The Muppets and Music

    The Muppets..I say it and a shiver of joy runs like a river down my back. I remember watching reruns, movies or whatever video that came my way just to get a glimpse of Kermit, Miss Piggy, or the ever so daring Gonzo. I still watch them. I own DVDs of the first 3 seasons and almost all of the movies they have ever made, The Muppet Movie, Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets Take Manhattan ..I know I know..nerdness points added to my already high score. 

They bring a new sense of creativity and wonderment into the world. It’s unexpected, it’s powerful, it’s a pure untainted childlike world where not many can resist it’s excitement.

A big part of the Muppet’s world for me is it’s music which I share with my students from time to time. It turns a sad day into a happy day, or a tension filled moment into one filled with laughter. Really, who can resist the Swedish Chef making music while his popcorn is being popped?:

What stands apart from the rest is the decades of performances from musical guests on the show that inspire:Harry Belafonte

My students know my love of these crazy characters.

  • I’ll replace the occasional song in class with a classic Muppet hit to sing along to “Mana Mana” or show the video of Beaker singing the Habenera as we dance our own version of the tango after a discussion on a latin beat .
  •    It is a perfect way to introduce theatrics to elementary students. Using Muppets to show emotions, act out stories, sing and dance with the music.
  •   You can even introduce classical music played in a different muppetastical way with Rowlf showing off his piano talent playing with “Fur Elise” and many other famous pieces from composers and musicians, Victor Borge.

The Muppets, classic, hilarious, awesome. What more is there?

Jim Henson

Quaver Music Web Quests (Part 2)

A web quest, is a simple way to make a website a meaningful experience for a class independent activity. You need a solid subject or goal, a great introduction to pull in your student’s attention, and a few small activities to guide the student through the website while staying on the subject or goal you created before hand. I’ve written a lot of different web quests for websites to use in my classroom but my favorite website to write them for is . I’ve written 7 quests in a previous post a few months ago: Quaver Music Webquests . After just a few hours spent with the Quaver crew in Nashville I was in my hotel room and decided to eat two of those GooGoo clusters (sssoooo goooood). Which caused an intense sugar high and led to me jumping around my room like a crazed maniac and inspired a new set of them. Here’s 8 more! (15 web quests total!):

Music History: I had a large package delivered to me today!What did I find inside? A PHONEBOX! Pete the Cat and I took it for a spin back to the golden age of Disco but Pete got lost along the way!  Follow the directions on the board to help me recover Pete!
Phonebox– I lost Pete while in the Phonebox let’s start there! Choose a composer and go back to learn about them. Read the book and answer the questions to try to get some new duds for your avatar!
Metro– Choose a metro stop to try to find poor Pete. Learn about the history of the music at that stop by reading the book and answering the questions. After you learn about it, try to place when that style of music started at the appropriate place on the timeline.
Composer Slide Puzzle– After you are done writing on the timeline try to find one of the composer slide puzzles in the shop to work on while we try to finish finding poor lost Pete.
Performance: Well hi there! Since last class, we’ve started a music classroom band and guess what! You’re the manager! There is a down side though…our band has NO stage presence…it’s time to do some research!
QDancer– To be in a band on stage you have to have some killer dance moves to get the attention of the crowd. Head to QDancer in the studio and choreograph a sweet routine for our next gig.
Metro– In order to be a good band we need to watch some great bands on stage. Choose a stop on the metro to visit, listen to the music, and try to answer the questions in the book to learn all about that style of music.
QSoundFX– Our faces need some emotion to get the crowd revved up. Head over to the lab and click on the QSoundFX. Put your sounds to the emotions video to show us what it’s all about
Scales: Up and down goes a set of stairs and so does a scale! Let’s discover what makes scales so special!
Hidden bell game– A scale goes step by step, find the hidden bell game in the shop and listen to each bell. Put them in order just like the directions on the screen. Can you hear them go up step by step? If you can’t a bell must be out of place!
EarIQ Carnival– It’s time to get a little practice hearing the steps in a scale. Head to the lab and play the pitch game at the EarIQ Carnival. Once you’ve got that mastered play a quick game of intervals to hear what is more than just a step.
QComposer– Wow! You’ve made it to scale expert! It is time to make your own. Head to the Studio and click on the QComposer piano. Build me a scale going up and down, just like this:
Music Business- Want to go behind the scenes of the music biz? Well perfect! I snagged you an intern job at a big time music company. You have to know your stuff though, follow directions below to get on top of your game.
QStudio– To be in the music industry you have to know about playing instruments and writing songs. Head to the Studio and pick an instrument. Write at least a 3 measure (If you are using QStrum or QComposer) or a full page (if you are using QGrooves or QBackbeats) song.
QDancer– You have to be able to know good stage performance and having great moves is a part of that. Head to the QStudio and click on QDancer. Choreograph a killer routine.
QTrivia– Now it’s time to test your knowledge! Go to the music room and click on the arcade. Play a round of the Bands category in QTrivia!
Instruments and Families- It is a BIG family reunion day at the park! Families are everywhere and are getting mixed up! Better get some help to figure out which family member belongs where!
Interactive Instruments– Search around the Quaver world for the instruments that make music when you click them. How many can you find? Try to pick one instrument and write it in the correct instrument family category on the board.
Roadies to the Rescue– Time to help load the instruments into the van! You have to know which instrument is which though. Head to the Arcade in the Music Room and play a game of Roadies to the Rescue.
QTrivia– Now here’s the ultimate instrument test! Stay in the Arcade and play a round of Which instrument!
Meter: 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 2/4 ooooo I’m all confused! How about you? Follow the directions to learn what all these numbers have to do with meter!
Jukebox– To figure out meter you have to really listen to the music. Head to the shop and click on the Jukebox. Play three songs and try to figure out whether they are in 3/4, 2/4, or 4/4. Write down your guesses under the different categories on the board.
Metro– Now it’s time to bring your meter knowledge to the streets. Head to the Metro and choose a stop. Listen to the music, how many songs are in 4/4 there?
QMeasureUp– Here is the icing on the cake. Head to the Arcade in the Music Room and play a round or two of QMeasureUp. I challenge you to play either medium or hard!
Form: It keeps the chaos at bay, it organizes music nice and neat for us to listen to. Follow the steps to learn more about form.
QDancer– Form is everywhere not just in music. Check out the QDancer in the studio to choreograph some awesome moves. Watch for how perfect each move is, when a move looks great in a dance that is called having great form.
QGrooves– ABA, ABACA, AABB. All of these are different forms with each letter like a pre packed little box of music. Head to QGrooves in the Studio and create a song with the form ABACA using the boxes of music in there.
QComposer– Alright, now head to the QComposer in the Studio and write me four measures of melody with the form ABAB. If you have to write in many measures are going to be different?
Songwriting: What rhymes with orange? HELP! I’m stuck with writing this song! Can you follow the directions to write a song for me?
Metro Head to the metro and travel to a stop you have never been to before. Listen to the music and gain some inspiration to write some lyrics as you complete the puzzle.
QLyrics– It’s time to get some amazing lyrics.  Head to the QComposer in the Studio and compose 5 measures of melody before clicking the Qlyrics button in the upper left and writing some awesome words to go with your melody!
QBackbeat or QGrooves– Here is the test to see if you are ready to be a song writer! Create a beat in QBackbeat or QGrooves first. Ready? now write me a 3 sentence rap to go with it and perform it to a friend!
Like these? Take them, Repost them, share them with a friend. I don’t mind, as long as you let me know how they go over in your classroom after! 🙂

Quaver Music and a Digital Portfolio (A Two Parter)

 I’m coming off an amazing weekend down in Nashville visiting the Quaver crew, it is such a good feeling to be so supportive of a great music education program and be recognized for it. I felt very lucky and blessed to be able to share my thoughts on the program and meet some amazing and dedicated individuals who work for the company.

      As a lot of my readers know I use a lot in my classroom for a lot of different technology purposes. I find the website a great collection of creatives and tools to easily incorporate tech into the classroom. Before using Quaver I was an avid user of using their Roc and Myna creatives in a number of lessons. After the sad news that Aviary is cutting those creatives off in September I was struck with a problem. While using Aviary I developed a project that fulfilled s digital portfolio requirement for my 5th graders. What should I do now?

In the state of NH each student in the public school system has a digital portfolio that is created in kindergarten and follows them all the way until senior year of high school. It is filled with technology projects they complete through the years accompanied with a reflection on the project the students fill out individually. General classroom teachers in my buildings are required to complete 5 of these a year with their classes, and I as a specialist am required to do one a year with one full grade, I choose 5th because they are already trained in the routines of using computers independently and I can dive deeper into a little more complicated music technology than I could with other grades. The project must fulfill a number of NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) and for me it must also fulfill a number of National Music Standards as well.

 I originally decided to show students another side of music that they had rarely seen before which is usually technology in music. The project originally consisted of students using the Roc creator and bringing it over into the audio editor Myna and mixing in what they created with other stock audio from Quantum tracks. (ooo audio editor in Quaver?..must bookmark idea for later..)

Out of the blue I decided to try at the end of this past year with my last group of 5th graders as their portfolio project. Aviary was having issues loading at my school and I had no time or patience to deal with it, so I turned to Quaver.(I was lucky too, I didn’t find out the Aviary news until this summer!) When giving students a website for a project you need to give them direction in order to make it a meaningful experience. It could be one activity, it could be a whole web quest like I have shared before.  This project was great for my 5th graders, not only was there less confusion in what to do but they found it interesting and fun. The big difference between Aviary and Quaver is Aviary was leveled more for middle and high, Quaver is leveled more for elementary and middle.

Here’s the project details from the end of the year experiment:

Hello new  star in the making! You’ve decided it is time to get on the road and build your way up to Music Star status. You need to make a few stops a long the way. Follow the directions to get one step closer to your dreams:

1. To be a good musician you need to have good ears. Head to the EarIQ carnival in the lab and play the interval and chords games a few times to train those ears right.

2. Alright, it’s time to check out the competition, walk over to the metro and choose your venue that best describes the type of star you want to be. Go there and listen to the music as you read the book in the menu. Try to answer all of the questions at the end and earn a cool piece of clothing for your avatar!

3.It’s time to finally get in the studio and get writing. Head to the QStudio and click on the QComposer (the piano) and write me a 5 measure melody using all the notes and rests you have learned this year in class. After, click on the QLyrics and compose some silly lyrics to go along with your song!

4.You’ve had a rockin’ career so far and now you’re being interviewed on what you have accomplished. Open up the blank reflection document on your desktop and answer the following questions before saving it to your drive.

1. How did using help you in creating your song? Which way would be easier to write a song, Paper and pencil or the QComposer in Quaver?

2.Will you use to create music in the future? Even if it is not during music class?

It was a simple project to complete that took about 3-4 class periods. After everyone was done we even had a giggly share session with some of the songs that they created. Keeping track of their completion of the project was tough though, I had to make a few trips to our Media Center/Librarian to check on progress. This upcoming year I will have the new Teacher Admin Panel on Quaver so I can keep track of student progress by assigning them the song on QComposer and being able to receive those assignments back and grade them without having to annoy my Media Center neighbor so much. Learn more about the admin panel through a recent Quaver Webinar located here:

Sooooo, I mentioned this was a two part blog post..remember? you’ll hopefully get part two next friday, my little avatar is still out questing!

Start the First Day Out Right

    The students walk into your classroom, it’s hot, they’re bored from listening to the rules all day, and it’s their first music class of the year. You go over the rules and make sure they remember the procedures, that takes about 5 minutes..right? So if you’re me you have 35 minutes left to get the students back into loving music class  from day one. So what do I do? Get the music flowing! It is time to compose our beats, pass out the instruments and rock out. Here is a quick rhythm writing activity that can be modified to fit each grade level K-5:


– 2 beach balls with notes and rests  drawn on to them.

-Percussion instruments

-Whiteboard with markers


-Get one, two, or three staff lines set up on the board. Modify this depending on the class you have, example would be one line for K and 1, two lines for 2 and 3, and three lines for 4 and 5. Each line would be a separate rhythmic ostinato part so you can divide your class into different groups to play each line.

-Start bopping the beach balls around the class like popcorn, let the students know when you start counting down 3..2..1..DONE who ever has the balls must hold them and tell you what note or rest is under their right hands. Have a few practice rounds before you start writing it down. Try to have the ball land on different people each time.

-When you have your ostinatos pass out instruments and assign parts. I try to have at least one strong rhythmic student on each part and will coax the other members in the same group to watch that person to keep the beat because obviously you cannot play 3 parts at once.

-Practice each part as a class before you start putting them together. My students know when I say ostinato they know to keep repeating until I play a finishing drum sound or give a vocal que.

-Once you are playing as a group together ,get grooving to the beat! If you groove they will too. I will stop and switch up parts if we have extra time too. If you want to go the extra mile, record it and have them watch the fun next class and give you describing words about their ensemble.

Tech Variations:If you’re looking for a way to integrate technology into this lesson take out the whiteboard and markers and use a notation software on your teacher computer. There are a few options for free software; Finale notepad, QComposer on, Noteflight, and Musescore are just a few. Another tech variation on this activity is to add a little background beat to your composition with Garageband loops. Have it prepared or choose a couple of those techie angel students to make one that will go along as the class plays.

This activity is simple and gets the students comfortable and familiar with what you do again. Don’t want to write rhythms? Go for melodies and use Orff instruments. It’s a simple activity that gets you groovin’ from the start.