I have been in schools before where the classroom teacher quietly leads their class, single file, to Music. But more often than not, my classes now come running in, still engrossed in the conversation they had started on their way to class. Depending on where the students were before, four or five minutes can easily pass as they trickle in, one by one. So instead of making the first people in the room wait (im)patiently for the last, I’m trying to make a habit of having an entrance activity.
I’ve used this in my planning many times before, but it’s occurring to me that this needs to be a part of the daily routine in my classroom. Sometimes it is a quiet activity they can do, or discussion they can have in pairs or trios, but I have found that a listening prompt works best for several reasons:
- There is an instant aural cue that something is happening as soon as they walk into the room.
- The music, whether it is “calm” or not, gets them focused and listening.
- Listening with a specific purpose gets their brains thinking musically before I even start the formal lesson.
- So far, every prompt has been so open-ended that every child can do it successfully and feel that it has been a success.
- Just a bonus, but I enjoy listening to the music as well; it gets me in a good mood for my class!
If you need some inspiration, here are a few that my students have enjoyed recently.
“Il Vecchio Castello” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition
(What kind of place does the music describe?)
“Dôme épais le jasmine (The Flower Duet)” from Delibes’ Lakmé
(What are the characters singing about?)
Dance of the Peasant and the Bear from Stravinsky’s Petrushka
(What characters do you imagine? What are they doing?)
Put the prompt/question on the board, and have the music playing as they come in. If it’s a short piece, you may need to repeat it. If not, then be sure the last students to come in will still hear enough of it—or the right parts—to successfully respond.
For now, the listening is working well for us. What is the first thing your students do as they enter your classroom?