Easy first day of music class tips for non-music teachers

First day of music class activities for elementary

The first day of a new school year can be stressful for any teacher, but it can be even more nerve wracking when you are teaching a subject that is not in your wheelhouse. Many teachers are asked to teach music without any prior experience or training – and this causes stress for the teacher and a potentially less meaningful experience for students.

Starting the year off right as your first day as a music teacher may seem scary – but it is easy to do with a little preparation and the right resources. Here are some quick and easy tips to make your first day of elementary music class a success.

What should you teach on the first day of music?

On the first day of music class (and in fact, the first few classes), I recommend focusing on three goals:

  1. Establish routines & expectations
  2. Assess students’ prior music knowledge
  3. Create a positive association with music

1. Establish routines & expectations

This is an easy one – it’s the same strategy you’d use in your first few lessons for any subject. Obviously you won’t teach EVERY routine on the first day, but a few basic ones will help get you off on the right foot:

  • How to line up & enter the room (most useful if you have a separate space for music classes)
  • How you will get students’ attention – I use a wooden train whistle! – and what to do when you hear/see the signal.
  • Where you will keep student work (duotang, folder, etc) – It depends on your teaching style, but personally I prefer a folder style so that individual sheets of music or reference papers can be pulled out easily.

2. Assess students’ prior music knowledge

Especially if your school does not have a music specialist teacher, taking time to determine what your students’ already know is key. Like math, music skills are cumulative and need to be built on one another.

Sometimes teachers will dive right into curriculum without checking whether their students have the basics from the year before. This results in confusion and can lead to students feeling frustrated right off the bat.

Review activities and games are a great way to assess student knowledge and keep things light and fun on your first day of music class. Start with material that is 2-3 grades below, so that you can be sure to set up your students for a positive experience in their first music class with you.

3. Create a positive association with music class

It’s important that both you and your students look forward to music class. Music is a powerful subject that not only teaches creativity, problem solving and cultural sensitivity – it also teaches self expression and emotional intelligence.

But in order for your students to reap these benefits, they need to be happy, relaxed, and comfortable. Approach lessons with a “let’s learn together” attitude – this helps you feel more confident even if you are not well trained in music. Include a lot of games, movement activities, and a variety of music to keep kids engaged.

Get to know you activities – especially ones that will help you get more of a handle on what styles of music your students are into – are also great.

first day of music class - easy activities and lesson plans for elementary
Easy first day of music class tips for non-music teachers 12

First day of music class worksheets

Review worksheets are a great way to assess students’ prior knowledge and fill in any gaps before moving forward with new curriculum. These doodle-style note pages are separated into the elements of music and are not only a fun way to review – they also provide a colourful reference sheet for students to keep in their notebooks.

First day of music class lesson plans

These lesson plans are easy to follow units that don’t require a bunch of complicated equipment. Best of all, they are designed so that even teachers with no prior music experience can easily follow them.

Each lesson plan includes a Powerpoint presentation file with visuals and sound clips, worksheets and full instructions with definitions of all terminology, so that you can teach music like a rockstar even if you don’t have a music degree.

first music class PIN

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