Monday, July 10, 2017

Things That I Wish I Had Known My First Year - Part 1

This is the beginning of a series of posts for first year teachers about first year teaching. There is no substitute for experience, nor is there any pill you can take or book you can read that will give you experience. Beginning to teach with no experience is one of the most difficult things you will go through in life, especially if you do not have an experienced mentor to rely upon. However, by reading about the first year experience, you will have a better perception of what first year teaching will really be like.

What is the first thing I should do after I accept my new teaching position?

When I had accepted my first job offer, it was in March of 2011. I had about six months to get ready for teaching, so here is what I did: I spent about two weeks formulating ideas about how to teach K-12 Music, and then I spent the rest of the summer playing mind-numbing amounts of video games. Big mistake. I thought that I could spend about two weeks before the school year started getting my classroom together, and that was also a big mistake. As a new teacher, I really didn't understand how much stuff there was to go through: file cabinets, desk drawers, bookshelves full of mostly old music teaching books, bookshelves full of mostly old band music and choir music, containers of stuff that had been used in previous plays and music programs, shelves full of instruments in both good and bad conditions, closets full of really old uniforms... you get the idea. A lot more than I could handle in two weeks. So here's my suggestion: the first thing you should do when you accept a new job is to head there as soon as possible and start going through the stuff. Figure out what materials you need to organize right now (desk drawers, filing cabinets for important documents) and what materials you will most likely be using at the beginning of the school year (instruments, band and choir music, lesson plan or curriculum books, computers, etc.) and figure out where you can put all of these things so that they are readily available when you need them. Decide how you want the room to look and function, and then start working towards putting things where you think they should go. Also, decide which things are okay to just leave there for now - like that shelf full of Silver-Burdett books from the 1960's - and which things need to go in the trash can. BE VERY CAREFUL not to throw away things that shouldn't be thrown away. Most schools have a detailed process for throwing out old equipment or books. But a lot of times, there are cheap instruments that are simply beyond repair, file cabinets full of photocopied music, packets of home-made teaching materials that you probably won't ever use, and a variety of other junk that is just sitting around taking up space. Check with the principal, and then chuck it in the bin or send it away to the magical land of school storage. Depending on how long it's been since someone has done this, it might take a very long time to go through your room or it might be an afternoon project. Assume that it wasn't very high on the priority list of the teacher who left at the end of last year. Figuring out what you have and what you don't have sets you up for the next step: how are you going to manage day-to-day paperwork and what are your classroom rules going to be?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What is the goal of music education?


The goal is ultimately to put on a good concert. I mean, you can include things like music theory and composition and identifying world instruments and music appreciation, but all of those things culminate towards one goal: to put on a good performance. In a poorly oversimplified way, that is what any music program is all about: putting on a good concert.

The question then arises, what does it take to put on a good concert? 

One thing that matters is having the right repertoire. That detail mainly comes down to the foresight of the conductor (me), but also is limited by three factors: the ability level of the students, the instrumentation of the group, and the availability of the music.

The second thing that makes a good concert is the quality of the performance. A high-quality performance does not insult the ears. There are very few wrong notes, there is good balance and good tone quality and good intonation. Rhythm aligns with the beat, and the beat is the same from one musician to the next. In a good performance, the performers listen to one another and communicate with one another through their music.

Now, let's consider how this applies to the Dutton/Brady music program.

A very large part of my job is to select the right music each year for each concert. I then design a series of exercises and assignments to be used throughout the rehearsal process. Rhythm and scales are foundational to all music, so they are a part of each day's lesson. If the goal is to put on a good concert, then I need to choose music that meets that goal according to the requirements listed above.

The quality of the performance is very much dependent on the musical ability of the students. They need to know how to work their instrument or voice in order to produce the required sound. They also need to know what the music should sound like: what their part should sound like and how it relates to the entire piece. Furthermore, they should be able to identify any errors in their own performance and practice so that they can play or sing everything correctly.

But what about elementary general music classes?

There are two ways to structure an elementary curriculum. The first way is to treat elementary music as if it were just a prerequisite for band and choir. In other words, the main goal of general music is to prepare students for junior high and high school. The focus should be on learning to read music and perform accurately on voice or instruments. In this approach, elementary music is the means to an end. The second way to structure elementary music is to make it an end within itself, or teaching the music for music's sake. This type of curriculum focuses on providing musical experiences that are appropriate for childhood in such a way that children learn to enjoy music. The goal of this type of program is to pass on our rich musical heritage to the younger generation lest it be forgotten.

To me, it is obvious that the goal of elementary music should be a balance between these two types of programs. Young students should be taught certain songs for music's sake and other certain songs for the sake of learning to read music and perform accurately. They should have some performance experience and gain a basic understanding of music theory and performance, but the daily activities and experiences in the classroom are equally important. Therefore, the goal of music education at the elementary level is both to prepare for junior high ensembles and to learn about the joys of music.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How Not to Arrange

I had a great idea to make my students in third and fourth grade come up with their own arrangement for Aura Lee to perform at the Spring Concert. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. It meets the new standards for composing and it gives the students a project to work on as a class. There is probably a good way to go about planning a series of lessons that culminate in a good arrangement that is entirely student-made, but I definitely found the way NOT to present this project:

My students were doing a great job with singing Aura Lee and playing it on their recorder as well. However, a small group of students were not successful at playing on the recorder, including one student with disabilities. I didn't want to single anybody out on the "triangle part" (a part that I would have created to be as simple as possible so that students who couldn't play the recorder could still be successful), and I wanted to challenge the students and meet the new standards by allowing them to come up with their own arrangement. So far, this wasn't a bad idea.

When it came to creating new parts for the song, I should have followed the Orff Method more closely - that is, I should have had the students sing the song together and come up with an ostinato pattern using body percussion only. Then, after the students were able to perform the ostinato and sing successfully, I should have added one instrument in place of the body percussion. This would have been enough to satisfy both the challenge and the standards, or even a second ostinato and instrument could have been added.

Instead of following a logical plan like that, I chose a more chaotic route: I brought out all of the instruments at once, allowed students to choose any instrument that they wanted, and then I played Aura Lee on the piano and asked the students to improvise an accompaniment on their instrument. Now, the result was obviously a chaotic mess. I did accomplish one objective of getting students to improvise. Actually, accomplish is the wrong word. After the first chaotic attempt, the new task was to try and make the chaotic mess into an acceptable accompaniment, which so far has been unsuccessful. I feel bad having to tell certain students, "No, your part doesn't fit, sorry." It's just been a backwards process from the beginning.

How do I fix this mess before the concert in two weeks? I don't think that it would hurt to go back to the beginning and spend part of a period starting from scratch. I mean, have the students sing the song and create a body percussion ostinato, then add some drums and tambourines to it. I also don't think it would hurt to keep the triangle part that the students already worked on. Everything else, however, must go. I also think that the song form needs to be one of the "compositional parameters" that I assign, rather than have the students try to figure it out. I guess we'll try it on Thursday and see how it goes.

Monday, April 3, 2017

How Kodaly Got It Wrong

Zoltan Kodaly was a great music educator who created a whole generation of better musicians and better music teachers through his comprehensive method. There are many things about Kodaly's method that resonate with my own curriculum planning, but there is one major thing and one minor thing that I believe he got wrong:

One of the biggest issues that I have with Kodaly's method is how music teachers have to change old folk song melodies to fit the proper solfege progression, simple things like leaving the fa out of "Hush Little Baby," and many more examples. Second to this is how some songs have completely changed or how so-mi patterns have been added to chants as if they had always been that way. In other words, there are many examples of Kodaly-music that are not authentic music. Granted, I may be misunderstanding how the Kodaly method works, but I feel like even kindergarten students should listen to and sing songs that include all the notes of the scale, not just so-mi-la.

The other minor issue that I have with Kodaly is that he leaves out an important source of music: student- and teacher-composed songs. I completely agree that music to be studied should come from culturally and historically authentic and significant sources, and that high quality Western Classical music should be part of the curriculum, but it seems like Kodaly excludes the idea of creating a song specifically for the students or specifically for teaching a musical concept.

There are many things about the Kodaly system that I like and agree with, especially the concept of experience-before-theory, and I plan on using some of Kodaly's ideas every day in my lessons, but maybe because I'm just stubborn, I plan on finding my own collection of songs to teach through.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Eclectic Approach in Elementary Music: Lesson Plan Format

Lesson planning has long been a controversial topic in my mind. Some of my best lessons, including one with the kindergarteners this week, have been completely improvised, while some of my worst lessons, especially those during my first two years of teaching, were meticulously written out beforehand. Over the last six years, I have experimented with several different types of lesson plans. What works the best for me is to have a lesson plan that is (a) somewhat flexible depending on how the students are doing on a particular day, (b) expandable or contractible depending on how much time we spend on various activities, and (c) the perfect balance between too-detailed and not-detailed-enough. Planning for substitutes is a completely different ball game, so I am going to focus on how I plan for myself and how those plans can be clearly written as to be easily-interpreted by other music teachers.

First, let me give a little bit of backstory about how I have arrived at my current lesson-plan form: when I was in college, one of my least favorite classes was my General Music Methods class. Not because 80% of the time we were asked to behave like little children while one of my peers got up to teach the class, but because of how detailed our lesson plans had to be. The lesson plan format requirements in this class and even in my master's degree courses were unbearable because I realized even then that there was no way that I would be able to dedicate hours and hours of planning for every single 30 minute lesson. I can't stand lesson plan formats that require all of the following: Title of Lesson, Required Materials, Objectives, State/National Standards, Procedures, Assessment, Etc. Furthermore, I can't stand to read lessons that are written in this format, like I'm actually going to do everything that this person has written down. Look, we are all going to modify lessons to fit our own situations, so just save yourself a step and write lessons that are intentionally open, even vague. One other note: I think that it is a great idea to write extremely detailed lesson plans while in college because it makes you think of details that you might otherwise miss. However, it's just not practical to do that in the real world, or the "trenches" as I've heard it called.

Sorry, I got a little off topic there. When I first started teaching, I tried to follow the lesson plan templates that I was given in college, and what I found out real fast was that I didn't actually have enough time to create a new lesson for every single class. Being the workaholic that I am, I spent an average of 14 hours a day working at my first full-time job trying to get my lessons done. (The worst part was that the majority of my lessons turned out to be total failures.) After the first three months, I was totally burnt out and looking for a new line of work. That's when I came across my first curriculum book. Imagine that, someone has already gone through the trouble of planning lessons for me, how wonderful! Following a curriculum book is probably what saved my career, but after a few years of following someone else's ideas, I had a few of my own that I wanted to try. Studies have shown that the majority of music teachers follow the same path that I did, beginning with a published curriculum and gradually shifting to their own. I started modifying lessons and adding other activities and songs into the mix. Eventually, I got to a point where I wanted to try writing my own curriculum for elementary music. (As far as band and choir go, I have always designed my own rehearsals based on the repertoire and the students. I think that's about the only way to do it, aside from including skill development and sight-reading, and maybe a little bit of theory and history.)

My first lesson plans were mostly typed and sometimes handwritten. I followed the following format: Objectives, Materials, Procedures, Assessment. I wrote the Procedure and Assessment portions in full sentences, and it usually took me longer to write the lesson plan than to actually teach it. As I noted before, most of these lessons did not work the way that I had planned, and it was really discouraging to go through so much work every day just to see my plans crumble before me and fail. At first, I wrote all of my lessons for the day on one document and tried to follow it throughout the day. I put all of my lesson plans in a binder so that I would have a record of what I'd already taught. Eventually, I transitioned into writing my lessons without the section format. Materials were obvious enough, and besides, creating the materials was usually the problem, not remembering which materials to use. Assessment was usually built into the Procedures section, and sometimes I would still include the Objectives at the beginning. I also transitioned from writing full sentences into writing sentence fragments, mainly because the only one using the lesson plan was me, and I could still understand the fragments just as easily, meaning less work for the same result. Up until this year, I always tried to fit every class's lesson plan onto one piece of paper for the day, sometimes typed and sometimes hand-written.

Before I go on to describe the current lesson plan format that I use and will use for this project, I need to vent. I understand that it is part of the administrator's job to know what the teachers are doing in the classroom. I know that they have a difficult job and that the easiest way for them to do this is to request lesson plans from the teachers. However, I cannot explain how useless, burdensome, and cumbersome it is to turn in lesson plans each week or ahead of time to the administration (but I will try, because I'm venting). First, the lessons that I actually teach depend on how students respond to my instruction. If they don't learn the whole song on Monday, then it changes my whole lesson plan for what I'm going to do on Wednesday when I see them again. The idea that I have a detailed plan ahead of time is absolute nonsense, and frankly, insulting - here's why: music is not like other subjects. I can use one song to teach a hundred different concepts, or a hundred songs to teach one concept. Every lesson that I teach is intricately designed based on how the students are doing that day, not on some book or curriculum that they have to follow. Hell, I usually don't even have an idea of what the students will be doing two weeks from now, but I guarantee that they are getting a lot better education when I'm tailoring lessons individually rather than following some predetermined set of activities where they go through the same motions every single year. Secondly, the administration gains almost zero useful knowledge from my lesson plans unless I write them out in explicit detail, which as I've already stated, is simply impractical. Not only that, they probably wouldn't understand phrygian from whole tone, or mixed meter from syncopation, or even a whole note from a half note unless they've had musical training. The idea that I'm turning them in ahead of time so that a substitute would be able to use them in case I had to take emergency leave is equally stupid for the same reasons. Finally, there is a legal requirement to turn in my lesson book at the end of the year, at least in the three districts where I have worked, so it's not like they won't get them at some point. Please, just wait until the end of the year to ask me for my lessons. Even if my one-week-ahead-of-time lessons were actually accurate, what benefit is there in receiving a copy of my lesson plans each week? Huh? . . . What's that, there's no benefit? . . . That's what I thought. It's an absolute waste of time, so please let me do my lesson plans in peace and you can see them at the end of the year or whenever you want if you just stop by and ask to see what I've been teaching over the past few days, weeks, or months. You want to know what I'll be teaching next week? Well that's too bad, because I don't know yet, and that's okay because I develop my plans on a day-to-day basis because that's what works the best for me.

Now, here's what works best as far as lesson planning goes:

I type up a lesson for each class during my morning prep period. I begin by looking for materials to teach - namely: song repertoire, listening repertoire, music games and dances, music theory, history, and music notation. While doing this, I look at the previous week's/month's lessons to see what skills and songs we have covered recently, and I also decide on whether we need to spend another lesson learning old material or begin learning new material, or a mixture of  both. I ask myself, "Is it worth staying on last lesson's songs to continue refining them, or have the students learned and improved as much as they are effectively able to thus far?" At some point, I can tell when the students are simply tired of working on Au Claire De La Lune, or they aren't making any more progress, and it's time to move on to the next unit. Therefore, I have decided to design this project so that the teacher can stay on one unit for (reasonably) as long or as short as they want before moving on to the next unit. Back to the lesson plan format, I type up each lesson in a Word document and save it as a number reflecting the date in that class's folder. Each lesson is simply titled "[Name of class] [Date]" with no punctuation so that it saves easily without having to rename the file. 

As for the substance of my plans, sometimes I do include Objectives as the first line. The objectives are always listed in shorthand and are usually more of a tool for organizing my thoughts than serving some other purpose. I always try to include no fewer than two and no more than four objectives in each lesson, but I don't always write them down - sometimes you have to read into the lesson to find them. Usually, I write my lessons based on the procedure or activities that the students will follow. I number each activity starting with one, and I briefly describe what the students will be doing. Sometimes that includes what the formation is or whether they are standing or sitting in chairs, sometimes it includes direct quotations of things that I would say or ask, sometimes it includes whether I am accompanying on an instrument or not, and always it includes what I am doing and how the students are expected to respond. When I am doing something new or just not sure of how long each activity will take, I try to estimate the length of each procedure by putting it in parenthesis at the end, like (5m) for five minutes. I always try to establish some type of relationship and flow from one activity to the next. Informal assessment opportunities are usually built into the lesson plan, though occasionally there is a need for formal assessment and occasionally there is no assessment at all. When finished, I save the plan into a folder and print out a copy to use during the class. At this point, it takes me about 15 minutes on average to completely plan a 30-45 minute class, and the lesson plans are actually useful. 

For the administration, I keep a weekly summary of lesson plans in a three-ring binder. Usually I just write down the titles of the songs, number of the exercise (for recorder and band), one-two-or-three word description of an activity, or basic phrases like "voice warm-up" or "solfege/rhythm patterns". Sometimes, for my own benefit, I will include solfege letters (e. g., SMRD) or rhythm notation. My current administrator does not require national standards to be included with each lesson, but if they did, I would just make it up/fake it as long as it was close and not spend too much time on it. Funny enough, one of my college textbooks in my master's program actually suggested the same thing.

Now, for the Eclectic Approach lesson format:

I plan on grouping songs and activities into units. For example, Mary Ann, Lost My Gold Ring, Sambalalele, and Shake the Papaya Down are all Caribbean-themed songs, so I would probably choose three of the four to teach during a 35 minute lesson, and use that group of songs for three or four lessons in a row. Each unit would have a brief description of the similarities and differences in each song, focusing on the similar musical concepts that could be taught. The description would also include the suggested grade level and approximate sequence for this unit. In other words, some units would work better at the beginning of the third-and-fourth-grade rather than the end of the year. Next, I would include the notation for the first song and a suggested procedure for introducing it, teaching it, and using it to develop knowledge and skills, followed by the same information for the second song, the third song, and so forth. I would also highlight various possibilities for each song, especially if there is a good opportunity for adding instruments, teaching notation, playing musical games, dancing, or performing a particular song. Some songs work well in a variety of units, and other songs may be useful the whole year long. Essentially, I want a reader-friendly format that says, "(1) Here's how this song goes, (2) here's a good way to teach it, and (3) here's a few ways to teach musical concepts and develop skills with this song." The truth of the matter is, any song can be used to teach any concept, and every song should be used to teach good musicianship, that is, playing, singing, responding, or moving accurately and expressively to the music. 

Eclectic Approach in Elementary General Music: Folk songs by grade level


Introduction: Eclectic Approach for Comprehensive Curriculum in Elementary General Music





At my school, I only teach three different elementary music classes: Preschool/Kindergarten, First/Second, and Third/Fourth grade. This poses some unique challenges and opportunities, the first of which is curriculum. Let's suppose that I have a great third grade curriculum from some book resource that I want to use. I can teach it to the third and fourth graders this year, but then next year the fourth graders will have already gone through the entire curriculum and would just be repeating every lesson. Okay, now suppose that I can take my third grade curriculum and split it up between two years, that way the third graders will get half of it this year and the other half when they are in fourth grade. I think we're on the right track, but what about my fourth grade curriculum? If I try teaching it to the third graders, then I'll have to modify it because otherwise it would be too advanced (hypothetically). If I try splitting it between two years again, then the students will struggle through the first half of the fourth-grade curriculum (again, hypothetically). This same problem affects my kindergarten/preschool curriculum and my first/second grade curriculum. What is there to do?

In order to solve this problem, I have been working on what I would call a "three-tiered" curriculum. The first tier is a large collection of songs, lessons, and activities for preschool and kindergarten. The second tier is a collection for first- and second-grade students, and the third tier is for third- and fourth-grade students. Here's the mathematical breakdown: if I have the students for 40 weeks in a school year, minus about five weeks for the Christmas program, and each class learns about three or four songs and/or activities per week, that means that each year, I will need to have between 120 and 125 songs and activities for each tier. Multiply that number by two so that the curriculum is not repeated while a student is in the same tier, and that brings the number to about 250 songs and activities for each tier, or 750 songs and activities for the entire curriculum. Ideally, each of these activities would have a detailed lesson plan and music notation and/or a recording to accompany each lesson plan. Many activities would also require additional materials such as ribbons and scarves, worksheets, recorders, and a variety of other instruments.

My three-tiered curriculum is based on the eclectic approach to music education - that is, each music lesson should include (a) singing [Kodaly], (b) playing instruments [Orff], (c) listening and movement [Dalcroze] (d) rhythm and pitch training [Gordon/Feierabend], and (e) music appreciation/theory/history. Furthermore, it is designed around (a) folk songs, (b) folk dances, and (c) Western and world music. The curriculum also includes a book/binder of notation and lesson plans for all 750 songs and activities organized into three tiers.

The book/binder begins with 250 folk songs with notation and lesson plans in each of three sections: Level One (Preschool/Kindergarten), Level Two (First/Second grade), and Level Three (Third/Fourth grade).

Level One: Preschool/Kindergarten

  1. A Peanut Sat - one verse, very short song, simple and humorous, 2/4 major I-V-V-I
  2. Ally Bally Bee - Scottish folk song, short melody, 1-3 verses
  3. Alphabet Song - major key, AABA form 4/4, same tune for “Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle”
  4. April Cuckoo
  5. Bingo - repetitive, omission of letters on repeat, 4/4 major
  6. Birthday Song
  7. Dance Thumbkin Dance - finger play and song, repetitive, 4/4 major
  8. Do As I’m Doing
  9. Down By the Station - short and simple, DRM
  10. Eensy Weency Spider - major 6/8, short song and actions
  11. Five Little Monkeys - can be sung to Hush Little Baby, or spoken
  12. Frog in the Meadow
  13. Head Shoulders Knees and Toes - short song, body parts, quick melody
  14. Hokey-Pokey - song with dance
  15. How Many Days - short, days of the week, 12/8, major
  16. Hunt the Cows - “wake up you sleepyheads”
  17. I’m a little teapot - 4/4 major, short melody
  18. If You are wearing Red - action song with colors, same melody as Happy and You Know It
  19. If You’re Happy and you Know It - multiple verses, short and easy melody, repetitive
  20. It’s Raining, It’s Pouring - short melody
  21. Little Bo Peep - short melody, several verses
  22. Little Red Cabose
  23. Mary Had a Little Lamb - MRD melody, 4/4 major, repetition, several verses
  24. Merrily we Roll Along
  25. Mister Sun - simple song, some repetition and contrast, 6/8 major, I-IV-I-V-I
  26. Old Brass Wagon
  27. Old MacDonald - animal sounds, multiple verses, simple melody, 4/4 major
  28. On My Head My Hands I Place - DRM melody, action song, 4/4 major
  29. One Two Three or Four
  30. Pony Macaroni - short MSL melody, tempo stops “he trots and trots and then he stops.”
  31. Shoo Fly - short folk song, two sections, 2/4 major
  32. Skip to My Lou - folk song, three verses and chorus
  33. Taxi, Taxi Stop for Me
  34. Teasing Mr. Crocodile - five little monkeys, repetitive with countdown verses
  35. Teddy Bear - song with actions, SM melody
  36. Ten In the Bed - short melody, very repetitive, countdown verses
  37. The Muffin Man - repetitive 2/4 major, 2-3 verses, short melody
  38. There She Goes
  39. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - simple melody, 4/4 major
  40. Walk and Stop
  41. Welcome Boys and Girls - “can you clap and count to eight”
  42. What Shall We Do When We All Go Out?
  43. Wheels on the Bus - song with actions, repetitive, many verses
  44. Yankee Doodle - traditional American, 2/4 major, AB form
  45. A Sailor Went to Sea
  46. Aiken Drum - quick 6/8, short melody with repetition, multiple verses
  47. Can You Follow Me? - “it’s always 1, 2, 3” song with actions
  48. Circle Round the Zero
  49. Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands - same tune as “old joe clark”
  50. Closet Key
  51. Did You Ever See a Lassie
  52. Drive Your Car, Do-oh Do-oh
  53. Fiddle-Dee-Dee
  54. Five Little Ducks - 4/4 major, repetitive verses, counting down
  55. Good Night Ladies
  56. Ha-Ha This-a-Way
  57. Hello Everybody
  58. Here We Go Loopty Loo - can be sung with Hokey Pokey actions
  59. Hey Betty Martin
  60. Hop on One Foot
  61. Hop, Old Squirrel
  62. I’m Gonna Sing - spiritual
  63. Mouse Mousie
  64. Mulberry Bush - repetitive, song with actions, verses and chorus
  65. Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone - short melody, 6/8 major
  66. Polly Wolly Doodle - folk song, quick melody, several verses, 2/4 major
  67. Pop Goes the Weasel - short song, 6/8 major
  68. Sally Go Round the Sun
  69. The Boatman Dance
  70. This Little Light of Mine - traditional spiritual, multiple verses
  71. Willaby Wallaby - an elephant sat on me
  72. Hot Cross Buns

Level Two: First/Second Grade

  1. A-Hunting We Will Go
  2. Alice the Camel - same melody as “dem bones”, repetitive song with counting, DRM melody,
  3. America - “my country tis of thee”, several verses, long phrases
  4. America the Beautiful - “oh beautiful for spacious skies”
  5. Apples and Bananas - various vowels, I-V-V-I, 6/8 major
  6. A-Tisket, A-tasket - two short verses I-V 4/4, major
  7. Au Clair De La Lune
  8. Baby Bumblebee - three short verses with actions, quick melody, major 4/4
  9. Bill Grogan’s Goat
  10. Billy Boy - old folk song, multiple verses, slow 4/4
  11. Boom Makaleli - song with game, short repeated melody
  12. Criss-Cross Applesauce
  13. Do Your Ears Hang Low - quick words and melody
  14. Donald Duck - “one legged”
  15. Down on Grandpa’s Farm - “we’re on our way, we’re on our way on our way to…”
  16. Down to the Baker’s Shop
  17. En Roulant, Ma Boule - repetitive chorus, multiple verses
  18. Farmer In the Dell - 12/8 major, many verses with new characters
  19. Five Little Pumpkins - can be sung to Twinkle Twinkle, halloween, soloists
  20. For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow
  21. Frere Jacques - french, round, major 4/4
  22. Get On Board
  23. Go ‘Round the Mountain
  24. Go All Around the Village
  25. Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  26. Goosey, Goosey, Gander - short melody
  27. Here Comes a Bluebird
  28. Hush Little Baby - many verses, short melody
  29. I Hear Thunder - same melody as Frere Jacques
  30. I Want to Rise
  31. I Went to the Animal Fair - 8ve melody, major 6/8, somewhat short
  32. If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops - two/three verses, funny, easy melody similar to allouette, goofy “aah” section, 12/8 major I-I-V-I-I-V-I-I
  33. Jim Along Josie
  34. Jockie - “here comes jockey, bompsie bompsie”
  35. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt - repetitive, various dynamics
  36. Johnny on the Woodpile
  37. Johnny Works With One Hammer
  38. Kumbaya
  39. Lightly Row
  40. Little Bunny Foo Foo - short melody with spoken interludes, counting down
  41. Little Red Wagon - same melody as “10 Little Indians”, multiple verses, repetitive
  42. Little White Duck - multiple verses, 12/8 major, animal sounds
  43. Long, Long Ago - major 4/4, stepwise melody, AB form, multiple verses
  44. Lucy Locket
  45. Michael Finnegan - quick words and melody, folk song, 4/4 major
  46. Miss Lucy - several verses “miss lucy had a baby”
  47. My Hat has Three Corners - simple song, four lines, leave out words on repeat
  48. Noble Duke of York
  49. Old Grey Cats are Sleeping
  50. Oliver Twist
  51. On Top Of Old Smokey - ¾ major, multiple verses, alternative lyrics
  52. Over In the Meadow - 10 verses, pleasant melody, animal song
  53. Punchinella
  54. Remember Me
  55. Reuben and Rachel
  56. Riding in Buggy
  57. Ritsch Ratsch
  58. Rock a Bye Baby - 6/8 major, traditional lullaby, 1-3 verses
  59. Rocky Mountain High
  60. Sally in the Kitchen
  61. See the Kangaroo Go By
  62. She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain - 4/4 major, repetitive, multiple verses, interjections
  63. Shortnin’ Bread - repetitive, southern folk song, multiple verses and chorus
  64. Six Little Ducks - three verses, same melody as Five Little Ducks
  65. Somebody’s Knocking At Your Door
  66. The Bear Went Over the mountain - repetitive, 3 verses, fermata
  67. The More We Get Together - repetitive, same melody as “Ever Seen a Lassie”
  68. The North Wind Doth Blow
  69. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly - additive, multiple verses, ¾ major
  70. There’s a Little Wheel - repetitive, optional interjections, many verses
  71. This is the Song That Never Ends
  72. This Old Man - counting song, ten verses
  73. Three Little Monkeys - “in a peanut shell”
  74. Three Times Around
  75. Tingalayo
  76. Ton Moulin
  77. Up the Ladder - to the tune of Shortenin Bread
  78. What Will You Be (On Halloween)
  79. When I First Came To This Land
  80. When The Saints Go Marching - DRMFS melody, 1-3 verses, traditional
  81. William He Had Seven Sons
  82. Wishy Washy Wee
  83. All Around the Kitchen (cockadoodledoodledoo) - verses with movement, repeated chorus, blues/minor key, shuffle beat
  84. All the Pretty Little Horses - minor key, slower, ¾ time, A and B sections, long phrases
  85. Auld Lang Syne
  86. Captain, Don’t Side Track Your Train - “number 3 in line, comin in on time”, minor key
  87. Cut the Cake
  88. Draw a Bucket of Water
  89. Froggie Went A-Courtin - story song, many verses, uh-hmm response part, 9th range, 4/4 major
  90. Going Over the Sea - “when I was one I ate a bun, going over the sea” “going over going under stand at attention like a soldier with a 1 2 3”, 6/8 major arpeggio, actions
  91. Grandfather’s Whiskers - same melody as “Noble Duke of York”
  92. Home on the Range - classic folk song, ¾ major, 1-3 verses
  93. London Bridge - multiple verses, short melody, repetition, folk song
  94. Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be
  95. Red River Valley - ¾ major, folk song, long phrases, several verses and chorus
  96. Row, Row, Row Your Boat - 12/8 major, sung as round
  97. Sailing, Sailing - short 6/8, folk song, repeat with changed melody
  98. Skin and Bones
  99. The Ants Go Marching - repetitive, many verses, minor 6/8
  100. The Bear (The Other Day) - echo song, multiple verses, 2/2 major
  101. There’s a Hole in the Bucket - many verses, repetitive, short melody
  102. Welcome All - January, same tune as Make New Friends
Level Three: Third/Fourth Grade


  1. Alabama Gal
  2. Allouette - French, 2/4 - 6/8 time, additive, DRM melody, major, AB form
  3. Ama Lama
  4. Aura Lee
  5. Battle Hymn of the Republic
  6. Blow the Man Down - sea chantey, quick ¾, solo and chorus
  7. Buffalo Gals - several verses, quick melody, 2/4 major, syncopated
  8. Camptown Races
  9. Chick-a-li-lee-lo
  10. Dis Solda La
  11. Doctor Bell
  12. Do-Re-Mi-Fa - traditional round
  13. Down In the Valley - I-V-V-I, ¾ waltz, major, two-three verses, classic folk
  14. Ezekiel Saw the Wheel
  15. Follow the Drinking Gourd
  16. Good Morning - “i’m feeling good today”
  17. Great Green Gobs
  18. Green Grass Grew All Around - possible echo song, additive verses, fast
  19. Hey, Ho! Nobody’s Home
  20. I Got a Letter - “far away” vocal ostinato
  21. I’ll Rise When the Rooster Crows
  22. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad - three distinct sections, folk song
  23. Kookaburra - short song, 2-3 verses, australian folk song
  24. Little Tommy Tinker - short two/four part round
  25. Littlest Worm - same melody as “There was a Bear”, echo song, multiple verses
  26. Liza Jane
  27. Lost My Gold Ring
  28. Make New Friends - round
  29. Mary Ann (Caribbean)
  30. Miss Mary Mack - several verses
  31. My Aunt Came Back
  32. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean - ¾ waltz major, 2-3 verses and chorus
  33. My Grandfather’s Clock - multiple verses, chorus, longer song, 4/4 major
  34. Nobody Likes Me - funny song about eating worms
  35. Oh My Darlin Clemintine - many verses, 8ve melody, ¾ major
  36. Oh Susanna - folk song, several verses and chorus, quick melody
  37. Oh, It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More
  38. Old Joe Clark - folk song, 4/4 mixolydian, possible verses
  39. Old Tom White
  40. Once an Austrian Went Yodeling
  41. Over the River and Through the Wood
  42. Ram Sam Sam - nonsense syllables
  43. Rig a Jig Jig
  44. Risseldy Rosseldy - several verses, nonsensical syllables, repetitive
  45. Sambalele
  46. Sansa Kroma
  47. Scotland’s Burning
  48. Shake the Papaya Down
  49. Take Me Out To the Ball Game - short traditional American song, ¾ major
  50. The Elephant Carries a Great Big Trunk
  51. There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea - additive verses
  52. There’s Music In the Air - hymn-like, 1800s american song
  53. Three Blind Mice - quick melody, sung as a round
  54. To Stop the Train
  55. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  56. You Are My Sunshine - chorus and multiple verses
  57. You’re a Grand Old Flag
  58. Banana Boat Song
  59. Come, Follow Me - round with three parts
  60. Cumberland Gap
  61. Dem Bones/Dry Bones - foot bone connected to the…
  62. Dixie Land
  63. Dona Nobis Pacem
  64. Down by the bay - echo song, multiple verses, chromatic in melody, 2/4 major I-V-V-I-IV-I-V-V-I
  65. Erie Canal
  66. My Horses Ain’t Hungry
  67. Old Dan Tucker
  68. The Riddle Song - three verses, folk song
  69. This Land Is Your Land
  70. Tom Dooley
Level Five: Elementary School Concert Choir

  1. All God’s Critters - religious, but could change to “all these critters”, difficult melody and rhythms, several verses
  2. All Night, All Day
  3. Big Rock Candy Mountains - multiple verses, folk song, major
  4. Botany Bay - Australian folk song, chorus with too-ri-li, several verses
  5. Cockles and Mussels
  6. Do Re Mi - from the Sound of Music
  7. Down By the Riverside - “Gonna lay down my sword and shield”
  8. Fox Went Out on a Stormy Night
  9. Had a Little Rooster - animal sounds, tricky melody, additive verses
  10. If I Had a Hammer - four verses, folk song, 4/4 major
  11. Jennie Jenkins - “will you wear” color and rhyme, nonsensical syllables
  12. Now Let Me Fly
  13. Old Folks at Home - several verses with chorus, folk song
  14. One Bottle of Pop - three part round
  15. One Finger, One Thumb - song with actions
  16. Scarborough Fair
  17. Shalom, Chaverim
  18. Soldier Soldier Will You Marry Me
  19. Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  20. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - several verses and chorus, traditional spiritual
  21. The Cat Came Back
  22. Yo Ho Little Fishy - Australian folk song, short chorus, several verses



Montana Music Teacher