There are numerous circumstances that could cause you to have to teach elementary music classes from your home. These could range from weather-related school closings to an illness that causes you to be home for the week. When this occurs, you want your students to keep musically progressing. Whether you are asked to provide home instruction, distance learning, or you feel you need to teach from home so that your curriculum and performances stay on track, here are a few free technology-integrated ideas that could benefit you and your students.
Navigate This Post:
Every day I find new resources or updates to include in this post. Therefore, to make it easier to navigate this post, I have created the following bookmarks so you can click to where you need to go:
Elementary General MusicChrome Music Lab…
Creatability Experiments by Google…
Incredibox (Music Creation)…
This World Music (Music Listening/Mixing/Performing)…
Activities To Be Done In The Home…
Elementary Chorus and BandYouTube…
SmartMusic and Sightreading Factory…
Online Voice Recorders…
What Will You Need…
Most of the following ideas do require you to have internet access. Some ideas include setting up free accounts for digital learning journals, assessment tools, and more. However, I am showcasing ideas that are free for you and your students to use in hopes that distance learning will be temporary. If you feel that this will no longer be temporary, or you feel that you would like to have a better way for students to access your classroom from home, then I would suggest the paid versions from the list below or a music learning management system (LMS) like MusicFirst (for upper elementary/middle/high school) and MusicFirst Junior (for elementary). Update: MusicFirst is currently offering a free extended demo account of MusicFirst Classroom.
It also might be beneficial for you to give tutorial videos. There are a few ways to do this:
- Video yourself with your own device and upload it to YouTube, Seesaw, Google Classroom, Edpuzzle, or Flipgrid (see all below).
- Create screen recordings so you can show how to use activities and websites. Two free screen recording tools are the Screencastify Chrome Extension (Cloud-based but need chrome web browser) and Quicktime (MAC-based).
Creating Videos Using the Zoom App, and iPad, and Screen Recording (Zoom gives you a Green Screen Background and a Whiteboard Tool)
- Younger Elementary Example: Here is an example of a screen recording I did early in the school year. I placed this on Seesaw, but you could email this to the students’ caregivers so they can open it on their smartphones, or you could place it on Flipgrid, a google site you created for distance learning, a school’s website, etc. Echo songs are a great way for your young students to keep singing while away from school.
What Your Students Will Need…
Your students will need a device with internet access and I have to say that this is the trickiest part. If your students do not have internet access, but their parents have a phone with internet access, then these ideas listed below can be utilized by your students from a smartphone. In most cases, I tried to give ideas where students would need a link, and not an email or password, to be able to access the activity. In all cases, students can use various devices, from laptops to smartphones to Chromebooks to Android devices, to access these sites and tools.
No Internet Access From Home?
If there is no internet access from home, I would suggest proactively creating activities that can be sent home in advance. These activities include:
- Word Search: This website lets you create word searches and lets you look through find music word searches created by others.
- Music Printables: This website has music mazes, music coloring pages, music word searches, and music word scrambles. These are free and easy to print out for students.
- Beth’s Notes: This website is a membership-based website, but there is a good amount of free printable materials. Take a look at her Sub Plans tab to get some ideas and resources that could be adapted for instruction from home.
- Music Tech Teacher: musictechteacher.com has downloadable worksheets for various musical concepts.
- Google Search: If you are looking for certain music worksheets, assessments, coloring pages, etc, performing a google search might give you some great results.
- Bingo Sheet: I loved the example of the Bingo Sheet Shared with PE and Art presented on Facebook groups earlier this week. Adapt this idea. I have seen “SINGO” and other ideas as well. Here is mine and the purpose is that the students clear one activity a week. If they achieve BINGO, I will mail them a little prize (a music pencil). You do not need to hold them accountable at this time, but if you wanted to, I would suggest having the students email you their activities (or their parents if they have internet access).
- Assign students to ask their family members about their favorite music. Ask them some of the following questions?
- Who are your favorite musicians, singers, or bands?
- What was the first concert you ever attended?
- What was the first music you ever bought to listen to or play on an instrument?
- What type of music would you say you like the most?
- Have your musical tastes changed throughout your life?
- If you have been teaching folk dances, have the student teach the parents a dance and report back to you how it went.
Elementary General Music Ideas…
Chrome Music Lab (Music Creation)
- Chrome Music Lab:
- Go to https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/.
- Use the Song Maker to have the students create a simple song with a guided meter and scale (use the settings to tell them how to do this). This is a good time to make a screen recording to show them how to use the settings, to example the activity, and how to share it with you.
- Use Melody Maker to decode a simple melody that they have sung in class.
- Use the Spectrogram (picture of sounds) to have the students test various sounds and write comparisons about them.
- There are more ways to use this fabulous site. Click here to see more ideas.
- Early Elementary: Ask the parents or caregivers to use Song Maker to create a song together or to recreate a song that their child sings in class.
Creatability Experiments by Google
- Creatability Experiments by Google
- In this collection, Google has created virtual instruments so that students can create music with just moving their heads to their entire bodies.
- Have the students experiment with the virtual instruments and write their experiences with it. Some guiding questions could be:
- How would you make music if you could not play a traditional instrument?
- Which experiment did you like the most? Why?
- I would suggest the body synth, the keyboard, the sampler, and the seeing music.
- Early Elementary: Ask the parents or caregivers to try the virtual instruments together and chart what they experience.
Incredibox (Music Creation)
- Go to incredibox.com.
- Ask them to experiment with creating music using Incredibox.
- Assign them a guided form of creating an ABA piece. The A section could be a certain set of beatboxers and the B section could be muting a few beatboxers.
- Have them unlock some of the circles above and make that the C Section of the piece.
- Have them record their beatboxing ABA piece and share it with you via email.
- Tip: Use this with older elementary students.
This World Music (Music Listening/Mixing/Performing)
- This World Music
- Thanks to Rachel from the E-Learning in Music Education Facebook group for listing this site.
- This current link lists to Gahu African Drumming.
- Your students can listen to and reflect on the various grooves.
- They can also utilize the mixer at the bottom of the page to learn each instrument’s rhythm patterns.
- They could decode the rhythm patterns for one or more of the instruments.
- They could also record themselves using a device as they play along with the mixer.
- Wonderful site and I love that the grooves are played by Jeremy Cohen, who has taught World Drumming at Central Connecticut State University’s Summer Music Institute in the past.
Activities To Be Done In The Home
Activities To Be Done In The Home
- Here is a BINGO sheet that they could do at home and email you the pictures and video. Or, place it on Seesaw and have them do the activities within the app where they can take pictures and record themselves. In addition, if you do not use Seesaw, try Flipgrid. My good friend Shawna Longo shared with me her PreK-Grade 1 BINGO sheet and gave me permission to share it here!
- Create Your Own Instrument: Use this great resource from the DSO website to have students take their sound exploration to the next level and create instruments.
- Music Websites Galore
- A compilation I have made throughout the years.
- This very thorough list of websites for elementary.
- Note Name Games (Websites that do not require Flash)
- musicracer.com – I like this one as it works on only the treble clef staff notes if you state your instrument is the recorder. If they get them all correct, it plays fun, celebratory music. It does require your students to understand flats and sharps.
- https://www.classicsforkids.com/games.html – Great note name game for elementary students using treble clef or bass clef staff notes. Check out more games that they have at https://www.classicsforkids.com/games.html
- Jessica Wiese made three games testing note names on the treble clef staff. Free play allows your student to review (in boomwhacker colors), arcade mode allows your student to have to get 5 right to learn a new note, and time trials has the feel of staff wars. This is set in the Revolutionary War period.
- The Rhythm Randomizer – http://www.rhythmrandomizer.com/
- First Steps from Home: I was inspired by Gretchen to create a First Steps Google Slides Online Lesson. Send the parents the link and let them follow your instructions on screen and use the videos embedded into the slides. See the 10-minute Master Class I gave on the Facebook Group E-Learning in Music Education below:
Kahoot! (Music Assessment)
- Kahoot is a free assessment tool where you can create quizzes and games for students to answer questions about the musical concepts that you have been teaching in class.
- You can set up a free account at kahoot.com. You can create your own original Kahoot or go through their database to see what other music educators have created.
- You can share this with them via a link or a pin. You can also share it directly onto their Google Classroom, Remind app, or Microsoft Teams.
- Currently, Kahoot is providing free access to Kahoot! Premium to any educational institution impacted by the coronavirus.
Socrative (Music Assessment)
- Socrative is another assessment site where students can access a multiple-choice, short answer, long answer, and game-like assessments.
- Socrative is free (it also has a paid version).
- You go to socrative.com. You set up an account, create a name to your room (like Burns Music Room), and create an assessment.
- When you would like the students to take the assessment, you launch it from your teacher account, you send them the link to the student site (https://b.socrative.com/login/student/), tell them to type your room name, their name, and then they take the assessment. This has been wonderful for my students in grade 2, who do not have access to their email accounts.
- You will see results come in live. When finished, you have access to their assessment data.
Music Tech Teacher (Music Games/Sheets/Quizzes/Lessons)
- Music Tech Teacher
- Karen’s website has been around for years and a staple to many music educators as a “go-to” site for music games, quizzes, lesson plans, and worksheets.
- This site is currently flash-based. Flash will be discontinued by the end of 2020.
Flipgrid (Digital Classroom)
- Flipgrid is a free digital platform where all of your students can find their voices through an intuitive video platform.
- Go to flipgrid.com and create a free account.
- Set up a grid (classroom) by titling it.
- Click Student ID so that students can login from home without email addresses, but the grid remains private to the public.
- Add students manually or from an excel file (saved as a CSV file) and assign them ID numbers. These can range from 01 and up.
- Print or copy and paste the student ID list so you can send the students their login info plus the link to the grid and they can login from home.
- Create a topic and have the students video themselves singing, playing the recorder, answering a question, etc.
- Students don’t like to see themselves in a video? Look above to see how Sarah blocked her face with an emoji. Flipgrid gives various intuitive options for students to not be seen on a video from emojis, to effects like blurring the screen, to using a whiteboard so that the video is more like an audio recording.
- Flipgrid can also close-caption in a variety of languages.
- Flipgrid can now screen record as of 4/1/20, and this is not an April’s Fool joke!
- Early Elementary: Use Flipgrid to create a video of you singing a songtale so that they can play and listen to it at home. Or make a video of you singing an echo song for them to access and echo sing from home.
- Want to see more?
- Update: Flipgrid gives some ideas on how to use Flipgrid for distance learning here.
- Check out my webinar below from July of 2019.
Seesaw (Digital Learning Portfolio with Built-In Activities)
- Seesaw is a digital learning journal that is free to use. There is a paid version. For temporary distance learning instruction, the free version will work well. You can set up to ten free classes. Seesaw has video tools as well as drawing tools, link tools, upload files, note tools, pictures tools, and access to Seesaw Activities.
- To set up a class:
- Go to web.seesaw.me.
- Create a free account.
- Create a class by importing from Google Classroom or manually setting one up.
- Once you click the grade level, the Seesaw journal is created.
- Click “+ Students” at the bottom of the screen.
- In the new window, click “Add Students”.
- Manually add students’ names. When you do, click “Lookup Student”. This will place the student in your class.
- Once all students are entered, you will see a QR code and a text code (if you do not see this, click “+Students” again). You can send the QR code via email, to the students and they can scan it to log into your classroom. Or, you can send the text code and they go to app.seesaw.me, click “I’m a Student” and input the text code. Tip: the text code expires within the hour.
- Update: Seesaw is now making individual student IDs to send home via paper or digitally. In addition, they have a fabulous resource page here!
- Seesaw Activities is like a free Teachers Pay Teachers within Seesaw. You can choose activities that were written by Seesaw Ambassadors who have tested the activities with their own students. You can assign activities to the students. I have created ones that include recorder activities, note naming games, rhythm decoding, singing and recording their voices, and so much more.
- Below shows you a tutorial to set up the class and my 8-year old daughter Sarah performing a Seesaw activity on her iPad for one of my recent webinars.
- Early Elementary: Use Seesaw to create a video of you singing a songtale so that they can play and listen to it at home. Or make a video of you singing an echo song for them to access and echo sing from home.
- Need more? Check out a full webinar on my site: amymburns.com/webinars
Recording a response singing along with the teacher when you are teaching asynchronous with Seesaw and not wanting to use an additional appGo to the Top
Noteflight Learn (Music Composition)
Noteflight has various versions from free to paid. Noteflight Learn is a paid version with an LMS built in so you have your own private website designed specifically for music education. My students have this and it is a successful way for them to compose in school or from home in a safe, online environment.
Currently, Noteflight Learn is offering anyone in the situation of closing due to COVID-19 the ability to use this program through June 30. They are also one student lesson a day found here.Go to the Top
Musicplay Online (Elementary Music Lessons/Activities)
MusicplayOnline is Denise Gagne’s Musicplay curriculum’s online supplement. Denise gives a one-month free subscription. Her curriculum is made for preschool through grade six. The online supplement offers lessons, manipuatives, videos of the lessons, videos of songs, virtual instruments, rhythm videos, dance videos, and so much more. This is one of the most affordable online curriculum that is field-tested and raved about by numerous elementary music educators. Denise is also placing e-Lessons on her Musicplayonline facebook group. In addition, she just announced the following about her elessons for the month of March: https://denisegagne.com/e-learning-music-lessons-with-musicplayonline/Go to the Top
Quaver Music (Elementary Music Lessons/Activities)
From Quaver Music:
If your school year is facing unexpected interruptions due to COVID-19, we’re here to help with the following resources:
- Free Student Access: We are offering free access to QuaverMusic.com to all impacted students for at-home learning. We’ll send teachers instructions to share with parents along with guidance for making the most of this time through digital learning. Access includes ready-to-use assignments and activities that address grade-appropriate general music subjects and allow for student-led exploration and learning.
- Custom Content Creation: If you’d like to explore more customized content to keep your school year on track, we can set up a free preview and training on how to do that.
To learn more, click here.Go to the Top
Tips for making lessons using Google Slides for Early Childhood and Elementary
- Start simple with pictures representing lyrics
- If your students are readers, add lyrics using the text tool
- Explore the templates so you do not have to create everything from scratch
- Use Loom (free software), or Screencastify (free web-based), or Quicktime (free software for MAC only) to record yourself singing a song with the google slide pictures to post on your website, YouTube as unlisted, Seesaw, etc.
- Consider uploading your google files in present mode so that the students can focus on the music and not thumbnails on the side of the screen. To do this, change the end of the url to “present”. For example, change “https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Tv9-LhkTkSOt1bk46ABGeQ9JLi4k68Bb9qt-rOQUR1o/edit?usp=sharing” to https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Tv9-LhkTkSOt1bk46ABGeQ9JLi4k68Bb9qt-rOQUR1o/present”
- When you know that you will be sharing google slides or any files to those in your district or outside, create a folder that has the shared settings included on it. When you do, anything you place in the folders will automatically create a shared link!
- Creating a Music Escape Game: I shared a Music Escape Game and I used Google Slides to create it. I was inspired by a teacher who made a Jeopardy Game in Slides and placed it as an app on their iPads.
- Start with a thinking roadmap that shows how you want the slides to link together. For example, slide 1 is the title slide. Slide 2 displays the directions. Slide 3 begins the game. If they click on the correct answer (make a text box, not image), then that links to slide 4 with a “YAY” or “CORRECT” and some gameshow “correct” sound. Place a NEXT on Slide 4 and it brings you to Slide 5 with the next question. If they click on the correct answer (make a text box, not image), then that links to slide 6 with a “YAY” or “CORRECT”. Place NEXT on Slide 6 with the next question. When you have all of your correct answers, add the incorrect answers and continue with the same format.
- Use YouTube to find sounds like “YAY” and “Wah Wah Wah”. Use a site like y2mate.com to download the YouTube video as an audio file and place it in that shared folder mentioned above.
- Make text boxes very big as they need to tap on that to link to the next slide. If they tap into the slide and it is not linked, it automatically moves to the next slide. Therefore, I make my linked text boxes cover the slide in its entirety.
- When you share it, share it in “present” mode (see above). Do this so that when the student receives it, they cannot see the slide thumbnails.
- When inserting audio or video files, click on the format options so that they should play automatically.
Elementary Choral and Band Ideas…
There are some intuitive ways for your students to continue practicing and learning their music from home. Here are some ideas for distant learning.
- If your students are learning a certain piece, send them some links to view other ensembles performing that piece.
- If you would like them to practice along with the video and the ensemble’s tempo is faster than the student can play it, show them the controls in YouTube that can increase and decrease the playing speed.
- If you want the video transposed, you can add the Chrome Extension called Transpose and it will transpose the video.
- Add videos into playlist or share another user’s playlist. Rhythm Playalong Videos are ones students can do at home with any homemade percussion instruments, like pots and pans (though the parents might not agree!). Here are two Rhythm Playalong YouTube Playlists that you can share with your students.
- Rhythm Playalong: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLO2UG241-fB63suVbxj2Bx02LIvomKE1o
- Musication’s Percussion Playalong: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2mHraZxofIx-X-l6jdM-oKMRO0T_p9Ml
- Create a YouTube channel with instructional videos and playlists for your students to access and use from home.
- Check out Dr. Scott Watson, elementary band director and composer of band pieces, youtube channel! Plus, his site: drwatsonmusic.com/downloadmusic
- To see how to create a YouTube Playlist that can be accessed through a link, see below. In this example, I create a preschool/kindergarten playlist with Jill Trinka videos.
Edpuzzle is a free tool that allows you to create beautiful interactive video lessons for your students you can integrate right into your Learning Management System (LMS). It also tracks progress and gives data to their assessments.
- You can use videos from popular channels like YouTube and Vimeo and create interactive assessments.
- You can create and upload your own video and create interactive assessments.
- These assessments can have written answers, multiple choice answers, or you can add notes. For example, you can add a note to the recorder video such as, “Cover the holes completely so the note G will sound correct.”
- When you use multiple-choice questions, Edpuzzle will grade them for you.
- To set up a class, go to edpuzzle.com. you can create a class that is an “open” class. This means your students just have to enter a class code to join – no account required! See your students’ progress for each video lesson you assign. Plus, if you do not want them to use their names, it will generate nicknames for them. However, for distance learning, you will need them to enter their first name or first name with the first letter of their last name so you can assess them accurately.
- Send the students the link and they can enter your class and see the interactive video assignments. I love that you can click the “prevent skipping” and “turn on CC” buttons for these assignments.
Do you have Google for Schools? If so, then creating a Google Classroom for distant learning requires the students to log into Google Classroom from home through their Gmail accounts.
- Go to https://classroom.google.com/ and create a google classroom. Title it something like, “Mrs. Burns’s 3rd Grade Music Class”.
- Once they have logged into their Gmail, they can click the google classroom app (if they know the shortcut) or go to https://classroom.google.com/
- They click the + to join a class.
- Give them the class code to join. You can find this code when you create your Google Classroom. It is listed on the home page of your Google Classroom.
- From there, you can create assignments and assessments (Google Forms is built right in, as well as a rubric tool for grading) for students to turn in. You can send back assignments, create assignments and assign to only a few in the class, leave links to other tools (like creating a link to a Flipgrid assignment because it is easier to video in Flipgrid), and so much more.
- Here is a fabulous guide made for parents to learn about Google Classroom so that they can assist their children at home.
SmartMusic and Sightreading Factory
- Sightreading Factory is offering free student accounts to schools closed for COVID, https://www.sightreadingfactory.com/
- SmartMusic is also offering free access through June 30th for COVID affected schools, https://www.smartmusic.com/
Online Voice Recorders
I have been following requests for certain items that can be used at home for recording singing songs and performing songs on instruments. Here are some ideas:
- vocaroo.com – Vocaroo is an online voice recorder. Press record and your students can automatically record online. When finished, they can share their recordings via social media, email, a link, a QR code, or embedding it.
- 123apps.com – 123apps contains 9 online apps from voice recorder to video editor and more. You can record and trim your audio recording. Once finished, click the “Save” button and the audio file automatically downloads to the hard drive, or saves to your Google Drive (as with Chromebooks). If your students are using this from home, they can place the recording in their Google Classroom assignment to submit to you or they could email the mp3 file to you.
A Virtual Performance…
Well kind of. . . Can we have a virtual concert if our concert has been canceled due to closures? I tried today with my daughters. We used Flipgrid to rehearse a chorus of a song with an accompaniment track found on YouTube. The recording on Flipgrid was intuitive for my daughters. They also liked using emojis to cover their faces when they sang in their recording. Downloading the videos from Flipgrid was a quick process. Downloading the accompaniment track and having it convert to an audio track using y2mate.com worked well. Here are the step-by-step details:
- Create a Flipgrid account and then create a grid. You can title the grid “Virtual Performance” or anything you would like. If you have not used this with your students, then click on the student id login so you can send them a link and create their IDs to login as opposed to using their email addresses.
- Go through the settings to allow for moderation (you approve each video), video time limits, and more.
- Find an accompaniment file and set that as the topic’s focus. I found a karaoke file for the song and used the YouTube URL to set it as the focus.
- I left instructions that they were to click the topic focus so it opened in a new window (this would allow them to record with the karaoke track playing in another tab/window). If they had headphones, they should wear them (this makes it easier for you to mix later).
- My girls logged in to Flipgrid separately. They clicked the + sign. They created emojis over a whiteboard so they would not be seen. They clicked the camera button to begin recording. They clicked to the tab with the karaoke video and clicked play. Then they recorded themselves singing. When finished, they clicked stop and made their selfie.
- I went in through the teacher account and downloaded their videos.
I then wanted to layer the videos. I have iMovie and used that, but it would only layer two videos on top of each other, and I had three (I recorded myself as well). So I had to layer two, save the file, and export it as one video. I then placed it back into iMovie and layered the third video and the audio track. I did sync them all up pretty well. But, if you caught Katie Wardrobe’s webinars in the past few days, she is right when she says that this takes time and it all depends if you want to take the time to do this. Especially if you have a lot of children singing at once. Here is my result for a 35-second video:Go to the Top
Online Discussion with Three Elementary Music Technology Gurus: Amy M. Burns, Cherie Herring, and Aileen Miracle
Webinar: Answering Questions about Teaching Elementary General Music Online
I recently asked on various elementary music education networks what they would like to know more about when teaching online. The webinar below gives answers and tools to assist in distance learning. I have included a breakdown of the video so you can jump around to the topics that you would like to view. Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to create a part 2.
- Intro: 0-5:00
- Tips for teaching online: 5:00-8:30
- Low to No Tech Resources: 8:30-14:10
- “I would love some folk song demos so kids could sing along at home, show hand motions or body percussion like we would do in an opening circle with classes.” 14:10-22:31
- Pitch Explorations/Ariosos/Folk Dancing: Folk Dancing, Echo Songs, and Simple Songs are incorporated into the 14:10-22:31 segment. This segment includes Ariosos and Pitch Explorations: 22:31-24:03
- Our district is requiring us to use google classroom (GC). If you could show us how we might be able to incorporate other resources into the google classroom, that would be wonderful. We were supposed to have training on Monday, but they closed our schools as of last night. 24:03-32:33
- I create an assignment and my 5th Grader performs the GC assignment: 32:33-41:13
- Google Classroom seen from the parent side: 41:13-41:48
- (Quizlet) I’d like to learn how to switch between video and showing notated music on a screen…like rather than holding flashcards, how can I digitally make flashcards to show on the screen. 41:48-45:33
- Create a Seesaw Activity for Ss to create long/short patterns using found items around their home (toys, shoes, LEGO, kitchen items,etc.) and take pictures and maybe clap and record the rhythm. Maybe they could find items that produce long or short sounds and play / record a rhythm. It’s the steps of creating and delivering instruction for an activity that most of my teachers are worried about. 😊 45:33-56:19
- How to post videos to google classroom 56:19-58:50
- Flipgrid. I keep hearing about it, but I don’t know what it is. 58:50-1:02
- 3rd Grader’s Demo of Flipgrid: 1:02-1:07
- Ideas for templates for plugging in content ready to go: 1:08-1:15
- Want the slides? Find them here!
Want to Learn More?
Later this year, I have a book being published by Oxford University Press titled, Using Technology with Elementary Music Approaches. This book gives lessons and ideas on how to integrate technology into the approaches of Dr. Feierabend (First Steps in Music), Zoltan Kodály, and Orff Schulwerk. It also has a chapter for integrating technology into Project-Based Learning (PBL). The summaries of the approaches were written by experts in the field: Dr. Missy Strong (Feierabend’s First Steps), Glennis Patterson (Kodály), and Ardith Collins (Orff Schulwerk).