I won’t give out all of my secrets just yet, but these are a few things I wish all the music teachers would include in their lessons. Keep in mind, I teach kindergarten, ages 3 to 5, but these ideas can be modified and adapted to your group easily.
- SILENCE CUE – It’s a must have, whether you’re ringing a bell, clapping a certain rhythmic pattern or simply raising a hand, you need the silence cue in a music class to restore order quickly.
- RULES – This one is not about having the rules, everyone has class rules. This is about keeping the rules. There are so many adults in the child’s life who just give in too easily, maybe because they’re too tired, maybe because they’re too soft, whatever the reason, the fact is the child is not used to having people in his life who keep their promises, even when it’s about a punishment. So if you want to create discipline, keep in mind that all the kids are watching you and they draw conclusions from your actions and learn how to go around the rules if you’re not consistent.
- BREATHING – I use it in the introduction part of my lesson. It’s a great way to get everyone quiet and focused on me, it calms them down if they are agitated and it’s a great exercise for the lungs. Everyone sets their hands on their chest to be able to feel the lungs fill up; we breathe in and breathe loudly out – to make things fun sometimes we breath out on letters that allow the air flow like S or F.
- SONG VARIATION – When singing a well-known song we can start playing around by adding easy and fun song variations, like whispering the song, humming the melody, clapping the lyrics rhythm without singing out loud or combining any of these – the kids love it.
- STANDING UP – Sometimes children get a little too comfortable in their seats and the standing position is way better for singing anyway, so you should get them to stand up for a certain performance, or a certain game, maybe even stretch a little to straighten their back.
- LISTENING – I love this one and the kids have learned to love it too. At the end of the music class, we pretend to be in a concert, everyone gets tickets (that are not meant for playing), everyone closes their eyes to focus on listening, we even turn off the lights to create that concert atmosphere and for two minutes, in perfect silence we listen to a fragment of a classical piece I chose, usually a calming one, and at the end we turn on the light, we open our eyes and start applauding. This is an awesome exercise for them – learning to stop from any other activity for two minutes and listen intently and quietly…I’ve said enough.