Program Preparation

Is there a time of year when you feel your lessons start to feel dry and boring?

When I ask colleagues this question, I almost always hear the same answer:

Performance Preparation Season! Do these questions sound familiar?

How can I avoid spending my days in a repetitive back-and-forth pattern as I play student parts on the classroom piano?

How will the students learn their parts in time for the performance?

How can I keep the creativity alive in my classroom AND prepare for upcoming performances?


Picture this: it's the start of a brand-new school year, and you, as a music teacher, are gearing up for that all-important first lesson. But here's the catch – you're faced with a whirlwind of tasks like greeting eager students, going over rules and procedures, and, oh yeah, memorizing a whole bunch of names. It's like juggling melodies, lyrics, and administrative duties all at once! 

So, how do you strike that perfect balance between the necessary practicalities and the sheer joy of making music? Fear not! In this blog post, we'll unravel the secrets behind navigating these challenges, so you can kick off your music class with a captivating start that will have your students humming and tapping their way to a year full of melodic adventures.

Have you been asked (or told) to include reading and literacy activities in your music classes to support what is being taught in the homeroom classes? In this post, we will be discussing strategies for incorporating reading and literacy activities in music classes without giving up musical objectives. 

Explore the Versatility of Boom Cards.

With 600+ students, I'll have a paperless classroom, please!

Many of us discovered the awesomeness of self-checking Boom Cards when we were plunged into distance learning during the pandemic. Now, discover the other ways to effectively use Boom Cards to support student learning in a paperless classroom!

Can I say paperless just one more time? My desk gets simply overrun with paperwork. I'm sure it is the desk's fault, right?! In addition to all of the other versatile uses below, this is key for me. The self-checking feature is great when I need data or when I wish students to be able to work independently, but the paperless is great ALL the time!

What are Boom Cards?

 Boom Cards are a type of digital task card that offers an interactive and self-checking learning experience. They are internet activities designed to be used on computers, laptops, tablets, and interactive whiteboards and are a fun and engaging way to deliver lessons, quizzes, and assessments. 

These digital task cards are interactive, allowing students to directly interact with the content. Students love the video game feel to the activities and become totally engaged. I love the fact that they are self-checking, providing immediate feedback on their answers. With Boom Cards, teachers can create engaging and interactive learning experiences that are easy to administer and provide real-time feedback to students.

Read on to see how I use digital resources like Boom Cards in my classroom.

Display on an Interactive Whiteboard
Use digital resources and Boom Cards as an introduction or a review of music concepts.
Use as a preview or demonstration prior to assigning them for individual or center use.

Send to Classroom Computers for Use in Music Centers
Assign "Fast Pass" self-grading decks for use in music centers when you want to keep students engaged but don't necessarily need to keep data. (more about this in a minute...)

Send to Individual Student Devices
Assign to Individual student Boom accounts for easy access to the data record of student scores.
Assign through Google Classroom or other learning management systems for individual review or assessment.

A Few More Features

A great feature of Boom Cards is the ability to use fast pins, which are links that make it simple to distribute the cards to individual student devices or to a classroom music center computer. This makes it easy to use Boom Cards in a variety of settings and ensures that students have access to the resources they need to succeed. Fast Pins + Free Account = All you need to get started!
One of the advantages of Boom Cards is that they can be easily integrated with other digital tools. For example, you can add the link to your Google Classroom or learning platform to make it easy for students to access the cards. 
With a premium account, Boom Cards can also be used as an independent assessment for each student, providing valuable data on their progress and performance. Administrators love data, and with the engaging video game-like format, students won't even know they are being assessed!

Ready to Start? Try a Free Sample Deck

Have you tried them with your music students? Check out this free sample: Feed the Starfish Instrument Family Edition. After signing in to your account, click on "Add to Library" to get started!

These resources are internet activities and require an internet connection for use. 

When purchasing Boom Cards on TPT, you will download a PDF document that includes directions and the link to access your resource on Boom Learning.

As you explore these new resources, be sure to click on the link in each product description to see the preview on the Boom Learning site!

I hope you will consider these Boom Cards decks for use with your students!

Musically yours,

Teacher icons created by Bert Flint - Flaticon Class icons created by Dreamstale - Flaticon Online class icons created by Freepik - Flaticon

Are you looking for a way to introduce your elementary music students to the wonder and magic of Baroque music? Look no further than Vivaldi's Spring. This timeless masterpiece is not only beautiful, but it's also an excellent tool for teaching young students about program music and mood in music.

More about the Work

Antonio Vivaldi's Spring is a beautiful and iconic violin concerto that forms part of his larger work, "The Four Seasons." The piece is a notable example of program music, which is a form of music that attempts to tell a story or evoke a specific image or emotion in the listener's mind.

A perfect introduction to Baroque music for students, it highlights many of the genre's signature features, such as virtuosic solo passages, elaborate ornamentation, and the use of contrast and variation to create dynamic musical forms.

In addition to the musical concerto, it's worth noting that Spring also has a corresponding sonnet that Vivaldi wrote himself. Your students may be delighted to find that the sonnet contains descriptive text that matches the music quite well! This serves as an example of programmatic music in poetry. The connection between music and poetry adds a layer of depth and meaning to the piece and can provide an interesting topic for discussion and a jumping-off point for creativity in the music classroom. Here's the sonata:

Spring by Antonio Vivaldi

Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.

On the flower-strewn meadow, with leafy branches rustling overhead, the goat-herd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.

Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes, nymphs and shepherds lightly dance beneath the brilliant canopy of spring.

Breaking it down for your student

As the full concerto is over 10 minutes in length, you may want to consider using one movement at a time, especially for younger students.

Upper elementary students love learning Italian vocabulary! Some of the terms that you may wish to introduce are:
  • Ritornello: means "returning" and usually indicates a short, recurring instrumental passage, particularly a tutti section. Both of the allegro movements use this form.
  • Tutti: all instruments play together
  • Solo: passage played by a single performer
  • Mood: the emotional effects on the listener, the atmosphere of the piece
Younger students will enjoy listening for the happy springtime dance represented by the ritornello, as well as the songs of the birds, the blowing breeze & flowing stream, and the thunderstorm in the first movement. 

Encourage Student Creativity

Once you've identified the themes in Vivaldi's Spring, you can encourage your students to create movements or drawings that represent the music. 

Listen & Move
Guide your students to create their own choreography to accompany the music. This not only gets them moving and active but also encourages them to think creatively and expressively. They can use movements and gestures to represent the different elements of spring, such as flowers blooming, birds chirping, and rain falling. Props such as scarves & ribbon wands are the perfect addition to these movement activities.

Does the idea of movement scare you because you are not a dancer? Actually, neither am I. The thought of the behavior management challenges often made me think twice about movement.  However, over time did come to understand that our students need to move. Many times, seated movements of hands, arms, heads, and spines are perfect for a particular group. Don't be afraid to experiment with movement by starting slow and starting low - from a seated position!

Listen & Draw
Because Vivaldi's Spring is program music, this makes it a perfect inspiration for student drawings to represent the mood. As you introduce this drawing activity, consider that student artwork does not have to be realistic images of a springtime scene. In fact, a more abstract drawing using colors and shapes may give students more freedom to express their feelings on paper and minimize the frustration and frequency of the "I can't draw a bird" comments. The different interpretations of how the sound makes students feel will delight you.

Expand Creativity with Classroom Instruments

When I first considered using classroom instruments with this piece, I was concerned that my rambunctious students would simply play along too loudly and overpower the music. That is a very real possibility on any given day. Here are some tips that may help guide students to make an effort to enhance the music rather than drown it out.

First, of course, is to have firmly established rules for handling classroom instruments. Include explicit instruction on how to play them "like the professional musicians do." In addition, teach your students a rest position so they know what to do with the instrument when it isn't their turn to play.

Next, consider which instruments will make the best contribution to the theme of spring and the Baroque style of music. I didn't get out any big drums for this piece! 😁 

Instead, I chose rhythm sticks and jingle taps to play a steady beat on the ritornello section. Students chose instruments to represent the birds, the breeze & brook, and the thunderstorm. Egg shakers, cabasa, triangles, jingle bells, wood block, guiro, rainstick, and wind chimes were usually available for selection.  I didn't have an ocean drum, but I might have considered adding this one to represent the water and the thunder.  The conductor-either the teacher or a student-should direct the groups of instruments to play at their turn.

Finally, a discussion of the dynamics of the piece will serve you well.  Help students notice the changing dynamics and label them with appropriate music terms.  Encourage students to match their instrument playing to the dynamics of the professional performance.

Create a Soundscape-Add Poetry

In addition to (or instead of) adding instruments to Vivaldi's music, consider using those instruments to create a spring soundscape. Use Vivaldi's sonnet above or challenge your students to write their own lyrics or poetry inspired by Vivaldi's sonnet & music. This will allow them to explore the themes of the piece in a more personal and creative way. They can use their own experiences and emotions to craft a unique perspective on spring, and then perform their original work for the class.

Resources for implementation

Drawing & Coloring Pages

If I was teaching this lesson myself, when it came time to draw to the music I would pass out blank pieces of paper and a small number of crayons for each student. However, if I were leaving the drawing lesson for a sub, I might want a little more direction for that guest teacher. I have created some coloring sheets, that may serve this purpose for you as well. You can find them in the free resource library on the Members Page of this blog. (To learn the password, please complete the signup form at the bottom of this page!)

Wakelet Collections

The two Wakelet collections linked below may help you to organize your video resources. The first one is a collection of performances, play-alongs, and movement activities. The second one is what I would use as an actual sub plan. When I include Wakelet collections in sub plans, I always print out a page with general classroom instructions, directions for turning on the computer/projector/speakers, and the SHARE link to the Wakelet collection. It was always helpful to email the plan to an administrator or directly to the sub so they could simply click on the link.

Vivaldi's Spring - Video Performance Collection

Vivaldi's Spring - Music Sub Plan


By incorporating a variety of listening & creating activities, you're giving your students a more dynamic and memorable learning experience. They'll be able to connect with the music on a deeper level and develop their musical skills in the process. As you unlock the magic of this piece, your students will discover the beauty of music and develop a lifelong love for it. 

Musically yours,