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5 Fun Ways to Recognize Student Achievement in Elementary Music

These simple no-cost ways to recognize student achievement increase students’ engagement, motivation, and performance.

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Are you looking for more ways to recognize and celebrate your students’ achievements in your music classroom? When you recognize REAL student successes you increase student motivation, engagement, and future achievement.

Take a peek at the simple “outside the box” ideas you can begin to implement today. And the best part is they cost nothing and they require NO extra preparation.

Read on.

Kids jumping up and down celebrating in music class.

Recognize REAL Achievement

While it’s important to celebrate student achievements in your classroom, the successes should be REAL. Students will see through false praise and that doesn’t do anyone any good. Plenty of REAL successful moments happen in your classroom each week if not each day. Recognize and build on those small moments.

1. Celebrate with Dance Moves or Signals

This doesn’t have to become a big classroom production to celebrate student achievement in your music classroom. Use FUN, simple, no fuss, ways to identify quality student performance. It can be as simple as a “thumbs up” from the teacher and fellow students. Use dance moves to recognize extraordinary or vastly improved performances.

Use the following dance moves or signals. I know these dance moves are dated, but your students will enjoy them anyway. Or, update your moves with simple appropriate moves for your classroom.

  • Raise the Roof
  • Around the World
  • Round of Applause
  • Silent Cheer
  • “Wooooo Hooooo!”
  • Clap in sign language*

*To clap in sign language, place open hands at head level with palms facing forward. Quickly shimmy hands, turning at the wrist. (Think jazz hands.)

2. Recognize Quality Student Achievement with Spontaneous Classroom Performances

Another way to celebrate quality performance is to present a spontaneous classroom performance. When students perform a particular piece well, invite someone in to hear the piece right then and there. Invite the principal, secretary, classroom teacher, custodian, or the next class.

With the homeroom teacher’s permission, I have often kept a class a few minutes longer. I seat the incoming class and then the previous class performs for them. This not only builds the confidence of the performing group it also inspires the listening group.

3. Perform a “Radio Concert”

Schools are BUSY places and sometimes no one can come to your classroom to listen. The classroom teacher may be on a strict schedule and cannot stay even a couple of minutes longer. If that’s the case, present a “radio concert” during class.

The first time I sprung this one on our school secretary, she was VERY surprised. But, after that, she enjoyed the occasional radio concerts. She said this would break up and brighten her day.

Simple, No Cost Ways to Celebrate Student Success in the Elementary Music Classroom

So, what is a RADIO CONCERT? When students are ready to perform, I push the button on the intercom and we performed for the secretary in the office. I announce the group and the name of our piece as if we’re performing live on the radio. The secretary would clap and praise the group through the intercom. The kids LOVE it and there couldn’t be a simpler way to share our performances.

Radio Concert Resources

While vocal songs can work well for radio concerts, instrumental activities are perfect for this audio-only performance. Recorder songs, Orff arrangements, ukulele pieces, and anything instrumental give students a chance to show off their new skills “on the radio.” The kids are so excited when they master a song, they want to share it immediately.

The radio concert gives you an instant venue. And no tickets are necessary! 😊

4. Take Your Show on the Road

If the performance does not involve cumbersome instruments, the activity would be a candidate to take “on the road.” Give your “audience” a quick call and ensure it’s a good time before you start out with your entire class. Consider performing for office staff, a kindergarten or first-grade class, the nurse, the custodian, or the cooks.

My favorite on-the-road performances have been for our cooks. Every year, my kindergarten classes have performed the “Turkey Tango” in the cafeteria for our cooks as they prepare for lunch. They have looked forward to this impromptu performance every year.

5. Document and Demonstrate Student Achievement by Making a Video

Another way to celebrate and document student success is by making a video. I always keep a tripod within easy reach. When students do a FABULOUS job on a particular piece, I pull out my tripod and make a quick video.

Then, I plug in my little Flip camera and students get to view and self-assess their own performance.

Kids jumping up and down celebrating in music class.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so we almost always film two takes of the performance. (Never do more than two takes. This is a simple celebration of student achievement NOT a professional video.) Then students watch both performances and vote on which one to upload to our school website.

I have often used these videos for student-led conferences. I create QR codes for each grade level so parents can easily find their child’s videos. Families scan the code and see their child(ren) performing right on their phones. I always have a few iPads available for families without a smartphone. This is efficient and effective multitasking!

Note: We always have a few students at our school who are not able to have their images posted online. In this case, I arrange these students to the side of the group in an area nearby, but off-screen. I called these students “radio stars.” They perform with the group as if they’re onscreen.

Recognizing Student Achievement Increases Student Participation

When you celebrate student success, you not only increase their confidence, you increase student motivation, and participation as well. Students can see the fruits of their labor. Take a peek at this blog post for more Tips to Involve ALL Students ALL the Time.

Celebrate Student Success in Many Different Ways

Mix it up! Choose different ways to celebrate student success. The important thing is students build confidence and skills through these recognitions and mini-performances. A former student said it best, “It’s so nice to have something like this to make me feel special.”

I agree!

Do you have more simple ways to celebrate student success? Leave a comment.

Meet the Author

Terri Lloyd is a former elementary music teacher with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Science in Education, and a Technology Certificate in Instructional Design.

She is currently active in music education through blogging, workshops, and curriculum development. She serves on the music staff at her church and volunteers for an after-school children’s program. Terri is an active musician in the community, performing in a local Big Band, pit orchestras, and various events.

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