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Music Class Activities to Teach Form



Teaching Musical Form using a variety of teaching strategies is a wonderful way to get students engaged and help them internalize the idea of patterns in music.   So I’m sharing creative music class activities to teach form.  The following are some super simple music class activities to teach Form.

I’ve found students learn best when given multiple opportunities to learn a concept via differentiated activities. When I teach MUSICAL FORM, I like my students to learn about it through creative movement and many other modes. I feel like it helps them make stronger connections physically, visually and aurally.

How  do I explain musical form?

It depends on which grades and when I use each of these lessons. My students relate to the idea of patterns better than the word form. I begin the class by asking questions like;

  • “Who can tell me about the kinds of patterns  you see in numbers?”
  • “What kinds of patterns do you see in nature?”
  • “How about patterns do you see in space?”


Ask a (boy-girl-boy)(girl-boy-girl) to come up to the front of the room. Have them stand in the two different patterns. Discuss with students what they see. Have them describe the patterns and then relate it to the pictures, math and nature.

Introduce the idea of Form using images in patterns.

  • Color patterns
  • Animal patterns
  • Shapes – Square-Triangle-Circle










We all know that Classical music is perfect for teaching form. Use shapes and images in a class activity where students can hold them up or point to them as they listen.

“Eine Kleine Nacht Musik”

I like to ask the students to listen and show when the music changes. Then I will show the images or shapes during the sections of the music.

Then we describe the music. I may play short selections and ask students to create arm movements for each section.

Next I will show pictures of animals, colors, shapes or letters during the sections of the music.

Depending on time, I will ask students to come up and show the pictures during the song, or I may combine this activity with the instrument game or scarves.


Consider using instrument activities to teach form.

I recently found this fun game to reinforce skills in identifying and demonstrating FORM. The purpose of playing the game is for students to have the experience of musical form. It isn’t necessarily for students to recite the definition and explain. I like to give my students many diverse ways to experience musical concepts.


  • Listen and respond through movement to Form.
  • Identify Instruments,
  • Play the Steady Beat.
  • Materials: Hula Hoops or buckets
  • A Song that students can easily identify FORM ( ABA or Verse/Chorus works well).
  • 1 Classroom instrument for each student.

Review or Explain Musical Form:

Play the game:

Students sit in a Circle. Begin with one large circle and then as students learn the game and gain confidence-move to smaller circles. One idea is to use a hula hoop and have the students sit around the circle. Ask them to keep their knees close to the edges.

Don’t have a hula hoop?  Here’s a tutorial on how to make them from pvc pipe. I actually made some from the pvc that’s used for a drip irrigation system.

Decorate Your Hula-Hoops with Bright Colors


Now it’s time for the fun to begin!


Listen and Show: Ask students to use their hands to show you when the music changes from one section to the other (this is why it needs to be very obvious). I have them raise their arms up high when the music changes. Teach them the song if you have time. This will help them remember when the music changes.


Pass out the instruments:

Tell students that they are going to pass them around the circle during the A section of the song. On the B section, they will play the instrument. Practice passing them around (maybe to a steady beat drum) and make sure everyone can do that first.


Play the music:  and let students SHOW you the form by passing and playing the instruments. Once you have learned the game you can use different songs with different forms.


 Here’s a video of a teacher playing the game. From the comments on the page it seems that the song is: “Strike Up the Rhythm Band” by Michael and Jill Gallina. (available on Amazon.com)




Older students will enjoy a challenge. Why not use the game as a a formative assessment?


After students can play the game, create additional challenges like playing the Steady beat, or a Rhythmic Ostinato and choosing selections with Rondo Form.


Teach Form Using Scarf Activities



Listen and respond through movement to Form.

Materials: Scarf for each student

A Song that students can easily identify FORM (ABA or Verse/Chorus works well).

I like to use “Shoo Fly” for the younger students. It’s easy to learn and many of them have heard it before.


“Shoo Fly”

A-Shoo fly, don’t bother me (repeat twice)


For I belong to somebody.


B- I feel, I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star. (repeat)


A- Shoo fly, don’t bother me (repeat twice)


Ask students to sit in a circle. Place a scarf on the floor in front of each student.

During the “A” section wave scarves up and down to the music.

Then during the “B” section gather scarf into hands and hold close the heart. Pull scarf close on the words “I feel…”

Here’s an Mp3 File of a piano accompaniment of “Shoo Fly” you can use in your music classroom.

As an extension idea, I’ll ask students to brainstorm and create different ways to show the musical form.

Here’s another way to use “Shoo Fly” to teach form to younger students. The teacher joins students in a circle holding hands. During the “A” section, the students move into the center of the circle. During the “B” section, the students weave in and out “windows” of the other students.

Looking for more scarf activities?

8 creative movement scarf activities











Teach Form Using Body Percussion Activities


One of my favorite songs to use with my Kindergartners is “There’s a Beat” by Teresa Jennings. Before we begin the activity, I tell the students that I want them to listen to the song and when the music changes I want them to stop and listen. Then I turn on the music and they begin to march around the circle.  “There’s a beat, there’s a beat, there’s a B-e-a-t, Beat!”


The music changes and amazingly, many of them will stop to listen ” 1-2-3-4 hear that marching band”. It’s a moment of wonder and excitement when I clap and say and “yes! you got it!” Let’s keep marching! And we begin again. The students gain confidence in their “musical ears” and now when I say “listen” they have a real experience to relate to and they “know” what it means to listen and how important it is too. You can find the link HERE.

“Turn the Beat Around” is a fantastic song to use with upper elementary students to learn musical form. I have the Making Music Series and have used this song for years in my 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes.


I play the music and let the students “free-move”. Then I ask them to sit down and show the different sections with more define actions.


Finally, I’ll ask them to get in groups and create different moves to show the musical form.


Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up so loud!

Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up so loud!



Turn the beat around,

Love to hear the percussion.

Turn it upside down,

Love to hear the percussion.

Love to hear it.



Oh, you sure sound pretty,

Your rhythm keeps movin’ to the nitty gritty

When you hear the tap of the wood a-tappin’

Then you’ll know that rhythm carries all the action,Woah, yeah!




Turn the beat around,

Love to hear the percussion.

Turn it upside down,

Love to hear the percussion.  Love to hear it.



Flute player play your flute cause
I know that you want to get your thing off
But you see I’ve made up my mind about it
It’s got to be the rhythm, no doubt about it, whoa whoa
Cause when the guitar player start playing
With the syncopated rhythm, with the scratch, scratch, scratch
Makes me wanna move my body yeah, yeah, yeah
And when the drummer starts beating that beat
He nails that beat with the syncopated rhythm
With the rat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat on the drums, hey!




Turn the beat around,

Love to hear the percussion.

Turn it upside down,

Love to hear the percussion.

Love to hear it.


Click here to get some Dance Moves for 4-5-6 graders on schooltube.

Ask students to create movement, play instruments and dance are great ways to help them understand the concept of musical patterns. As they respond to the patterns through movement they will be able to distinguish the sections of the music.

You may want to check out my Body Percussion resource that I’ve used for several years at the beginning of school and also right after breaks to help students be actively engaged in the music classroom.

Music Class Body Percussion Lessons and Activities








Teach Form Using Parachutes

Why not try parachute activities too?  Students can make up patterns and then show the musical form of the song. One great thing about parachutes is that the students are holding onto the parachute and not bugging each other!


This lesson makes me want a parachute! These kids are having so much fun showing musical form to some Star Wars Music!

It’s easy to visualize students creating patterns with scarves. You could use the video for the students and help them by holding up letter cards for the sections. Let them experiment with different creative movements for each section.

Try these activities using parachutes in the music classroom.

Buggy Parachute Music and Movement Activities: Music, PE, All elementary ages.


music class parachute activities









You may want to check out our PARACHUTE ACTIVITY PRODUCTS

Teach Form Using Stretchy Bands

Amazingly, Stretchy bands really get the kids involved in music class. Ask students to walk on the A sections, stop and move their arms up and down on the B sections, C sections- move in and out.  I use many different types of music to help students experience musical form. Check out my blog post on Stretchy Bands.

Want to Get Stretchy Band Songs and Activities for your classroom?  Here’s a collection of 5 songs and tons of activities for your students with visuals.

Stretchy Band Activities

Songs and activities for stretchy bands.









Teach Form Using Pool Noodles

By the way, I also use Pool Noodles with my upper elementary students. I’ve had students pretend that the pool noodles are their Nutcracker soldier swords. I then have them use the noodles in a form activity to the Nutcracker March.

Using movement to introduce and/or reinforce musical form will keep students focused and engaged. I feel that when students experience through movement, they make connections quicker. It makes it easy to follow up with other activities to help all learners understand the concept of musical form. I’m hoping you found some ideas to help you teach form in your music classes.

And a special thank you to these great clip artists for their clip art.

Check out the resources that will help you implement creative movement into your music lessons.

Parachute Activities

Use parachutes in music class to motivate and teach students music.













Scarf Activities

Creative Movement Scarf Activities - Music, PE, Movement Games & Activities











I’m hoping these ideas will help you in your music and movement classes as you teach musical form.





Like these ideas?  I hope you’ll share these ideas with your teacher friends.


Teach musical form with these creative movement activities.











Teach musical form through creative movement activities by Sing Play Create.













More ways to use creative movement in your music classes.










“10 Ways to Use Balls in the Music Classroom”




4 Responses

Meet Sandra

Hi there!  I’m Sandra, one of the authors behind Sing Play Create.  My goal is to provide teachers with interactive resources and activities to improve the effectiveness of their teaching and enhance student learning.

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