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  • Writer's pictureMillie

Here's one way I've been getting my students to look at their music

Have you noticed your beginning readers trying to read your face/hands/ mouth, etc. INSTEAD of reading their scores? Yeah, me too. This seems to be an age old problem for middle school choirs, but I remembered something I saw a few years back in a session presented by Tom Shelton, and have been digging it lately. So have my classes!

We've been referring to these as "music puzzles" because of how you have to piece the melody together.  Read on to see how I've been planning and executing these activities, and scroll to the end to see a video from one of my classes!

Music Puzzles: A how-to

Step one:

Decide which music you want to pull your puzzle from. I've liked using this activity to introduce brand new repertoire, or to look at a fairly new section within a piece. It works best to keep each puzzle around 8 measures, otherwise, you might want to split your phrase into two separate sections.

Step two:

Copy each measure of your chosen phrase onto a sheet of plain, white paper. I drew out a large staff, and then just made multiple copies to draw on. If you have white boards, or clear sheet protectors that you could use to save some paper, that would probably work really well, too!

Step three: 

Randomly hand out cards to students. One student per card. Have these students come to the front of the room to show their card to the rest of the class. 

Step four:

Sing the melody for students to hear as many times as they need. In between each time, allow the class to move people into the correct order.

Step five:

After the class hears the melody a few times, and moves the cards around, I will begin asking them if they want to hear the current order they have their cards. ALWAYS tell them once they have a card in the right spot, so they know they're on the right track.

Step six:

Once they've placed all measures in the correct order, the entire class sings through the melody together. 

HOT TIP: I don't include the text on my cards. This forces them to focus on reading the staff.

Step seven:

After we've all sung through the melody together a few times, I will ask them to look in their music and find what measures I pulled the melody from. You can also ask if the melody repeats anywhere else.

Watch my class figure it out!

This could also be a cool way to try and sight read if you need to change up your routine!

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