The Mysterious Case of the HOOK in the Soundatorium

The Mysterious Case

of the

HOOK in the Soundatorium


By NAfME Member Angela Ammerman


Undulating and turbulent, lines of Brahms poured out of Mr. Linton’s door, coating the hallway in crimson streams of sound, tawny textures, inviting all into his “Soundatorium.” There stood Mr. Linton with a sign, slightly burned at the edges, that simply said:


Brahms | meshaphoto

Curious, Are We?


Now, think for a moment about your favorite movies, songs, and novels. Are you escorted to the middle of the novel where Gatsby has returned, sulking, to his house lit from top to bottom?

NO! Of course not!

Rather, you find yourself instead at the very beginning as Dumbledore draws the lights out of streetlamps on a chromatically winding Privet Drive, greeting a cat named McGonagall as she morphs into human form.

See, we know that an audience remembers the beginning and the ending most. We even share this information with our students, but we often forget to take our own advice.

facepalm | leungchopan


I have come to see a lesson much in the same way I might look at a movie or a book in which we must hook our “audience” from the moment they happen upon page 1.

page number


music education | RomoloTavani


We open to Mr. Linton and his Soundatorium. Students gather outside, necks outstretched to see the burnt paper and dripping words: “Betrayal. Envy. Desperation.” Students enter; others inquire about the class and the music and move on to their next class. Mr. Linton has indeed hooked his students today. And every day, if Mr. Linton continues to pique curiosities in this way, inviting all who are inquisitive into his learning lab, then Mr. Linton might just find that his students have found a love of learning, a curiosity for what’s INSIDE of the book, the class, the work of art, and a drive to chart the uncharted. And the future will be just a bit brighter.

page number

hook | frentusha


Hook: [ˈhu̇k ]


  1. An ear-tickling, eye-catching, foot-tapping, beat-rapping way to get your students excited for your class.
  2. A cool greeting

“Bell to bell instruction.” It’s a big deal nowadays! And so, let us use every moment to our advantage! Start your class before the bell rings with something new and different.

Why bother with the mundane when you can be extraordinary?



In between classes, let music pour out of your door. Let the world know you’re there!

soundatorium | eleon8211


  • Professional recordings of your pieces
  • Fan favorites
  • Student choice!
    • Have a different student pick a song a day



Let your interactions with your students occur BEFORE you take attendance!

  • Beat Master
    • Stand at the door with a written rhythm
    • Students clap this rhythm on time (to the music blasting from your room)
      • Easy, low-stakes, quick assessment

music notes

  • Peekaboo Poster
    • Use index cards with truths or myths written on top. Students flip the card up to read an explanation.

classroom poster

  • Student-Expert
    • Stand at the door with your instrument.
    • Have a measure of music printed out facing the students.
    • Play measure with one mistake.
    • The student must find the mistake in order to enter.
      • Differentiation Simplicity!


3. Biggie Size Classes (Also helpful for any size class really  🙂 )


  • Tinyurl with interactive site
  • Tinyquote printed for each student 
    • Print composer/musician quotes for inspiration!
  • GOAL Post (Its)
    • Stand at the door with instructions to write a goal for today’s class.
    • Have them stick this on their stand.
    • Ticket Out the Door—students can rate how close they came to achieving their goal.


page number

As the class ends, Mr. Linton dims the lights, turns the music on low and walks to the door. Mr. Linton has turned his top hat upside-down and has sprinkled tiny papers into the hat.

top hat | Elisanth_


“Musicians: I have for you a mystery. Today, I want to give you just a taste. I have cut a series of sounds into tiny slivers and each of you will take a slice home. You may not see a clef; you may not know the instrument for which this was intended; you may not even be able to tell which way is up and which way is down. But tomorrow, you will play your sliver on your instrument. Perhaps I will even show you an entire excerpt at that point, clefs and all.”

And with a flick of his wrist timed perfectly with the bell, Mr. Linton throws tiny soundbites into the air like confetti, coating his Soundatorium in intrigue.


Check out Angela Ammerman’s NAfME Academy webinar “Top Ten Tips to Energize Your Rehearsal” for more ideas. Subscribe today!


About the author:

orchestra director

NAfME member Angela Ammerman, referred to as the first “music teacher prodigy” by the Washington Post, is known for her innovative pedagogical methods. Director of Music Education at the University of Tennessee Martin, Ammerman works to build a program of passionate and dedicated music educators. Dr. Ammerman is regularly featured as a guest conductor and clinician at honor orchestras and workshops across the country. Ammerman is known for the creation of the Future Music Educators Camp and her podcast: #MusicEdLove. | | |


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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

Catherina Hurlburt, Marketing Communications Manager. August 3, 2018. © National Association for Music Education (