As I am planning our Winter concert, I am realizing how little time I really have ~ how little time we all have. We need to cover standards, while providing a range of repertoire, while working on the present holiday music (Halloween etc.…), while making it fun…. No problem!! LOL!

Solution: Build on what you have done with your kids thus far and build it into the concert!



For the last few weeks, the 6th graders have been composing short rhythmic pieces. We could have combined them to create a longer piece to stand alone, but instead I wanted to play them with a Music K-8 recorder piece “Santa’s Back in Town” (Volume 32 No. 2) because it is so festive!!


  • Get out your Note Knacks! (Manipulatives are always good to have as a reference, even for the older kids!)
  • Divide students into groups
  • Have them compose a short rhythmic piece. The number of measures will depend on the instrumental music you have chosen.
    • If there are 30 measures and you have 25 kids, divide class into 5 groups and have them compose 6 measures each.
  • Give each group a set of instruments including pitched and non-pitched percussion. (NOTE: To make it easier, have kids only use the notes in the pentatonic scale of the key that the instrumental piece is in)
  • Each group’s TASK ~ add orchestration to your rhythmic piece.
  • When done, combine all of the pieces and together decide on the order.
  • Play with instrumental piece.
  • Edit as needed!


In 1st grade, kids created a Halloween piece by brainstorming spooky words, sorting them into 1 or 2 syllables, and matching either a quarter note or 2 eighths to each word, then putting them together to create a composition. The kids LOVED it!!!

We can use this same technique for a Winter themed piece:

  • As a stand-alone rhythmic composition
  • To be played with an instrumental piece
  • To replace a sung verse


  • Use same procedure for Halloween Compositions, but brainstorm winter themed words instead ~ Simple Halloween Compositions – Note Knacks
  • Have kids create 2 measures each instead of one.
  • When done, combine all of the pieces and together decide on the order.
  • Practice and edit as needed!

Time is and always will be an issue, but we can “teach smarter”! It makes so much sense to build on what we are already doing, as it will create continuity for the kids and nothing is sacrificed for the concert!! Of course, any time the students are involved in the planning, they will be more invested, and their enthusiasm will show through!! What could be better than that?