There are many great ideas floating around social media as everyone adjusts to virtual teaching and learning. We thought we’d highlight some of the free resources shared online that have been garnering many likes in the music education community. Plus, we’ve included some popular posts from the past that can generate other ideas for at-home learning. If you know of other free resources or ideas that have worked well for you, please share them in the comments.
Online Music Resources
Much progress was made in the spring in devising techniques to help students learn at home. However, in the 2020-21 school year the expectations may be higher as the pressure to meet standards increases despite the challenges.
To provide digital sheet music options to students, Pepper has extended its Share Music initiative through December 2020. It allows music directors to virtually share music that has been purchased in the last four years, including new purchases. View a list of currently participating publishers. More information also can be found here.
Here are some other options:
- General distance learning resources: Our Teaching Music Online page includes flexible resources that can be used in both a full virtual music classroom or hybrid situation.
- Digital sheet music: ePrint digital titles are the easiest ones to share. There are a total of 200,000 options, including choral, concert band, orchestra, jazz band, pop tunes for piano, voice, and guitar and piano titles.
- Audio resources for choral: Digital audio downloads can help with the remote rehearsal of choral pieces.
- Sight-singing: Sight-singing and warm-up selections can be used to remotely practice important music skills.
- Theory resources: These resources can be used by all music students.
- Method Books: Our collection of method books can help students learning at home become independent musicians. These include method books for concert band and orchestra, as well as orchestra technique books.
- Suzuki Method: The solos in these books are all available digitally in SmartMusic for practice and assessment.
In-Person Instruction with No Groups
Many of the resources above would work for in-person instruction as well. In addition, there are other resources that can be used for individual in-person work. These include:
- Listening: For general music, there are a number of listening resources available for elementary students. The Pepper website also has music tracks included for most compositions listed online. These can be used for listening assignments.
- Games: Also for elementary students, there are number of classroom games that can help children learn about rhythm, sight-reading and more while remaining in their seats.
- Composition: Secondary students can work on individual composition projects.
- Sign-Language: If you are looking for a way to get students moving, you can incorporate music with sign language.
In-Person Instruction with Small Groups Only
There are a plethora of options for smaller ensembles and for groups that will need flexible instrumentation. Here are just some of these options:
- Small choral ensembles/barbershop style
- Smaller vocal ensembles/duets and trios
- Flexible string ensembles
- Flexible band selections
- Flexible chamber music
- Jazz ensemble with reduced instrumentation
- Jazz combo collections
- Collections and chorales for small bands
- Orchestra options for a tight budget
- Section workout resources for jazz ensembles:
Teachers on the Go and Movable Options
If you are a teacher who has lost your music room because of social distancing or you are regularly on the go, a taxi cart is essential. You may also benefit from having movable presentation carts and a whiteboard on wheels so rooms can be reconfigured for distancing needs in seating. View some options here.
Personal Protection Equipment
There are a number of products that can help with safety. These include face shields and acoustic music stands that can be used as dividers. Plexiglass table dividers will also be available soon in our catalog. View the options here
Helpful Software and Applications
Pinkzebra’s free virtual choir template for GarageBand (also free) likewise prompted many shares on Pepper’s Facebook page in recent weeks. Other free options:
- Acapella app
- Zoom – To use this tool for the arts, The Royal Academy of Music in Denmark has posted a YouTube video that shows how Zoom’s sound settings can be best utilized for music. It’s also helpful to follow the recently promoted safety rules to protect everyone’s privacy. (Teachers are reminded to adhere to school policies before using any conferencing system with students.)
For other grid views that can be used for class discussions or other projects, there also are tools, such as:
- Google Meet with the free grid extension
With any online tool, time lag in audio means that groups can’t sing or play instruments together live in separate locations without having major synch problems. Therefore, a number of ensembles are utilizing the mute function. Here is one shared article on the Philadelphia Boys Choir that shows how that group is handling rehearsal.
Make Your Own Instrument: In February, we shared a popular article about a guitar fretboard made of Legos, and in years past we featured videos on making instruments out of vegetables. Also shared was this fun video from Music Crowns on using tools to make music. An elaborate project may be too difficult for some kids, but the idea can be simplified to instruments they can make with everyday household items or materials they find in nature.
Name That Instrument: In January, many music teachers were cringing when Jimmy Fallon and Shaquille O’Neal participated in a random instrument challenge. This could generate ideas for a fun instrument naming game for students, particularly if less common instruments like the waterphone are added.
J.W. Pepper’s website has a host of music tracks that can be used for listening and music practice. In addition, the music community has really stepped up to provide many free performances online. Here are some of the popular options available online:
- 15 Broadway plays & musicals
- Broadway from Home: 157 musicals & shows
- Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Shows Must Go On weekly musical
- Free Online Learning from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
- Sydney Opera House
- The Metropolitan Opera – Free Student Streams
- Classical music concerts listing on ClassicFM
- Montreaux Jazz Festival – 50 concerts (free for 30 days)
- The Philadelphia Orchestra – Listen on Demand library & Learn sessions
- Boston Symphony Orchestra – HomeSchool
- New York Philharmonic – Plays On
- The Seattle Symphony – Free programming
- The Internet Archive of old vinyl records – Unlocked Recordings
- John Williams – 10 movie tracks
A site titled The Kids Should See This includes dozens of videos about music for children.
Pepper’s YouTube channel is filled with music videos covering a host of topics. Here are four recent videos with hands-on music lessons:
Music Warm-Ups & More
Some of the older blog content on Cued In and Pepper’s social media offers practical ideas that can be utilized at home. They include:
20+ Surefire Ways to Warm Up Your Choir – Includes some fun and flexible active warm-ups students can do anywhere – jumping jacks, stretches, balance exercises and more
Summer Resources for Young Pianists – Offers may piano exercises that can be completed by students who are home
Helpful Resources on How to Practice Music Effectively – Links to several articles that provide suggestions for music practice
Free Online Worksheets
General Resources for Online Learning
Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser from Conn Selmer recently released a video with suggestions for students during this time.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) offered a free webinar on developing online music lessons.
Pepper’s Classroom and Choral Editor Tom Dean did a podcast with the Delaware Music Educators Association on distance learning. Listen to it here.
What we may need now more than ever is inspiration. Here are just a few stories we’ve shared on social media in the past year that showcase the power of music from the young to the old.
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