K-12 Teaching: Resources and Inspiration

Cheryl McIntyre • April 2023ChoralCorner • April 2, 2023

Mary Svenvold, an outstanding Montana music educator, explains the pros and cons of teaching a K-12 position. “You teach kids everything they know, and you have them for a long time!” Her best advice is just like for any music position: “Make friends with secretaries, custodians, guidance counselors and other teachers; support the athletic teams; and be as organized as you can be.” Being involved in the community builds a strong bond that can be very beneficial in the most difficult times. I get the opportunity to adjudicate at music festivals. It is impressive that many of the smaller schools have such a large percentage of their students involved in music programs around the state. In some of the smallest schools, most of the students are involved in music. Quite often the K-12 music director oversees band, choir, and elementary music classes. Organizing concerts, local contests or festivals, preparing large group and solo music, ordering music, writing invoices, and fundraising are a few of the many details to be taken care of by these dedicated instructors in addition to dealing with students in classes. Mary gives great advice, “If you feel unprepared in any part of your teaching assignment, take some classes!” Each of our K-12 instructors listed being organized, making connections, and strong relationships as priorities in being successful in this type of position. Positive and strong support for music from families has been the result of many fine teachers in a K-12 position. Many of these teachers are heroes in their communities. 

K-12 Resources 

Lacey Hanson of Center, North Dakota 

-Online curriculum Quaver Music. https://www.quavered.com 

-The YouTube channel Musication for playing instruments to interactive videos. https://www.youtube.com/c/musication 

-Beth’s Notes is a great site that gives access to tons of songs and games that go with them. https://www.bethsnotesplus.com 

-Musictheory.net is a great platform for teaching theory. It has content lesson and exercises that go along with the lessons. https://www.musictheory.net 

-I have used flipgrid (especially during online learning times) to have kids turn in playing tests. I even used it for fifth- and sixth-grade band because it is an easy platform. https://info.flipgrid.com 

Paper resources: 

-I love any books by Artie Almeida. She also has some games that work for subs or extra practice: Doggone Dynamics and Sneaky Snake. 

-Sharon Burch has some books based on the character Freddie the Frog. They cover concepts such as bass/treble clef, jazz, etc. 

-Mark Burrows’s supplemental resources for general music. 

-Matthew Dane Peavoy has a book called Easy Bucket Drumming that I’ve used for some performances with upper elementary. It has bucket accompaniment parts for popular pop songs.

-Denise Gagne’s Musicplay.com is $100/year for a school subscription but so worth it! It has Units, built-in lesson plans, interactive music games, rhythm and solfege practice, recorder/ukulele/bucket drumming units, and vocal warmups. I mainly use it with my elementary, but I’ve also started adding some into my JH/HS lessons.

-Sightreadingfactory.com for grades 5-12 band/ choir. We use it in choir every day, and the band students all submit weekly sight-reading for a grade. The school subscription is $35 and then an extra $2/student. 

Connie Stordalen of Bismarck, North Dakota 

-Sight-Reading Factory online and the Alfred “Sing at First Sight” series by Andy Beck, Karen Farnum Surmani, and Brian Lewis. 

-The Music K-8 Magazine has great unison, 2-part and sometimes 3-part music to sing, recorder music, boomwhacker music, etc. It also has seasonal music! https://www.musick8.com/html/whatsmk8.php 

Lauren Brandenburg of Fargo, North Dakota

Musictechteacher.com – lots of learning games https://solfeg.io/

-Pop music sing-a-long https://listeningadventures.carnegiehall.org/ 

Elise Opp of Hazen, North Dakota 

– Chrome Music Lab – I usually use Song Maker when I want my fifth and sixth graders to compose without having to worry about using Finale or Sibelius. There are other options that can be used for all age ranges. 

-Teachers Pay Teachers – This website has so many resources for worksheets, games, sub plans, tab for guitar… you name it! When I can’t think of a game or activity to do, I will usually look here. You do have to buy it, but it can also be linked to your school so then you can purchase resources from your budget instead of your personal account. 

-Cakewalk – Similar to Garageband but can be used on any device for free! 

-Sightreading Factory – To help with sightreading skills and also prepare for auditions. 

-Blooket – Like Kahoot, but instead of just the quiz style, there are so many other types of mini games that can also be done as teams or individuals. 

-Sing Legato – If you’re looking at doing some ear training, there is a song for each of the intervals. There are also warm-ups for other aspects of singing. 

Trudy Fraase Wolf, superintendent, music and library of Zeeland, North Dakota

-“Ready-to-use Music Activities Kit,” “Basic Music Theory,” and “Reading and Writing Music” by Audry J. Adair

-“Ready to Read Music” and “60 Music Quizzes” by Jay Althouse. 

-For subs who might not be musically knowledgeable, “Accent in Composers” by Jay Althouse and Judith O’Reilly. It’s a mini history lesson on a composer complete with a CD of listening selections and a listening chart. 

-“Music Ace” lesson plans and games – www.harmonicvision.com/mafact.ht


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