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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Distance Music Lesson Ideas: Note Names

As we all fumble our way through this distance learning thing, I'm trying to keep my focus on lesson ideas that are fun, first and foremost, but I'm also thinking about the types of lessons that are best suited for our current learning environment. So rather than taking my normal lesson ideas and thinking about ways to translate them to distance learning, I'm thinking about, in the current situation of students receiving my content individually in their homes, what content and format makes the most sense. One aspect I want to take advantage of is the opportunity for self-paced skill development. Naming notes on the staff is something students actually benefit from practicing on their own rather than in a group, so here are some ideas to incorporate that into distance learning, both online and in no tech formats.

First of all no, I would never want my entire lesson for the week to be drilling note letter names! I'm not over here trying to shove "rigor" down people's throats! But when it's put in a game / competitive format this is something my students truly get excited about so I will be incorporating it as a short assignment but not the whole "lesson". I am currently teaching through Google Classroom and assigning one short lesson per week for each grade level, so I'll start these lessons with a video of me singing a fun song and/ or dancing and then lead into: "Oh, remember how we name the notes with letters? This song starts on the note G. Here's what all the notes on the lines/ spaces are, remember? OK here's your challenge: go do this game/ activity this week and see how many you can get/ how many ideas you can come up with".

Here are some ideas for activities students can do to practice letter names on- and off-line and have fun doing it!


MusicTheory.Net exercises: This is an easy way for students to practice note letter names and report a score. You can save specific exercises so students don't have to edit the settings themselves (so for example for 3rd grade I can set it up so they are practicing treble clef within the staff and with no accidentals). I love this one because I can tell them to do a certain number of notes, or spend a certain number of minutes on it, and then report their score to me, and because I use this on my board for in-class games they're already familiar with it.

Staff Wars: Another great way for students to practice letter names! It's fast-paced and the graphics are cool and videogame-esque. The only drawbacks of this one are that the fast pace can be frustrating for students who need more time to think, and it requires flash, which can be a problem for some devices.

No Tech

Challenge students to write a card/ letter/ poster with an encouraging message to put up somewhere or send to someone, using music notes and writing the letters underneath the notes. If they can, they can take a picture of their finished product to send to you! Here are some examples to share with students:

I hope this helps as you look for ways to engage students without overwhelming them during distance learning! If you have more no tech or online ideas for practicing note names in fun ways, please leave a comment to share! And to see all of my distance learning posts head to this page: