Are you teaching Kindergarten music or Pre-Twinkle Suzuki classes to young students?
Working with very young kids is so rewarding! At the same time, the younger the kids, the more energy the class requires on the teacher’s part!
If you are teaching in a school environment with a larger class, that may make things a bit more challenging.
Here are some ideas to make it work!
- Changing the pace very quickly is the trick to teaching students who are very young.
- Creating lots of movement activities and alternating all the time with quiet activities will create an environment where young kids stay on track.
How Did This Post Come Into Being?
I just finished teaching two classes for Suzuki box with kindergarten students at the University of New Mexico Suzuki prep school. Most of my work now is with older students so I really enjoyed working with the younger ones. It brought be back to my early years in teaching which felt wonderful.
At the same time, I have been getting a few emails with teacher questions through my blog. The questions have been about ideas for teaching the youngest musicians and how to get kindergarten students engaged and cooperating at a school environment.
So here are some ideas that I have found helpful when teaching Suzuki classes to the very young students.
You can apply the same ideas to any music classroom.
Create a circle time at the beginning of class to center the students.
I strongly suggest creating a circle time at the very beginning of class. As the students walk into the room, they sit down, hold their hands and sing a song. This indicates the beginning of class.
It will help centering the kids. It will quiet them.
Holding hands also serves the same purpose. It will prevent one of the kids going off track.
If you are Suzuki teacher, you would do the same at the beginning of very young Pre-Twinkle class. Sing a song, then move to working with the instruments.
Circle time will take care of discipline problems if students are walking into the room and wiggling around, not being on task, etc.
Note that you would need to start this activity at the beginning of the year to be most effective so that students get used to it from day one.
Try Listening Time at the Beginning and End of Class
You can add listening and add to the idea above for the beginning of class.
As we all know listening is very important for young kids who are in music. It is a great idea to use music to also get them to also create discipline.
Have music playing as young student are walking into the classroom. They know that they need to enter quietly so they can hear the music.
Make it a game in order to introduce the activity. For example play the “quiet game” so that nobody talks while the music is playing.
You can also do this the last 5 min of class. Simply have students listen for a few minutes before the bell.
Note of caution: Listening and quiet activities will only work if you establish from the very beginning of the school year. If you introduce it after the students are used to a certain way, you may get different results.
If you teach Suzuki Pre-Twinkle classes, remember how important listening is. Know that not all parents will follow your advice and listen to their Suzuki CD daily. So adding that little bit of listening at the beginning and/or end of your group lessons can do wonders for your Pre-Twinkle Suzuki group classes. It will work on both centering the kids and it will provide the much needed listening they need at that stage.
Moreover, coming up with different Suzuki group lessons cold be tricky for Pre-Twinkle Suzuki students for they just don’t have that much ability yet. Creating different activities every week can be tiring on a teacher. So adding listening to your actual group class can aid with lesson planning.
1/3 of class
Create Movement soon after the class begins. You can see lots of ideas below.
In about 10 min after class begins students will start losing focus. They naturally get tired due to their age and attention. Create an activity that requires movement to keep them centered around that time.
Movement Activities for Kindergarten and Pre-Twinkle Suzuki Classes
Sing a song while holding hands in a circle and walk in the circle. To teach form or different parts of the song, change walking direction when you reach another part of the song.
Do lots of listening and recognizing strings and rhythms. For example, “I will play two rhythms. If you hear pepperoni pizza, jump” I will play two different stings. Guess which one I am playing. If it is A string, stand on one leg”.
Play a song for the students. Have them show you with their hands when the music is loud (F), soft (p), etc. They would hold their hands up for loud, down for soft, etc.
Do the same with pitches. Play a scale. Have the students show you with their hands when the notes are higher in pitch. Progressively start playing different note and have them listen and recognize and show you high the pitch is with their hands.
Sing a song. Pick a part where they can do something silly. For example at the verse, they could wiggle, if there is a rest, they can jump,etc. The sillier the better and the more they are going to love it!
Create Many Activities That Change Fast
- Younger kids have shorter attention span. Having many types of different activities that are SHORT will really keep them engaged.
- You need to have a few activities activities for one class. But it is OK to repeat the activities daily. Younger kids like repetition and thrive on consistency. If you change the pace fast you can still do the same activities on Monday and on Friday.
- Alternate activities sitting down with moving. This will also keep them engaged. For example, sing a song in a circle, then have them sit on the floor and clap some rhythms, immediately after stand up and show a bow hold, let’s hold hands in a circle after that, etc.
- The more you pick up the pace of the lesson and transition between activities quickly, the better the kids will respond to you.
How to Schedule Your Lessons & When to Create Movement
- The trick to keeping Kindergarten music students and and Pre-Twinkle Suzuki students engaged is to alternate activities fast and create lots of movement.
- Try lesson planning in such a way that every time they get just a bit tired..the teacher trows in a very fun activity they cannot resist. So observe your class. At what point in time do the students become tired or loose focus? After about 10 minutes? When they walk in the door? Right before the last bell? Then create movement activities right then!
- Basically you want to “track” what the students are doing and create the opposite activities. When their focus is low, go with something fast, silly, or activity that creates movement. When their energy is high, go with a centering or quieting activity.
If You End Up With Behavior Issues
If at any point you feel that your young students are losing focus and starting to be disengaged, try of of the three ideas above, it will REALLY help with focusing and discipline. Don’t underestimate the pacing of the lesson when working with the younger students. The faster the class moves, the better the students will behave.
Ready Pre-Twinkle Suzuki Group Lesson Plan
You may look into this Suzuki Pre-Twinkle lesson plan. It is ready as a product to download. It will give you more ideas. At the same time, the group lesson follows the ideas above.
What IS YOUR Experience?
I love reading your comments! Share your experiences. What type of school situation do you teach at? What activities work well for you and what challenged do you face? Are you in the USA or do you teach elsewhere? Share in the comments! Your feedback will be helpful to other teachers!