A music game to learn student names

A teacher who directs the children’s choir of Carroll County, Md., and develops curricular materials for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra writes in a newsletter from the National Association for Music Education that a simple listening game can be a fun way to help teachers learn the names of all the new students they’ll encounter as the year starts.


It starts with a simple listening game and ends with learning those names (Joann Benson)

Beginning with a simple 4/4 riff, played on the piano, kids march on the lower notes and snap their fingers on the higher notes, Joann Benson writes in today’s edition of the “Orchestrating Success” newsletter.

Then the teacher can switch it up a little, extending the melody in the lower notes to more than a couple beats, just to see if kids are still paying attention. Some of them will probably listen and respond with motor behavior better than others, she suspects.

Anyway, once they all get it, the teacher can add other motor behaviors to the game, such as walking in one direction on the lower notes instead of just marching in place. The teacher can then substitute saying names for the snapping—or, better, add the saying of names to the snapping. Students call on each other student in the class until all students have been identified at least once.

It could get interesting if two students in the class are named Juan or Susie, but that’s also part of the fun.

And it comes with music, so some piano (or guitar, I suppose) skills are necessary to implement this. But the music’s not really hard and could probably be performed, with only slight variations, even by non-music teachers.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.