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9 Summer Lesson Planning Tips for Exhausted Elementary Music Teachers

Elementary music teachers NEED a summer break. Plan your summer to arrive rested, motivated, and ready to go when school resumes. Take a peek at these key summer lesson planning tips.

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We couldn’t even celebrate the last day of school. Our rosy, flushed faces and low-grade fevers were apparent by the end of the day. My exhausted kids and I fell onto the couch when we got home. We were sick. The busy demands of the end-of-the-year schedule paired with a mild case of 5ths disease had wiped us out.

I know you feel that same deep-down exhaustion, especially with the growing demands and challenges of teaching. When you’re ready, take some time to outline and plan your lessons for the upcoming school year. This will help your upcoming school year go much smoother and save you time during the year. You will be a more efficient, effective, and happier elementary music teacher.

Bookmark and share this post. Then, once you are rested, see the tips below to prepare for your best school year yet!

Elementary Music Teacher Tips | Summer Lesson Planning

Schedule Time Off

Schedule at LEAST two weeks off! Write these dates into your calendar and stick to it. During this time, refrain from any school-related activities including lesson planning, professional development, online classes, checking emails, etc. Set up an auto-respond message on your email to let others know when you’ll be back online.

My favorite times to go on “vacation” are right after school gets out and right before classes resume. It has been easier for me to schedule my time off immediately after school gets out. Mental and physical exhaustion necessitates it.

I find it challenging to schedule time off before the school year starts because preparing your classroom for the new school year often seems to take more time than you plan. But I always liked to save the last day of summer vacation for a special day off or “personal field trip”.

Leave room for flex time in your summer schedule. Every day should not be completely planned out. That’s part of the fun. Block in the big items, then enjoy your family and friends and see what develops. Be spontaneous.

Motivating Professional Development

Sign up for at least one workshop or class you WANT to take. Ensure it’s an activity that gets you excited about teaching again in the fall. Read a music education book that you have been wanting to read. Listen to music ed podcasts. Professional development can take many different forms.

I highly recommend Aileen Miracle’s Tech for Music Teachers course if you haven’t already taken it. Aileen has MANY beneficial tech tools for your elementary music classroom or online enrichment.

Create a Yearly Curriculum Chart to Simplify Lesson Planning

School districts often have music curriculum documents that are hard to use. They may be vague and offer little direction for music teachers or be very wordy and hard to wade through. Creating a simplified outline of music literacy skills learned at each grade level helps to keep your lessons sequential and targeted.

Need some FREE editable planning charts to get started? Subscribe to our email list and pick up these FREE Elementary Music Yearly Planning Charts. They are 100% editable and are a valuable tool for all elementary music teachers.

Create a Monthly Music Lesson Plan Framework

Once you’ve created your yearly planning charts, the next step is to develop a more detailed monthly scope and sequence. Building a scope and sequence from scratch is a time-consuming task.

These Monthly Music Literacy Scope and Sequence Planning Charts for grades K-5 start with a suggested scope and sequence. And, they’re also 100% editable. Modify each chart to fit your school schedule, your curriculum, and the skill levels of your students.

A monthly plan that follows a logical sequence through curriculum objectives can help you teach all the necessary concepts while maintaining flexibility. It’s important to create a realistic plan that allows enough time for comprehensive teaching and practice of music elements.

Once you have your master plans in place, creating your detailed weekly and daily lesson plans during the school year will be much easier. You will reduce “lesson plan fatigue” and you will be a more efficient and effective teacher.

Analyze Your Music Curriculum and Past Lesson Plans

Take a little time to reflect on your lesson plans from the past couple of years. Keep in mind that the pandemic may still have altered your lessons and/or the degree of proficiency for each grade level. When you create your plans for the upcoming year you may need to make some adjustments.

Think back to your past lessons and identify what worked well. Create a bank of successful lessons and resources so that you don’t overlook them in the future. If you have space, list (or hyperlink) them directly into your monthly Scope and Sequence Charts.

Elementary Music Teacher Tips | Summer Lesson Planning

Revise Lessons That Need Improvement

Identify lessons that haven’t gone well in the past and need revision. Look for alternative lessons, resources, and activities to teach and reinforce those same concepts in a new way. Add these new resources and activities to your lesson bank for future use.

Plan for Ways to Be More Efficient

Did you have music curriculum objectives you didn’t cover because you ran out of time? Plan ways to maximize your classroom efficiency. Take a peek at this post with actionable tips to Talk Less and Teach More Music.

Next, look for multitasking songs and music lessons. Almost all songs may be used to teach more than one concept. Revisiting the same song with a different focus helps students develop a solid repertoire of songs and become independent singers.

Need help to find songs and activities that teach specific music elements? Take a peek at this FREE Elementary Music Literacy Resource Guide. The detailed “at-a-glance” index of music elements makes it easy to find the perfect activities to teach each element. This guide includes both free and paid resources to help you enhance your elementary music lessons.

Design Music Lesson Plans for “Long-Lasting” Learning

Just because you taught a “one and done” lesson that covered a curriculum objective does not mean your students have mastered or learned that concept. Music lessons should be comprehensive and repeated many times. But that doesn’t mean boring!

“Add on” new activities or take a different focus to help expand the lesson and keep it fresh. Adding a game, Orff instruments, dynamics, different articulations, etc. allows for repetition that holds students’ interest and cements learning. I call these “add-on” activities.

A yearly and monthly curriculum framework should repeat and spiral through music literacy concepts. This builds independent music readers, even at the elementary level.

Getting Ready for the Start of a New School Year

Keep it simple. Put hard and fast parameters on the amount of time you devote to preparing your classroom and lesson plans for the first day of school. Your workload can expand exponentially if you allow it to. Design simple, effective, comprehensive lessons and consider it done.

Strategic summer lesson planning can help you better manage the back-to-school rush. Work efficiently and do your best. This is all anyone can ask. Afterward, take a few extra days to relax and enjoy before the school year starts.


Help your students develop a LOVE of music and equip them for the next step in their musical education. Inspire them to continue in music by joining the middle school band, choir, or orchestra. Help your students become life-long musicians.

And, protect yourself from exhaustion and burnout. Plan your summer break so that you are rested, inspired, and ready to start the new year. Then, when school resumes in the fall you’ll be able to bring your best self to the classroom and make the coming year more relaxed and enjoyable for both you and your students.

💡 Remember to subscribe to our helpful elementary music teacher email list and get these Editable Elementary Music Yearly Planning Charts sent directly to your inbox. Then, watch your email for more FREEBIES, helpful blog posts, ideas, tips, and techniques.

Hope to see you soon!

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.

More Ways to Connect – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

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