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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: holiday music lesson ideas

December is always a crazy time of year for music teachers (if you want to read my top tips for making the holiday season less stressful, go to this post). The students get more and more hyper, your schedule is unpredictable, and it's hard to keep up with effective lesson planning when you are trying to prepare for concerts, sing-alongs, and musicals. These are a few activities that I found to be very successful with my students last holiday season- they involve movement, relate to the holidays (which is what everyone is thinking about anyway), teach and reinforce musical concepts and skills, and are just plain fun!

This one is a cup routine to go with "Sleigh Ride" that is great for K-2. I use it to teach form, reinforce steady beat, and discuss some of the instruments that they hear as well. You can make the routine more or less complicated for whatever age you want to use it with, but cup routines are fun for all ages no matter how you do it!

If you want more ideas to go with Sleigh Ride, here's a whole post full of them:

The second video is a set of movement ideas to go with the Sugar Plum Fairy, March, and Trepak (Russian) pieces from The Nutcracker. This is another activity that is easily adaptable to a variety of age groups- for older students, I would do one as an example and then have the students come up with their own movements for another piece to show whatever musical element I want them to practice. These movement activities are another great way to reinforce same and different sections to discuss form:

Looking for more lesson ideas to go with The Nutcracker? This post has a TON of ideas:

What are your favorite music lessons for this time of year? Share your ideas in the comments!


  1. I LOVE your cup routine! I rarely ever use cup songs with my primary students because it's hard to find routines that aren't too complicated for my not-so-dextrous little ones but still have rhythmic interest/musical integrity. Now I've got one! Thanks!

    P.S. I have the same blue speed stacks cups!

    1. I know what you mean. It's tricky because if you take out all of the difficult moves it can quickly lose the cool factor. I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine! :)

  2. I love the Nutcracker movement video! What a great resource. I might use this right away!

    1. Oh do let me know if you try it! :) I'm using them with my 2nd graders this week and they absolutely LOVE doing it! They really remember the music when they have the movements to go with it.