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Friday, March 13, 2020

Music Teacher Resources for School Closures

We are living in unusual times, to be sure.

My school district, along with many others around the world, is closed indefinitely in an attempt to slow the spread of covid-19 (known widely as coronavirus). As we go through this time of uncertainty, I know many of us are scrambling to find ways to continue to provide music learning opportunities for our students without actually being in school. Whether you're hoping to move to online / virtual teaching, provide students with online resources, or put together no-tech resources for families without internet or technology access, here are some resources to help.


1. Virtual Teaching

If you're looking at setting up an online classroom or teaching virtually, Michelle from The Musical Rose has been teaching music virtually for a few years now and she has put together resources for music teachers looking to teach online. Click here to visit her website, where you'll find links to her social media accounts where she is posting her most updated content, and click here to view the slides from her FB live presentation on using Zoom and Nearpod, along with general tips for online teaching (including general music and ensemble rehearsals!).

If you have a private lesson studio as well, Ashley Danyew has some excellent ideas and resources to transition private lessons and studio group classes to online teaching. Click here to read her post, where she outlines different online platforms for live lessons, pre-recorded videos, and activities to send home, templates for letters to send to parents, and other advice for private lesson teachers.

2. Online Resources

If your students have reliable internet and device access, there are plenty of resources available for music teachers, and many are being offered for free temporarily to support school closures or already offer free options! Check out each of these below to explore these options- obviously this list is not exhaustive, so feel free to share others you love in the comments:

SmartMusic (currently being offered free through June 2020 to closed schools)
MusicPlayOnline (free resources being offered during school closures)
Solfeg.io (free plan available)
Prodigies Music Lessons (their YouTube channel has lots of free lessons)

Of course there are plenty of online resources that can be used as tools or exploration opportunities:


For more ideas incorporating technology in music teaching, my top recommendation is Midnight Music. Katie has been involved in music education technology for years and she has excellent resources and information on her website- go explore her site right here. You can also find more ideas in Facebook groups specifically dedicated to sharing ideas for online music teaching during school closures, so if you are on FB you can search for those as well.

3. No Tech Resource Ideas

For my district, we are preparing paper and pencil packets for students. We are not one-to-one with devices, nor does every family in our district have reliable internet access, so we have chosen to provide resources that can be accessible to everyone. If you are looking for student learning resources that don't require technology or internet access, Charissa from Music with Mrs. Dunc has a free take home packet you can download here for elementary general music. The packet includes rhythm and pitch practice, composition, and more without any need for technology! Here are some more ideas you can use with a range of grade levels:
  • Interviews: have students interview family members about their musical backgrounds and interests. What is their favorite song right now and why? What instruments do they play? What does music mean to them? Who are their favorite artists? Students can record the responses they get and also answer the questions themselves.
  • Instrument invention: have students invent a new instrument. They could draw a picture of it and describe how it is played, how it's constructed, and what it sounds like, or they could make one out of recycled materials.
  • Hand-washing dance choreography: have students choreograph a short dance routine incorporating the different ways we're recommended to wash our hands (scrubbing nails, between fingers, etc). Check out this one for inspiration.
  • Listening log: have students write down music that they hear each day. Depending on the age, they can also record information about the songs, like the title/ artist, genre, mood, time signature, tempo, instrumentation, etc, or they could draw a picture in response to the music.
  • Singing log: have students write down songs that they sing each day. They can sing along with a recording, sing by themselves, or sing with their family.
  • Soundtrack of my life: have students create an imaginary album that shows who they are. They can make a list of song titles, and for each song describe the music- this could either be done by asking students to come up with their own imaginary songs or by having students find existing songs that would describe aspects of their personality/ life. Students could also design an album cover to go with it, write liner notes, etc.
  • Instrumental / choral practice: of course if students have sheet music for choir songs, instrumental method books, recorder music, etc then they can practice their music! Include tips for independent practicing, fingering charts, etc to help students maintain productive practice.
4. Professional Learning Opportunities

With more flexible schedules and some extra time on our hands, this is a great time to do some reflecting and learning ourselves! Elisa from Music Ed Mentor has compiled a list of online professional learning opportunities for music teachers in this post, and you can find more ideas including book and listening recommendations in these posts below:





With all of the information and debating swirling around, let's remember to be deliberate and compassionate. Let's all help each other as we forge new paths- please share ideas in the comments to help other teachers support their students!

8 comments :

  1. Thank you for this great advice. Our district has closed schools for the upcoming week but may need to extend the closure. I teach middle school and high school choir and feel very overwhelmed about how to proceed without students in front of me. We had a concert right before spring break and need to start new music but none of the students have the new music. Your great ideas can help me get started this week and allow me time to figure out how to rehearse. Btw, your blog about what not to say to a music teacher are spot on! If one more parent, albeit well meaning, tell me a concert was "cute" I will scream!

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    1. So glad you found it helpful! It is a paradigm shift for so many of us. And solidarity on the cute comment! :) Thanks so much for commenting.

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  2. This information is wonderful. May I link this blog and/or share parts of it on my webpage for my students?

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    1. Yes, thank you for asking! I'm glad you found it helpful.

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  3. We've created a free shared account on MakingMusicFun.net that will give teachers and students unlimited access to everything on MakingMusicFun.net. Teachers and homeschooling parents are welcome to email us at info@makingmusicfun.net for the login info. We hope it's a big help for teachers and their students!

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    1. Awesome! Thank you for sharing this additional resource. Very helpful!

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  4. This is amazing! Thank you so so much! I LOVE the handwashing choreography idea!

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    1. So glad you found it helpful! I'm kinda obsessed with the handwashing choreography idea myself :)

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