Middle school— usually grades 6 to 8 or 7 and 8 — children are in an age group where there is great variability between musical skills and education. To add to that, many students at this age can be very excitable and get easily distracted. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating effective music lesson plans for your middle school students. Here are some things to keep in mind, when building yours.
When you first meet your class or student(s), make sure you do a quick, non-formal assessment of everyone’s skill levels, as well as their levels of interest and engagement. Knowing these things will make you more effective when planning out your music lesson plans. You can accomplish this by first asking your students questions on their previous musical experiences, as well as running through a few musical exercises in escalating difficulties. This can be especially important when students have had informal training.
You can focus on one or two instruments each term. Many grade teachers like to utilize easy-to-learn instruments such as the recorder, ukulele, etc. That being said, don’t be afraid to utilize some that are a little harder, such as guitars, flutes, and oboes. With each of these instruments, many different principles can be taught. If you’re picking more than one instrument, pick and choose which ones are going to teach a wide array of concepts. For example, any sort of drum will be teaching rhythm, whereas flutes will focus on melodies.
If you’re teaching your student(s) a single instrument, it can be helpful to show them how it relates to others. Piano is a perfect example and a small amount of training there can compliment their playing of other instruments quite dramatically, even more so their sheet reading and writing capabilities.
If there is a great disparity between your students’ musical skill levels, use this to your advantage. Especially during any jam sessions, or musical practice time, you can have different students doing different things in a symphonic manner. Have the less skilled students play simple rhythms, while the more advanced students can play the melodies. If you’re giving private lessons, play along with the student. Make sure they’re able to see what you’re doing but not to the point where they get distracted or discouraged.
There are so many great resources available to find great lesson plans. You don’t always have to make your own. You can look up a wide array of music lesson plans online, going from fun, physical exercises to more theoretical, insightful discussions. Keep in mind your assessment of your class and think about what lessons will bring out the most in them. Modifications may be necessary, to make them a better fit, so see what works in class with your students and keep adjusting. Here’s a great resource by Teach-nology, to start you off.
Be sure to have the instructions of each music lesson plan for your middle school students firmly established. Edutopia recommends running a tight ship, when giving instructions. They recommend you be demanding of the final outcome (getting their attention). It requires total silence, complete attention and all five eyeballs on you (two on their face, two on their knees, and one on their heart.)
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