If you are an elementary music teacher, you know that it is vital the first week of school to go over and practice procedures in the music classroom. There are several procedures to practice, from coming in, instrument care, where to sit, how to find a partner, lining up to leave, and so much more. Each teacher, classroom, and school demographics are different, so procedures will look different at each school. But even though your procedures will look different than the teacher at the neighboring school, we can all use tips for how to practice procedures. I have found what works for me, and I want to give you 3 ways to practice procedures in the music classroom.
1. Make it Competitive
Let’s be honest. Practicing procedures is the last thing any of us want to do as a music teacher. But, we all know, without going over procedures with our students, we will not be able to make the most effective use of our class time. Here are my favorite ways to make learning and practicing procedures in the music classroom fun.
- COMPETITION- All kids like a challenge and have a little bit of a competitive nature in them. During the class period, tell them you are looking for the quietest row, group, instrument section, boys vs. girls, or anything else you can come up with. These kids get to line up first (which to kids is a big deal).
- REWARDS- Ask about the procedures you have gone over to the whole class. If someone answers the question “when we pick up our mallets, where do they go before we even play one note?” correctly by saying “in our laps”, they get a sticker, candy, eraser, or whatever fun prize you come up with.
2. Practice procedures to “almost” make perfect
Procedures are not something that can just be practiced at the beginning of the school year. Practicing them weekly is important. There will always be those handful of student’s, that no matter how many times you practice and go over the procedures in the music classroom, they just will not follow them. This is where your classroom management comes into play, which is a whole different blog post in itself.
If you get a certain class and they come in unruly and like a pack of hyenas, walk them right back out of the classroom and practice coming back in. I had a 3rd grade class that had to practice procedures like this for 2 months! But, although this class was still my challenge that year, they finally learned what I expected and slowly but surely started to follow procedures. You will never have a perfect class (can’t we all wish), but with practice, procedures will be learned.
3. Use music…duh
As music teachers, we teach music. Once again…duh. So, why not use music to practice procedures in the music classroom? Here are some of my favorite ways to practice.
- SING- We are music teachers right? So, why not make up simple songs for procedures. For example, when the students enter sing “Welcome, welcome, everybody welcome. Welcome, welcome, everybody here” as they walk to their seats. Or, if students are using instruments, sing “if you play before I say, I’ll take your instrument away.” These little songs will stick with your students all year and they will remember the procedures.
- DRUM- When it’s time for students to walk to a different instrument part, music center, or back to their seat, pick up a drum and play a steady beat. To make it fun, when the drum stops, students have to freeze. Continue playing the drum beat until everyone gets where they’re supposed to be.
- BODY PERCUSSION- One of my favorite procedures to use in my classroom was a body percussion warm up. After students went to their assigned seats, we always did this warm up (which was modified for lower grades.) It immediately settled everyone down and forced them to focus getting their minds on music. This is a free teaching video of how to do it HERE.
What are your favorite ways to practice procedures in your music classroom?
If you are a parent, student, or teacher who wants to learn more about music, connect with other musicians, or wants to post their latest videos of what they’ve been working on, I would love for you to join my Facebook group Music Education Connection. Collaborate, learn from each other, and grow new friendships. This is a place to receive encouragement, positive feedback, and to ask questions.