Today I want to share my top 5 tips for teaching whole class primary music lessons.
In my experience you have to look at the progress and achievement of your lessons over a period of time. It is hard to gauge week on week. This can be for many reasons – the children may have just had a hard day – just come back from P.E or simply it is nearly lunchtime and they are flagging!
So remember it is important as the primary music teacher to have an overview of the skills that you are imparting but keep the framework of each lesson complete.
- Take a look at me in action here.
1. Repetition is good for learning
I start each lesson in the same way. The class sits in a circle and we play our rhythm games. Each week the sense of pulse improves, the children become more confident in speaking in front of the rest of the class and any musical or co-ordination skills I have used improve. Before very long the children are desperate to get started and have their favourite games to play. You can develop the games and make them harder but the format remains the same.
2. Keep it fun
In my early years classes I start by playing a game that is simply just ‘watch and copy’. I slowly start by using my hands to touch parts of my body e.g. knees, feet, elbow etc. I increase the speed and then do more things at once maybe by using both hands. By the end everyone is in hysterics as we are all flapping around trying to keep up. I often finish by doing the actions of ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ before you know it the class are singing without even thinking about it on their own. I also use my voice to make animal noises……nothing removes barriers like everyone being a cow or a monkey!
3. Keep the lesson in the present
While you may have goals that you want the class to achieve over a term or semester, remember that it is only the lesson that you are delivering now that is important. Keep it interesting, fast paced and continually praise the achievement made in the last game/activity or the great answer a child has given you. The moment you are teaching something that doesn’t seem relevant or doesn’t link to what you have previously done the children will switch off. You might think it is an ‘important skill they need to learn for the future’ or ‘something will aid them for next terms work’ but if the jump is too big and the children can’t see where you are heading you will loose their enthusiasm and flow.
4. Engage the whole class
If you can avoid it don’t work with just part of a class while others are just left with nothing to do. Chaos will quickly ensue! Either have them working in focused groups or engage everyone together in the process of what you are doing. So for example it might be that in your circle only one person at a time is saying something but if the other 29 have to follow on from the previous person or they keep a pulse going for those who are speaking then everyone is included in the same process even if the actual activity is different.
5. Be aware of the individual needs of every child
Within a class you will have a wide range of people from different backgrounds and with different personalities. Support them all individually to be their ‘best self’ today. A shy person who says one word will have achieved just as much as the confident person who sings a scale in 3rds! The aim for me is never to make the whole class the same but to create an environment where every child can grow and feel supported. From that point great results can be achieved, individually and collectively.
LET ME KNOW HOW YOU GET ON
For more educational insights listen to my podcast Education on Fire
Happy primary music teaching!