Although any subject is difficult to teach online, teaching music online has to be one of the most difficult. When so many of the curriculum expectations require not only interaction but also performance, having students on the other side of a screen can seem like an impossible hurdle.
Tips for Teaching Music Online
- Focus on the aspects of music you don’t usually have time for. I don’t know about you, but in a typical year, I’m so busy with the hands-on aspects of music that I don’t always have time for a lot of music history. When we have to pivot online, rather than trying to do things that don’t work well (like group singing) I use that opportunity to do a little music history intensive. World Music and Instruments of the Orchestra are other subjects that work well online.
- Use online resources. There are some fabulous online music tools. Here are just a few to get you started – and they are all free!
- Chrome Music Lab – The most useful apps are the song maker and melody maker, but other fun stuff to play with too. I love that students can easily submit their creations to you.
- PlayXylo – An awesomely simple, no distractions online instrument. The colours match boomwhacker colours, so you can find tons of playalong videos to go with it.
- Try using Flipgrid – Flipgrid is a great little free app that allows students to submit performance-based assignments via video quickly and easily. Since it’s meant for teachers, the privacy settings are well thought out.
- Burnt out? Use Music Workshop. The lesson plans from Music Workshop won’t win you any innovative teaching awards, but they teach solid music content with almost no prep. Choose a topic, post the video and worksheet onto your online teaching platform (which they even give you instructions for), and away you go. (They’re also great to leave for supply teachers, since it’s practically fail-proof)
- If you teach primary music, consider a trial for Prodigies. You can try for free for a whole month. This program is incredible for younger kids but I use it all the way up to grade 6, and my 12 year olds still love it. I love Prodigies so much I bought a lifetime membership and I use it at home with my own kids too.
Lesson Plan Ideas for Teaching Music Online
- Pop Music Unit for Grades 5-8
I created these lessons originally for in-person classes but when we went into lockdown (the first time) I adapted them for online use and added some cute extra goodies (like the digital notebook for students). It’s a high interest unit that also gets kids talking about music theory in a practical way and doesn’t require instruments or other fancy equipment.
- Doodle-Style Music Theory Worksheets (Available for grades 3, 4, & 5)
If your music classes could use a theory refresher, these worksheets are great and work well online if your students are able to print out their own copies.
- Introduction to Opera Unit (Grades 2-5)
Opera is actually SO MUCH FUN to teach to students and this is another unit that I have adjusted to work well in any teaching format. The lesson presentations for the entire unit are in Google Drive, making it incredibly easy to use.
- Melody Bingo
This Music Bingo game has been set up so that it literally does everything for you – and it will work whether you are in person or online. Assign cards, and use the master teacher file to play the sound files for you as well as keep track of which numbers have been called. What a game changer!