Managing materials for music centers

Picture of colorful binders

Have you been wanting to try centers, but aren't sure how to organize the materials, especially if doing the centers with more than one grade level? In this blog post, I'm detailing five ways to keep your materials organized and easy to access when implementing centers in your music room.

#1: Organize centers by concept

A great way to organize centers is by concept. Here is a video about organizing this way:

#2: Do centers with only one grade level at a time

To help manage centers, you might only do them with one grade level at a time, so you're not overwhelmed with materials. If you set up your centers on the perimeter of the room, then the other classes not doing centers can have their typical music class without getting tangled up with any centers materials.

#3: Use color to organize!

If you want to do centers with more than one grade level at a time, there are some creative ways to organize your materials so they don't become a mess. Let's say you are doing centers with first grade for ta and ti-ti, and centers for third grade for tika-ti. You could have similar centers set up, but with different materials at each center. If you have worksheets for ta and ti-ti, you could place them in a green folder, for example, and the worksheets for tika-ti could be in the same area, but in a red folder, so you can keep them separate. The pencils could be sitting at the center, ready for either grade level. If you have rhythm flashcards at an instrument center, you could have the ta and ti-ti flashcards printed on one color cardstock and the tika-ti flashcards printed on another. You could even have one rhythm card sitting behind the other, so that the only thing you have to do is flip the cards between grade levels, and they are ready to go! 

By having similar centers, but different color materials, it can help you quickly switch between one grade level and another, and not overwhelm your space.

#4: Keep it simple

I think sometimes music teachers feel like they have to have LOTS of materials for centers, but that's not true. Let's take the example above, for ta and ti-ti.

For center 1, students could complete a ta and ti-ti worksheet, so you'd need copies of the worksheet and pencils.

For center 2, students would play rhythm patterns on non-pitched percussion, so you'd need flashcards, music stands for the flashcards to sit on, and non-pitched percussion (I keep mine in this IKEA cart, for easy accessibility.)

For your other two centers, you could do something low key. Maybe at center 3, students play with a rhythm reading game (which you can download for free below), on your interactive white board, and for center 4, you could pull some picture books from your bookshelf that have repeated ta and ti-ti phrases, such as “Orange Pear Apple Bear,” “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” or “Please Puppy Please.” If you already have these in your collection, it's just a matter of pulling them and putting them in a pile! You don't need to make a bunch of copies, or create loads of materials, to keep students engaged!

#5: Try digital centers

If you can't have students share materials yet because of COVID-19 regulations, you could have students do digital centers instead. This works especially well if students are 1:1 Chromebooks or iPads. You could have them bring their device to music class, then have them complete a virtual classroom, a choice board, or a HyperDoc during centers. It's still similar to centers, because they have choice, and are practicing concepts in different ways, but then you don't have to worry about anything besides students having their devices, and having the digital materials ready to go!

Check out this blog post, with some free HyperDocs.

Looking for some free rhythm centers? Sign up below to receive three free rhythm centers, for ta and ti-ti! Happy teaching!

4 Responses

  1. I think centers will play an important part in rebuilding programs interrupted by 18 months of async, virtual, and hybrid learning. Looking forward to next year seeing my groups 40 min in person twice a week & not once per week 30 min with a long list of restrictions from a cart while concurrently teaching.

    Differentiation, blended learning, centers will be key in scaffolding learning for easy review as I personally had a wide variety of participation.

    1. I completely agree, Lisa! I think centers will be super helpful to review and teach concepts next year!

  2. Thank you so much for this information. I do something very similar with stations. Not only is it refreshing to hear new ideas, it is also comforting to know Iteach like others. Have a great 21-22 school year.

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Hi, I'm Aileen

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