Basketball in the Music Room? Yes!

Spring fever has already been diagnosed at most schools, especially here in the south where the sun is shining and temps are already rising.  Active planning is important for keeping little minds and bodies engaged in music making.  Here are some suggestions for keeping kids actively making music, using a basketball theme.  These ideas are perfect for this time of year when the college basketball teams are racing to the Final Four, as well as any time that you need a "hook" to keep kids engaged.

Basketball Vocal Warm-Ups

Every rehearsal begins with a warm-up, but that doesn't mean it has to be the same every week!  These animated basketball themed warm-ups are great at the beginning of class to encourage singers to use their head voices.  They can be used as vocal sirens for younger students.  Many teachers prefer to use more traditional vocal warm-ups with older elementary students, and these animations will even have suggestions for specific pitches to sing.  

Here is a quick screencast to demonstrate the animations:

Click the Hoops Mania picture above to find this product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Have a SmartBoard or other brand of interactive whiteboard?  Here's a quick freebie! Right click on the picture below to download, then insert this pic into your IWB software.  Use a creative pen, or add a basketball from your clip art gallery, and your students can create their own Hoop Mania vocal pathways.   

Melody Basketball

Music lessons certainly don't have to stop in order to play basketball!  Display familiar melodic patterns on flash cards or on an interactive whiteboard.  Students can sing patterns with solfege, or play them on recorder or other melody instrument.  Keep score like a basketball game, two points for each correct performance.  If you don't want to use teams of students, then set up the game so that students compete against the teacher.  If they sing/play the pattern correctly, they get the points.  If they miss it, they the teacher gets the points!   Music and Technology has several sets of Melody Basketball that will give your students a review of recorder notes B-A-G.  

Rhythm Basketball

Another great way to join basketball & music is to use real bouncing basketballs to practice rhythm patterns.  First, you will have to gather the basketballs!  Display familiar rhythm patterns on flash cards or on an interactive whiteboard.  Put on some fun music and bounce basketballs (or tennis balls if you don't have much room) to match the pattern on display.

Always set some ground rules to keep the children and your teaching space all in great shape.  Some things to think about are:

  1. How will you pass out and collect the basketballs?
  2. What is the signal that lets students know that they must stop NOW?  
  3. If you have to share basketballs, how will you ensure that each child gets a turn?  Perhaps you could set up a formation like the basketball players use to warm up.  Check with your PE teacher for some ideas.  
  4. What should a student do if he/she loses control of the basketball?  
  5. What are the consequences for inappropriate behavior?
Thinking about this activity from start to finish will help you develop procedures for a smooth, stress-free class! 

Pitch Publications has several great sets to get you started with Rhythm Basketball.  These sets have self-advancing slides set to fun music.

Bouncing to the Beat

Use the basketball to help students FEEL the difference in note durations.  This can be as simple as putting on some fun music, and the teacher calling out different durations, like half notes or quarter notes, or calling out different beat functions like macrobeats and microbeats.  Students bounce their basketballs to match. It won't take them long to discover that those eighth notes have to be bounced closer to the ground than the half notes!

The awesome Kristin Lukow has been bouncing basketballs to the beat in music class with great success.  She has some performance videos on her YouTube channel, and her routines are available in her Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Check out the latest video below:

From warm-ups to rhythm and melody practice to bouncing steady beats, basketball and music lessons certainly DO go together!

Have you taught any other creative music lessons using basketballs?  Let me know in the comments!


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