Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekly Planning Checklist

Whether I'm planning my music lessons on a weekly, monthly, or long-term basis, I always start the process by asking myself one question: what do I want my students to get out of this? 

I know that for some kids, their experience in general music may be their first and last opportunity to study "high quality" musical repertoire. That means it is my responsibility to make sure that they are leaving my class with a well-rounded knowledge of music and are having fun doing it. 

I've whittled down my core values of what makes up "high quality" music-making to include the following seven things: folk songs, foreign language songs, contemporary/pop music, classical masterworks, folk dances, improvisation and composition. So when I plan out my weekly lessons, I try to make sure that at least one of my grade levels is doing each of the things on this list each week.

For instance, this week my third graders learned a folk dance (Paw Paw Patch) while my fifth graders studied Mozart's Rondo a la Turka. My first graders sang several folk songs using the pitches so mi and la, while my kindergarteners improvised/composed rhythm patterns using ta and ti-ti. My fourth graders watched this super fun video of the Star Wars theme on Jimmy Fallon, and my second graders sang the African greeting song, Sorida. Next week, each grade will do something completely different from the checklist!

I use this checklist as a reminder of what's important to me and what I know my students will love. I helps me focus my planning on the micro level so that when I look back at the school year on the macro level, I can tell that my kids are getting a well-rounded musical experience in my classroom. 

I know that every teacher's values are different, and I'd be interested to hear what you would add or subtract to this list. Let me know in the comments!


  1. You have a good list! My own list starts with including 2 or more tonalities and 2 or more meters in each lesson. Our textbooks tend to get stuck in major tonality and duple meter, and our students need to experience a much more varied repertoire of music. Your list actually works well with mine, because there are many folk songs, foreign language songs, and classical masterworks in different tonalities and meters.

    1. Great idea about including different tonalities and meters. I love that. When I did Music Together teacher training, they stressed the importance of exposing young children to a variety of tonalities and meters since they learn so much by contrast. Thanks for that reminder!

  2. This is a good list. It is like one I have used in the past with just a few changes in wording. For example, my list was more generic in using 'movement' instead of folk dances which is more specific. Also my list has 'listening' as opposed to masterworks. All in all however you say it, it leads to good planning and a variety of activities to keep everyone busy!

  3. I tend to create themes for the month and include many of these things for each grade level. I also have a theme for the school year and rotate those every four years so that students get some core curriculum in several areas. This year I'm trying to have every Wednesday as a "Composer" Day because we have a shortened class. Great ideas and thanks for sharing!

  4. I think it is so important to include music from a wide variety of genres, cultures, and time periods, and to have students interact with music in a variety of ways (including listening, singing, playing instruments, composing, and moving), and having some kind of accountability for your own planning like this is the best way to ensure that. As much as I think most music teachers want to include a variety of music, it's easy to end up doing a bunch of the same things when we aren't intentional about it.

  5. Organizing weekly task or schedule that is messy is hard without a proper process. Weekly Planning Template is an easy-to-use template which helps to reduce your stress and manage workload. it easy to see your week at a glance, with room for notes and priority tasks.