Today I am linking up with Music A La Abbott & Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to highlight some products that I love this Back To School season.

The big TeachersPayTeachers Back to School Sale is coming soon and many stores, including mine, will be on sale for 20% off.  Using the special code BTS15 during checkout will get you an extra discount!

With the sale coming soon, there are some things that will help you get ready to make the most of it.  First, "dish" out the feedback on prior purchases.  This not only helps sellers to know which of their products are the most useful, but it also gives YOU credit for future purchases.  You will earn 1 credit for each dollar spent and 20 credits are worth $1 towards a future purchase.

Here is how to earn your credits:  Log in to your TeachersPayTeachers account.  Click on My TPT and select My Purchases. From there, the easiest thing to do is sort your purchases.  Select the drop-down arrow next to Sort By, and select Needs Feedback.

Now that you have "dished" out that feedback, let's make some wishes.

I really love that feeling of starting fresh!  That is part of the enchantment of New Year's celebrations.  For teachers and students, Back To School time gives us that same exciting, fresh start feeling.  You may have noticed that I teach in a year-round school, so I am already back at it.  I would like to share some things that I am loving in my fresh start for this school year.

MUSIC Rules and MUSIC Word Wall

I have had a version of these up in my room for a few years, but they were PLAIN!  After spending some time on Teachers Pay Teachers, I finally decided to remake my rules and word wall words so they were easy to print and didn't require me to find construction paper to make a frame.  I wanted frame & words all in one easy-to-print package.  

The rules come in both portrait and landscape versions, so you can choose what will work best for your space.  The Word Wall words come in either 2 per page version or 3 per page version.  I confess that I chose to make my headings from the larger size and the words under the headings from the smaller size to clarify.  You could also mix & match the colors to keep your board interesting.

My room has teal carpeting, and I have been using a teal, purple, and black color theme.  Because everyone has different tastes, I added in some additional color choices to the TPT product.  Here is one of my word wall boards:
Back to School Love!

Joe DO and Mona LA

I am so excited to get the visuals to these awesome songs that help students audiate the resting tones in major and minor tonality.  These songs were written by Jennifer Bailey at SingToKids, an awesome music teacher and MLT expert. I learned them from her, and have used them in my classes, but now she has published these awesome visuals to accompany the songs.  I am really looking forward to using them this year!

Back to School Love!

Move to Music Clip Art

I purchased this Move to Music clip art set from Educlips.  She has several wonderful sets for music teachers that are very useful for everything from PowerPoints to bulletin boards to worksheets.  As you know, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a well done picture can save you a lot of explaining.  You might notice that I used some clips from this set in my movement board above.  

With this set of clip art, I can pick only the images that I need.  It is easy for me to insert the image on to a blank PowerPoint or Keynote slide and enlarge it to fill the page.  I can combine images if that helps to make my musical point, then print them as full size slides.  Now, I know that color ink is expensive, but have you ever gone to the teacher store and tried to buy bulletin board sets on music concepts?  They are expensive, too!  And they don't often have the kind of music images that I would like to use.  If I back up my digital files, I will always have these images, and once the printed images get worn, or when I want to change the board, I can print new ones with only the expense of the ink and paper.  I think that I save money in the long run by purchasing good quality music clip art from some of the awesome artists on TeachersPayTeachers.

Back to School Love!

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to click on the Wish & Dish image above to visit other blogs participating in the linky party.  There's enough Back to School Love for everyone!


Summer's gone, here comes the bus!  The first lessons of the school year are often heavily loaded with class rules and procedures.  I know our students need structure, but a full class of rules is boring and this is MUSIC class!  My preference is to be sure there is some active music making right from lesson #1.  Reading and chanting rhythm patterns is a part of each music lesson, so I include the Back-To-School theme to rhythm reading during my first few lessons.  

Rhythm Reading

By collecting a group of common back to school sayings and "translating" them into rhythmic notation that my students are familiar with, I can get my students reading & reviewing familiar rhythm patterns right from the start.  I like to project these patterns on the SmartBoard for easy group viewing and chanting.  Younger students will echo my own chanting of the pattern, older students will read the pattern for themselves. Then chant the pattern with neutral syllables or the rhythm syllables of your choice.  This second step helps children to realize that words can create rhythms.
In the following example, the words are chanted with a steady beat in duple meter:
Teacher: Summer, summer, summer's gone.
Students Summer, summer, summer's gone.
Teacher: ba-ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, bah
Students: ba-ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, bah
Teacher: du-de, du-de, du-de, du
Students:du-de, du-de, du-de, du

Music Arranging

There are several ways to turn this simple reading practice into a composition activity.  This first example will focus on arranging the teacher's ideas.  Print the sayings on cards, laminate for durability, then display at the front of your classroom on the chalk tray or music stands.  Ask students to arrange the cards in the way they sound the best.  Each class may have a different arrangement.  This gives the students some creative control, allows for discussion of the difference between a composer and an arranger, both music careers. Chant the phrases, then chant with rhythm syllables.  Finish by playing the arrangement on rhythm instruments.  

Musical Form

Choose four back to school phrases and work as a class to create a rondo form.  Of course the class will have to decide which pattern will be the "A" section that repeats.  Perhaps the class could create a movement for this phrase together, then small groups of students could be assigned one of the remaining patterns to create movement.  Put all of this together for a class performance.  This can all be accomplished during one music class and demonstrated for the classroom teacher at the end.  Extend this idea by adding rhythm instruments.  

Complementary Rhythms

Define complementary rhythms and determine which pairs of cards may be complementary.  Rhythms may be considered complementary when one pattern is moving while another pattern is keeping steady.  The first two patterns in the photo below could be considered complementary:

Create a group performance by layering in your favorite complementary patterns.  With younger students, this might mean choosing only two patterns.  Older students may be able to maintain 3, 4 or 6 patterns at the same time.  Add a conducting component to this activity!  Select a student to bring groups in or out of the performance, then discuss thick and thin texture, and which patterns sounded the best together and why.  (Analyze and explain:  higher order thinking in the music room!)

Melodic Composition

If you have access to Orff instruments, tone bells, or other melody instruments, combine them with the back to school phrases and procedures for small group work to create a melodic composition.  I am blessed to have a large number of Orff xylophones, so that is my instrument of choice.  Divide the class into groups of four students.  Give each group one phrase worksheet and one melodic instrument.  I chose C pentatonic when setting up my Orff instruments.

Students should work together to create a melody for their phrase and record it in the grid. Because I wanted students to be able to sing the melodies, I asked students to experiment playing and singing what they played to find a pattern that they liked, then write it down.  Use whatever symbols your students are ready for in their compositions.  Because reading and writing melodic notation was not one of my objectives, I chose to ask students to record the letter names taken from the Orff instrument bars in each box.

Giving each student in the group a job can facilitate smoother group interactions.  For example, one student plays, one student sings what was played, one student notices the letter names of the melody and calls them out to the fourth student who writes them down.  Switch jobs and write another version, etc.  When the group has created four versions of the phrase, they should sing them again and decide which one they would like to select for their group performance.  Of course, editing and combining versions would be allowed!  Create a group performance by sequencing the small groups.  

Additional hints on using a grid for music composition may be found here.

To Make or Purchase?

That is the question.  You do not need to purchase anything to do this activity!  A sharpie and some card stock will get you through that first day quite nicely.  I can say this from personal experience.  An IWB file with the phrases pre-typed on a page could lead to a short lesson on decoding the rhythm patterns by listening.  Write the rhythms by hand on your IWB, then on to any of the other choices listed above.

If you do not have time for even this (no judging - we have LOTS to get ready for the first day of school!!!!),  you can purchase my set of slides, printable cards and worksheets in my TpT store here:  

Here's to making back to school MUSICAL!