Steps to Simplify Your Elementary Music Curriculum & Lesson Plans

Our school’s previous elementary music curriculum was over a hundred pages long and was VERY detailed. It listed the exact music elements that were expected to be learned at each grade level. But, it was overly wordy and hard to use.

Simplify Your Elementary Music Curriculum & Lesson Planning

The current curriculum is completely different. It is much shorter, which is good. But it is very general and vague. A beginning teacher will not have much guidance from this document. And, since there are 11 elementary schools in our district, students who transfer from one school to another may find themselves unprepared for the activities in their new music classroom.

The ideal music curriculum probably lies somewhere in between these two documents. Read on for tips to simplify and clarify your elementary music curriculum and making your weekly/daily lesson planning much easier.

Create Simplified Charts of Elementary Music Curriculum

As an outline of the more detailed curriculum, I created two simple charts to summarize the main music literacy elements that we learn at each grade level. These yearly charts only include the “bare bones” of the rhythmic and melodic elements.

To help you get a jumpstart on your yearly planning, you may download these Elementary Music Yearly Planning Charts. They are 100% EDITABLE so that you may customize them to match your elementary music curriculum. And, best of all they are FREE.

Other Ways to Use These Charts

These rhythmic and melodic learning target charts may be used in a variety of ways.

  • Enlarge the charts and print them as classroom posters to display learning targets for your students.
  • Print the charts as handouts for parents during open house or parent-teacher conferences.
  • Print the charts and place them in your planner to use as a planning guide. Use to plan monthly/weekly/daily plans.
  • Place charts in student portfolios.

Create a Monthly Scope and Sequence

After you complete your yearly charts, the next step is to create a monthly scope and sequence. Creating monthly curriculum charts for each grade is a big job. But, you should only need to make small changes from year to year.

It is always easier to modify an existing document than start from scratch. These Elementary Music Literacy Scope and Sequence Planning Charts give you a head start. And, they are 100% EDITABLE.

If this is your first monthly plan, just make some educated guesses. Then you can modify it as you go through the year. Don’t worry about perfection.

Creating yearly and monthly charts are the key to simplifying your elementary music curriculum and helping to make your weekly/daily lesson plans more coherent and easier to create.

Integrate Other Music Elements Naturally through Performanc Skills

Rhythm and pitch reading are not the only things that students need to know to be musically literate and sensitive performers. Schedule these musical elements and performance skills into your monthly scope and sequence where they fit best.

  • Tone/Timbre
  • Diction
  • Dynamics
  • Tempo
  • Phrasing
  • Articulations
  • Form
  • Meter
  • Improvisation
  • Composition
  • Instruments of the Orchestra/Band

Integrating other musical elements and activities while using the same songs helps to keep these music literacy songs fresh. But, it also teaches these other elements in an authentic, applicable manner.

Look for even more opportunities to multitask and be efficient. Vocal warm ups offer another short, simple way to teach and reinforce music literacy skills.

Allow Plenty of Time to Practice and Learn Music Concepts

As you are creating your monthly sequence, take the following guidelines into consideration.

  • Be realistic and set an attainable timetable. Schedule grade-level performances into your monthly charts.
  • Build in review. This is especially important if you frequently have new students.
  • Teach and practice each music literacy song multiple times. These should NOT be “one and done” kind of lessons.
  • Keep songs fresh by adding different activities during each class session – games, movement, Orff instrumental patterns, harmony parts, etc.
  • Practice the same music elements with multiple songs and activities to cement learning.

Students should experience and practice singing, playing, reading, and “writing”, the same musical elements many times in many different ways to develop and internalize music concepts.

Creating Weekly/Daily Lesson Plans

Following the sequence outlined in your monthly charts allows you to easily plug in songs and activities that teach music literacy in a sequential way. Select activities that have worked well for you in the past. Toss or revamp activities that have not gone well. Then, look for new songs, resources, and activities to fill in the gaps.

Finding the perfect song or activity to teach each specific music literacy element can be tricky. This free easy-to-use Elementary Music Literacy Resource Guide includes a detailed index of music elements. This makes finding the ideal activities simple. This helpful index includes MANY FREE resources as well as helpful paid resources.

“Everything Relates to Everything”

This is a frequent saying of one of my favorite college professors. And, she is right! Teaching music reading, technique, performance skills, and music creation/composition is all related.

Your elementary music curriculum should be coherent and activities should build upon prior learning. Using the charts provided here will make creating sequential, effective, and efficient music lesson plans much easier. And, in the long run, it will save your precious time.


HELPFUL PLANNING RESOURCES

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