TMT27: Starters for Music Classes

10 Min Tips To Teach Music Podcast: Episode #27

Welcome to episode 27 of Ten Minute Tips to Teach Music. In this episode, I talk a little about starters for music classes. Most music teachers are starting to think about next year, and what sort of new things they might try. This podcast discusses a few starter ideas that I have found successful in the classroom.

Firstly, I use an integrated, collaborative, team based style of teaching within a fluid teaching space. The treatment of others, appropriate use of technology and the need to celebrate people’s efforts are central to my classroom philosophy. A growth mindset is what I am attempting to create within my students hence the focus on personal best in all activities. So to that end, my classes do not arrive, line up and stand in a quiet state before entering the room. It is important that they learn independence through the consideration and understanding of the standard of behaviour that I set within my room. If they attempt to enter my room with their earphones still attached, they do not gain entry. If they attempt to enter my room without all the equipment, they do not gain entry. If they attempt to enter my room with their hat on, they do not gain entry. I am sure you are sensing a theme.

My students know what to expect each time they enter because I am always at the door, ready to greet them. This means that I need starter activities to engage the students learning and focus their attention whilst still maintaining their independent training and social learning. Hence the need for starters. This podcast and video show you a couple that I use.

THE COUNTDOWN SCREEN: This is not my idea. I learned this one from a colleague of mine. I think it is a good way to train the students in how they are going to act and react within the classroom whilst also working on their own responsibility and independence.

THE TIME TRIAL: Used in conjunction with the Earpeggio App. This is used just like a sporting time trial where the students have only 5 minutes to achieve their personal best. I find this one really helps those who are competitive in nature. There is one catch – their goal is to get 100%. For those students who are “gamers”, they really like this one because it plays right into the hands of completing the level with perfection. I use this type of language when I speak to the students as they prepare for their time trial. I give them the pep talk that any coach would.

PERSONAL BEST EFFORT: Using an app like Rhythm Cat Lite or Treble Cat Lite for a 5 minute PB is really useful. These training apps are used just like the time trials but with this one, they gather points for work completed. A certain number of points go towards our reward system at the school so this work quite well.

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER? This is specific to the last lesson and is always focussing on terminology – Only every 3 questions and usually quite short. We have word banks around the room that always being focused on during the unit of work. This way, when it comes time to do the testing for the unit, the visual students can bring to mind the word bank and hopefully the constant referral to the graphic that gets taken down.

Well I hope this helps those of you looking for something different for the start of your lessons. If you need any further help, don’t forget to drop me a line at


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Kym Reithmuller

I have used Klerrisa’s resources for many years and have always found them to be highly beneficial as they work! You can open them up and start teaching knowing that they have been thoroughly prepared and tested in the classroom. Students respond well to them as they experience success and fun whilst learning. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Patrick Honyak - Fairfield High School

I highly recommend the resource material on the Klerrisa Custom Music website. Both Kerri and Lisa are excellent educationalists, presenters and musically talented professionals.

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