Sunday, March 8, 2020

Remote/Online/E-Learning and Hands -Off Dances

Social Media, Icon, Structure, Networks
There are many reasons schools may choose to close to on-site learning and move to remote learning. In times of flu or illness running rampant through our petri dishes, um ... schools we need to be careful about hand holding, instrument sharing, and taking care of our physical health. At present, COVID - 19 is spreading around the world. 

Friends teaching overseas have already been teaching online for months as their schools closed in January.  Some school systems around the US are closed and others making preparations and plans for possible closings. Teachers are being asked to create lessons students can access from home to continue learning.  School, Board, Music, Blackboard
This list is just a quick overview of some possibilities - many more exist and it has been amazing to see the camaraderie of music teachers joining together to help one another continue our students music education. Please add to the conversation - read on and you will see there are many places and spaces for you to join, ask questions, and find answers. If you are not on facebook and cannot access the groups, leave a comment here and I will post your question/comment on fb.  Stay healthy, everyone!

Some of us will stay teaching in our schools and the rules and restrictions around contact, sharing instruments, etc. will be important to consider, particularly in our classrooms where so much of what we do is movement related.

Hands Off Dances/Movement

Click this link for a playlist of many no-touch dances. Please let me know what others you have and I will add them to the playlist. As of right now there are 35 videos. 

For others, we will move to remote/online/e-learning formats where our students will be home and we will be using a platform to teach from. Our school uses Powerschool, and if we go to a remote format, we will direct students and parents to Powerschool and to our existing pages where we can record videos, add documents, and add links to Seesaw, youtube, etc.
Some teachers will use existing subscriptions (such as, Seesaw, etc.) and others will be able to access some new ones - check out this googledoc of Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions Due To School Closings.


So, how to teach elementary music online?  

  • First look at what is already done you might be able to use.  

Google doc with  FREE General Music Distance Learning Resources & Activities

Short, Sweet, Specific
This is the message from many teacher friends overseas who have been remote/online/E-Learning for months. Will students receive lessons in an email or online platform your school uses, will you need paper/pencil activities or online activities? Lots of things to think about here:
Resources for Teaching Online (Not Music Education Specific)

Facebook Groups - Ask Questions, Get Answers, Info, Comments

Ways to Create Lessons with "Active" Teaching (Students See Your Face)

  • Video yourself teaching a lesson, upload to:

YouTube (free) Playlist of  Ted-Ed Music for students here.
Vimeo (free)
Seesaw, (also ready made lessons by music teachers) 
Google Classroom (free)
Edpuzzle "Make Any Video Your Lesson" (free)
Flipgrid (free) article here on 20 Ways to Use Flipgrid in Music Education

  • Create screen recordings - "how to" activities and websites. 
Screencast-o-matic, free

Screencastify free up to 5 minutes of video, Chrome Extension (Use chrome web browser) 

Other Sites to Look At/Make Plans/Activities/Lessons:

Tutorial for Elementary Aged Students:

Sample Lessons or Lessons YOU Can Use

  • Online Lesson using Children's Literature

My friend, Kathy, teaches at Seisen International School in Tokyo and while her school has been out she has continued the learning. She happily shares a very successful lesson we can model using A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.
 A House for Hermit Crab - 3.9 x 0.3 x 5.5 inches 
Her school uses Seesaw but anyone can see this. I love how everything is included right in the Seesaw app!  This could also be done as a youtube or vimeo video with a link to materials in a google doc. 

The New Victory Theater in NYC 

This amazing theater has canceled it's amazing line up of shows, but is bringing lessons for ages 6-12 direct to us at home. The first week (March 16-20) is Percussion Week complete with Body Percussion, stepping, and a bucket or two! Their videos are very kid-friendly:

Teaching Music Digital Learning

Looking for something by grade levels to see what someone else does? Check out this great resource by David Row of Make Moments Matter. 

Music Teacher youtube Videos

Laura and Daniel are music teachers in Hong Kong and are experts now at remote learning. They have a HUGE selection of videos to choose from and they are so clever!  They deliver content through the home learning section of their music blog
 Here are two of their videos.:

Brahms Storm

Loose Tooth Music Note Reading

Mariana teaches in Tokyo, here is a link to her many videos.  Here are a couple of her wonderful videos:

Grade 1 Lesson 5:  Rhythm and Movement

Grade 4 Recorder Lullaby

Krista teaches in Hong Kong and she has several videos students can watch and write a response to - here are a couple:

Instrument Game Show - Do You Know Your Instrument Sounds? 

Singing with Solfege -"Hey, Hey! Look at Me!" (Mi-So Edition)

Other Possibilities 

Che Che Koolay - folk song (traditional) from Ghana

Students learn the song and then can play along with various parts - this would need short directions such as, "Find something at home that makes a shaking sound and play the shaker part when you see the four ta (quarter)notes." Or, "Find two pencils or wooden spoons to try playing the rhythm stick part when you see the rhythm rest titi rest ta."
Have students make connections to Ghana in this short video - chocolate, gold, and poisonous snakes - COOL!! Start the video at 1:00 (advertising before that).

Can Music Bring Joy When Times are Tough? Watch, Listen, and Respond

Check out this googledoc of a sample watch/listen/respond using google forms. Easy to recreate and so perfect for upper elementary to help them deal with the uncomfortable emotions surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Let's Dance

Play along using a fitball (students could use a pillow on a chair and wooden spoons or chopsticks instead of drum sticks)

Hello Echo Rhythm Song

More from Kathy in Tokyo

Jump, Jump, Everyone:

Kye Kye Kule Movement and Song:

What other ideas do you have?  Please join the conversation and let's all help each other continue to make music with our kiddos.


  1. Replies
    1. Sorry to be so late in responding but I just saw your comment today. YOu are so welcome. :)

  2. Aimee you are incredible! Thank you for sharing all of your ideas and knowledge with others! You have inspired me so many times! And I have stolen from you so very much! I wish I lived near you to thank you with a beautiful dinner! Grateful in WI!

    1. Thanks so very much! I am so glad you have found some things useful - if you are ever in NC.. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing!!! Just curious, which platform do you personally like to use for distance learning? I'm trying to pick one right now and am interested in your thoughts.

    1. HI Caitlin,
      Sorry to have taken so long to get back to you. I just did a post today about this.
      Our school uses Powerschool so everything we do is being uploaded there.

  4. Hey Aimee - I am in Australia and we are just getting into online learning. I work with special needs students 14-18yr olds teaching Music I wondering if you know any age appropriate lessons of special needs teachers delivering content to their students via remote learning.

    1. Sorry for the late reply- I just saw your message pop up today. I am so sorry, I don't. Make sure to join the E-learning facebook page and I am sure you will find many responses to your question. The group is here:


Submitted comments will be posted after approval.