Opening Activity, Back to School

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    As we prepare to open the school year, I thought it might be great to see how many opening activities we can get into this thread! Do you have a favorite opener for general music teachers to use? Also, please let your fellow NAfME General Music Teachers know that we want to hear from them and ask them to post as well!!!

    Here is mine: (Bridget James, Chair, NAfME Council for General Music Education NCGME)
    Credit to my lead/master teacher in Fargo, ND who shared this activity with me back in 1996 so I could learn all of my new students’s names for the short time I had with them as a student teacher–it is the best opener and I will always be grateful to her for this gift of the Name Game!!!

    Scholars sit in circle and perform the ostinato pattern of pat-pat-rest-rest or pat-pat-snap-snap.
    Each scholar stays their name on the third and fourth beat for practice (all at the same time)
    Then facilitator starts (teacher) and says his/her name on the third and fourth beat then each scholar says their name individually and the game goes around the circle.

    Remind scholars if they make a mistake, it is completely okay! We are here to learn and mistakes are part of the fun! How we, as a class, react to someone making a mistake can determine if they become embarrassed or if they feel empowered to learn from the mistake and move forward. (Growth Mindset is ESSENTIAL in the music class–check out Carol Dweck for more on the Growth Mindset).

    Once you’ve gone around the circle once–you can have them go a second time and every 4th or 5th person (depending on how many kids in the room) you stop and the scholar can share something special/exciting about their summer!

    You can extend this by having scholars do the same rhythmic ostinato pattern and the person who starts (the golden starter) says his/her name first on the snap-snap then when the pattern is repeated he/she says another student’s name who is not necessarily sitting next to him/her. If the person “receiving” the cue makes a mistake they are out but only for one round; they can come sit by the teacher or sit by a new friend for the one round until they are back in. They are only out for one round as I mentioned, because when someone else gets out the person who was out gets to take the place of the “golden starter.” This process helps students learn it is okay to get out–because the following round he/she becomes the golden starter who holds all the power and can start as many times as it takes to get it right–even with the help of their fellow classmates if necessary. We are here to support and build up!!!

    *You can do a quick assessment for steady beat, maintaining a rhythmic ostinato, etc. all while learning scholars’ names!
    I have a great Social and Emotional Learning strategy for this activity as well! Let me know if you are interested! 🙂


    Bridget James
    NAfME Council for General Music (NCGME)

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