Friday, January 30, 2015

No Voice? 10 Game ideas for teaching music with little to no talking

Have you ever had to teach with no voice? You know, that situation where you don't feel sick enough to call off and write sub-plans but can't sing to teach new songs and your voice is all raspy- if you have a voice at all?

When I loose my voice, I try to make lessons as normal as possible, just with out a new song (unless I have a great recording). Many of the games listed below we incorporate into class all the time, so it is no problem for students to understand when I have no voice! Students are still responsible for singing- I just give them the pitch on a glockenspiel and they sing without me.  The hard part for me is not talking, but especially my older students are pretty good at reading directions and listening respectfully and carefully when I cannot talk above a whisper.

When I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago and came up with/ pulled out some great ideas that involve little to no talking on the teachers part.  Many of these games worked especially well with older students because they could read the instructions on the board.  The little ones I had to talk a little more- but not much! I have also heard of teachers making signs with common instructions like "Move to a Circle" "Stand Up" "Sit Down" etc. which would be really helpful for the littles!

Many of the games I used were rhythm games- but could definitely be adapted for melody, vocabulary, and more!

1.  Centers/Stations- I have written about stations before- see this POST- and LOVE them, especially when I am not feeling well.  I can just get the students all set up with written directions at each station (and voice recorded directions) and they are ready to go.  Many of the games we do in musical centers or stations they play all the time, so not a lot of clarification is usually needed.  They are so great for review, and for me, one station is always a worksheet so I get some great data for where students are on a specific concept.

2. Write the Room-  Karla Cherwinski has been posting a lot of WRITE THE ROOM products on TPT. Basically it is a rhythm or melody pattern scavenger hunt.  Flash cards (sometimes themed) are hidden around the room and students have a work sheet to fill out where patterns they find have to go in a specific box.  This helps them practice identifying patterns, and writing patterns and notes. Bonus- While it may seem very simple, it is a great assessment tool!

3. Partner Rhythms/ Vocab- Have you ever played the ice-breaker where you have a "Hello, My Name Is" sticker stuck to your back and you have to figure out which celebrity you are and then figure out who your partner is?  I adapted that game to use rhythms/ vocab in music.  For the rhythms, I just had 2 of each rhythm on my name tags.  For Vocab, some had two of the same word and some were musical opposites (such as forte and piano).  First students had to figure out their pattern/ word by either asking "YES" or "NO" questions OR in the case of reading rhythms, asking a friend to clap/ stomp/ snap their pattern (friends were not allowed to just read the pattern out loud- too easy!).  Once students figured out their pattern/ word they had to find their match.  This activity is also great for differentiation- give the music stars harder patterns or new vocab and give those who are struggling simpler patterns or vocab they learned a long time ago.
After everyone had their partner, we were able to write songs (by connecting with other groups), find specific vocab, and more! My students LOVED this game. Click the link to check out my Music Vocab Set on TPT- you can print on a sticker sheet OR just print on paper, laminate and then use tape to stick them to your students backs. Rhythm versions coming soon!

4. Composition Worksheets/ Manipulatives- Give students a specific composition worksheet or manipulative and let them work for a bit.  Beat Strips are great, especially when preparing a concept.  I also have composition worksheets where students are given directions step by step like this Valentines Day one.  Students choose 4 4-beat valentine phrases and write the rhythms in the boxes.  Then they add known solfa.  Some classes I am more specific and say things like the solfa must be stepwise, or they must end on do, or follow a chord progression etc.  After they write their solfa, they come to me and we sing or play it on an instrument together and finally they transfer to the staff.  Only 4 measures- but they are typically really proud of their songs.  A way to differentiate this activity would be to give star students a trickier time-signature than 4/4!  Check out my valentine worksheet HERE (see picture to left for an idea). Composition can be much more simple though, where they use Beat Strips to write fun patterns (either with notes, or in the prep stage, silly words that go with the season).  Even the little ones can do body-percussion composition or classroom instruments composition with worksheets like these.
Picture from
5. Song Sort- I got this idea from one of Aileen Miracles Sub Plans Sets on TPT- Out of the Wild. Students get 10-12 cards with song titles on them and they sort the cards into 2 piles- those with a specific concept, and those without. After they are done they can take all the cards and write a silly story using the song titles (ex. Pretty Little Suzy met up with Dinah and they took an Old Brass Wagon to a farm.  When they got their they saw a Chicken on a Fencepost and they were so surprised... etc.) Aileen has tika-tika in her set but I have made many more because this is a great activity for no voice, stations, and a sub!

6. Kooshball Games- These are also explained in the stations post.  On the board is many shapes all linked to patterns (sometimes circles, but more fun ones are popping up on TPT all the time!).  Students toss a koosh or beanbag at the board and a rhythm or song pattern should pop up for students to read or sing. (The file pictured was shared with me in Grad School- so if it is yours let me know and I can credit you.  I love them!)

7. SMARTboard ID Games- Games like "Can You Hear It" where students touch an icon on the SB and a pattern plays.  On the screen are 3 choices for students match the sounds they hear to their visual representation.  If they pick the right answer,  a congrats screen pops and the class can move on. If the answer is wrong,  a try again screen appears and students can go back.

8. Folk Dances- Especially for groups that already know many folk dance moves and positions, they could practice known dances or learn a knew one with just written signs like "Peel the Banana (or Orange)" "Elbow Swing" "Grand Right and Left" "1st Pair Sashay Down the Alley" etc.  It would also be fun to have the students use the signs to make up their own "Folk Dance".

9. Group Movement Work- Have students make up their own folk dance (see above), or simple movement to a song.  Sometimes I have mine make up moves to the form (rhythmic OR melodic) or have them demonstrate the lyrics, or phrases.  We did this recently with "Who Has Seen The Wind" and the movement came out great! Students were able to choose form or lyrics and then the class had to say which it was when they were presenting.

10. KAHOOT- or another quiz game- I recently posted about a great website I just found out about- where a teacher can make a quiz (or use on already made) and students use their own device (phone, ipad, computer- whatever is available in your school) and it works like restaurant trivia.  A question appears on the main screen and the choices pop up on the individual devices.  Students have a certain amount of time to answer and results are shown after each question.  To learn more- be sure to read my post on it HERE.

What do you do when you don't have a voice??  Sound off in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff, Emily! I just gave you a shout out on my post. Keep up the great work!