The Highs and Lows of Kindergarten Music

The core concepts I teach in kindergarten music classes are important, but I barely remember how I learned them. Maybe it was my favorite episode of The Magic School Bus, In the Haunted House. Sound goggles and over-sized instruments teaching about vibration and sound waves certainly made an impression on me. Do you remember learning the difference between high and low? Or between loud and soft? Bringing myself back to these fundamentals strengthened my own understanding and helped me find ways for my students to understand them as well. Reading some of Bransford, Brown & Cocking’s (2000) How People Learn on my surprise day off helped me frame these seemingly simple topics in my lessons this week. Knowing that it takes at least eight seconds for a third grader to remember a visual had me wondering how long it would take for a student to hear and process a new sound!

Photo via Good Free Photos (with added arrows  and text for emphasis)

I wrote an essay titled Assessing Basic Music Concepts to formalize my thoughts after this week of teaching and reading. It explores some activities I have used, how to integrate technology into music, and why exploring a concept in various contexts matters. The activities mentioned I have done with my students to varying levels of success depending on the classroom culture. If you try any of these with your own students, let me know at @LindsayLuft on Twitter! In the meantime, I am going back to trying to be the music teacher version of Ms. Frizzle.


National Research Council. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (pp. 51-78). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Rlouisell2010. (Not dated). Xylophone Instrument Vector [image]. Retrieved from: [Accessed 24 Jan. 2019].

3 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of Kindergarten Music

  1. Aww I miss kindergarten! I really liked what you said about bringing yourself back to the fundamentals, which helped you teach you students in new ways. I didn’t even think about it in that way!


    1. Also, that is fascinating to think that it takes 8 seconds for a third grader to remember a visual. Sometimes, I wonder if it is even longer now with the way the student population is changing! I definitely wonder that in my high school resource classes even! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!!


  2. Your post really has my mind in gear trying to think of the ways I learned about sounds! There are a lot of topics that I’ve been teaching for a long (long) time that seem so simple, effortless, and commonplace that it becomes just too darn easy to assume that the students are getting them when I teach them. I need to take a step back sometimes and be more aware of whether they are learning the concepts and also understanding them too! I’m going to have this on my mind all week as I teach my lessons.
    Thank you for a great blog post and a reminder to focus on the learning in my classroom!
    I look forward to reading more of your insights šŸ™‚


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