May I Introduce My Room?

I thought it would be fun to take you on a tour of the music room.  I’m absolutely loving this room.  Last year’s setting up and tearing down tables, chairs, etc… every music class makes me really appreciate this year.

I often get asked what music curriculum we use since it is hard to find something good for the music class.  I blend a mix of books and activities that seem to work well with my 150 students for a custom curriculum.  Different things work with different ages and grades; so find what works well for you and use it.


Let’s start with some of my favorite voice care items.  It is common for music teachers to lose their voices because the demand on the vocal cords is pretty extreme.  After it happened twice to me last year, I decided to make a few changes in my routine.

  1.  Drink lots of water!
  2. Take Airborne lozenges throughout the day for a voice refresher and a dosage of Vitamin C.
  3. Vocal Eze Throat Spray works well to calm irritated voices.
  4. Roxalia tablets dissolve under your tongue for sore-throat and tiredness relief.
  5. Cough drops help dry mouths and scratchy voices.
  6. Slippery Elm lozenges and Slippery Elm tea may taste nasty, but it works wonders.
  7. Personal mic…this one has saved my voice so often because I no longer have to yell to be heard over the noise of forty seventh-eight graders during large chorus.


Do you get a lot of headaches and watery, burning eye problems during the day?  Educational Lights have covers that magnetically attach to your lights to block the harsh fluorescent light that causes eye strain.  They are even up to fire code!  I am so grateful for these covers.


Our class rules-

  1.  Respect God
  2. Respect the teacher
  3. Respect the classmates
  4. Respect the classroom
  5. Respect yourself

I also like to showcase cards and pictures from the students on this door.  Since the picture was taken, there is quite a few more added to the collection=)


Our recorder spot where Ricky and Regina Recorder live.  They are laminated papers that the students can fill in the holes for the appropriate letter during our review times.


I found these awesome cabinets at Habitat for Humanity for a few dollars and don’t know what I’d do without them.  I keep books on two shelves, CD player and Cd’s on two shelves, Freddie the Frog books and flashcards on two shelves, and recorders on the other two shelves.  I’ve found that having disinfectant wipes are handy for many purposes (such as wiping down tables, wiping off recorders, wiping off piano keys, and cleaning up used tissues and accidents in the classroom).  Having a recorder check-out paper has saved me a lot of frustration; I wish I would have done that last year!


Our puppet friends live on the top of the cabinets.  I picked these up on Christian Book Distributors for a few dollars since they were on a vbs clearance.  We named them after composers, of course!  Puppets are fun to use in the first-third grades for singing times and review answering.


Some Cd’s that I like to use in class…

  1. Hymns of the Church
  2. Vocal Coach products
  3. Wee Sing Cd’s
  4. Music Machine Cd’s
  5. Alter of Praise Chorale, Oasis Chorale, Christmas Chorale, Sharon Singers Cd’s (great acapella and harmonizing examples)
  6. Classic Cd’s
  7. Libera Cd’s (especially good for helping the younger boys to hear that they don’t have to try to sing low before their voices change)
  8. Jim Rule Cd’s
  9. I also would like to add in that the Songdrop Cd’s are awesome for fun songs.

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This is a look inside the cabinets.

  1.  Plastic cups from Dollar Tree that we use for cup songs and rhythms (which really helps with coordination and teamwork).  I also keep Silly Bandz in a box that we use for recorders and cup songs/rhythms because the younger grades really struggle with quickly remembering which hand is right and which is left.
  2. Miscellaneous items such as balls, play-dough, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, music bingo, etc… for recreating notes, beats, and other music theory concepts.
  3. I picked up a plastic bowling set at Goodwill for a couple cents and then drew notes and rests on the pins.  When students knock over pins, they need to clap the rhythm of what they knocked over.
  4. I use an empty detergent container for storing rhythm sticks, tambourines, eggs, and maracas.  It is the perfect size, plus it smells great.  And then we also have scarves for some of the Artie Almeida activities that we do.
  5. Hand-bells….I love incorporating these into class time.
  6. Legos are great because you can draw notes and rests on them and show how they compare to the others.


I hang music center games from a shower-curtain rod and store my boom-whackers behind the keyboard.  Of course, it is always a good idea to have a comfy chair with a footrest filled with great magazines and books for waiting parents of piano students!

Our solfege ladder, heart-beat chart, and voices (outside voice, singing voice, talking voice, and quiet voice).  When the younger grades get too loud, we just point to the voice we should be using.


My over-filled desk with my file boxes beside.  It looks a little cluttered, but I know where everything is; so I guess it is okay;)  And yes, I still use a good ole-fashioned chalkboard!  The plastic grocery basket is excellent for toting books back and forth to school.  I can take it home to lesson plan and then set it beside the stand and pull each book out as I need it during the day.


Where I keep all the important stuff like tape, sticky tack, Velcro, paper clips….

I like to use Dollar Tree baby-food containers to store my tacks and paper clips.  I also use Dollar Tree baby cloths for wiping down chalkboards and dry-erase boards.


This is a fun bin with glissando/vocal exploration posters, flashcards, and soda-can rhythm cards.

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Some of my favorite posters!

  1.  Music is a treat- lists all the national music standards for music classes.
  2. Our world map- we travel to a new place every month and learn about the music of that country as well as hear examples and sing a native song.
  3. Hymn writer- each month we learn about a different hymn writer and then sing and conduct one of his/her songs.
  4. Composer- we study a new composer every month and then do listening activities on his/her work.
  5. Last year, we learned about a different time in music history each month, but I switched it up for world music this year for something different.
  6. The instrument families!


Each grade has a keyboard.  If they gain a point they move ahead a key.  If they lose a point by breaking a class rule, they move back a key.  Once they reach the end, they will receive a surprise.  First grade started a few weeks behind the other grades, so their keyboard is smaller.

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My brother made this awesome staff graphic so that each students could put their name on a note and put it up on the wall.  “Each of us a single note together can create a masterpiece.”  Thanks Pinterest for the cool idea!



I just threw this in because it is so cute and I love Peanut stuff.  I found a Peanut pop-up book partially destroyed in a Goodwill bargain bin.  So I bought it and pulled this one out to lay on my music table.  I have this table as a spot where students can pick up papers they need.  They turn in their assignments in the purple hanging file.  A glass clock is fun for writing on music notes as time with a dry-erase marker, and I was able to pick this one up for $5.00.


Students can use the hole-puncher, sharpener, pick up extra books, or borrow pencils, highlighters, and dry-erase markers from this spot.  I also highlight a book here and then do a corresponding bulletin board.


The piano corner.  Once again, it looks a bit cluttered, but everything serves a purpose.  And with nineteen students, you want to make sure you have everything you need close by!  I stick the piano/voice students’ birthday cards in the cake for them to get out when it is their birthday.  I also put each piano/voice students’ names on a song page and then hang it up just for the fun of it.  There is a mirror and stand for the voice students.  The basket has gifts in it from which students pick an item once they reach fifty points.  I use a squishy chicken from Dollar Tree to remind students to keep their hands curved while playing the piano.  The little cabinet is a perfect spot to keep piano/voice books, metronome, and all that good stuff!


This is the top of a bookshelf where I highlight instruments that match the country we are learning about in world music.  Ten Thousand Villages is a great place to pick up stuff like this.  With a coupon and an eye for clearance, items can often be bought for under $5.00.


I’ve found that tables work best for writing work, risers for singing, and rugs for circle activities/cup songs/story time.  I went with Dollar Tree foil cookie sheets for stacking the books, but the students are slowly crinkling and destroying those.  Any good ideas for a cheap replacement?  I also keep crayons, dry-erase markers, and Dollar Tree makeup remover pads (for dry-erase projects) on each table.

Some of my favorite music books and curriculum!

  1.  So-Me Stories– these are songs that have solfege character names that are sung.  My first-third graders love these!
  2. The Napping House, Goodnight Moon, Sheep in a Jeep, Dr. Seuss– rhyming books are great for singing.  I like to split the class into four groups.  I will then give each group a book and have them create a song for it.  The books can also be done on So-Me arrangements.
  3. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons– Cenza writes great children’s stories based off of composers with a Cd included of the highlighted song.  They are pricey; so I only have one of them!
  4. The Really Awful Musicians– is just a fun book that teaches children about the importance of singing together.
  5. Music Electric Time for Learning– goes over different instruments, music history, etc.. with examples of each.  I do music centers after test time until dismissal, and the kids are always fascinated with this book.
  6. Activate, Music K-8, and Music Express– music magazines with great resources and lesson plans.  Subscriptions are expensive, but they will send a complimentary copy to you if you ask so you can check it out.
  7. 101 Hymn Stories, Mr. Pipes, Abide with Me: Stories and Sites of the great British Hymns– Excellent for teaching about hymns and hymn writers
  8. Listening Resource Kit– Fun activities and lesson plans for all grades
  9. Essential Musicianship– I do level 1 with sixth grade, level 2 with seventh grade, and level 3 with eighth grade.  Some concepts are high-school level, but it is a great way to start getting good foundations in music theory.
  10. Rhythm without the Blues and Ear without Fear– good books for developing beat and ear within students.  I like to add this in when I need something to fill up extra time.
  11. God Made Music– a curriculum I just came across this year.  I have fallen in love with it because the students really enjoy the books, it is colorful, and it is very educational!
  12. Accent on Composers, Stories of the Great Hymn, and Stories of the Great Christmas Carols– Once again, some more good resources for the monthly composer and hymn writer highlights.  During the month of December, I make a countdown Christmas calendar.  Each music class, the students uncover a Christmas carol, and then we learn about it and sing it.
  13. Fun with Composers and Lives of the Musicians– some of my favorites for composer studies.  They include tidbits and fun facts about Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and all the greats.
  14. Recorder Express and Recorder Fiesta– my favorites for teaching recorder.
  15. The Science of Sound, Outside the Lines, and The Chord Wheel– just extras that I use for doing some musical science examples and for teaching composing.
  16. Teaching Music to Children and Making Musical Instruments with Kids– Musts in the music classroom.
  17. Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves Oh My, Great Music Games for Kids, and 52 Arrival Activities for Children’s Choirs– You won’t regret adding these to your music curriculum!
  18. Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory– I use this for fifth grade.
  19. Hymnspirations Coloring Book and Sign Language Books– fun things to add in to your classes.
  20. Music Teacher Plan-It– I used this last year and bought another one for this year because it is the best music schedule/lesson planning aid I have found.  There are also fun activities and ideas added in on some of the pages.
  21. Staff Paper- I keep this on hand and send a page home with students who enjoy composing.
  22. Music for Conductors and Evoking Sound– two favorites which I use when teaching song-leading to the eighth graders.
  23. With Glad Voices– Christian curriculum for the young grades based off of the Kodaly Method.
  24. The Story of Christian Music– I heavily used this when teaching different times in music history.
Freddie the Frog is my absolute favorite find!  The children beg to hear the books (little do they realize how much they are actually learning in the process).  There are also flashcards, posters, magnetic board, coloring pages, and resources that can go along with the Freddie the Frog series.  Their puppets are expensive; so I bought an elephant and frog Folkmanis puppet through Amazon for a few dollars.
Although books and writing work has its place, students quickly bore without hands-on interactive activities.  So I really like to do cup games/songs, movement songs, and Artie Almeida ideas during class to change up pace and get students engaged.
Where do you get all of your stuff?  This is a question I hear frequently; so I’ll share!
-A lot of books, posters, etc.. the school already had when I arrived.  So I make full use of those!
-Stores such as Dollar Tree and Goodwill Bargain Bins usually are are hiding some kind of treasure you can use in your classroom.
-I have a teacher ID card and ask for discounts everywhere!
-A lot of my decorative items came as gifts from family and friends.  When Christmas and Birthdays roll around and you’re asked what you want, mention music items!
-Sign up for test items and review copies that businesses want to get opinions on.
-I set apart a little money each month that I have budgeted for school items.
-Set up a GoFundMe account and explain how you want to equip your classroom to better your teaching and your students’ learning.  It’s surprising how this works=)
-Do a fundraiser.
-Ask family, friends, and businesses to donate items or money for books and supplies.  It sounds crazy, but poor teachers need to get a little desperate some times.
-Don’t buy new books.  Check out Abe’s Books and other similar places for used books (often library books) that will sell for a few cents.
Here are also some blogs, websites, music teacher resources that offer some free lesson plans, etc….
carnegie hall listening adventure
american symphony orchestra league
smithsonian folkways
teacher vision multicultural music resources
Also…..John Jacobson, Artie Almeida, and Rob Amchin are all excellent teachers and have websites and youtube movies with great songs, games, ideas, and resources.
I highlight certain activities for certain grades….  This doesn’t take the place of their “normal” curriculum, but rather corresponds and adds to it.
1.  Freddie the Frog.
2.  So-Me Stories.
3.  Instrument Studies with a keepsake instrument book.  I would love to have an instrument petting zoo come to school, but they don’t visit private schools=(  Anybody know of one that might make an exception?
4.  Recorders.
5.  Recorder review and Hand-Bells.
6.  Boom-whackers.  My dream is to some year do an ukulele program with sixth grade!
7.  Large Chorus, Listening Journals, Christmas Project (listen to Handel’s Messiah one year and The Nutcracker the next year)
8.  Large Chorus, Song-Leading, My Life Music Project, Listening Journals, Christmas Project (listen to Handel’s Messiah one year and The Nutcracker the next year), Music Vocation Study, Anabaptist Music Study
Be sure to keep learning so you can continue to have information to pass on to your students.  Go to music classes, take college courses, read books, watch online lectures, join choirs, and go to summer camps.
Hopefully you enjoyed looking through the music room as much as I enjoy using it!
I would really love to hear tips and hacks that you use in your classroom.  And any music book recommendations would be great as well!