Centers to Practice Melody

Centers to practice melody: Fun ideas for melodic centers in your music room!

Looking for a fun way to practice re, or any melodic concept, in your music room? In this blog post, I’ll outline several different centers you can use to engage your students while improving their melodic understanding! 

This past week, I had third graders working in centers to practice re. I’ll outline the six centers I used, but will also give you some alternate centers, as there are some centers involving technology you may not have in your room. When I did this centers lesson, I let students choose which centers they wanted to go to, and when to switch; I just asked that they go to at least 3 of the 6 centers, and that they all go to the worksheet center. Here goes!

Center 1: Stick-to-Staff Foam Apples

To prepare for this center, I used Sharpie to write on foam apples. On the green apples, I wrote patterns in stick notation, and on the red apples, I wrote patterns in staff notation. Students had to match up the stick notation pattern to its staff notation pattern. I even had one class that flipped over the apples and played like Memory! You can find apples like the ones I used here.

Center 2: Poke Cards

At this center, students used cupcake pickers to “poke” the correct answer from a series of questions written on cards. I used my poke cards from my Thanksgiving centers set, but since Thanksgiving is over, you might be interested in my Christmas centers set. Because the correct answer is circled on the back, these cards are great for immediate feedback!

Center 3: Barred instruments

At this center, students chose one of three songs (“Hot Cross Buns,” “Closet Key,” or “Let Us Chase the Squirrel”) and figured out how to play, knowing that C=do, D=re, E=mi, and G=sol; I wrote a key on the board to help students. This was a wonderful way to improve their understanding of steps and skips, and students were able to self-differentiate (as I told them that “Hot Cross Buns” was the easiest, and “Let Us Chase the Squirrel” was the most difficult.)

Center 4: Worksheets

At this center, students practiced their melodic understanding of notes on the staff by tracing patterns with sol, mi, re, and do, then filling out missing solfa, then writing their own mi-re-do pattern on the staff. I used the worksheet from this set, but you may already have a worksheet that could work for this. (You might also check out this set of worksheets for re.) Since I had all students go to this center, I used it as an assessment.

Center 5: Specdrums

At this center, students used Specdrums to play known songs, such as “Closet Key” and “Bow Wow Wow.” Specdrums are tech toys that play different notes depending on what color you press with the ring; find out more about Specdrums here. I used Amy Abbott’s “Colorful Melodies” set, which is really wonderful for Specdrums, hand bells, and Boomwhackers. You do need at least one Specdrum and one iPad to use this center.

Center 6: Dash Robot

At this center, students used our new Dash Robot (whom we’ve named “Dexter”) with the xylophone accessory to make decisions about which direction he’d go for each phrase. Before the lesson, I programmed “Let us chase the squirrel” and “Hot Cross Buns” into the app, and then showed them how to choose a song, and how to change directions within the app. They LOVED working with him. Because Dash is a coding robot, there is so much more we can do with the robot…more to come!

Alternate Centers

If you don’t have some of the technology listed in this blog post, here are some more ideas:

  • Free composing cards: This set by Yellow Brick Road would be great for creating and dictating!
  • Free “Under the Sea” game: This is another stick-to-staff game that you could project onto an interactive board or have students simply play from your computer
  • Solfa mittens: You could have students compose or sing patterns with solfa mittens, like the ones found in Tanya's blog post.
  • Santa’s Stuck for re: You could project this onto your SMART board or interactive board and have students listen and choose the correct pattern. I’ve just updated all of my Santa’s Stuck games to be PowerPoints with embedded audio (instead of PDF) so if you bought one of the games and were having issues with audio in Adobe because of Flash, make sure you re-download your purchase.
  • Boom Cards for re: I love this set by Jane from Sillyomusic! You’ll need iPads or Chromebooks to use the game.

If you’re looking for motivation to try centers in your own classroom, I’m having a free centers challenge in January! From January 6-10, 2020, I’ll send out an email every day about creating and implementing centers, and will also do a FB Live every day. You’ll have a chance to interact with other music educators who are excited about using centers. I hope you’ll join us! You can sign up for the challenge here.

Looking for more centers ideas? This second grade set includes centers for re, as well as do, tika-tika, and half note.

I hope this has been helpful! Happy planning, and happy teaching!

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