Making Music Joyful!

Lauren Summa - Clear Creek ISD Inservice - January 18, 2016

Terrific Technology for the Music Room

QR Code Note Match

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Match the cards to their mates for an easy and fun note review! Click here to download this activity.

Choose a simple QR code reader for your students, like the i-nigma QR reader app.

Making a QR Code Match Game

What other skills could be reviewed using this activity? This game should be used with skills from the Foundations strand of the TEKS. These skills are low on Bloom's Taxonomy.
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  1. Choose topic (See the TEKS here!)
  2. List terms for review
  3. Gather symbols (I create them in Photoshop)
  4. Find reward images
  5. Save reward images on your website
  6. Create QR codes (
  7. Set table in Word
  8. Paste in symbols, QR codes, and write in terms

Want to use my reward images and QR codes? Download the word template here!


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KABOOM! is a fun and easy game for review! Stick your hand in the bag and pull out a piece of paper.

Did you pull out a letter?

  1. Place the note on the correct line/space of the music staff
  2. Scan the QR code to check your answer
  3. If you're right, keep the card! If you're wrong, put it back.

Did you pull out a star? That's a KABOOM!

  1. Scan the QR code for a funny pic (takes the sting out of losing)
  2. Put back ALL YOUR LETTERS!

The person with the most letters at the end wins!

Download absolute pitch KABOOM! here!

Making your own KABOOM!

This is another low-level Bloom's activity. Select your topic from the foundations strand of the TEKS!

  1. Choose topic (see the TEKS here!)
  2. List terms/symbols for review
  3. Gather or create answer images
  4. Find reward images
  5. Save reward images on your website
  6. Create QR codes (
  7. Set table in Word
  8. Paste in symbols, QR codes, and write in terms

Want to use my KABOOM! images and QR codes? Download the word template here!

Apps in the Music Room

Consume and Create

When choosing apps for your students, think about whether your students will be consuming content or creating content. BOTH have a place, but creation apps will help your students immerse themselves in higher-level thinking.

Instrument Apps

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Apps for Solo Singing

Sock Opera

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This activity asks students to understand and apply their musical knowledge.
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Make an old favorite new with science content and a fun creation app.

  1. Review the song Did You Feed My Cow with the group.
  2. Illustrate the song with simple pictures organized in a food chain.
  3. In small groups, students sort through pictures of animals and create new food chains.
  4. Groups select their favorite food chain and change the words to the song to fit their new content.
  5. After practicing the song as a group, record it using the sock puppets app.

Creating activities with creative apps...

Before designing a new technology activity, evaluate your app! The SAMR model is a fantastic tool for quickly categorizing technology.
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Substitution - The technology is a direct substitute, but there is no functional change

Augmentation - The technology is a direct substitute, but with functional improvement

Modification - The technology lets you redesign the task significantly

Redefinition - The technology lets you create tasks you couldn't dream of without it

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Once you select your app, choose a topic from the TEKS that matches the Bloom's Level of the app (see the TEKS here!).
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Apps for Melodic Play

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Music Literacy Apps

Sing for your Supper

This activity has it all! From music reading to composition, your students will be flexing their mental muscles. Click here to download all files for this activity!
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  1. Go fishing for three fish. Read the melodies on their bellies...use the QR codes if you need help!
  2. Place the fish on their matching solfege platters. Line them up and sing all three in a row. Arrange them for maximum melodic effect.
  3. Choose your cat - Fancy or Foul - and create some suppertime lyrics your character would sing. Practice performing your musical creation as a group.
  4. Use Chatterpix to create a video of Fancy or Foul singing your new song.

DO NOT introduce the technology aspect of this project until all students are done with steps 1-3! If the kids know about Chatterpix, they will most definitely jump ahead.

Making a Melodic Masterpiece

The formula for this project is pretty simple, but the technology can be tricky. If you're not used to digitally creating classroom materials, you can make almost everything by hand. Just print out the QR code and glue it on!

1. Select the melodic patterns your students need to practice.

2. Think of a theme that fits your personality and your students' interest.

3. Record yourself (or a student!) singing the melodies. Upload the recordings to YouTube or TeacherTube.

4. Create QR codes leading to the melodic recordings.

5. Create visuals that correspond with your theme, including melodic patterns, solfege labels, and your singing stars.

Web Publishing Tools

Got something to say? These online tools will help you say it with style.

Like these notes? They're made in Smore! Use smore for newsletters, presentation notes, or to present student projects. It's simple to use and FREE to use (up to five documents). After you've published, check out stats on who views your document.

Tackk is an online publishing and social media platform. Create a profile for your school or performing group to build an easily-updated news stream. Readers can comment and share your creations on facebook - and they look great!

Check out a story written by my son about a criminal banana...

Canva will make you look like a graphic design professional in minutes. Choose from a huge selection of projects that you can personalize for free or for a fee. From resumes to posters, canva makes it easy to put your best foot forward.
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Digital Art

Need a visual to make your next lesson dynamic? Search for graphic designers online and get the perfect pictures for your project. My favorite site is Miss Kate Cuttables - all the clipart for last summer's MATCH conference was purchased there for pennies!
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Layer your clipart with text to create logos, visuals, and bulletin boards!
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Making Orff Pop


Get kids playing quickly with pop music playalongs. Use whatever instruments you have handy and play!

Shake it Off

This Taylor Swift hit is the perfect song for introducing ukulele to your students! Add orchestration for a concert-worthy arrangement.


Even though this song is a few years old, it is worth dusting off for your classes. Practice simple chord changes and steady beat! This is truly the most simple song in the world to play. Your kids will feel like rock stars! Click here for a simple orchestration.

Livin' on a Prayer

Believe it or not, this arrangement was written at the request of a fifth grade class! A fun song that can be played with the Bon Jovi recording or as a stand-alone arrangement.

Ho, Hey

The Lumineers recorded this easy-going hit in 2012. Use it to jam out and practice switching from a rhythmic pattern to the steady beat. Ukuleles are also great on this song! Click here for an Orff arrangement.

Somebody That I Used to Know

What Does the Fox Say?

Behavior Management

Get Positive!

The best offense is a good defense. I am passionate about positivity with my students.

Positive Power

Even when students are squirrely, I try to think of a way to spin things in a positive way. Here are some of my favorites:

  • I wake up every Thursday in a GREAT mood because I know you guys are coming to music!
  • Yes!! I was hoping I would see you guys!!
  • Wow - I see so many students who doing just what I asked. Thank you so much - you make being a teacher so easy!
  • I am so happy! I have one...two...three...four students who are standing quietly facing forward. You guys are great! Oh...and look! More kids doing great! So many superstars in this class.
  • I know your teachers must be really sad when they drop you off to specials. You're so wonderful to work with!
  • Almost everyone used a singing voice instead of a speaking voice! I am so proud of you...I am probably going to dream about that tonight!
  • Ugh - I am so lucky. I teach the best subject. I get to hear you guys make music every day.
  • How did you do that?? Are you guys fifth graders in disguise?? Did you sneak into first grade today and try to trick me??

Yes - I make great use of flattery.


Take every opportunity to tell your students how much you trust them.

  • Using Instruments
  • Using technology
  • Concerts
  • Visitors


I know that rewards can backfire if you rely solely on them for good behavior, but they can be invaluable with tough classes and students. Use them judiciously! Here are some from my bag of tricks:

  • Bubble Wrap
  • Hall of Fame
  • Chap Stick
  • Music Rocks
  • Wind Chimes
  • Jack in the Box
  • Cool Kid Spray
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Listen and Smile

  • Spend most of your time smiling and laughing!
  • Invest in your sanity by listening to stories and blurts.
  • Love the hard-to-love kids...they need it most.

The Gift of Words

Teach your students to be proud of their accomplishments and those of their friends!

  • Wait until you hear this...
  • You're an awesome musician!
  • I know - I worked hard!
  • Did you hear me sing that?

Signals and Cues

Curate a collection of signals and cues to provide structure to your class.


Chord Progression

Short Rhythm



To track behavior, write M-U-S-I-C on the board. If more than five kids are not following directions, erase a letter. Lose all five letters? That's a bad day...have to tell the homeroom teacher!


Kids doing what they're supposed to do? Give them a point! Are they not quite cutting it? Give yourself a point. This works really well with classes that are reluctant to participate. If they give you five points, they lose time from a game or activity they really enjoy.


Post your rules and refer to them often. Let the kids know you MEAN them!

  • No more than five rules.
  • First two are "Follow Directions" and "Keep Hands/Feet to Yourself."
  • Last three are specific to your subject.


If you do a program like Capturing Kids Hearts, the social contract takes the place of rules. I post procedures next to the social contract.


When my kids are awesome, I have rewards in place to let them know I appreciate them.

1. Tell the Teacher

2. Tell the Principal

3. Call Home

4. Game Days


When good will doesn't hold off the bad behavior, have a CLEAR and CONSISTENT plan in place to deal with disruptions. This is mine:

1. Warning

2. Move Seat/Removal from Activity

3. Note/Call Home

4. Office Referral

Stick to the plan and don't argue. You lose EVERY argument you have with a kid. And don't give away your can do ANYTHING for 45-55 minutes. Then you get to start over again!

Game Plan

AISD adopted Game Plan as its elementary music curriculum in 2013. Why do we love Game Plan?

  • It uses tried and true songs and activities that veteran teachers know work.
  • New teachers find the curriculum easily accessible.
  • STUDENTS make the music, not CDs!
  • Although the curriculum is heavy on Orff, sight singing skills are also emphasized.
  • The year is beautifully sequenced and accessible in scope.

While I can't duplicate and distribute activities from Game Plan, I would still love to share them with you!

Third Grade

  • Remember Me (p. 13)
  • Four Beats After (continuous)
  • Papa Moses (p. 24)
  • Hill and Gully Rider (p. 34)
  • Jazz Pizzicato (p. 48)
  • Mini-Canon (p. 58)
  • Movement Canon (p. 63)
  • Fjaskern (Teaching Movement and Dance)

Lauren Summa

Lauren Summa has been an educator for 17 years, the last 12 at Melba Passmore Elementary in the Alvin Independent School District. In 2008 she was chosen as campus Teacher of the Year and honored as Alvin ISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. She has served as AISD’s Lead Music Teacher for seven years. During that time, Mrs. Summa has worked to bring collaborative opportunities to Alvin elementary music teachers with programs like the AISD District Musical, Fine Arts Showcase, Elementary Music Festival, and AISD Uke Fest.

Lauren earned her BME from Texas Christian University. After earning her undergraduate degree, she moved with her family to Vermont and completed a Master of Arts in Teaching with Internet Technologies at Marlboro College.

In October 2015, Mrs. Summa served as a co-chair for the first-ever Music and Technology Conference of Houston (MATCH). In addition to her work on MATCH, Lauren is TMEA Region 17 Elementary chair and has presented sessions for AISD, Region 17, TETA, TCDA, and TI:ME/TMEA.