fun and provide another learning style.
8.Play music while the children are working and use it to manage the emotional atmosphere of the classroom. – calm to get them settled and energetic to get them moving and motivated.
- Use music as writing prompts or to set the atmosphere. The ‘Jaws’ theme springs to mind when trying to get the children to understand the idea of suspense. Discussing film soundtracks and the mood set can really help children to transfer these concepts to their own writing.
- Get the children to create jingles for persuasive language – great if you have access to ipads with GarageBand or similar. Why not add sound effects to written stories – such a lot of fun and can help with sequencing.
Well I hope you find this short list useful and whatever you do to ‘sneak’ more music into your classroom – have fun!