Teaching general music is an exhilarating endeavor that enables us to inspire the next generation of musicians. However, as a music teacher, you know all too well that maintaining a focused and engaged classroom of middle schoolers can present its fair share of challenges! That’s where the power of carefully selected resources comes into play. By integrating the right tools and materials into your lesson plans, you can create an environment where your general music students not only learn but also develop a deep love and appreciation for music.
In this blog post, we will explore how leveraging these resources can significantly reduce behavioral issues and foster a heightened level of student engagement throughout the year. If you would like to know more, why not grab yourself a copy of this free resource – 5 Ways to Makeover Your Music Curriculum. Click here to get your copy.
As a music teacher, you understand that a harmonious learning atmosphere is crucial for student success. When your students are actively engaged and excited about the content they are learning, behavior problems tend to diminish naturally. By incorporating captivating resources into your general music curriculum, you will have the opportunity to capture your students’ interest right from the start.
One of the primary benefits of utilizing appropriate resources in the general music classroom, is the ability to cater to students’ diverse learning styles and preferences. Whether it’s visual aids, interactive software, or hands-on instruments, incorporating multi-sensory elements into your lessons can greatly enhance student comprehension and retention. The right resources for your students act as bridges, connecting abstract musical concepts to real-life experiences, making learning music more tangible and relatable.
When you use a variety of engaging resources, it stimulates active participation and collaboration among students. From group activities that encourage teamwork to interactive games that promote friendly competition, these tools foster a sense of camaraderie within the classroom. You’re your music students feel connected to their peers through music, they become more invested in the learning process, resulting in increased motivation and improved behavior.
5 Common General Music Teacher Problems
As a music teacher, you know that teaching students between the ages of 10 and 13, is not always an easy task. Students this age come with a unique set of challenges as they are becoming teenagers, and we all know that hormones do to this age group! But some other challenges that you might face in the general music classroom with this age group include –
- Age-appropriate music resources
- Resources that are aligned with the general music syllabus
- Limited budget
- Diverse range of learning abilities
- Time poor
Finding age appropriate resources that strike the right balance between being engaging and suitable for the specific age group can be challenging. Many resources may be too simplistic or juvenile for middle school students, while others may be too complex or advanced for their skill level. Struggling to find age-appropriate resources can hinder effective teaching and student engagement.
Aligning music resources with the established general music curriculum and learning objectives is crucial for effective teaching. However, finding suitable general music resources that directly address the required content and skills can be time-consuming and overwhelming. It’s important for general music teachers to locate resources that align with their curriculum framework and support the desired learning outcomes.
Limited budget constraints can be a significant obstacle for general music teachers when seeking resources. Quality resources such as musical instruments, software, and supplementary materials often come with a price tag. It can be challenging to find cost-effective resources that provide adequate value and meet the unique needs of the students within the given budgetary limitations. This can be even more difficult if you don’t have a supportive administration that is willing to spend money to ensure that quality lessons can be experienced by your music students.
In any given general music classroom, there is likely to be a wide range of abilities, interests, and learning styles. This diversity poses a challenge when selecting music teaching resources that cater to the varying needs of individual students. It’s essential for music teachers to find resources that can be differentiated to accommodate different skill levels and provide inclusive learning experiences.
General music teachers often juggle multiple responsibilities, including lesson planning, grading, and a lot of extracurricular activities. This limited time makes it difficult to thoroughly research and evaluate resources to ensure their quality and suitability for the classroom. Music teachers may find it challenging to dedicate enough time to explore and select the best resources that will effectively engage and educate their students.
5 Benefits for Using Readymade General Music Lesson Plans
As a music teacher, the benefits of using a readymade general music curriculum or collection of lessons far outweigh the initial cost of the resources. There a 5 main benefits of using readymade resources in your music classroom –
- Saves you valuable lesson planning and preparation time
- Helps you to be prepared ahead of time for the multiple classes and grade levels you teach
- Gives you time to focus on students who might need extra support
- Gives you time to focus on extra-curricular activities like putting on a show, a musical or concert
- Your students will be more focused on learning in the lesson and not on disrupting the learning of others
4 Units of Work to Teach in General Music
In the general music classroom, the implementation of complete units of work offers a holistic approach to music education that encompasses music history and appreciation, elements of music listening activities, practical hands-on instrumental lessons and extension exercises. The following four carefully designed, classroom tested music units integrate these components, making your job as a music teacher easier, while creating a well-rounded learning experience that deepens your students’ musical understanding and fosters their love for music.
Below are four essential units of work that you can use to teach in the general music classroom. These units are listed in the order that they have been taught in classrooms around the world, and they will take your music students on a logical learning journey.
Rhythm and Rap
The beginning unit – Rhythm and Rap unit for the general music classroom is a vibrant and engaging approach to teaching note values, aimed at enhancing students’ understanding and reading skills. Through the fusion of rap music and rhythmic exploration, this unit creates an immersive learning experience where students not only learn to interpret note values but also develop a deeper connection to the rhythmic elements of music. By incorporating catchy beats, rhythmic patterns, and a fun collaborative composition assessment, this unit fosters a dynamic and enjoyable environment for students to grasp the foundations of note values while embracing their own musical creativity.
Instruments of the Orchestra
The next unit of work focuses on the Instruments of the Orchestra. This unit will provide an immersive exploration of the diverse and captivating world of orchestral instruments. This unit allows students to discover the wide range of instruments, their unique sound qualities and characteristics, performance techniques, as well as how they are classified into instrumental families. Through engaging listening activities, and fun videos to see the instruments being performed, your music students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections of the orchestra.
By examining the roles and timbres of each instrument family, students develop a discerning ear and appreciation for the intricate interplay of sounds within an orchestral composition. This unit empowers students to recognize and identify various instruments, fostering a lifelong connection to the enchanting realm of orchestral music.
The third unit to teach in the general music classroom is the World Music unit. The lessons in this unit will take your music students on a captivating global journey, exploring the rich and diverse musical traditions of Africa, China, and Indonesia. This unit exposes students to the vibrant sounds, rhythms, instruments, and cultural contexts of these regions. Through engaging listening experiences, hands-on activities on tuned and untuned percussion instruments, and a wide variety of listening experiences, your music students will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the unique musical expressions found within each culture.
By exploring the rhythmic complexities of African drumming, the melodic intricacies of Chinese traditional instruments, and the gamelan ensembles of Indonesia, students develop a broader perspective of music as a universal language that transcends boundaries. This unit cultivates cultural appreciation, fosters empathy, and inspires students to embrace the beauty and diversity of the world through the transformative power of music.
The last unit to teach is Film Music, and it is the perfect way to finish the school year. The film music unit offers a captivating journey into the rich history of music in cinema. This general music unit will immerse your music students in the diverse and influential world of film scores, exploring iconic compositions, legendary composers, and the profound impact of music on storytelling.
By delving into the historical context of film music, students gain a deeper appreciation for the art form and learn to analyze and interpret the ways in which music enhances the cinematic experience. Through listening activities, discussions, and even hands-on composition exercises, this unit sparks students’ curiosity and nurtures their understanding of the vital role music plays in shaping emotions, creating atmosphere, and heightening the impact of visual storytelling in films.
4 Assessments to use in General Music
In the music classroom, utilizing a variety of assessments that cover skills in listening, performing, and composing is of paramount importance. Using a variety of assessment methods enables you to holistically evaluate your students’ musical growth and provide them with a comprehensive understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement.
There are three main areas that a students should be assessed on in the general music classroom –
- Listening and appreciating
To help both you and your students be successful in music assessments, listed below are 4 assessments that pair with each of the units of work listed above.
Rhythm and Rap Composition – This assessment will have your students working together to create a short rap based on their understanding of rhythm note names and values. In this assessment students will both compose and perform their raps for the class. It goes without saying that this assessment works best with the Rhythm and Rap unit.
Make an Instrument – in this assignment, students will show their creativity and ingenuity by making their own instrument. The catch in this assignment is that the student must perform something on their handmade instrument that lasts for at least 30 seconds! This assessment will have students demonstrating their understanding of instrument classification, sound production methods as well as composing and performing skills.
This assignment pairs really well with the Instruments of the Orchestra unit.
African Music Ensemble Composition – This is another composition and performance assessment that is great to use while teaching the World Music unit. In this assignment, students work in small groups to arrange an African Folk tune using tuned and untuned percussion instruments. There is also the opportunity for your students to complete a written peer review of another group’s assessment performance.
Movie Composition Assignment – This music assignment is best completed using online composition technology such as Bandlab, Soundtrap or even Mario Paint Composer. You can of course choose whatever technology that you have available to you! Both Mario Paint Composer and Bandlab are FREE to use, but your district may have restrictions on what your students use, so be sure to investigate what you want your students to use prior to use!
This assignment will get your students creating and composing music for a video scene or recording that you want them to use. For example, in the past, personally I have used videos that were created by Digital Media students. Or you could try having your students create a short 30 second video that they add music to, this works well especially if you have a schoolwide project that needs to be created. In the past I have also had my students create videos for new students explaining things around the school, videos for school rules and expectations and even to go with drone videos of school events!
General Music Curriculum Map
Below are the 4 units of work, and each assessment, mapped out for the year.
By integrating carefully selected resources into your general music curriculum, you can transform your general music classroom into a vibrant and engaged learning environment. These carefully curated music classroom resources not only will help to reduce behavior problems but also will ignite a genuine passion for music in your students.
Until next time
Julia from Jooya