Music Ed Mentor Podcast #022: Elementary Music for Secondary Teachers (Part 2)

Music Ed Mentor Podcast #022: Elementary Music for Secondary Teachers (Part 2)

Many music educators leave college planning to lead a secondary school music program, but find employment teaching elementary music. In our previous episode, master elementary music teacher David Row and I had a great discussion about how to get started with an elementary program. As it turned out, much of David’s advice applies to the secondary classroom as well! If you haven’t had a chance to listen to part 1, I highly recommend it.

In this week’s episode, David and I continue our conversation about teaching elementary music.

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In This Episode, You’ll Learn How To:

  • Uncover “hidden” resources that can help your teaching
  • Improve your teaching in your second year
  • Make your classroom an inviting, exciting place for students
  • Choose instruments and equipment for your elementary music classroom

Sample Elementary Music Lesson Plan

We’ve included a free lesson plan for elementary music teachers. With it, your students will listen and learn about Bach. It includes activities for mapping “Toccata and Fugue” and Bach stories that will ignite the interest of young students.
Download the checklist here

Three Key Takeaways

“You should get a ukulele.”

Ukuleles are super mobile. They don’t impede you from interacting with the kids or get in your way when it’s time to sing along. Kids love that they’re small, and you’ll love how easy they are to learn to play. Ukulele naturally lends itself to simple keys (C major, D major, F major), and with a cheap plastic one you can successfully accompany your elementary kids in no time.

“Look into Orff and Kodály training.”

As David puts it, “everything made a lot more sense” after Orff training. You’ll learn how to scaffold and segment lesson plans in a way that’s specifically designed for elementary-age students. Orff training helps integrate creation and expression into more traditional theory curriculum.

“Give specific instruments specific meaning”

Whether you use a  clapping call-and-response pattern to get students’ attention or a specific chime tone for announcing the end of class, musical cues help with classroom management. You’ll also reinforce musical concepts by incorporating music into these everyday tasks and patterns. Be sure to keep these cues consistent, especially for younger students.


Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, grow, and manage thriving school music programs. With an MBA alongside her degree in music, she is also a coach and consultant to small businesses and nonprofits around the country, and serves as the conductor of her local community band. She has been teaching music for nearly 20 years and currently holds the prestigious position of elementary music teacher at a private K-8 Catholic School in Grand Junction, Colorado. Elisa was a top presenter at the NAfME National Conference in 2017 and will be presenting at state conferences in 2018. She is the founder of the International Music Education Summit and the author of The Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive.

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