Thank goodness for a teacher’s bag of tricks!!! Both yesterday and today I had classes that were missing enough kids to cripple our ability to truly practice for our upcoming concert…. but I still had a class to teach. What’s a girl to do?


The 6th grade is working on short compositions. They have been writing out their rhythm and pitch on a staff and have chosen their instruments. It has been so fun! Because each student had an instrument, we simply created an A Section to play and had kids solo for an 8 beat TALA. It gave kids a chance to go a little wild on their instrument while keeping them in the parameter of 8 beats.

Of course, there were kids who didn’t want to solo ~ it being 6th grade and all ~ but I was able to turn that into a teachable moment. We are all in this together and nothing will happen if you do not sound perfect! We are here to have fun!! I told them that the very same thing happens in sessions I teach to teachers at conferences. We all expect our kids to play at will and volunteer for playing opportunities, but how many of us stay silent when we are the students? ……and a music educators conference is a safe space, this isn’t Carnegie Hall!!   

The 5th grade was missing half of its class due to a stomach bug…. let’s hope that is all it is, and they get better soon! We took some time to rewrite the words to a Music K-8 song ~ we felt the words were a bit too simple and boring ~ then we had about 10 minutes left. This is when games really are a blessing!! I have my stash of games that I have shared with you, and they are my go-to in situations like this. We played #5 from my “Games Handout” Move and Play, but simplified. Each student had a drum and when I stomped, they hit their drum. We moved our feet slowly, quickly, quietly, loudly and in all sorts of combinations! I asked who wanted a turn after I demonstrated, they ALL raised their hands shouting out “me, me, me”. All I could think of was how my Kinders react to such questions and here were these big kids just as excited!! They had a blast!!

This is certainly the time of year we need to see our classes the most, but things do happen. Having ready made games and lessons are crucial for keeping yourself sane, while still giving our students a meaningful experience. If you have any tricks up your sleeve, please share them with us in the comments below!