Procedures and Routines in the Music Class

I remember once watching my daughter playing school, pretending to be the teacher. She sat in a chair holding a book up to her class of stuffed animals. She showed her class the book, and said “Front cover, back cover, spine, title page, dedication…”

It was obvious that she had learned the parts of a book through a routine of her teacher. It struck me how important these kind of routines are for music classes and private lessons.

Anyone familiar with the book The First Days of School knows that this is the holy grail of teaching prodecures and routines at the beginning of the school year. This is certainly one of few books that apply to music classes as well as the traditional classroom.

Here are some classroom management issues to consider:
-Where do students put instrument cases?
– Music stands and chairs: Does the teacher set them up? Do the students get them from a rack? Does everyone get their own music stand? What equipment gets put away and who does it?
– Books and sheet music: Do students take everything with them, or is there a folder storage system? Larger ensembles may need a librarian, or at least section leaders who can help distribute sheet music. What about when they forget their folders or misplace sheet music?
– Are students allowed to play their instruments before the ensemble warm-up?
– How do students know the rehearsal/warm-up has officially begun?

Here are some routines I’ve been implementing with my groups:

For beginners:
– Identifying the parts of their instrument, admittedly ad nauseum
– Assembling their instruments and explaining/verbalizing the process for doing so
– Verbalizing the fingerings for their first notes (Beginning Band: Concert Bb – F; Beginning Strings: D Major scale)
– Identifying notes on the staff, using flash cards

For intermediate students:
– Band: Simple warm-up exercises such as those on Essential Elements Book 1, page 18
– Strings: The D Major scale with simple rhythmic variations and bowing patterns
– Rhythm exercises, clapping and counting aloud

For private students:
– Scale/arpeggio exercises appropriate to the student’s ability
– Warm-up notes for beginners
– For younger students: A review of previously practiced music
– Introduction of new music/exercises
– For older students: Repertoire development
– A clear expectation of what is to be practiced for the next lesson

What procedures and routines have you used in your music classes that you would recommend to the rest of us?

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5 thoughts on “Procedures and Routines in the Music Class

  1. name games would be good. Us music teachers, we always have a large student body to work with. So a quick to learn all of those names is by doing a name game at the beginning of each class period for the first two weeks. what i have done is as the students, once standing, to sit opnly if I get their name correctly and to only give clues. I tryto go fast to make the game more interesting. we usually have a a lot of fun.

  2. Pingback: On the Road to Becoming a Teacher - Reflection on PLNs

  3. My students realize quickly that first they set up the room. Then they go through their own personal warm ups, drills, tuning and first technique page which I have posted on the board before each class. This gives me time to do attendance, minor repair issues and mini concerns of students. I have had administrators walk into the room assuming the class is being taught because everyone is working and then notice I am in the back room with 1 student. Routines become 2nd nature.

    • Funny you should mention the handshake. I’ve never heard of a teacher actually doing that until just yesterday when in the lunchroom a veteran teacher mentioned she always gives handshakes. Now, out of the blue, your comment!

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