As music educators, you understand the power of music, its ability to inspire, as well as the profound impact it can have on your students. But to truly appreciate and understand music, your music students must also grasp the language of music – understanding the music terms and music vocabulary that form the foundation of this beautiful art form is essential for every music student.
My personal journey in music education has been an exciting one, filled with moments of both challenge and joy over the course of first learning an instrument at the age of 7, then as a music educator for over 20 years.
One of the challenges that I encountered very early in my career was how to effectively teach music terms in a way that my students not only understood them, but also could apply them in their own musical journey both in and out of the classroom. That’s why I’m here to help you, so you don’t have to spend hours of trial and error trying to figure out what music term teaching strategies works best! In this blog post, I’ll share the importance of teaching music terms and offer you five simple music classroom activities that will make this teaching task a breeze.
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Why Teaching Music Terms is Important
Music terms, especially those that define the 8 Elements of Music, are the building blocks of musical communication. Just as your students need words to express thoughts and ideas, musicians rely on a common set of music terms to convey musical concepts and instructions. Teaching these music terms is vital because it empowers our music students to understand and appreciate all music on a deeper level.
Another benefit of a strong musical vocabulary is that it enhances your music students’ musical literacy, allowing them to read, comprehend, and analyze musical compositions. Knowing and having a thorough understanding of musical terminology provides them with the tools to express their musical ideas effectively and collaborate with others in a musical ensemble.
Teaching Music Terms with Worksheets
To make teaching music terms easier and more engaging, this versatile resource called “Elements of Music Terms and Definition Worksheets Bundle” available on TPT is here to help. This bundle includes 203 music terms with definitions that covers each one of the 8 Elements of Music.
There is a wide variety of music worksheet activities to use while teaching music vocabulary with your classes. These include:
- 203 Elements of Music terms with definitions
- 33 One Pager worksheets
- 22 Unscramble the Words worksheets
- 22 Alphabetical Order worksheets
- 34 Code Breaker worksheets
- 13 Find a Words
- 22 Definition Match Up worksheets
- Answer sheets for all activities
These worksheets serve various purposes, from reinforcing music vocabulary and whole-class instruction to homework assignments and activities for early finishers. You can even use them for distance learning and homeschooling. The diverse range of activities makes it easier to cater to different learning styles and preferences.
Music Terms Games to Try
But teaching music terms doesn’t have to be limited to worksheets! Injecting fun and interactivity into your lessons with music games can really help cement the music vocabulary that you are studying with your students. Two games, in particular, are fantastic for making learning enjoyable.
Game 1: Musical Terms Bingo
Bingo is a classic game that kids love, and it’s also an excellent tool for teaching music terms. You can try to create bingo cards with musical terms and definitions, and call out the definitions for students to mark on their cards. It’s an interactive and engaging way to reinforce their understanding of important music vocabulary. Or if you want to save yourself some time, try the Elements of Music Bingo Terms Bundle.
This Bundle includes all the music terms included in the Elements of Music Terms Worksheet Bundle, making it a perfect addition to your music classroom. The best thing is that using these music bingo games is great for everyone! You get to have a more relaxing lesson, your students are having fun, and they don’t even realize that they are learning the music terms along the way! Win, Win.
Game 2: Music Terms Memory
Memory is a simple card game that never gets old. In this music-themed version, students use the Elements of Music Memory Cards to play the game. It’s an interactive and memorable way to learn music vocabulary. Memory is a simple yet engaging game that challenges players’ memory and concentration skills as they try to remember the locations of matching cards.
Memory Game Instructions
Objective: The goal of the Memory card game is to find matching pairs of cards.
Materials: A set of the music term memory cards from the Elements of Music emory Games Bundle
- Shuffle the deck of cards thoroughly.
- Place all the cards face down in a grid or spread them out evenly on a table, ensuring that they are in rows and columns.
- The first player (Player A) flips over any two cards. The music term and definition memory cards are left face up for all players to see.
- If the two cards match (i.e., there is a music term and a matching definition), Player A collects the pair of matching cards and keeps them.
- If the two cards do not match, Player A flips them face down again, and it becomes Player B’s turn.
- Player B repeats the process, trying to find a matching pair of music term and music definition.
- Players take turns until all the cards have been matched and collected.
- The game continues until all music terms and music definition pairs have been found.
- The player with the most pairs of cards when the game ends is the winner.
3 Other Ways to Help Your Students Learn Music Terms
In addition to worksheets and games, here are a few more creative music teaching strategies to make teaching music terms a breeze:
Music Term Teaching Strategy 1: Story Time with Music
Invite your students to create stories using music terms. Each term can represent a character or element in their stories. This exercise not only reinforces their understanding of terms but also encourages their creativity.
Once students have created their “story”, have them read or act out their story for the rest of the class. You could try using the Music Memory Cards for this game – simply hand out a set of the cards you want your students to focus on and let them create their story!
Music Term Teaching Strategy 2: Musical Term Art
Have your students illustrate music terms. When they draw or paint the meaning of a term, it helps them visualize and internalize the concept.
For this you can use quite a few different activities, the ones that my students have found success with are listed below:
- Word-Definition-Image – for this your students write the music ter, define it, then draw an image that will help them remember what the term means
- K.I.M.S. Strategy – this stands for Keyword, Information, Memory Clue (drawing) and Statement or Sentence (using the keyword in context)
- New Word – for this your students use a graphic organizer that has them compete the following for each music term – New Word, Definition, Image, Synonym, Antonym, Context and Sentence or Question
- Concept of Definition Map – for this one, student complete the following for each new music term -Category/Classification (which element of music does it belong to), Properties or Characteristics, Examples, Image
To make your life easier, you can find all these activities in the Monitoring Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension, click the link here to check out this really useful music terms teaching tool.
Music Term Teaching Strategy 3: Music Term Diary
Encourage your students to maintain a music term diary where they keep a record of the music terms they learn and their meanings. The Music term Diary will then become a handy reference and a journal of their musical journey.
You could have your students create their own music term glossary by writing the music terms and definitions into a writing composition book, or if you have access to the technology try having your students create a digital music term diary!
If you would like your students to create a digital Music Term Diary, then try the Monitoring Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension resource that was also mentioned above. This resource comes in several different versions, one of them being a Google Slides! Using the Google Slides means that your students can easily add to their own music terms diary as they learn new music terms throughout the school year. Click the link here to check out this really useful music terms teaching tool.
Teaching music terms doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By understanding the importance of a strong musical vocabulary and utilizing resources like the “Elements of Music Terms and Definition Worksheets Bundle,” you can provide your music students with the tools they need to excel in music.
When you incorporate fun and interactive activities like musical games, storytelling, and creative art projects you will make learning music terms an enjoyable experience for your students. As music educators, we have the power and privilege to spark a lifelong love for music and equip our students with the musical vocabulary they need to express themselves in this beautiful world of sound.
Until next time
Julia from Jooya