Home / Learning

4 Exercises To Get Your Students Charged-Up

It can be hard to motivate music students after a long break. The first week of classes are usually spent remembering your time off rather than focusing on the new semester. However, you can take advantage of this general listlessness and energize your students by introducing new and exciting exercises that challenge their thoughts and skills. Finding innovative ways to rev up your students’ enthusiasm can help create the right atmosphere for the rest of the year.

#1. Scales Challenge

Have your students’ line up their chairs, each with their respective instruments. Set a slow tempo and have each student, in turn, perform two octaves of the G Major scale, or some other basic scale. For students who perform it correctly, without any mistakes, they move to the next round and stay seated. Those who make mistakes take their chair to the other side of the room. Increase the tempo for each round until a “winner” is chosen.

This type of warm-up game helps energize and refresh students who may have neglected their practice schedule over the long break. The ones who don’t make it to the next round, can help you keep the tempo for the other players. Plus, if you warn students that you’ll be doing the exercise again, they’ll certainly go home and practice their scales. If you have time, you can choose a new scale to play a second game in class.

#2. Film Music Project

This lesson plan is free to download and use. Music in Movies helps students recognize and interpret how music is used to enhance film action sequences, evoke emotions, and create additional thoughts. This music student motivation lesson requires a computer with internet access, computer screen for movie viewing, the Scene Analysis Framework and Script Guidelines handout, and a video camera or cell phone with video capability. Although this activity is designed for a single student, it’s easy enough to convert to a classroom.

Each student chooses a movie scene with music that they like. Everyone watches the scenes that were selected, and you discuss how the music influences the plot, ideas, and how it aids comprehension of the scene. Students fill out their handouts, also having watched the scene without sound. The object of this two-day lesson is to help students recognize how music influences mood (for example, in “Christmas Vacation,” the police and swat teams are swarming to the sounds of “Here Comes Santa Clause”). Other areas to cover include screen shots, angles, and other film techniques that effect the impression. Download the full instructions, lesson plan, and handouts here. This is an excellent exercise for pre-teen and teen students.

#3. It’s a Rap

This exercise is great for both younger students and teens, because it introduces the concept of how music operates with technology, similar to the process involved in a recording studio. This music student motivation technique does require a software download, a computer, microphone and optional sound effect downloads. However, you can get a free version of Acid Xpress to conduct this lesson.

Students write the lyrics, record their voices, instrumentals, and other sound effects and then use the Acid Music Program to merge the tracks. Download the basic instructions here, this fun exercise will definitely energize your students after a long break.

#4. Circle Review Challenge

All you need for this music student motivation exercise is your standard classroom equipment. First, place all your desks or chairs in a circle around the edge of the room, designating a #1 seat. Students can sit anywhere they want to begin, but they won’t need their instruments for this task.

Once all the students are seated, everyone needs a pencil and paper. To prepare for this fun review game, you’ll need to create a list of questions beforehand (find worksheets here). Choose topics and concepts that review what the students have been learning.

Ask the first question, or place it on the board, and give the students 30 seconds to answer. After the time is up, each student gives his or her paper to the student in the chair behind them so it can be checked. Those who answer the question correctly move towards the 1st chair, and those who answer it incorrectly move down. For example, if the person in the first chair gets the answer wrong, that person moves back to the first unoccupied chair. The winner is the person in the 1st seat when the class period is over.

Although it can be hard to get into the swing of things during the first few days after a long break, innovative lessons and activities can alter that dynamic. Try some of these fun games for music student motivation and you’ll be able to get your students charged up for the new semester.

Classroom resources for teachers