Are you looking for the best music topics to teach your students in middle school music classroom? As a music teacher, you want to inspire and motivate your students while also teaching them practical skills. For this to be successful, you will need music topics that are school-friendly yet still engaging enough to keep your student’s attention and create meaningful learning opportunities. From exploring the elements of music through topics about music such film music, word music, the orchestra and jazz music, this blog post will list the top five classroom tested music topics that will be sure to bring excitement into your middle school music classroom!
If you are looking for some ways to spice up your own music curriculum, then why not grab yourself a FREE copy of the 5 Ways to Makeover Your Music Curriculum. Click here to find out more.
Suggested Music Topics Teaching Order
Below is the order that I have personally taught music to my Grade 7 classes. This order has proved to a winner with my students for years, and I hope that it will help you to plan a successful year of music topics to teach to your own music classes.
- Introduction to the Element of Music – Rhythm
- The Orchestra
- Film Music
- Music of Another Culture
- Jazz Music
Music Topic 1 – Introducing the Elements of Music with Rhythm
Introducing the elements of music can be daunting, where do you start? Most music teachers choose to start their music classes by teaching their students about rhythm. For some classes this might be a simple revision of the note values and music terminology associated with this element of music, but for other classes you might need to start from scratch! Want to know more about Rhythm? Then read this blog post that explains this fundamental Element of Music in detail.
There are several ways that you can easily engage your middle school music students with learning about rhythm. One way is to teach the note values, how to read and perform them, and then move on to understanding time signatures and tempo. Most music students will love performing the rhythms in a practical hands-on way. Try doing this with bucket drums, desk drumming, percussion instruments, clapping and body percussion.
Personally, I have used this unit of work – Rhythm and Rap for years to introduce the concept of Rhythm and Duration to my middle school music classes. This unit is a great introduction for students who might never have had a formal music lesson before. This fun music topic covers all the basics about note values, meter time signatures and tempo. It culminates in a composition assessment where students work in small groups to write their own rap, that they perform it using the percussion instruments available in the classroom.
You can grab your own copy of this fun introduction to Rhythm unit here.
Music Topic 2 – The Orchestra
Middle school music lessons are a great opportunity to introduce students to all the instruments of the orchestra, and the Element of Music – Timbre or the Concept of Music – Tone Colour. By exploring topics about music that include the orchestra, students can learn about string instruments, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. Teaching about the orchestra, the instruments, their method of sound production and unique sound qualities helps all music students with their music appreciation and listening skills.
The orchestra is one of most essential topics about music that you can teach to your students. The instruments in the orchestra will help your students to discover music that they might not have ever heard before. The study of this music topic about the orchestra allows them to discover new kinds of music and explore how they sound when all of the instrumental pieces come together in an ensemble. Middle school music classes offer a unique learning opportunity for children to discover more than just a few basics they’ve learned in their elementary music program.
To help you teach this music topic, try this ready to use complete unit of work. It includes all teaching materials, handouts, printable pages, links to music to listen to and study plus an assignment! Click here to check out The Orchestra Unit of Work.
Music Topic 3 – Film Music
Middle school music lessons are a great way for students to learn about diverse music topics, especially music featured in films and movies. Music topics such as music history and music appreciation through the Elements of Music can be explored through the study of music in film. By analyzing the soundtracks, themes, motifs and background music in movies and films that students know and love, engagement in the classroom will at an all time high!
In the Film Music Unit, your students will learn about the history of film music, what is a music sound track, the types of music used in films as well as a deeper study into one of the most famous Movie Composers of all time – John Williams. This unit includes lessons, worksheets, extension activities, music appreciation and listening activities.
PLUS, I will let you in on a secret! Personally, I have used this unit at the end of the year. It gives you the perfect reason to watch a movie in class – you are studying the music and how it used! A couple of favorite movies to use and study that I use are 2 classics – Shrek and The Sandlot. You can see this fun unit of work here. Through these activities, students can understand the amazing power of music in film better than ever before.
Music Topic 4 – Music of Another Culture
Music has long served as bridge between cultures around the globe and a way to explore the diversity of other places. Middle school music classes stand to benefit greatly from music topics that introduce and educate students on music from around the world, such as traditional African music, Japanese music, or even Aboriginal Music.
By bringing music of different cultures into the classroom, students can begin to appreciate both their own cultural music heritage as well as music from elsewhere in the world, which is a powerful tool in creating global understanding and respect. Furthermore, exposing students to music from around the world provides an impetus for more research that can spark student interest in culture and heritage music topics related to music beyond the classroom. Through music lessons focused on learning about music from different countries and cultures, middle school classes have a chance to open up minds to new sounds, new instruments and expand horizons beyond what is familiar.
There are several resources to help you teach World Music available I my store:
World Music Mini Bundle – this includes 4 great resources that allow for flexibility in what you choose to teach and how you teach it
Music in Cultures Around the World Bundle – this bundle of resources includes both a Google Slides & Printable version for each part. It can be used for whole class instruction or as independent research.
Music Topic 5 – Jazz Music
Learning a wide variety of music topics in middle school is essential for understanding music fundamentals. Through music lessons, students have the opportunity to delve into topics about music such as jazz music and learn more about great music artists and their styles. Through interactive music lessons on jazz music, students will gain a better understanding of music composition, key signatures, scales, rhythm, music dynamics and core composition techniques – all of which are topics of music that all music students should be familiar with. Not only will a student gain a wealth of knowledge in how the elements of music are used; but they’ll also experience an appreciation for this unique topic of music. Thus, taking part in middle school music lessons dedicated to learning about jazz music is essential for the development and growth in any student’s musical journey.
To make it easier for you to teach this music topic to your classes, try the Jazz Music Mini Bundle. It includes everything that you will need to introduce this music topic to your students.
I hope this blog post has given you some ideas on how to teach your students about the different elements of music, orchestra, film music, world music, and jazz music. If you’re looking for more resources on teaching middle school music, be sure to check out the resources that are available in my store. Thanks for reading!
Until next time
Julia from Jooya