Live Workshop #2 Replay

"The 4-Part Lesson Routine"

Warm Open → Warm Up → Song → Soft Close

Give your students early musical memories they'll remember fondly forever!


What is "The Four-Part Lesson Routine?"


Part 1: “Hello, Class!” & The 3-Minute Chit-Chat (3 min.)

    • Get the group’s attention with a big, slow wave, and a long “Hello, Class!” Teach them exactly how to respond to you by saying “Say ‘Hello, (your name)!” Give it a careful rhythm and inflection, and get their arms waving back at you. This is the first step to getting their voices, minds, and especially their arms, hands, and fingers following your lead!
    • Spend 3 minutes asking “Who has something FUN they’d like to share from their week!” This sets a positive tone, establishes you as the person asking the questions, helps students feel safe to share, and gives you time to adjust to their pace. Call on 3 volunteers at a time to increase participation and reduce anxiety. Tip: Raise your hand in the air when you ask this to reinforce them following your movements. 
  • Transition to the next activity with “Raise your hand if you want to make up our OWN songs with the drums!” This gives everyone a chance to raise their hands, and lets you know the class is with you. (If their body is following, their mind is following.) It also teaches them to communicate with their hands before their voices, which helps keep the group more orderly.

Part 2: “Hello Drums!” & The Copying Game! (6-9 min.)

  • Before turning on the drums, get the class to welcome the activity by telling them to greet the drums with “Hello, drums!” and a large arm wave. This gives you time to transition, builds excitement, and keeps the whole class synchronized as you change activities.
  • Play keys, finger patterns, or simple melodies back and forth. That’s “The Copying Game.” Get inspiration for what to play by looking at the notes, rhythms, and fingers in today’s song. Whatever keys, rhythms, and fingers you’ll need to use in today’s song, do first with “The Copying Game.” This makes a very smooth bridge into the more rigid structure of the song.
    • If using your own drum kit, I find around 120 beats per minute to be a lively and engaging tempo!
    • Spend the first 3 minutes leading students by making up your own combinations of notes, rhythms, and fingers, 3-4 notes at a time, back and forth. They copy you!
    • Spend the next 3-6 minutes letting volunteers share their progress. Call for 3 volunteers at a time, saying each name to the rhythm. (Kids love it!) Let each share for 10-15 seconds. Suggest corrections for wrong notes, rhythms, or finger placements, or suggest new creative ideas to try. Applaud each volunteer! Then choose 3 more, etc., until all had a turn.
  • End with “Let’s say ‘goodbye’ drums!” Give a slow countdown to the beat: “3… 2… 1… Bye-drums!” turning the drums off to the beat and waving “goodbye.” Then, “Give yourselves a big round of applause!”

Part 3: New Song (12-15 min.)

  • Introduce songs 3-4 notes at a time. 
  • Prioritize their learning as 1. Correct notes, 2. Correct rhythms, 3. Correct fingers. 
    • Note: Listen to their music with the same patience and understanding as their pronunciation of “R’s”, “L’s”, and “TH’s.” Just like their pronunciation, their notes, rhythms, and finger choices will improve with time!
  • Show how the 3-4 notes are played - the keys, rhythms, and fingers. Then, let the whole class copy you like they learned to do during “the Copying Game.” Go back and forth as a group 2 or 3 times. 
  • Then raise your hand and ask “for 3 volunteers who think they can do it!” Let the others keep practicing while you watch and listen to individuals.
  • If there are one or more things to improve, suggest one improvement, have them try again until it’s correct, then applaud them and move on. If it’s unfixed after 2-3 attempts, praise their effort and let them keep practicing on their own. Treat each volunteer like a 15 second private lesson. 
    • When sections of 3-4 notes are correct, combine 4-8 note sections. Practice as a group, then with individual volunteers.
    • When sections of 4-8 notes are correct, combine a whole page. Practice as a group, then with individual volunteers. 
  • Pedagogy: Most songs are 16-32 notes total. Teach in chunks of 3-4 notes, then 4-8 notes, and 8-16 notes to practice new concepts within the range of preschooler's Short-Term Memory (3-4 items, 5-10 seconds). Review the same concept multiple times in the same learning session to move new learning to Working Memory (no limit on quantity, less than 24 hours). Review songs over multiple days to commit Working Memories to Long-Term Memory. Introducing similar concepts in new contexts develops fluency.
  • When time runs out, transition to the Closing Routine. Note: Setting a timer at the beginning of class helps keep focus on the class and off the clock.

Part 4: Closing Routine: Be Playful! (3 min.)

  • Thank them for coming to class. Ask them how they liked class today by voting with “thumbs up, in the middle, or thumbs down?” This practices using their thumbs, and learning it’s name.
  • Ask “Would you like ME to play a song for YOU?” Play and sing “Be Playful!” 
  • Give everyone a big round of applause.
  • If allowed, take a class picture and use the “cheeeeese” to reinforce a musical term like a composer’s name or song title.
  • Group ending: End with a 5-finger group "hand explosion” saying “Let’s… Be… Playful!” Group traditions reinforce solidarity.
  • Send each student home with their sheet music. It is like a trophy or prize for completing it, and is the #1 thing you can do to encourage parents to get a keyboard to practice at home! Each song has a URL and QR code where teachers and students can access warm-ups, tutorials, and other bonus content from class or home.