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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Lessons to Celebrate Listening

For Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM®), I thought I would share some of my favorite lessons for celebrating different forms of musicking. These are the lessons where we just bask in the joy of music-making- what's better than that? And (because I can never help myself) there are always musical skills and concepts students get more practice with in the process. Today I'm sharing some of my favorite lessons that celebrate listening!

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1. Abstract Drawing

One of my favorite ways to get younger students to listen to and respond to music, besides movement, is with drawing. Movement is a great way to get younger students to demonstrate concrete musical qualities they hear like dynamics, phrasing, pitch, tempo, or rhythm, but drawing is such a great way not only to get younger students to listen in a more focused (calmer) way, it's also a great way to get them to respond to the more abstract musical message of the music. I use the book Niko Draws a Feeling to get kids to understand the concept of abstract drawing, then turn on a piece of music and let them draw. You can see the entire lesson plan in this blog post- this is one of my favorites for Kindergarten and 1st grade.


SQUILT stands for "super quiet uninterrupted listening time", and the point is to listen to a little bit of a longer piece of music and just focus on listening. I love doing this with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. I encourage students to find a place that feels comfortable in the room, whether that's sitting in their chair, on the floor, or even laying down, and I encourage them to close their eyes so they can focus on the sounds. I prefer not to give them a worksheet or anything to fill out during the music so they don't have any distractions, but I usually take the opportunity to have a conversation about what they heard as a class afterwards, giving them time to share their thoughts and observations and then asking some questions about the musical elements they heard to get them to review concepts and vocabulary.

3. Song Brackets

Of course this list would not be complete without mentioning the March Madness song brackets I do for Music In Our Schools Month! This is such a great way to get students to listen to a broad range of musical genres, styles, artists, and time periods. If you've never done one before, the basic idea is to have students listen to 2 songs and vote on their favorite each day, with the winners from each pair advancing to the next round until the students have chosen one song as their favorite. I do this as a school-wide bracket all month long every March, but I know other teachers do it in music class and just have students vote each time they come- this would be perfect for upper elementary and middle school grades to do in class to get them listening to and comparing songs. I choose a different theme each year- I have a blog post here with all of the song lists I've done over the years if you want to try it yourself. 

Those are my favorite lessons for focusing on enjoying listening for each age group- I hope this gives you some new ideas to celebrate music listening with your students! If you have other lesson activities you love I'd love to hear those in the comments as well. 

Want to catch up on the other posts in this series? Click below for my posts on lessons celebrating:

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