Guest Post: Music March Madness

Music March Madness: Fun ideas for bringing March Madness into your music room!
I'm excited to have a guest blogger today! Tamarie Sayger will be writing about an activity to build excitement for March madness and music-making! You can read more about her at the end of this post; thanks to Tamarie for sharing her expertise!

March is known for basketball mania! The Final Four is the first full week of April, so you can take advantage of all the hype the week before it begins. Run this game with all your classes the week of March Madness.


I use this as a way to change things up a little during the middle of the spring semester.  It’s supposed to be very fun and positive, with just a little bit of competition to keep it interesting. 

What do I teach?

You teach your normal lesson plans! Nothing changes with that. This is just to be integrated through your objectives to build excitement. Here are some examples:
  If you’re working on rhythmic dictation, give out points based on how well they write their answers. Every student that gets it right can have a free throw. If it’s really tricky and only 5 students get it right the first try, give them a 3 point, try again and give out 2 points. Then help everyone fix their answer and give out 1 point free throws to everyone once they get it.
  If you’re working on individual singing, give everyone a point when they echo you individually.
  If you’re working on recorder, give out 2 points for excellent participation, 3 points for volunteers to play by themselves, and 1 point for everyone that is trying.

How do I prepare?

Print out the Music March Madness printable here ahead of time. I suggest copying each point value on a different color of paper to make it easier to add up points at the end of the day. If you have time you can laminate them to make them last for a few years. Cut them out and have a bunch (maybe 100 of each point value) ready to go. I always just put little pieces of tape on the back of them – glue dots might work well also. Keep them easily accessible and always have a few in your hands.
Make 4 posters and display them in the room with team names. I use brown butcher paper from the teacher’s lounge and draw a basketball court on it. Keep it simple because the ‘point basketballs’ will be the real decoration.
Explain to the students that you’ll be giving out points throughout class – show them the ‘point basketballs.’ When they get a point basketball they should IMMEDIATELY get up and go add it to their team’s poster. (They just slap it anywhere on their team’s ‘court.’)They need to do it quickly and quietly so they don’t get a ‘foul’ (lose their point.) 

How do I make up teams?

It depends on your setup. I suggest this way:
Kinder, 1st, 2nd – Each class is on the same team against other classes in the school.  So Mrs. Smith’s team comes and earns as many points as they can for the Duke Blue Devils or whoever. Then Mr. Jones’ class comes and earns as many points as they can for UNC Tarheels. 
3rd, 4th, 5th – Divide each class into 4 teams. They compete with each other to earn points for their team. So the 6 kids on Team A put all their points on Duke, Team B kids put all their points on UNC etc.
However, you know your students. If your older kids would be too competitive, just assign different classes to different teams as I suggest for the younger kids.

Any other rules?

Continue with your regular lesson plan and routine. Give out points constantly as students earn them. Try to keep it 100% positive. If any kids get a little too competitive you can call “foul” and take away a point from the board. (Take it off the board if possible, not away from the student. It’s less personal.) Turn it back around quickly and start giving them out and having fun again!

How do I track the score?

At the end of each day (and maybe once in the middle if you’re running out of ‘point basketballs’) take down the points and count them and post the current totals in your room (and maybe the hallway too). That way you can re-use those same ‘point basketballs’ each day. I announce at the end of the week (Friday right before dismissal) which team won on the school intercom to the whole school.

How many points do I give out?

As many as you can! You can even start giving them out as they walk in the door before they even know what they’re for. Hand them to kids that are coming in with good behavior, participating in opening song etc. Then just continue though out class. Suzy raises her hand to answer a questions – 2 points.  Johnny sings great – 3 points. Tommy is doing great hand signs – free throw. You’re only going to to this one week a year, so make the most of it. Try to be sure EVERY student gets at least one ‘point basketball’ during the class period. Even if it’s that they line up nicely at the end of class.

Final thought…

I know your students will love this game – and you will too! You will be amazed at the level of excitement, participation and great discipline during this week! 

Would this work for Band?

Do you (or someone you know) teach beginning band?  There is a very similar version of this with examples for band right here. You still use the basketball printable from above and merge this Music March Madness with the ideas for Band Super Bowl for great success in your band classes.

Tamarie Sayger is a music teacher in Texas with experience in elementary music, secondary band and private teaching.  The website she contributes to regularly, www.BandDirectorsTalkShop.com, is a collaboration of band directors, former band directors, administrators and private lesson teachers who provide practical articles you can use in your band room today.  She also has a TpT store hereLearn.  Share.  Inspire.

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