Middle School General Music: Theory & Ear Training

recommended by Jen Sper and Alissa Ruth, School Choral and Classroom Music Specialists

The middle school general music classroom can be an exciting (and/or terrifying) place! Throughout this school year, we’ve been sharing with you some valuable resources to help you develop enthusiasm and skills in your middle school musicians! Today, here are some great new options for teaching music theory and ear training:

Rounds PlusRounds Plus arr. Roger Emerson
Rounds are wonderful ways to introduce harmony to young singers! However, traditional rounds are often too wide of a range for the changing voice. Hence, this collection was created with the young male voice in mind. Easy-to-sing ostinati for the changing male voice accompany 10 familiar rounds sung by treble voices. Each round is presented in two keys to accommodate both the cambiata, mid-voice and new baritone range comfortably. Experiment with other keys until you find your choirs’ “sweet spot” vocally. This will give you a good idea of the range and tessitura that will be effective when choosing your choral literature. These unaccompanied rounds may be taught entirely by ear, or duplicated for sight reading purposes.

We at Stanton’s like this resource because rounds are such excellent learning tools for part independence, and presenting them in this way helps reinforce the I-IV-V in the Baritone part while keeping their range within a perfect fifth. The use of high/low key options helps immensely with the constantly-changing nature of the boys’ voicing at that middle school age.

Songs include: Dona Nobis Pacem, Down by the Bay, Heigh Ho Nobody’s Home, Jubilate Deo, London’s Burning, Music Alone Shall Live, and more. Suggested for grades 6-9.

Sight Reading 101Sight Reading 101 by Mary Jane Phillips
“Sight Reading 101” proves effortlessly that learning to sight read can be accessible and fun. Practical, efficient, and systematic, this approach to teaching beginners to sight read music utilizes step-by-step “how to’s” for pitch matching success and rhythm comprehension, games to reinforce learned skills, and reproducible exercises to challenge and stretch students’ abilities. No beginning choir director should be without this surefire tool for success!

We like this because of the logical, sequential nature of this method, in particular the separation of pitch and rhythm and the speed at which those are combined. We feel that using this book with beginners would allow them a smooth transition to most other sight reading methods.

Rhythm RescueRhythm Rescue by Lynn M Brinckmeyer
Lynn Brinkmeyer brings her musical expertise in her new book, “Rhythm Rescue!” with the intention to expand the rhythmic vocabulary of singers. Students of all ages are more successful if they use a physical gesture during the learning process. Singers do not have a lever, a bow, strings or buttons to push like instrumentalists do. Physiology helps solidify those rhythms in the body and Lynn has created fun and exciting rhythm exercises to teach and reinforce rhythm learning in the classroom and rehearsal.

This book has two sections: “Isolated Rhythm Activities” and “Rhythms and Pitches.” Many of the songs include traditional folk songs which is an added bonus. All the strategies are intended to support the required curriculum and state and national music standards. Most of the activities are interchangeable with the different songs in the book and can also be transferred to barred instruments, non-pitched percussion instruments and performance literature. Activities include: Passing Rhythms ‘Round the Circle, Partners in Common Time, Pulsing Notes, Rhythm Drills, Duple or Triple? Rhythm Treasure Hunt, Change It Up! Rhythms Rearranged, Secret Word Secret Rhythm, London Bridge Mix-Up and more!

We liked this because we feel that it can be useful for all secondary students in grades 6-12, making it a worthwhile investment. We like the use of the Takademi syllables and the physicality in these exercises.

For more information about these and other products, visit our website at stantons.com, email us at choral@stantons.com, or call us at1.800.42.MUSIC ext. 1. We are happy to help with all of your sheet music needs!

About the Authors:
Jen Sper has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, she holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. An active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.

Alissa Ruth began working at Stanton’s in the summer of 2016. She is a former middle and high school choir director and holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Capital University. She is an active professional choral singer, and spends her free time running, doing yoga, cooking, and watching Netflix.


Categories: Classroom General Music, Middle School General Music, Teacher Materials

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