Sneaky Learning in the Music Classroom


September 14, 2016 by morningcamequickly


Has the “new car smell” of the new school year worn off for you? All the things you forgot about over the summer that annoy you are back, aren’t they? Sure, it’s the nature of the job. But, remember, regardless of what goes on in meetings, emails, faculty rooms, or hallways – you can control what happens in your classroom. And obviously, that should include learning. Learning music, notes, expression, and technique are all part of the  musical experience. However, I believe that laughter, smiles, stern looks, and a not amused voice are also required. When mixed together these things create an environment where students look forward to coming to class. But, sometimes, it’s just one of those days and so sometimes, teaching requires sneaky learning.

Sneaky learning is the ability to use other methods for saying the same thing for the 1,000th time in a different way. Let’s face it, we all have a way we like to learn and while we can’t cater to everyone one hundred percent of the time, when you shake things up, it creates an atmosphere of the unexpected and anticipation. We all get frustrated when we have said and practiced that whole note for four counts and then someone says, “What’s that?”. Sneaky learning gives your class a little bit of that “new car smell’ back.

How do you do sneaky learning? Well, you open up your Mary Poppins bag and pull out something. I am especially fond of games. They work in large classes and there are so many options. You can organize students so there is a leader in each group. Or, you can let kids pick their own group so they can have friends help them. You can turn the event into a competition with ridiculous rules. Or, you can make everyone write down their answer in the group and then decide who’s got it right to put in a final answer. you can make them hop, skip, and jump to get to the board to answer so the focus for the kids is on the goofy but for you it’s on assessing students. Or, you can have a serious buzzer – one on one – quiz session.

The possibilities are endless for sneaky learning. But, really the whole point is to change the playing field. To change it from chairs in rows to circles on the floor to teams in clumps with heads together. When you do this, students see the same information, but presented in a different way which might click for them. Games are fun, laughter is good, and learning can take place with sneaky learning.

Here are some resources to get you started:

From Olivia Hartlaub on TpT: I Declare Music I and “Old Music” (Symbol & Name)

From Amy Abbott at Music a la Abbott on TpT: An Uno-inspired Treble Clef Card Game

From Linda McPherson on TpT: Bass Clef Bingo Game

From Piano With a Twist: Interval Musical Card Game





2 thoughts on “Sneaky Learning in the Music Classroom

  1. goodm1bd says:

    I appreciate your constant need to “sneak” learning in. I am currently taking a class on the educational possibilities of games, so it is always nice to see someone that endorses them wholeheartedly in their classroom. I truthfully feel that music is one content area where fun is inherent, but it certainly can’t hurt to add in some fun musical games to help teach content.


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