I have a deep, dark secret. I don’t spend nearly enough time on music history in my studio. But, it’s something I want to change & have rounded up some tools to help do that!
(For those of you familiar with The Classical Classroom, you may be laughing. It might be one of the best intros to a podcast I have ever heard.)
Bringing the Classics to life
Mission: Bring music history alive for my students in a fun way.
Challenge: Plan activities for students ranging in age from 5 to teen. Most students are able to read & write, but some can do neither.
Focus: Create an intro to different composers & what makes them special. End with a group challenge to encourage better retention.
We follow a set schedule for group lessons which make things much easier on me & helps things run smoother. As we have done more group lessons, students easily transition from activity to activity since they always know what to expect.
Intro Activity: Baroque & Classical Composers
While usually I have a theory type exercise for students when they come in, many of my students & families are feeling a bit burnt out at this time of the year. (Spring break is around the end of the month & everyone is ready for a break.) So, this time around students got colouring pages that gave them a chance to settle into group lesson, as well as get a quick intro to one of 6 composers.
Learning random facts can get boring very quickly. But, bring in an element of competition & it becomes way more fun! Before we began, students shared the information from their colouring pages.
For the trivia round, students worked together as a team to beat the teacher. If they got more points than me, they get an extra treat to bring home! I made little chocolates by melting semi-sweet & white bakers chocolate into fun, little chocolate molds from Michaels.
I also encouraged students to compile a list of facts for each composer as well since they would be divided into teams later on to review this information.
We took a closer look at Beethoven for this section. Even though I had cards with facts & some items to go with those facts, we ended up also going online since students came up with even more questions or wanted to hear segments of songs Beethoven composed. Don’t you love when students engage with the material on an even deeper level?
I purchased a clear, paint-style can that I will be using for this & future time capsules. By putting a picture of the composer around the inside edge the kids were unable to see anything inside. In between lessons, I can store additional time capsule items in extra large ziploc bags to save space in my office.
Every lesson needs a movement component to keep students engaged. In preparation for group lesson, I gathered various funny arrangements of classical songs. These songs will become the basis for a rousing game of Freeze Dance. While I can’t remember exactly where I got my cards from, there is quite a list of freeze dance games on Teachers Pay Teachers.
I purposely chose funny arrangements of songs to keep things lighthearted, but also show students that classical music doesn’t have to be stuffy or always played exactly as written.
Remember all those composer facts? Well, this was the time when students put that knowledge to the test. Using Kahoot, I ‘tested’ to see how much students retained of all that composer knowledge. The plan was to pair more advanced student with beginner students so that teams are even. Beginner students pressed the answer button so they stay engaged.
I like to end on a snack so students can wind down from the activities & be ready to transition to home. The classical music playlist from Freeze Dance was playing in the background punctuated by quite a few comments & laughs about several of the videos.
Music history group lesson made easy
If you would like to incorporate a music history group lesson to your studio offerings, remember it’s about the fun students have. Choose activities that have students out of their chairs … even if it’s sitting on the floor or dancing on the carpet!