The following ideas may be used to facilitate virtual music instruction.
Story Theater provides an excellent opportunity for you to incorporate into your music program other areas that can be found throughout the curriculum. There are a wealth of musical plays that address topics such as ecology, history, geography, science, character education etc. etc. Once you’ve chosen a musical that corresponds to a topic being taught by classroom teachers, assign speaking parts and either teach the songs to all the students, or play the music for the students as a listening lesson. Be sure to encourage children to read their lines with expression and if appropriate, gestures. For your virtual performance, have each student recite their part interspersed with the musical selections. Children can choose to dress up in costumes, or not and obviously no additional scenery, props or staging is required. It is a wonderful way for students to experience theatre in a safe and simple way.
Depending on the cross curricular topical area, a wealth of “do it at home” assignments can be coordinated with these musical plays. Don’t hesitate to email us for specifics at:
Watch a scene from Johnny Appleseed performed while the students were in quarantine!
Sing and Learn
“Our Sing and Learn” series is comprised of cross curricular subjects taught in an entertaining musical format. Dino Soaring, Singin’ in the Rainforest, Oceans of Fun and Sing and Play About the USA, all are collections of songs with simple rhyming scripts for performances. These collections contain puzzles, crosswords, fast fact sheets and supplemental materials that can be shared with the classroom teachers or distributed to the students as a do at home activity.
One of the easiest ways to teach 2 pt choral singing in a virtual setting is by using Partner Songs! A classic partner song has everyone singing melody number one, everyone singing melody number two, and then the third time, dividing into 2 parts singing both melodies together. Since all the singers will then be conversant with both melodies, they should find it much easier to maintain their parts when asked to divide into harmony. If you have a combination of very strong singers and ones that aren’t quite as confident, be sure to divide the parts up in a way that places your strong singers on both parts. Teaching these melodies in unison also provides excellent opportunities to fine tune intonation, dynamics and singing with expression.
There are a host of partner songs and collections on our website:
A Virtual Concert
Here is a video by Scott Wheeler, Middle school choir director at Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School, Fort Collins, CO. I found it to be inspiring, uplifting, and brilliantly creative. It demonstrates how you can perform songs with your virtual choir using singing interspersed with special effects. It also shares students expressing their feelings regarding singing remotely.
It starts with the students singing traditionally at their final concert before having to change to virtual singing. The virtual concerts start at 8:03” of the video. These unique performances are well worth watching. Our sincere congratulations go to Scott Wheeler, a truly dedicated educator and musician!
You can add interest to your choral performances by choosing selections that have simple hand motions, signing, or choreography. Many chorals come with movement suggestions and if you are comfortable teaching the choreography, wonderful! If not, there are many videos on “YouTube” that have choral groups performing choreography that you can use as a guide. This is very adaptable to virtual teaching. We have several on our website including “Mambo Italiano”, “Funga Alafia”, “Vela Sikubone”, etc. You can use “Ugly Christmas Sweater “ to involve everyone in your student’s family and have a virtual ugly Christmas sweater party!
Educational Videos and Documentaries
There are many wonderful educational music videos and documentaries that can be shared with your students. They are also a great option to leave for substitute plans.
Please review each one before sharing with your students to determine appropriate viewing based on age, grade level and maturity.
Here are just a few:
1. Every Little Step: A Chorus Line Documentary about the revival of “Chorus Line”, from auditions to performances (1 hr 33 min):
2. Twenty Feet From Stardom: Academy award winning documentary about talented back-up singers for some of the greatest stars, who vocally were just as talented! Emphasis is on the contributions of black singers! (1 hr 40 min Netflix).
3. 20th anniversary of Broadway Annie Auditions: Behind the scenes look at the auditions for “Annie” (approx 45 min)
4. Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened: documentary about “Merrily We Roll Along”, the one musical written by Stephen Sondheim that flopped on Broadway. (1 hr 36 min Amazon Prime, Netflix)
5. The Wrecking Crew: Documentary about studio musicians who performed on the recordings of some of the most celebrated rock stars of the day. (1 hr 31 min Amazon Prime)
6. My Favorite Broadway, the Leading Ladies: Concert from Carnegie Hall featuring some of the greatest ladies of the stage including a performance by Anna Kendrick as a child star. (2 hr 10 min)
7. How An Opera Gets Made: A behind the scenes look at a Philip Glass Opera at the Met. (10 min)
Pop Culture, Opera, and Broadway Videos
1. James Brown and Andrea Boccelli It’s a Man’s World (approx 5 min)
2. Freddie Mercury [Queen] and Montserrat Caballe singing Barcelona (approx 5 min)
3. 22 Musicals in 12 Minutes: James Corden, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Emily Blunt (approx 13 min)
If you’d like more suggestions, please email us at:
Rhythm and Movement
It is possible to utilize both rhythm and movement activities in a virtual setting. Many collections have musical games where all the directions are contained within the lyrics of the song or just require very simple explanation by the teacher. This is a wonderful time saver and also an excellent way to save your voice! Simply ask the students to be good listeners and listen to the words of the song. They will then know just what to do. Songs from collections such as “Strike Up the Rhythm Band”, and “The Rhythm Band Strikes Again”, have many games that teach rhythms, dynamics, etc through clapping, tapping, playing rhythm instruments and don’t require being in a group setting [see “Body Percussion” under the Free Section]. Movement games such as “The Color Game” and “Hand Jivin” from “Rhythm, Rhyme and Move in Time” are great fun for students and work perfectly in remote or virtual classrooms.” A Hip Hop , a Skip and a Jump” has a host of these activities for the younger grades.
Virtual Dance Party
A wonderful way to end each class would be to have a 3-5 minute virtual dance party. You could choose selections from suggestions the students email you [have a grab bag and choose a different selection each day that you have cued up in advance] or you can select from a wealth of great dance tunes. Invite the family to join in as well. Be sure if using songs suggested by the students that you have previewed them in advance for appropriate content! It is a great way to end your classes in an energetic and inspiring way without worrying about getting them too energized as you simply sign off after the song ends!
Here are a few suggestions:
1. September, from Trolls: Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick
2. It’s Still Rock n Roll to Me: Billy Joel
3. Lovely Day, from The Secret Life of Pets 2: Lunch Money Lewis
4. Happy: Pharrell Williams
5. Can’t Stop the Feeling, Trolls 2: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake
6. Get On Your Feet: Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
7. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing: Tori Kelly
8. Hip to Be Square: Huey Lewis and the News
9. The Heart of Rock n Roll: Huey Lewis and the News
10. Uptown Funk: Bruno Mars
If you need more suggestions email us at:
Virtual Talent Show
Host a virtual talent show for your school. Invite students to send in a video of their performance in advance making it possible for you to preview for appropriate content. This also gives you and your students the option of performing live or using the video. Family members may also be encouraged to participate. In order to eliminate background chatter, you can mute everyone in the zoom meeting except the performer. This activity can be a wonderful unifying event for the entire school community.
Zoom in with the Gallinas!
Plan a private Zoom or FaceTime session with Jill and Michael Gallina on any of the following topics:
1. Fine tuning your musical play. Doing one of our musicals? Specifics will be offered regarding staging, dramatization, costumes, creative interpretation, etc.
2. Compose Yourself! Guided by Jill Gallina, your students will compose a finished piece in 30-40 minutes!
3. Ask the Gallinas! 30 minute interview, question and answer session, with questions, designed by you and your students.
4. You Choose. Topical area of your request for 30 minute session with the Gallinas.
5. Commissions. Commission Jill Gallina to write a choral piece designed to meet your special needs or requests. See other commissioned works here:
In the event that you have used any of our materials in the course of conducting “remote learning” lessons, please take a moment to share your approach or videos with us at email@example.com
We will be happy to post some of them in our next email newsletter!