Name Games to Start Your Year In Music Class

On this page…

  • Name, Name! What’s the Name?
  • The Never-Ending Name Game
  • Four Corners
  • Blast Off Challenge

Name, Name! What’s the Name?

The Never-Ending Name Game

This lesson plan is best spread out over multiple days.

  • Sitting in a circle works best
  • K-2
    1. T speaks every student’s first name and students echo
    2. T speaks and claps student’s first name and students echo
    3. Ss clap and speak their own name and class echoes
    4. Ss clap and speak their own name and NO echoes, just right around the circle.
  • 3-5
    1. Same as K-2 above.
    2. Go around circle and Ss only clap their name, no speaking.
    3. Go around circle and class claps and speaks every student’s name.
    4. Go around circle and class claps, no speaking, everyone’s name.
    5. The class claps each student’s name going right around the circle (this is a fun challenge)

Rhythm & Accent

With 3-5, this is a great activity (if you choose) to talk about natural ways of speaking and rhythm. The name “Ellen.” Is it El-len with 2 quarter notes or with an eighth-dotted quarter pattern?
You can also talk about anacrusis. The name “Latasha.” Is it a two eighths/quarter pattern with the accent on “La” or two eighths/dotted quarter, with the accent on “ta?”

Transfer to Instruments

  • K-5 (Pick and choose from these ideas, although I tried to sequence them from easy to advanced)
    • Take any part of the above activities and transfer to UPP. Drums are wonderful but you could also use rhythm sticks.
    • Add a simple refrain to play after every 4 names. “Name game, name game. Let’s play a name game.”
    • Create a class ostinato using 4 student names. Discuss which order sounds best. See if the class can play it over and over without rushing. Did you use just bass or tone sounds? Maybe add taps to side of drum or other ideas to create some diversity to the tone color if the students are able to remember the patterns.

Group Work

  • Now…put students in groups of 4 and have them do the SAME activity and have them create a name ostinato. (It helps if you have the whole room practice several times with you keeping a stick or clave beat. I’d say, “Ok this may sound messy with all of us practicing at once, but concentrate on your group’s ostinato. 1-2-Ready-Go) You are walking around coaching and helping where needed.
    • Have them play AND speak the names the first time. Each group SHARES their ostinato with the class.
    • Tell them they can keep their previous ostinato or change it but this time just playing it and NO speaking.
    • Try layering in (and out) the group ostinati. FUN!!!

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4 Corners

Preparation

Sitting in a circle works the best.

  • Teacher claps and speaks each student’s first name and the class echoes
  • Students clap and speak their own name and the class echoes
  • Have a discussion about syllables and then ask who has a name with 1 syllable, 2, 3, etc.
  • As a class, go around the circle clapping and speaking each student’s name. (This is a fun challenge to keep it going with no stops)
  • As a class, go around the circle clapping (no speaking) each student’s name. (An even bigger challenge!)

The Game

  • The four corners are names with ONE syllable, TWO syllables, THREE syllables, and FOUR or more syllables.
  • Students choose a corner and T draws a name out of a bowl. (or any method of randomly choosing from the class list)
  • The number of syllables of that person’s name determines which corner is OUT.
  • So if the name is Marcus, everyone standing at the 2-syllable corner is out.
  • Play until there is one winner or you are out of names!

Blast Off Challenge

Sitting in a circle is best. The teacher can stand behind each student to facilitate the flow of the game/rhythms.

  • Pick a starting point in the circle and then students clap and speak each student’s name FOUR times. Try to get the kids to feel the beats in 4 and move seamlessly from one student to the next.
  • If they are successful, clap and speak each name THREE times. Their tendency is to pause after the third repeat to make it feel like 4 so that is a great time to talk about 3 vs. 4.
  • If they are successful, clap and speak each name TWO times.
  • Then, of course, ONE time and if successful, they earn a BLASTOFF! (see video below)

Variations

  • Don’t pause between rotations but go directly from 4X to 3X, 2X, 1X, and Blastoff!
  • If the class is quite proficient, try the entire process with clapping and only THINKING the names. Audiation!
  • Kindergarten and first-grade students usually don’t know everyone’s name or know them well enough to keep within a beat scheme. Put them in groups of four and have them try saying and clapping everyone’s name in their group 4x, then on different days, 3X, 2X, and 1x. Each group can take a turn and share to the class. Check out my Columns and Rows system for quickly making groups of 4!

“One Piece of Pie” Round with Six Integrated Lessons

There are EIGHT unique sound files to support student learning!

  • melody lines
  • accompaniments
  • Orff parts
  • beat keeping for rhythmic practice
  • vocal lines for solfege highlighting low so
    • sms
    • sls
  • listen in “round” form
Sound file for song
An arrangement featuring the round melody with xylophones and glockenspiel.

See and Hear What’s In This Resource

Monkeys Spinning Monkeys

A bubbly, bouncy instrumental piece that is perfect for movement activities. This instrumental piece posted on Youtube in 2014 and became a TikTok sensation, reaching over 1 million plays in 2021.

 

Here you will find the piece analysis, links, and teaching ideas!

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 


Links

Composer, Kevin MacLeod’s YouTube channel with a visual representation of the song very similar to Chrome Song Maker.

Examples of how Monkeys Spinning Monkeys has been used on TikTok.

Song Download Site & Info about the song with downloadable wav files and sheetmusic.

Teaching Ideas

I’ve outlined ideas for the A, B, and C sections for movement, drums, and parachutes. A great idea for exploration and creation is to let the students create the movement, drum part, or parachute moves.

  • Divide the class in thirds and put each in charge of one of the sections. Perform the piece with each group performing on their section(s).
  • You can teach the A and B section then let small groups come up with their ideas for the C section. Share each group’s idea. Perform the entire piece with the whole group performing the same A and B and then the C will sparkle with all of the unique ideas happening at once.
  • Extend the learning by going to Chrome Music Lab’s Song Maker and have students compose an A B A C A song.


If you use any of these ideas, please comment below and let me know!

It’s About Time

“What animal keeps the best time?

A WATCH dog!

Spotlight Artist: Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck was a jazz musician. He was born in California and died in 2012 at age 91. He loved experimenting with different time signatures such as 5/4, 6/4, and 9/8. He recorded Take 5 in 1959 and it became a jazz hit and a classic. Take 5 was written by Paul Desmond.

Take 5

A Mashup of Take Five and Beethoven’s Fur Elise

Fun With Fives

Try a few of these ideas!

Body Percussion
  1. Count to five repeatedly and clap on the numbers FOUR and FIVE. Add the music.
  2. Instead of clapping on the 4 and 5, what else could you do?
    • Get with a partner or small group, come up with a plan, and share with the class!
Movement
  1. Can we move on all five numbers? Let’s try some opposites.
    • Hands up on 1-2-3 and down on 4-5
    • Bend over on 1-2-3 and straighten on 4-5
    • Smile on 1-2-3 and frown on 4-5
    • Right arm up on 1-2-3 (then down) and left arm up on 4-5 (then down)
    • Challenge move: Sway one direction on 1-2-3 and then the opposite on 4-5.
  2. Parachute-whether you have a big parachute, mini parachutes, or scarves, create a move for the 1-2-3 and then another for the 4-5.
    • Parachute-up on 1-2-3 then while up, pull, shake, or beat of hands on 4-5. Repeat for down. So, “Up, two, three, pull, pull. Down, two, three, pull, pull.”
  3. Create movement for the A section and then the B section to perform the entire first section Intro and ABA. (see notes below)
Speech
  1. 3+2=5 Add a 3-syllable animal to a 2-syllable animal-“mockingbird + robin”
    • Play the TWO syllable game. The teacher says “An-i-mal” and each student (or with a partner) in rhythm has to say a two syllable animal. The teacher can point to random students or go in order. If you play it as an out game, students who are out could then be in charge of clapping on 4 and 5 or playing an instrument on 4 and 5.
    • Could you play using “Yum-my fruit” or “Stu-dent names”?
  2. Try the 3 + 2 activity with colors, food, plants, reptiles, etc.
Instruments
  1. Drums
    • Play on beats 4 and 5 trying out different drum techniques. (low, high, brush, knock, fist.
    • Put two together for the 1-2-3 + 4-5. Maybe brush for 1-2-3 and high for 4-5. Let students explore and then share with class.
    • Try playing just on the 1.
    • Try using the form ABA. The A section is the two styles on 1-2-3, 4-5 and the B section is just on the 1. Try it with the recording.
  2. Sticks-exactly the same idea as drums but partners could tap each other’s sticks on the 4 and 5 of the A section or beat 1 of the B section.

Spotlight Artist: Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau was a singer. He was born in Wisconsin and came from a very musical family. He sang jazz, pop, soul, and R & B music and won many Grammy awards. He died in 2017.

Singing-Take 5 Cover with lyrics.
Les Nuages is a band from Romania.

If you are adventurous, here are some lyrics I created to show students some possibilities. Sing along 😀 and try writing some of your own.

Lyric Template-Write a class version!

Teacher Notes

  1. The form (video above): Intro (drum solo then 8 measures of piano intro), ABA, sax improv, drum improv, at 4:20 a return to ABA, coda.
  2. Depending on your school situation, lots of additional opportunities are available if you use a variety of formations: rows and columns, circles
  3. Parachute activity-It’s always best to verbalize movements of this type. I’ve included what you might say.
Kahoot Questions
  1. Who performed the piece Take 5?
  2. What genre of music is Take 5?
  3. What is the time signature for Take 5?
  4. Identify the piano, saxophone, and drums.