Name Games For Music Class: Time Tested Ways to Get To Know Students

Name Games For Music Class

One cool thing about being a music teacher is that we get to see every student in our building. They are our students year after year. We watch them grow and develop long-term relationships.  

One challenging thing about being a music teacher is that we get to teach every student in the building. How to remember all those names! 

Name games!

Name game chants and name game songs are certainly the solution to the problem of learning and remembering hundreds of names! Because getting through the whole class will take some time, it is often best to keep it simple and focus on the names rather than the game.  Simple chants are quick and fun.  

Name Chant Procedures

  • Class chants the opening "what's your name" phrase
  • Individual student chants their name
  • Class repeats the student's name

Tip 1: At the beginning of the year, it is often best to repeat these simple chants in between each student.  As the year progresses, it is time-saving yet still effective to repeat the chant, give 4 students their turn to say their name, then repeat the chant again.

Tip 2: While maintaining a steady beat is certainly the goal of these games, younger students will have trouble with this at first.  Don't worry so much about the beat in August! Learn the names!  Then, as students become very familiar with the chant and the procedures, the steady beat will come naturally.

Simple Name Chants

Most of these don't really have a name as they are just one or two phrases long.  Simple & effective!

  1. Class chant: Say your name and when you do, we will say it back to you.  
  2. Class chant: Rickety, rackety, rockety, ree. Can you say your name to me?
  3. Class chant: Choo Choo Music Train, to get on board just say your name. 
  4. Class chant: Hickety, tickety, bumblebee, Can you say your name to me?
  5. Student-led: My name is _____, and I can do this. (clap, stomp, or other motion) Class answer: Your name is ______, and you can do this. (class copies motion)
  6. Student-led: My name is _____, and I like _____. (choose a theme for the day, such as foods, sports, school subjects) Class answer: Your name is _____, and you like _____.
  7. Rhythm Train:  Begin hand movement pattern: Pat pat clap clap.  Each person must say their own name twice on the pats, then say their neighbor's name twice on the claps.  Go around the circle.  For an added twist for older students, move to the end if you mess up the pattern.
Check out this post for more on Choo Choo Music Train and Hickety Tickety Bumble Bee.

Longer Name Chants

Name, Name, What's your name? 
Name, Name, What's your name? 
Say it now, we'll play a game.  
Say it high, say it low, 
Any old way, just don't be slow!

I use this chant all the way down to kindergarten, but I do not worry about keeping a steady beat with those youngest students at the beginning of the year! As students are ready, add a drum beat or a rhythm track and have fun!  I also chant the words "high" and "low" with a high or low voice respectively.  Never waste an opportunity to reinforce high & low!

Hey children, who's in town? 
Hey children, who's in town? 
Everybody stop and look around. 
Hey children who's in town? 
Tell us your name and then sit down.

This is another fun chant. Start this one with everyone standing up, then students will follow the directions in the chant and sit after they say their names. The class can echo the student names.  Repeat the chant after 4 student names. 

Jump In Jump Out

This one is great for older students. There are many variations out there, so choose the one that works best for you. I use the one that I first found on the show Gullah Gullah Island. There are 2 parts to the game: the group chant and the solo chant. The group chant goes like this:
Jump in, jump out, turn yourself about.
I said jump in, jump out, introduce yourself.
The solo chant is actually in call-and-response form. One person steps to the center of the circle and introduces themselves with their name and something they like. The group responds to each part of the introduction like this:
Solo: My name is Sally. Group: Yeah!
Solo: I like to sing.  Group: Yeah!
Solo: And I will sing.  Group: Yeah!
Solo: For the rest of my life.  Group:  For the rest of her life.
On the first day, teach the "Yeah" echo part and the group parts, then I can go first to demonstrate.  I usually model about 3 things about myself in this first lesson.  The students are usually so engaged with the jumping and the Yeah responses that this is enough for now. (Quit while I am ahead! Ha!) 

Then, in subsequent classes, I will demonstrate one time, then ask for volunteers to go next.  Usually, after several students have had a turn to demonstrate, many hands are up and wanting a turn.  

Now it is time to go around the circle! Depending on time available, this step may happen during the next class period. Review the chant and the introduction. Give students a few minutes to come up with the thing that they like, maybe letting them practice with their neighbor. Then we play the full game, going around the circle and giving every student an opportunity to introduce themselves. I always allow students to pass their turn if they are uncomfortable with the solo. Just set up a simple gesture such as a point to the next person to keep the game moving.

Up the Ladder Down the Ladder Game

This one comes from the Gameplan curriculum and is fun for those middle grades, 2nd - 4th.  

The More We Get Together

I've been hearing this Oreos Olympics commercial that uses the song, "The More We Get Together." Have you seen it? 

Oreos Olympics Commercial

The commercial is bringing back memories of using this song as a name game.  Replace the "your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends" line with student names.  "Here's Bobby with Caeleb, and Caeleb with Katie, and Katie with Simone..."  To save time, don't repeat the names, but sing the names in sequence.  "Here's Bobby and Caeleb and Katie and Simone..."

Here's the Raffi version with student names included.

We're Better Together!

Playing a name game can be a fun way to come together at the beginning of class. Learning our students' names is definitely a sign of respect, which creates a great classroom climate.  

What are your favorite name games?

Musically yours,


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