Read the Episode #61: 20 Ways to Use a Melodic Practice Video


Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 61. Hello, I am Debbie O’Shea, and welcome to this edition of the Crescendo Music Education Podcast. Today I’d like to talk to you a little about my YouTube channel, but specifically ways that you can use a melodic practice video in your music classroom.

There’s so many things you can do with it, not just like press play, sing, sing along, kids echo, there’s so many things. It’s a really useful teaching tool. So first off, let me tell you about my channel Crescendo Music Ed, or you can just search Debbie O’Shea, of course, the links are all in the show notes. Also, you’ll find the links in the blog post that is made from each of my podcast episodes.

The video that I’m going to refer to just as an example is called Sing and Play These Melodies Mi So La. They’re three notes on the staff.

So that’s just the example I decided to use as I went through this 20 different ideas. I actually initially had 18 and went I don’t like that, what is it about 20, I just thought I have to think of two more, I thought of two more, more started coming I went stop, stop, stop, stopping at 20 nice round number. So there’s going to be 20 little ideas presented in this episode.

But I would love it if you’re listening, I would love for you to find by channel ding that little bell so that you get notifications when I do post new videos, which is not very often I have many UFOs as I call them unfinished objects, all you have to do is have a little look in my Canva account, you will see there are so many half finished videos. And in Canva, I tend to just use create the visuals and then I use Camtasia to put it together with the audio. You can do videos on Canva as well and I’m experimenting in there. But I tend to just do the visuals on Canva and export.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too! The transcript of episode 061 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.

Introducing Melodic Practice Videos

But anyway, I digress. So many videos I want to make, so many I could use in my classroom. But anyway, there’s some there I find them really great.

We didn’t do a very long time home learning. I’m really lucky, I think our kids only had a total of four weeks or six weeks learning from home and we just had the essential workers kids at school. We were very lucky here in Queensland, in Brisbane. But I know there are still some people working on a hybrid type system even now. So these videos are great for learning at home or hybrid.

They’re also though, great for you to use at school, just as they are sore throat days, you just go I just need something just for a couple of minutes while I get the xylophone set up or whatever you’re doing. But with creativity, these videos are so much more than just to have a sing through. They’re an amazing learning tool.

So the video that I’m going to use has just a four beat melodic phrase with three notes on the staff. That’s basically what I’m doing, you will hear me play that melody on chime bars. I used Alto chime bars, the really nice Boomwhacker coloured ones they’re so beautiful. And the sound I do like chime bar sounds but the Alto chime bars are even nicer. They’re just a little more resonant, easy to listen to. So the whole idea of me doing this is to give children practice reading and associating the staff notation with the sound linking sound to symbol, it gets the notation in front of the children.

And you can work with it in many ways and it caters for different learning styles, and it deepens their understanding. So that gives you a little background into why I make the videos for a start, and why I use them in my classroom. So here we go. Are you ready? 20 ideas now, you don’t need a pen and paper if you’re on the treadmill oh good on you, go you, if you’re walking in the bush track, which is where I listen to lots of my podcasters walking up in the bush track.

Don’t panic about not writing these down, go to the shownotes or go to the read the episode and it will all be there for you. So 20 little launchpad ideas for how you can use these videos. So here we go.

20 Ways to Use a Melodic Practice Video

1. Neutral Syllables

The first thing you can do is just get the students to echo the melody they hear using a neutral syllable. I’m just meaning (Sung) ooh or dooo or whatever sound you want. That was fairly ugly. Why did I do that? Okay, doesn’t matter, use a neutral syllable to echo the melody you hear. Simple as that.

2. Solfa

Of course, you can get them to echo the melody they hear, but add the solfa, that does add a level of complexity. And obviously only do that once they know mi, so and la on the staff, wherever that happens for you. For me, it’s in year 2, wherever it is in your sequence. In your system.

3. Solfa & Handsigns

You could say echo with solfa, and hand signs. Because I think it’s quite good to sometimes do the solfa without the hand signs, hand signs are invaluable for some kids. Older students, sometimes the hand signs are actually a hindrance. I think it gives them something else they have to think about and they’re more capable of abstract thinking, anyway, just sometimes take the hand signs away, I think anyway, so number three was solfa with hand signs.

4. Handsigns Only

Hand sign after you hear the melody. So to the correct rhythm, the correct pitch, show the hand sign, but you’re not actually singing or in any way solfa or neutral syllable, just show the hand signs as an echo, that’s number four.

5. Letter Names

Sing back in letter names. Now, I should have double checked, but I’m pretty sure I’ll double check. I am pretty sure that my Yes, yes, I just double checked, I had to check that I had so was G. So you can sing back in letter names, you’ll just hear the melody played on the chime bars. Remember, get the children to sing back with letter names.

6. Letter Names and Hand Staff

Get them to sing back with letter names and use the hand staff. Now if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a little while, and I’m sure I’m going to refer to my hand staff for episodes for as long as I’m doing this podcast, I’ll show you here in case you get to see it on the screen later, you hold your hand out as if it is five lines. And the children point to the tip of their fingers for a line and in between their fingers for a space. So you would sing back pointing to G, A, G and E there. So you can sing back letter names with the hand staff.

7. Recorder

Why don’t you get them to play it back on the recorder. So I know I teach G and E first because I like to have both hands used on the instrument A is the third note that we learn. So I can play this clip. And the children play it back on recorder.

8. Tuned Percussion

Just play it on tuned percussion xylophones, chime bars, glockenspiels, whatever you’ve got, play it back on tuned percussion. If you use something like chime bars for the really young kids, you could even just take out those three notes or on the xylophones you could take off the bars or turn the bars upside down the ones that you don’t need. So play it back on tuned percussion.

9. Rhythm Names

You could sing it back with rhythm names, sing back the Ta’s and Ti Ti’s or whichever system you use instead of solfa or letter names. Why not?

10. Boomwhackers

You could play it back with Boomwhackers. You could even have the children divided in three groups. And here’s some A’s, some G’s and some E’s. And they play it back like that. Lots of fun and working together too. Right now we’re getting on to some that are a little more challenging, but certainly possible. And I love trying some of these with the older kids. Just because it’s got three notes doesn’t mean you only have to use it with the younger children. Let’s use it with the older kids as well. You know, professional musicians sometimes have to read three notes. It’s okay do it with them.

11. Sing in Retrograde

I love this one. Sing it in retrograde. So it’s played forward, you sing it backwards. How amazing is that? And you know what, even though this is only number 11 all of those things I’ve done so far number 1 to 10 you can do every single one of those backwards. So number 11 is really 10 extra things as well as that number 11. So in case you don’t know what I mean, I think I’m explaining myself well but you never know singing retrograde on a neutral syllable. That was number one, singing retrograde in solfa that was number two, three was solfa and hand signs, so sing it backwards with solfa and hand signs, play it backwards. So all of those things the first 10 You can do it after four beats, but perform it backwards. How fun is that?

12. Half Class Backward/ Half Class Forward

Half of the class could perform the four beats they’ve just heard backwards, while the other half sings it forwards. How fun, how fun is that. And you can again, have you picked out of all of those things letter names, solfa, playing, however you want to do that. So half class forward, half class backwards.

13. Take Turns Singing One Note – Half Class

Take turns in singing one note each or you could go one beat each. So the quavers could be performed by one group. So do that start with a half a class. Divide your class in half and take turns in singing one note at a time or one beat at a time and try to create music from this, don’t turn it into a mechanical ugly exercise, we try to join those little those notes, even though they’re done by two different groups together to make a melody. So that’s in half class groups.

14. Take Turns Singing One Note – Small Groups

Do the same activity but with smaller groups, so small groups or even, you know, even down to two on a part. And you could go around the group. So small groups, and they have turns in singing one beat or one note.

15. Take Turns Singing Each Note – Individual

Go around the class individually and every child sings one beat, or one note in echo, lots of fun. And can I say really difficult. So that’s number 15.

16. Three groups – each group singing only one of the notes.

Divide the class into three groups. There’s a mi group, a so group and a la group, they are only allowed to echo their pitch when it occurs in the pattern. That’s really tricky. And lots of fun you could try that individually too that would be fun. So three different groups. So each group now instead of just having in turns like number 15, they just sing whatever note we’re up to. They only perform their note when it appears in the melody.

17. Combine with inner-hearing – pitch elements

Combine with inner hearing the pitch elements. So we will perform what is read but every time there is a so we will use our inner hearing. Then next time through every time there’s a mi we’ll use our inner hearing. Or you could use some letter names, but focus on pitch elements combining with inner hearing.

18. Inner-hearing – rhythm elements

You probably guessed it, it’s combining with inner hearing using rhythmic elements. So only sing the crotchets, only sing the quavers that sort of thing.

19. Press pause after hearing one and perform a combination of the ideas above

Press pause, after hearing one of the examples, and then perform a combination of the ideas above. So you can choose you might go okay, I’m going to press pause, we’re going to first sing it on a neutral syllable, we’ll then sing it in solfa with hand signs, then we’ll sing with letter names, then you can play the next one. Or you might play it first, then sing it in solfa, then sing it in rhythm names, just a combination of any of the above things. So you could press pause and just focus on that one little motif that you’ve just heard. So it’s giving the kids a bit of a head start because they’ve heard pitches already. They’ve heard the melody. So that’s 19. All right. Now here we go.

20. Create flashcards and show one during the playing of the melody to indicate how the students are to echo

This last one is a bit of a challenge, but I think it’s nice. So you have to create basically some flashcards that mention some of these things from my list. So one might just go solfa, one might go letter names, one might say recorder if you’re using recorder or Boomwhackers, or rhythm names, so they say different things.

And what you do during the playing of the melody, the first four beats, you hold up one of these flashcards and that indicates to the students how they are to echo. So the first time they may have to echo in solfa, you put that card down while they’re listening to the next one, hold up rhythm names, they sing the rhythm names, so that it’s keeping them on their toes the whole time. And tricky, because they’re also looking at the staff notation, they’re listening to the melody, and they’re working out in their head, how they’re going to do whatever you ask them to do.

Final Thoughts

Alright, that is 20 ideas of ways that you can use a video, already done for you video, just press play in your music classroom, I hope it’s given you a whole lot of ideas that maybe you haven’t thought of in this context. I know music teachers are incredibly creative, and you all have fabulous ideas. But I am still hoping there might be something in there that you haven’t thought of in this context. And if I can go back and just ask you all to find my YouTube channel, and like the video, maybe subscribe, tell somebody about it, it would be great to have a few more views and follows on my YouTube channel. And I do promise I am getting to do the occasional video clip, but just not as many as I would like.

So if you’ve enjoyed this episode, I would like you to share it with a colleague say, Hey, come and listen to this slightly unusual music teacher called Debbie O’Shea. And she’s going to tell you all these ideas of ways to use a YouTube clip that practices pitches, three notes in melodies in the music classroom. So if you got something from this, I’d love you to share it. Thank you, everybody. And I will hear you. Until next time, everyone. Bye.

Thank you for joining me for this podcast. Don’t forget that you’ll find the show notes on Also, you can find the transcripts there. So you got all of the detail that you need. If you found this podcast useful, I’d really love it if you share the link with a colleague. Remember all I can be is the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you, we’ll meet again. I hope we will. Bye


This podcast is brought to you by Crescendo Music Education connecting supporting and inspiring music educators. In the show notes you’ll find links to Crescendo’s social media platforms. Please connect with me and be part of the Crescendo community. You might consider becoming a Crescendo member, for a low annual fee you can access hundreds of files worksheets, printables workbooks, repeat workshops and webinars and receive great discounts on events. So come and connect with me Debbie O’Shea. See you in the socials.

Just for Laughs

As we know laughter relieve stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

The doctor said to me the other day, I’m afraid your DNA is backwards.

I said AND?

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

🔔 Be sure to DING THE BELL and Follow Me at my Crescendo Music Ed YouTube Channel

Sing and Play These Melodies

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