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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Distance Music Lesson Ideas: Singing

If there was ever a time to get our students singing, it's in the midst of a global crisis when everyone is isolated in their homes! With my district starting online classes this week I knew I wanted to start with singing. Whether you're teaching online or sending home distance learning packets with no technology requirements, here are some ways to get everyone singing in your distance lessons.

1. Virtual/ live teaching

If your district has the capability and you're able to host virtual live classes, then obviously singing is a great activity for any group! With live teaching you can still teach students new songs, or have them sing along together with some old favorites, just like you would in school. A few points to keep in mind:

  • If you want everyone to sing together at the same time, you'll probably want to have everyone mute their audio, unfortunately. Because of the delay it will get super confusing! Be sure to use hand motions or keep the beat somehow visually so that you can still get that feeling of singing together even though everyone can only hear themselves and the teacher. Here are some tips for using motions with singing, especially with elementary students.
  • Echo and call and response songs are great for this situation, because even if there's a slight delay you won't get confused if you're all taking turns- just remind your students to wait for their turns even if it seems like there's a pause.
  • Since you're not all singing at the same time, using an instrument to accompany yourself is a good idea- it will make it less awkward if there's a guitar, ukulele, piano, or even a drum playing along with your singing.
2. Video

If you can't host a "live" class time, you can still record a video of yourself to share with students. Since our district is using Google Classroom, I'm creating pre-recorded videos to share with my students, and this week my lessons with lower elementary are all about singing our favorite songs together. I made a list of the songs my students have loved this school year for each grade, and I sat down and sang through the songs in a video, inviting students to sing along. For songs that have games or actions that go with them, I explained how to pretend I am their partner while they sing with the video, or teach someone else in their house how to sing/ play with them.

If you're trying to include some type of student "response" or assignment students turn in for each lesson, have them answer a simple question or two after they watch the video:

  • Which one was your favorite song to sing?
  • Do you think it's better to sing ___ fast or slow?
  • What is one more song you would add to our list to sing next time?
3. Sing Alongs

If you aren't comfortable or can't record yourself, you can still use the power of the internet to get kids singing along. There are so many great videos on YouTube and other sites that you can use for younger children- just search "sing along kids", or something similar, and look at what comes up. For upper elementary and middle school, I've compiled a playlist here of pop songs from different artists that are positive and kid-friendly without needing cleaning up, with videos that show the lyrics on the screen. For my upper elementary students this week I asked them to pick out a few songs from the playlist and sing along with them, then let me know which one was their favorite. You could also go one step further with responses and ask them to suggest another song to add to the playlist, or compare and contrast 2 songs, etc.

4. No Tech

Even without using technology there are still great ways to encourage students to sing!

  • Have students keep a singing log, writing down the names of songs they sing each day. 
  • Have students ask someone else to teach them a new song, and have them write down who they learned from and what the song was. 
  • Have students teach a song to someone else and report back on their experience.
  • Give students a choice board with different singing-related activities and tell students to complete at least 3 and let you know which ones they did:

I hope this gives you some ideas to use with your students in this confusing and difficult time! If you've come up with more great ideas to get kids singing through distance learning, please share them in the comments below. Don't forget, I'm compiling all of my posts for school closures into one page for each access- head to that page for more ideas:


  1. Thanks for sharing the choice board idea! I never thought about that!!!

    1. I like that it gives them choices and gets them off the computer! ;)

  2. I love the choice board! Can I use it for my district?

  3. Is there a PDF of the choice board? that we can download?

    1. Hi! I just have it as an image that you can download here but if you want a PDF I can easily send it to you- just email me at :)

  4. WOW!I LOVE THE SINGING CHOICE BOARD! WHAT AN AWESOME IDEA! I will modify a bit for my middle school chorus. I will have them help me to create a Singing Choice Board.

    1. Great idea to have students give input into the board itself! Love it! :)