End of the year music activities

End of the year music activities

The concerts are over and keeping kids engaged in learning can seem to be impossible. Especially if you are holding strong and still attempting to teach content at the end of the year. Over the past few weeks I have found success with the following end of the year music activities and I thought I would share. They are a great balance of academic work and fun so the activities have kept kids engaged and on task.


My classes are 50 minutes long. I break each class up into 10 minute sections and when 10 minutes is up, I change activities. I think this has been critical to the success these classes. Not every kid is going to love every activity but when they know we are moving on to something else after 10 minutes they tend not to complain nearly as much. (I have middle school students, they like to complain about anything and everything.) Below I have outlined some activities I use…

Note Race

On a music stand outside my classroom door I put a stack of note naming worksheets. Click here if you would like the ones I use (any note naming worksheets you have on hand work fine). I also lean a small whiteboard on the music stand instructing students to take a worksheet as they enter. Once students have taken their seats, instruct them to write down how long they think the worksheet will take them to complete. I then display a stopwatch on the projector at the front of the room and have them race against the time they wrote down. (I use a free online stopwatch to do this)

*I always urge students to be as accurate as possible when doing this, however I also encourage speed as good musicians need to be able to read music and internalize it quickly in order to perform it accurately.

after 10 minutes, we move on…

Would you rather…

This is a twist I put on our daily sight-reading exercise. I start by throwing out a question… IE: you are in a movie, would you rather be the hero or the villain? I instruct students to not share their answers. Then I ask one group to stand and then have them perform the sight-reading on the board. I do this kind of thing a couple times. Sometimes the group of students I select is the group that has to perform and other times they are the ones that don’t need to perform and I have the students that are sitting do the singing. This mixes it up and keeps everyone on their toes.

after 10 minutes, we move on…

Turn and Talk

I love this one because it gets the students moving which can be hard to accomplish with large ensembles. Prior to the beginning of class I plug all the students names into an online random list generator (random.org). Next I put a flash card (typically a note name or key signature flashcard from musictheory.net) up on the smart board for 5-10 seconds depending on how much time I feel is appropriate for the given group of students. After the 5-10 seconds I take it off the board and they have to turn and talk to the surrounding people to determine the appropriate answer. Using my randomly generated list, I select a student to call out the answer. After the answer is determined, students change seats and a new flashcard is displayed.

after 10 minutes, we move on…

Pass the beat

Fun game that helps teach students to keep a steady beat but in a competitive way that keeps them engaged. Students form circles of at least 8-10 people (more is fine). Using a metronome in the background students pass the beat around the circle by clapping one person at a time in a clockwise motion. Keeping the steady beat continuously going. If a student claps twice (double eighth notes) the beat reverses direction. When the beat reverses direction, if the surrounding students don’t notice and they clap at inappropriate times, they are out. If a student claps a triplet (3 times on the beat that is their turn) the momentum keeps moving in the same direction only this time, the next person gets skipped. The object is to eliminate as many from the circle as possible.

*I have found that once students are eliminated, they tend to either cheer on their classmates or start their own circles so engagement has not been a problem.

after 10 minutes, we move on…


Kahoot is great if the kids have an electronic device they have access too. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend checking it out! It’s an interactive game show like trivia game and students use their own personal device to participate. It has a bank of countless quiz templates that are free to use with students. I have found many having to do with key signatures, note names, note values, and other musical elements. Check it out at: www.kahoot.it

Idea sharing!

If you have great ideas about keeping kids engaged in your ensembles at the end of the year I would love to hear about them! Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

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