Sunday, September 1, 2019

Planning Music Programs - Riser Week

Planning programs is a huge task! From picking the music, to preparing scripts and choreography, to fine-tuning the music and performance expectations, getting ready for a program can be a little scary at first. If you break it up into smaller chunks, it doesn't seem nearly as overwhelming.

Check out the first post in this series here about planning backwards and Grade Level Practices.

It happens in music rooms and performance spaces everywhere. Music teachers work tirelessly to teach performance pieces, add extra special moments in the show, put up decorations, print off programs. In the blink of an eye, it's the week before the show!

After weeks and weeks of prep, students get on the risers for the first time and then... they lose their minds!

In my experience, it's best to practice on the risers inside the classroom, one class at a time. After doing this for several years, it became affectionately known as Riser Week. Here are my tips and tricks for practicing on the risers.

Riser Week

Two weeks before the performance is a sacred space in the calendar. You have very limited time left and it may seem like you have a lot to cover.

Do you run through the whole show or do you hit the highlights and hope for the best? Sing one song ten times or go through the complicated choreography?

I have found that the week before we go into the performance space is a great time to bring a set (or two) of risers into the classroom to practice. If you have risers in your class full time, you may be way ahead of the game at this point!

Riser Rules

My rules for risers are pretty basic:
1. Toes on the tape. 
2. Don't turn around. 

I put on my serious face and tell the kids in no uncertain terms - you will not play around on the risers or you will not get to stand on the risers. There's no three strikes; it's one and done.

And then I stick to that. During the first practice someone (usually a new student that doesn't know me yet) tests that theory and learns the hard way. I move them to a standing spot on the side of the risers (with compassion) and say, "I hope you can fix it so you don't have to stand down here at the performance."

Toes on the Tape
I have 3 pieces of masking tape on each step of my risers (your risers may be longer or shorter; you do you!). I have students put their toes on the tape, but not hanging over the edge. This seems to work wonders keeping them in the correct spot left-to-right and front-to-back.

Don't Turn Around
My second rule (don't turn around) is in place because I have a shallow set of risers. You obviously won't have this rule if you have the beautiful giant-sized risers. (cue the angel voices) In order to keep my students out of each others' personal space, I say, "You can look behind you if someone is passing something to you, but don't turn around."

Riser Placement

I start with "tallies to smallies" and place them on the risers accordingly. To save time, I have them stand and call their names one by one. Nobody has time for students arguing about who is taller, so I do it myself.

Obviously, I separate the behavior issues and I try to put the more helpful students near ones that need help, but I also consider the sound when placing students on the risers. In a choir situation, you might have time to use voicing to your advantage, but I find that simply making sure that I separate clumps of students who are hesitant with pitch helps tremendously.

The rest of the Riser Week rehearsal

Depending on how much time is left after quickly going over the rules and placing them on the risers,  I do a "walk-through" of the show.

Students with speaking parts will learn how to get off the risers to come to the front for their speaking part. We generally do not have time to sing through every song in its entirety, so we sing the first verse or find an appropriate place to stop.

Side note: I teach all of my students to "turn your shoulders" to allow another student to slip past them off the risers. It works well and keeps me from having to separate students on the risers based on their parts. 

Students with special parts like ribbon dancing or holding up props or playing an instrument will mimic their role as we walk "fast-forward" through our show. For example, my ribbon dancers (in the Veterans Day show) will pretend to pick up their ribbon from the bucket, pretend to do their movements, and then pretend to return the ribbon to the ribbon helper at the end of their song.

Usually there is barely enough time to "walk-through" all the songs and special parts before it's time to practice how to get off the risers and go back to class. Shew! I'm tired just thinking about it.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Planning Music Programs - Grade Level Practices

Planning programs can be super time-consuming and intimidating! Working backwards from the program date has worked well for me - try it and let me know what you think!

To work your schedule backwards, start with the performance date in mind. Write out a schedule with the end in mind, tracking how many days you want to practice in the performance space (Grade Level Practices), how many times you think they need to practice on the risers in your classroom (Riser Week), how many times they need to run through the whole show with special parts and speaking parts (Run Through Week) and beyond.

I'm going to be honest here - I give myself plenty of time with groups that are immature or groups that I don't know well (new school or lots of new students). You know your students' learning styles better than anyone, so you decide how much time you will spend on "program songs."

Side note: While I am a huge fan of using classroom curriculum songs as a performance, and use them as often as I can, I find that it's not always appropriate. Some schools/situations call for a separate set of "program" songs. In that case, I allow even more time to learn the repertoire. Programs with lots of moving parts (speakers, dancers, instruments, etc.) also take more time. If your program has these things, allow more space in your schedule for it. You'll be glad you did!

I try to schedule "auditions" and "sign-ups" for special parts as far in advance as I can, in order to give myself time to cast the show, type up scripts and notes home, highlight their parts, and sort all the papers by teacher to get them sent home. Shew! I'm tired just thinking about it!

Let's start talking through the details by talking about the week of the performance, or as I like to call it: Grade Level Practice Week.

Grade Level Practice Week

The week of the performance is "Grade Level Practice" week. Ideally, an entire grade level has specials at the same time. Work together with your specials team and pull all the classes into the performance space the week of your performance.

Pro Tip: I always try to schedule performances for Thursday (or Friday), to give me a minimum of 3 workable practice days. 

Day 1 Agenda:
  1. Get students into the performance space (risers, stage, etc.). Sometimes we line up by height (tallies to smallies) and sometimes I assign specific spots - it depends on the situation/group.
  2. Briefly go over the agenda with the students: "We will be doing the first half of the show today. If you have a special part in the second half, you will go tomorrow."
  3. Sing/Play/Speak through the first half of the show TWICE, including special parts like welcome, speaking parts, ribbon dancing, putting away ribbons/props, getting out instruments, playing instruments, putting away instruments, etc.

Day 2 Agenda: 
  1. Sing/Play/Speak through the second half of the show TWICE, including all the details.
  2. If you have any extra time, go through the hardest parts of the show again (songs that they like to rush, songs with many verses that they like to forget, etc.).

Day 3 Agenda: 
  1. I like to have an audience for the last rehearsal, so I invite a younger grade level, whenever possible.
  2. Run through the entire show with all special parts. 
  3. No stopping! Treat this as a performance (especially if you have an audience!) and try not to stop. If you have to stop, make a quick adjustment and move on!
  4. Be sure to debrief with kids about that evening's or the next day's performance before they go back to class.
Side Note: In an ideal world, your teammates will help you run the rehearsal, dealing with discipline issues that arise, passing out props, keeping kids on task. I have been extremely blessed over the years with teams that have been amazing at running rehearsals! Shout out to Carol & Amber (& Craig) & Debbie & Jennifer & Megan & Eunice & Belinda & Leticia & Kala & Susan & Jeanne & & Adam & Scott - Thank you!!

I ask the grade level teachers to attend the last rehearsal (or part of it) just so that they will know what is going on. Most likely, they will be the ones helping you the night of the performance or in the assembly (if you do a daytime performance).

By the day of the show, groups generally tend to be more comfortable (and predictable!) in the performance space. There's always a chance for a snafu or technical difficulty, so I remind the students that, "The show must go on," unless someone is hurt!

Special Tips for Weird Schedules

As much as you wish for and hope for an administration and staff that understands what you are trying to do with each performance, you won't always have an ideal schedule. Some years, you will have a class that meets at a different time than the rest of the grade level or a "mixed-up-files" kind of hodgepodge schedule. 

For those times, you have to rely on your relationships with the teachers/admin to get them to agree to switch their normal specials time. This is really tough the first year at a school, but as you prove yourself to them by your professional communication, your being on time, your performances and productions, etc., teachers are more friendly to the idea of swapping their schedule out for you. 

In essence, they are doing it for their kids, but it feels like a giant favor to you personally. I try to bring donuts or make brownies for my staff occasionally to make sure they know that I appreciate their flexibility. And I always write thank you notes after a show to let them know that they were a blessing to me and the students by their willingness to be flexible. A little gratefulness goes a long way!

I schedule these individual class switches way in advance and with the approval of my principal. Only once or twice have I had an impossible switch, and had to have a class come to the gym and sit and watch while I rehearse with a different grade level. In those cases, I provide tons of word finds and coloring pages to keep them busy and spread them out while we practice. 

I will do whatever it takes to have a grade level practice the week before a performance. I don't believe I could do a performance without it (unless I had to!). If that means doubling up classes, teaching during my lunch, or rearranging my schedule with my other school, I will do it! I have to be willing to be flexible, too!

The week before the switch, send out reminder emails and put a copy of the changed schedule in their box, just to be safe. I like to have them write a note in their substitute folder just in case!

Next week, we will work backwards and discuss Riser Week. 

What do you do to make your performances run more smoothly?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

How to Make Open House in the Music Room Fun!

Before I started to host informal Open House and Parent Night performances, I dreaded these events with a passion. I put all the instruments away, hid my breakables, and prayed for the best.

Inevitably, kids would come streaming in with their parents, run straight to the instruments and start hitting them with whatever was nearby. Little siblings would dig into cabinets and drawers and my room ended up a huge mess before the night was over!

Now, I plan ahead and pull out only the instruments that I want them to play, and have specific instructions written in several places for the parents.

I have an activity planned for each group so that even my wiliest ones can see that it's not a free-for-all. Thank goodness!

The Setup:
On a table, I set out buckets of instruments that are needed. I put everything else away.

I physically block off all areas that I do not want them to walk in (with chairs or tables or music stands) and leave one pathway to the seating area.

I hang a welcome sign on the door and on a music stand just inside the door. It lets the parents know that I would like them to come in and sit down and wait their turn, rather than walk around while someone else is performing.

How to start: 
Greet the first group that comes in the door and tell the group to take a seat and wait until I call their child's grade level. Then I start calling up grade levels to the instrument table, "Do we have any Kindergarteners in here?"

I have each set of students go get one of their grown-ups to come play instruments with them! They love this and the parents get a kick out of playing the triangle or the rhythm sticks! It's a riot!

I just have them stand around the instrument table and play for each other - no need for a special set up or formation. Most of the time the parents face the board (because I put the title or the instructions on the board), but they don't have to!

For the beginning of the year open house:
1. several tubs of shakers (for K) on a table
2. a bucket of rhythm sticks and the tub of triangles (1st & 2nd)
3. 4 large drums (for 3rd & 4th) at the front of the room

I have my K students & parents pick a shaker and we shake along to Hokey Pokey. Super simple, a little silly, and very accessible for our newest parents.

1st & 2nd grade:
I have my first and second grade students play sticks with All Around the Buttercup and have their parents play the triangle on the rests. (1st graders don't know ta rest yet, so I say, "After each sentence, parents will play on the triangle.")

*Pro Tip: Give the student the rhythm sticks and have the parent play the triangle on the rests. You as the teacher can give them a big cue when it's time to play. It's very intuitive and the kids love to see their parents hold the little triangles!

3rd & 4th grade:
I have my third and fourth graders do an easy call and response drumming activity that my co-teacher taught me last year. (Thanks Karla!) I have a little picture of four "choices" to eat for lunch. Mom or Dad taps "What's for lunch?" on the drum and the student has to answer one of the choices.

We do this four times in a row and then I play a pop song for them to drum along to. This year, I used Joel Adams' Please Don't Go. It has a simple intro section followed by a 16-beat section with drumming. I've also done the Kidz Bop version of See You Again - my students love this one!

For middle or end of the year parent night: 
1. several buckets of rhythmic percussion instruments (for K & 1st)
2. buckets of wood blocks / tone blocks, triangles, and shaker instruments (for upper grades)

Kindergarten & 1st grade:
After practicing A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea in class, my students do an instrument circle with this song. We have various rhythm instruments set around the circle and in between each verse, they rotate to a new instrument.

For Parents Night, we let each student & parent pick an instrument and they play along to, "sea, sea, sea" and "chop, chop, chop" and "knee, knee, knee" and "tap, tap, tap."

Upper Grades:
After studying The Nutcracker Ballet in December, my students do a quick and easy play along to the A section of March that I blogged about here.

A section -
16 beats: Wood instruments
16 beats: Shaker instruments
   + Triangle on the last beat!

As people enter:
It's a revolving door and I play each of the songs 4 or 5 times, but it is a blast! As soon as new people come in the door, I try to shout out a "Thanks for coming in - grab a seat and it'll be your turn soon!" over the instruments.

How to finish: 
After each group, we give our parents high fives and show them how to put away the instruments we got out. Then I announce the next group. So simple!

I'm looking forward to our next parent night because I just got a grant for some xylophones, mallets and ALL the books that go with Mallet Madness (Thanks Tri Kappa Gamma!). I can't wait to teach these and let the kids show off to their parents!

What do you do to make Open House manageable?

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

How to Use Capturing Kids' Hearts in Music Class

One of the game-changing techniques I learned in my Capturing Kids' Hearts training is having a class rater.

Today I'm sharing about how I adapted Class Raters for music class, how to prep your students for critical thinking, plus a bonus extension activity!

Class Rater Basics

You might have used rubrics before in class, but you may want to discuss them again when you first start using a rater. We look for very specific things at first that can be easily tracked.

At the beginning of class, I assign one student to be our rater for behavior and one student to rate our "academic performance."

At the end of class, the rater gives the whole group a score (any scale you choose - I use either 1-4 or 1-10) based on the criteria they were looking/listening for.

*Yes - I actually hand-pick the rater the first few times. After that, I can use randomization, but I want to get some success under our belts with students that I know can handle this.

Behavior Rater:
- 1st grade: the behavior rater might be on the lookout for blurters that day, or the number of times someone had to sit out / sit down for misbehavior
- 3rd grade: they might be tracking the number of times the teacher had to say "Give me 5" to gain their attention
- 5th grade: they might be looking for a specific number of times the class lost points for playing an instrument out of turn (and whether it was an improvement from the last class)

When they give their short report at the end of the class, they can say something like, "I noticed that we had less blurts this time," or "We only lost points twice for playing out of turn," etc. They never mention names.

Academic Rater:
For the academic rater, they look at what they worked on during class and they get to determine if the class understood or had trouble. If the class has been having trouble stopping on the correct beat, or following the conductor's instructions, that's what we will track.

When they give their short report, they might say, "When we sang Dance Josey in canon the last time, our class had more people on the steady beat than the first time we sang it," or "When we held our imaginary beach balls, everyone moved them up and down at the same time by the end of class." (Don't your students answer in beautifully composed complete sentences?! ha!)

Prepping for Critical Listening

To prepare the students to be raters, they have to be used to listening critically to their performances, and paying attention to behavior in class. You have to practice it. (Shocking, I know!)

Before I assign a rater (or sometimes the same day), we practice rating smaller chunks of class. It's so fast to say, "Close your eyes. Give me a 3, 2, or 1 that tells how you think we did on ____."

I'm usually pretty specific about what we're looking for so that they only have to think about one thing at first.

Basic questions to start with:
- How did we stay together on the beat?
- How did we all start/stop?
- How was our blend? (Could you hear one person singing louder than the rest?)
- How did we follow the game directions? (or more specifically, did we all clap with our right hand on top, etc.)
- How was our balance? (Could you hear the sung melody louder than the hand clapping?)
- Did you hear any extra claps in the rests?
- Did anyone start talking after the song ended?

More advanced - You can take this as far as your musical skills will allow! You can address intonation, articulation, style, or any other concept or skill that you are working towards. Ask about two skills at the same time (Did we blend our voices and sing the correct dynamic level at measure 5?), or build on vocabulary words that you just learned.

I was AMAZED at how much better my students got just by bringing attention to the little things that make music come alive. If they've never been taught that we breathe together before the first word, how will they ever know they're supposed to be doing that?

"One Thing" - Extension Activity 

Take this idea one step further by having students tell you the "one thing" that was best/worst about that segment of class. Most of the time I prompt with the phrase, "One thing we did well; one thing we could do better?"

Sometimes I have to spin what they say a little to make it constructive for the class. "So you're saying that we sing better when our fingers aren't in our noses. Great!" BAHAHA.

Most of the time I get a wide range of answers - if you have a positive reinforcement system in your class (you should!), give more points for more critical answers/deeper thinking. This subconsciously prompts the other students to listen more carefully the next time to see if they could hear the same thing.

How do you help your students to listen more critically to their own music?

Share in the comments or connect over on FB!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Lori's Lists: Things I am Grateful For

It's three weeks into summer for me! Now that I'm more caught up on my sleep and some of the stress has drained away, I want to frame this year with some positives! 

Things I am Grateful For

- I had (2) classrooms to teach in, instead of being on a cart!

- I had fantastic principals, admin, and gen ed teachers to work with at both schools!

- I had a fantastic co-teacher that didn't freak out over all my texts and emailed questions plus she shared ideas with me that I used all year! Holla!

- My students improved tremendously over the year! (musicality, behavior)

- I memorized more than 50% of my students' names by the end of the year! Woo!

- Year one is done! I always feel like Year One at at a school is a beast unto it's own. 

- I still love my job! 

Overall, this year was fun - I tried out tons of new ideas (which I love) and new instrument activities  (which my students love). In the next few weeks, I think I will start to process what went well and what I want to use next year. 

For now, I'm going to go run errands in the middle of the day and enjoy hanging out with my puppy!

Happy Summer!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

All School Christmas Sing-Along? No sweat!

This is the craziest time of year for most musicians and music teachers - why is it that we cram so much into a time that's supposed to celebrate peace on earth? Ha!

After years of trying different formats for sing-alongs and Christmas assemblies, I'm trying out a half and half version.

My 4th graders will be on the risers, singing and performing 4 songs. This will be their special moment in the spotlight. Then, we will play the Reindeer, Christmas Tree, Candy Cane freeze game (see below for details!) and transition into a short sing-along, with words projected on the screen.

Here's my plan:
1. In the Spirit - this Music K8 song has a jazzy style that will make a great opening number and catch the kids' attention. We hold paper props for this song and use them to make our hand choreography pop. A third of the singers will hold large green triangles (trees), a third will hold yellow stars, and a third will hold red circles (ornaments).

For the main chorus, they bounce their props to the upper right, then upper left, then lower right, then lower left. The remainder of the song they wiggle the props up, down, to the left or right, etc. It's VERY simple.

2. After the opening number, I have a polka/rap version of Jingle Bells that the kids love. It starts off as a "serious" polka and then repeats in a rap style. When the rap music begins, I bring out 4-5 of my best dancers that will dance the "robot" while we sing and clap the beat.

3. Jingle Bell Rock seems to be a hit no matter where I'm teaching, so I bring it back every year. We do the hand jive for the A section, sway with a step-touch to the B section, pretend to play air guitar/saxophone for the bridge, and bring back the sway and hand jive as the music progresses.

I like to add a little silliness to each performance, so I have a bunch of inflatable guitars and saxophones - I have the front row step forward and pick up the inflatables for the bridge and they really get into it! (Get the 39" ones - not the little bitties!)

4. Hip Hop Reindeer is another song I've collected over the years from Music K8. It's a very repetitive (think: easy!) piece that the kids love and pick up on quickly.

The riser choreography is simple (clapping and pointing to the dancers in the front), and the dancers in the front get to make up their own moves.

One year, I invited the principal and several teachers to be 'hip hop reindeer' and surprise the kids - it was hilarious!

In the middle of our assembly, I want to get the kids up and stretch. Some years I do the Jingle Bell Dance that I found here, but this year, we will play the Reindeer, Christmas Tree, Candy Cane freeze game - it's always a HUGE hit!

5. Frosty the Snowman is a fun piece that the kids love but the words/story order tends to be tricky. I found an upbeat, more modern version here and project the words on the screen. While they are concentrating on the words, I bring out one kid in a snowman costume to give high-fives to the kids who are sitting in the audience. It makes this long (and sometimes tedious) song doable.

6. Feliz Navidad - the kids at every school I've taught at love this song for some reason (ha!), so I do it every year. I bring out "Mr. Feliz" and "Miss Feliz" dressed in costume with maracas to give high-fives to the kids while we sing. (Yes, repetitive, but the kids don't ever seem to mind!)

7. I have a great karaoke version of Rudolph that gives a few soloists a chance to shine - and then, you guessed it - I bring out one kid dressed as Rudolph to give high-fives as they walk around in the audience.

For riser choreography, every time we say "Rudolph" or "Reindeer" we do the reindeer pose, point to nose for "nose," point to eyes for "saw it," driving hands for "guide my sleigh" - very easy motions that act out the words.

8. 12 Days of Christmas - I learned this one from a dear choir director friend back in South Texas - and it's always a hit! I divide the singers & audience up into 12 groups (the first 4 or 6 groups assign to the performers on risers, so your kids can show the audience how it's done before they have to get up and move) and assign them each a day.

Everyone squats down and then we start to sing - on the first day only one group stands up and sings, "Partridge in a pear tree," the second day group 2 stands to sing, "2 turtle doves," and then squats back down while group 1 stands up to sing, "Partridge in a pear tree," etc.

By the time the audience has to stand up, they've seen 4 groups stand and know what to do. I assign some of my student leaders to each group to help them know exactly when it's their turn. It's a riot to do with parents - especially if they are good natured and do the hand motions with the kids.

This year I had so many kids sign up to be dress up characters, I decided we would dress up for the 12 days - I have 2 kids assigned to each day.

Here are the costume ideas that I used (but you can do whatever you like!):
1 - Partridge -  pin a boa across their shoulders to resemble wings; they will hold a tiny tree ($3 at Target!) that I've glued little pears onto

2 - Turtle Doves - I googled ninja turtle DIT costumes and came up with painting roasting pans green, adding straps and a bandana; they'll also get a set of cardboard wings with feathers. (Ninja Turtle Doves! Bwahaha!)
3 - French Hens - berets and feather boas
4 - Calling Birds - cell phones and feather boas
5 - Golden Rings - rings
6 - Geese-a-Laying - grey feather boas, easter basket with eggs
7 - Swans-a-Swimming - I googled DIY scuba costume and made air tanks from 2-liter bottles, borrowed some goggles and made cardboard flippers; add a feather boa and done!

8 - Maids - aprons
9 - Ladies Dancing - dressy dresses
10 - Lords-a-Leaping - crowns and king robes
11 - Pipers Piping - I made a DIY wrap skirt / kilt out of plaid fabric, add a beanie or beret and gave them each a recorder
12 - Drummers Drumming - Tie Dye Shirt, bandana on their head and a pair of drum sticks (I have fingerless leather gloves as well if you have those, it adds to the effect!)

The Game:

If you have an all-school sing-along or winter assembly coming up, you need to check out the newest addition to the Sweet Sounds store: Reindeer, Christmas Tree, Candy Cane - it's a freeze game for large groups.

Currently, I'm teaching every class how to play - then we will play a mega-round at the all-school sing-along right before we get out for break. The kids are so pumped - even the Kindergarteners have loved this!

Inside this resource pack, you get very specific, detailed directions for teaching this game. The idea is very simple, but it helps if you teach it ahead of time and practice so that the kids know the rules and aren't surprised.

I've included cards to print in case you don't have a screen or projector in your performance area. I have found that technology can be hit or miss when it comes to performances, so it's nice to have a backup plan in any case.

How to Play:
The game slides are projected on the screen - after we say the chant, students pick a pose and FREEZE! Then we click to the next slide to see who is out! It's that simple - but there are some helpful hints in the pack to keep the energy positive and upbeat. In this resource pack, I go through how to teach this game in your classroom step by step.

After we learned the "easy" version and moved to the "harder" version of the game, I added drums. My 4th graders will be leading the all-school sing-along in a few weeks, so they will be the ones playing drums at the assembly. If you are a classroom teacher playing this game, drums are optional, just have the kids chant the words.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Four Magical Phrases Every Music Teacher Should Know (and Use!)

Teacher talk... Eduspeak... Whatever you want to call it, there are some life-saving phrases that every music teacher should know - and use! It's almost magical how well they work!

Here are four (or five!) phrases I find myself repeating over and over in my class. Hopefully they will be helpful in your classroom!
"Now you sing!" 

This is one of the most basic phrases you can use to remind the students (and yourself!) that you won't be singing with them. 

Most beginning music teachers sing with their students for one main reason: we love to sing! It's an honest mistake that can be detrimental to vocal chords. It's best to model the song and echo-sing phrases, instead of singing along with students. 

It not only helps voice strain, it allows you to step back from the sound and listen closely. When I started really listening to my students, I began to hear wrong notes and intonation issues that needed addressing.

The first time you allow the students to sing without you, there will be a natural dip in the sound as they realize that you're serious and that they will have to carry the sound. And they do! 

I use this phrase a lot in Kindergarten and 1st grade and of course when I'm at a new school, while I'm training the students with non-verbal conducting cues. 

"Who's Going to be First?"

I use this phrase all the time in all levels of music! Usually, it is when we're getting ready to transition and I need students to move more quickly. Every time we are stacking up Unifix cubes, I say this and it's like magic! The students suddenly move with purpose and energy! 

Another way to use this phrase is when you're picking a student to go first. You've never seen students sit up straighter or "catch a bubble" faster than when you are trying to find someone to go first. 
"Tell me Later"

This phrase is a gentle way to let Kindergarteners know that it's not appropriate to share their story at that time. Has anyone else had a class derailed by the sweet stories of 5-year-olds? Teehee.

Before I learned this phrase, it happened daily. And of course, when one student shared, the rest of the students would raise their hands (or just start talking! LOL) and want to share as well. I've learned to let them know that I care, but that we won't have time for storytime during music every day.

"Repeat after me!" 

I have never found a phrase more useful for echo-singing than this one! I literally make them repeat that phrase, too! "Repeat after me!" "Repeat after me!" And then off we go!

It almost completely cuts out the stubborn few that refuse to wait until I model. I use it for giving instructions, echo-singing phrases, or just to get their attention! It's magical!

"No Big Deal! Maybe Next Time!"

This is one of the most-used phrases in every Kindergarten class of mine! I blogged about it here - check out how I use this to curb those super-sad/kinda-mad faces when they don't get a turn.

And the best part?!?!?!? Now I don't have to play every game 47,953 times! Hallelujah!

What magical phrases have you used in your elementary music classroom?