Music & Life: The Back-to-School Edition | Easy Ear Training
Music & Life

It’s back-to-school time!

Music educators and parents have been getting started on another exciting school year. Need some fun music activities for your classroom? Check out some of these great online resources on ear training, kid’s songs, karaoke and more!

Teach your students intervals through popular children’s songs, explore rhythm with the computer game Knights of Rock, and combine karaoke with sight singing at Glee’s Smule. Try easy in-class games like Rhythm Hot Potato and find exciting new ways to engage your students in ear training and music.

Ear Training Games

MusicGames.co provides lots of great games for learning musicFor students and teachers that need to brush up on fundamental ear training skills, try free computer games like Note Shooter or the incredibly cool rhythm game Knights of Rock. MusicGames.co provides over 100 music games that test various music skills like composition, music memory, and rhythm. These free music games are great for beginners, and games like (the slightly insane) Elephant Rave appeal to middle schooler students and young teens.

Musician Galt Aureus shares a series of easy Sight Singing Games on YouTube to help beginners learn how to hear and sing pitch. Being able to sing on key is an important ear training skill. Follow the first Intro video below and follow up with more advanced melodies, all available on YouTube:

Classroom Games

All music teachers need simple games that require minimal materials. Rhythm Hot Potato is an easy game that helps students develop their rhythm. All you need is a timer and a percussion instrument like a tambourine or claves. Students can play the game sitting in a circle or at their desks.

Set the timer for 1-3 minutes.

The first student plays a simple rhythm then passes the instrument to the next student.

The second student must play the same rhythm before passing the instrument to the next student.

The student holding the instrument when the timer rings is “out”.

Play continues until only two students are left playing the rhythm back and forth.

In the advanced version of Rhythm Hot Potato students create new rhythms. Each student plays all rhythms from the previous students, and adds their original creative rhythm at the end before passing the instrument to the next player.

By the end of the game, students are performing a complex series of rhythms and beats. A timer is optional for the advanced game version. You may want to split up the class into smaller groups depending on the age and abilities of the students. Work on creativity, music memory, and rhythm with Rhythm Hot Potato. Add other ear training skills like intervals, solfeggio, or melodies for different music game variations.

Sing with your students

Back-to-school means its time to find fun songs to for your music students, but did you know that you could use favorite kid’s songs to teach ear training and intervals? Simple songs help students absorb new information like language, rhythm, and musical patterns[1]. Teach students in your class simple intervals through these favorite childhood songs:

  • “Are You Sleeping?” – Major Second Interval Ascending
  • “Three Blind Mice” – Major Second Interval Descending
  • “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” – Major Third Interval Ascending
  • “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” – Perfect Fourth Interval Descending
  • “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” – Perfect Fifth Interval Ascending
  • “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” – Major Sixth Interval Ascending

Use these simple songs in a fun ear training guessing game or incorporate them into your regular aural theory lesson plan. You can find sheet music to popular songs at 8notes.com.

With older students you can include film scores with recognizable intervals like the theme from “Star Wars” for a perfect fifth interval or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for a seventh interval, or use the easy app Step and a Half to play a fun melody guessing game using intervals.

For more adventurous teachers that want to encourage students to sing out loud, try a class game of Lego Rock Band which has levels appropriate for kindergarten to high school, or any one of hundreds of online karaoke sites like Smule’s fun Glee app which connects literally thousands through favorite songs and social networks.

Enjoy these fun ear training activities and share them with fellow music educators. These ear training back-to-school activities and resources will help keep your classroom an innovative place of learning.

We want to hear from you! Share your favorite ear training games in the comments below.

Sources

  1. Tavıl Z, İşısağ K. TEACHING VOCABULARY TO VERY YOUNG LEARNERS THROUGH GAMES AND SONGS. Ekev Academic Review [serial online]. Winter2009 2009;13(38):299-308. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed August 29, 2012.
Series Information
This is part 21 of 24 in the Music & Life series.

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