Middle School
The Arts

Music Theory for Middle Schoolers

This collection is targeted to students with some music experience, who can comfortably play their instrument. As always, practice is paramount, so some of the resources focus on providing customizable exercises to help students recognize written notes and train their ears. Other resources include lesson plans and videos which introduce musical analysis in simple but relevant ways.
A Collection By Billy McGrath
  • 8 Collection Items
  • 8 Collection Items
  • Discussion
Music Theory for Middle Schoolers
  • Billy McGrath says:
    This blog post discusses the benefits of teaching music theory to students and addresses some common concerns as well. For teachers who want to focus on "just playing" or are unsure of where to begin, the author describes several strategies that could be easily implemented with the resources provided in this collection.
  • Billy McGrath says:
    This article highlights the advantages and pitfalls to learning music by theory and by ear. These are good points to keep in mind when planning lessons or dealing with students who don't see the point in one method or the other.
  • Billy McGrath says:
    This is a packet of worksheets focusing on time signature exercises. The answer key can be found here: http://www.musicfun.net.au/pdf_files/time_signatures_answers.pdf
  • Billy McGrath says:
    I love using this video as an introduction for students who are learning how to recognize song form and analysis. Starting with the simple idea of repetition and asking them to identify repetition in their favorite songs makes for a good starting discussion.
  • Billy McGrath says:
    This is a simple flash game that I sometimes assign as homework for students who don't get excited about worksheets (actually does anyone get excited about worksheets?). This is a good way to get students to practice identifying notes on the treble and bass clefs. The range of notes that will appear can also be selected, so for students who have trouble counting ledger lines above and below the staff this can be a fun dynamic way to practice.
  • Billy McGrath says:
    This is a relatively advanced lesson plan for examining the form and structure of Gamelan music. It helps to spend a day introducing the music first and give the students a homework assignment of listening to some examples so they can have time to process the new sounds. Also recommend that students have spent some time thinking about different forms or music they are familiar with (classical, jazz, pop, etc) before doing this activity. With the prep work done, this is a very rewarding exercise.
  • Equal Rhythms

    Activity
    educationcloset.com
    educationcloset.com
    Billy McGrath says:
    I like to use this activity shortly before introducing students to pieces with non 4/4 time signatures. Taking a moment to recognize the relation between time signature, beats, and fractions is helpful for many students. After spending some time in 4/4 I introduce 5/4 and 6/8. Play your favorite pieces that emphasize these time signatures, then use the rhythmic composition activity and challenge students to compose at least one piece in a non 4/4 meter.
  • Billy McGrath says:
    I use this tool to put together quizzes for my music students. I like it because you can create an individual link to each set of exercises you design that can be reused, or you can make individual exercises for students who need extra help. This is my favorite resource for ear training, the earlier students are taught to listen for and recognize intervals the easier it is to internalize.
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