Music Notation Unit – Part III: Game

This is the third and final installment of our unit. See Part I and Part II here. Once I have time, I will compile all 3 parts into a PDF that you may download, save, and print!

Part III is not an earth-shattering idea, but rather a super fun, engaging game functioning as both an extension and assessment of our notation unit. It assesses how well your students have learned the notes on the staff using a fast-paced drill. I featured the “Staff Wars” game from The Music Interactive in a recent post. It is great fun game and you can use it in many different settings….
a) using an interactive whiteboard, play in two teams (I like girls vs. boys) and have different students take turns being the “captain” for their team, by operating the whiteboard
b) play as a whole class and let each student have a turn at the board
c) use student computers as a center or rotation so each kid has an opportunity to play the game – this is a great option for you to individually assess each student – have each student tell you the # correct and what round they got to after finishing their turn

Hope this has fueled your creativity…explore the amazing ways you can use technology to enhance music lessons!

Music Notation Unit – Part II

Yesterday I posted Part I of our Music Notation unit.  Today, I present to you Part II.  I music give credit where credit is due and thanks to once again for making some great music education resources.  

After finishing our centers from Part I, I then had my students pair off with their same partner from the centers to complete the note names from the worksheet, Name That Tune!  All students had to share responsibility with their partners for completing the worksheet – once completed, I checked off their correct answers and assigned them an Orff instrument.  

Each pair of students used their instrument to play the notes on their worksheet to “Name That Tune.”  It was absolutely fabulous watching their eyes light up as they discovered each tune – “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” “Jingle Bells, ” etc.  We ended up having to stop class mid-activity since our class period is 50 minutes (we had finished up our last center during the first 15-20 minutes of class).   Depending on time constraints, allow time to “check” our answers and if your students are advanced enough, play the 1st 4 measures of the song together on their instruments.  

Stay tuned for Part III….

Music Notation Unit – Part I: Centers

I used this lesson last month as a 3-week unit to introduce my 2nd graders to notation in the treble clef.  They seemed to truly enjoy it and at the end of the unit, really knew their note names!  This could be used with grades 2-5 with great success!

Note: I have a PrometheanBoard in my classroom with a mounted projector.  This lesson is suited around using an activ or smartboard of some type; however, it can easily be adapted to using whatever visuals you have to teach notation.

  1. Introduce the notes in the treble clef staff according to the method you use.  I use “Every Good Boy Does Fine” and “FACE” and I actually use the BrainPOP Jr. video “Musical Alphabet” – if you or your school subscribes to BrainPOP, I highly recommend using this 6-minute video.  It’s fun, entertaining, and even educational!!  
  2. Review with students by doing some online drill.  I like Ricci Adams’ – see the exercises page to customize a drill for the note you are concentrating on.  
  3. Divide students into groups depending on the number of the following centers you will be using. 
Center choices…

  • Computers – spell words with note names using ClassicsForKids game “Note Names
  • Flashcards – print, copy, and cut enough flashcards sets for the number of pairs of students you have in a group.  These flashcards are from (a great site!!!)
  • Worksheets – I used the Color That Note | Treble Clef | G Position worksheet from  Make enough copies for all students so that they have one to take with them.  
  • Bingo Chip (or Candy) Staff – Print out and make enough copies for pairs in groups of the staff graphic.  Give each pair some round candies (Skittles, M&Ms, and Spree work great) or Bingo chips and have pairs quiz each other by placing the candy/chips on the staff for different notes. 

Rotate through each center for 8-12 minutes, depending on the amount of time you have.  This will more than likely take up more than 1 class period, if you have class times like I do.  

Here was my scenario:  3 groups of 9-10 kids each, 3 centers: computers, flashcards, worksheets, 5 computers with 2 kids at each computer, 10 minutes per center, spanned 2 50-minute class periods.  
Coming Soon: Culminating Activity for Notation to Follow Our Centers

Smartboard Games for Notation and Rhythm

Yesterday I featured The Music Interactive‘s new Boomwhacker® software. Today I had some extra time with my second graders at the end of our notation unit. To reinforce the notes on the treble staff, we played The Music Interactive’s Staff Wars game. What a super fun, exciting way to practice the notes on the staff. I appreciate that they also include Alto and Bass clef options for the game, so the extension possibilities for this activity are limitless.
They have a version 2.0 of Staff Wars which I downloaded yesterday but have not tried it out yet. Anyone used it? Thoughts?

Here’s a quick video of my kids playing the game…they love it!
(it is hat day for Relay for Life…we usually don’t wear hats but today is the day before winter break and it’s a fun day…yay!!!)

Boomwhackers Software

I discovered today in my search for Boomwhackers® resources that The Music Interactive site now has a Boomwhackers® software download.  As of January 2011, you are now required to create a username and password to their download site; however, once I easily did that (just follow the online and email instructions), I downloaded and opened this neat little software.  It looks something like this….

 I have only played around with it briefly, but it seems like it could be a cool tool to use on your whiteboard when starting a Boomwhackers® unit or as a center on student computers.
The cool thing about The Music Interactive’s software is that it runs locally, but does not have to be installed.  I will have to play around with it, but I believe you could simply copy the file and save it to each computer you were using.  Pretty neat-o!

Online Music Worksheets –

My newest favorite online music resource is  I have found so many worksheets, lesson plans, ideas, and other resources that I can easily and quickly incorporate into my classes.  I am thankful to Andy Fling and Shelly Nierman for a creative, well-designed, and effectively managed website.  Make sure you sign up for their newsletters so you don’t miss out on new additions to their site.

Coming soon….a comprehensive MUSIC NOTATION lesson plan that incorporates many of MakingMusicFun’s notation activities and worksheets.  Check back later this week to get your copy of this lesson plan 🙂

New Look, New Purpose

Recently, I have been pondering the true purpose of this blog. Who is the audience? What purpose will it serve? Who will want to read it?
Along those lines I know that all good music teachers are masters at sharing, borrowing, and enhancing others’ ideas. It’s what we do best and there is nothing wrong with it. Many of my ideas that I use in my teaching I can gratefully thank many music colleagues for sharing their creativity.
I have created many music classroom and teaching resources through the years that I would like to share as repayment for the generosity of others. I used to dream of publishing a book of resources that can be photocopied or imported into a computer for customization. However, we are now in a truly digital and social media age and paper resources are a thing of the past!!!
Enter Facebook/Twitter/TeachersPayTeachers…..I will be utilizing social and digital media sources to share music and technology resources around the web and around the world! The world is now much smaller, thanks to the interwebnets, and I am happy to connect with music educators locally and globally!!! Here’s to sharing!

Sleep App – for Sleep-Deprived Mommy

Anyone who has had a baby knows….sleep is hard to come by and if you’re crazy like me, even when you need to rest, you can’t! My subconscious makes me think I need to care for my baby, even when she’s sound asleep in her room. That would make me start caring for my pillow…yes, pillow! Putting it in the crib, trying to burp it, etc. Yes, totally crazy, I know!!
But thanks to my fabulous iPhone, I now sleep peacefully, without pillow babies! There’s a free app for the iPhone called WhiteNoise by TMSoft ( You can play any number of sounds, such as rain, clock ticking, thunder, crickets, fan, to lull you into a happy slumber!
Things I love…

  • you can set it to play your whitenoise as long as you want (10 minutes, 2 hours, 8 hours)
  • you can set it to fade out when the sound stops instead of stopping abruptly
  • you can even make it play a wake-up alarm at the end of its play time (so sleep 8 hours, alarm to wake up)
  • you can pick what sound it uses as white noise and alarm

Way cool! Check it out!

Electronic Whiteboard Activity Link

Electronic whiteboards are becoming more and more common in the music classroom. This is an exciting and wonderful trend! I use mine daily! A teacher friend shared with me a fabulous blog, The Whiteboard Blog, that has so many great resources. One post, 11 Ideas for Music Lessons on Your Interactive Whiteboard, has resources I had never seen! I can’t wait to use these sites with my students….school starts Monday for us! YAY!

Other People Using Korg NanoKey!!

Two weeks ago I blogged about my discovery of the Korg NanoKey. I have the article “Redefining Music Tech” in the current issue of Teaching Music, an MENC Publication, to thank for this discovery. Two days ago I submitted my Capstone Project Proposal, which included the purchase of 9 Korg NanoKeys!! I am so excited.
So I am super behind on reading my Google Reader, of which I subscribe to many music, technology, education (and some random!) blogs. One of my favorites is of Amy M. Burns (she has my same last name…no wonder we blog about similar things!). On March 11 (two days before me….I promise I didn’t read it before I posted), Amy posted a reflection on using Korg’s NanoKeys in her classroom. I was so excited to see someone using them in the elementary music classroom and being happy with them. Also, Amy praised the NanoKey for its ease of use, accessibilty for students, and affordability. Its so uncanny how someone with the same last name was blogging about the same thing…unknownst to one another… music educators think alike!

Make sure you check out Amy’s website… many resources (Podcasts, examples of student work, blog, handouts from her lecture, etc.)!!