Themes & Variations
Storybook Music Lesson Plans
Happy Valentine's Day
 To easily find fun games to play on Valentine's Day, use the search engine at . Type in Valentine and any song with that title or Valentine in the lyrics will show up!  Here are some of my favorites - Kids like to repeat the same ones each year!
#93 Musicplay for Kindergarten - I Like Valentines is a cute little song with loud/quiet dynamics - use to teach/review loud and quiet.
#68 Musicplay 1 I Like You - singing game where partners face each other, jump around and get a new partner.
#57 Musicplay 2 - I sent a Valentine - an adaption of "I wrote a letter to my love" with fun game
#60 Musicplay 2 - Circle Round the Zero - fun to play for Valentines
#60 - Musicplay 3 Love Somebody - This is the traditional song which is great for teaching/reading 16th notes, and a fun game to go with it 
#57 Musicplay 6 (MIddle School) - Love Somebody - song with great words that talking about reaching out to neighbours and friends.  With the political climate in the world today, this should be part of a program.
Storybook Music Lesson
Stories, Nursery Rhymes to Sing, Rap and Read is a wonderful collection of lessons that incorporate music and stories.  I've taught the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" lesson to Gr. 1-4 classes and they thought it was hysterical.  I made headbands using the included graphics for the three billygoats, and took along an old Halloween mask for the Troll.  As the CD played and sang the story/songs, the kids drummed along and acted out the story.  This would be a very cute performance!  

This collection of songs and lessons also includes the Three Little Pigs rap, Three Bears rap, Little Red Riding Hood and a PDF copy of the Scholastic book, "Is there room on the Feather Bed?"  Songs include Nursery Rhyme Rap, Fairytale rap, Alligator movement song, Body moves, and Bluegrass Band.
Stories and More - Canadian Site
Stories and More on USA Site
The Rain Rain Story App is a great app for both iTunes and Google.  The story is woven around the song, Rain Rain Go Away, so each time the song is used, students sing the song. (great repetition!) .   In your lesson, have the students create a rain soundscape that they play each time rain is mentioned in the song.  There is a poem.
Pitter patter pitter patter says the falling rain.
Pitter patter pitter patter on my window pane.
When I do this with PreK-Gr. 1, they play the rhythm of the words on unpitched - fingertips on drums, gently shake egg shakers or gently play chopsticks or rhythm sticks.  With Gr. 2-3 I have them create improvise or create a melody on CDE GA that they play while we say the poem.  
When we get to the Rain Rain song, the Orff instruments accompany with a C-G bordun.

 At the end of the story, there are interactive activities.  At home, children and parents can try creating a new accompaniment for the Pitter Patter poem with virtual instruments.
There is ear training - children listen to the pattern, and select the one that they hear.
They can learn to play the Rain Rain song on a virtual xylophone.  We used Boomwhacker colors, so if you project this in class, you can play on Boomwhackers.

Musicplay PreK Part 1 includes story lessons on three of my favorite storybooks:  Mortimer and Up Up Down by Robert Munsch, and Pete the Cat and his White Shoes. These three story lessons are part of the 12 PreK music lessons in this wonderful collection.  Part 2-3 will be coming soon!
Download Musicplay PreK Part 1 - Canadian Site
USA Site - Download Musicplay PreK Part 1
Mortimer Teaching Suggestions in Musicplay PreK Part 1: You can download a free mp3 of Robert Munsch reading the story and singing the “Clang Clang Rattlebing Bing Bang” song at Mortimer reinforces many musical concepts. Invite the students to add sound effects and movements to parts of the story.  thump thump thump thump thump thump  - Have the students say the thumps, starting low and getting higher. Show how the voice goes higher with arms. If you have barred instruments, play the thumps on any two pitches starting at the low end of the instrument moving higher with each thump. If you have drums, you could play the thumps on drums.
When they go down the stairs, say and show the
descending sounds. When the policemen come, do the thumps slowly. “MORTIMER, BE QUIET.” Have the children join in each time this is said. Each person who says this, says it a little bit louder. When the policemen say this, say it in a low voice.
Clang, clang, rattle-bing-bang
When Mortimer sings his song, sing along.
Give the children instruments and have them play along.
When the mother and policemen get into a big fight, “rumble” on the instruments. (play loudly and quickly) This is a great book, and you can read and make music with it more than once in the school year.
Download Musicplay PreK Part 1 - Canadian Site
USA Site - Download Musicplay PreK Part 1
Ukulele in C or in D?
I know that someone is reading the newsletter when I get feedback - and there were several teachers unhappy about my comments on uke in D. I've taught both - Ukulele in C and in D. After creating the Easy Ukulele Resource, I realized that the rationale for tuning the instruments in D (non-standard) doesn't make sense.  If you want kids singing in the Key of D (instead of C) play the song in the key of D.  Change the chords or the key, not the tuning of the entire instrument.
Pros for tuning Ukulele in C
1.  It's the standard tuning.  Kids can easily learn new songs on YouTube or when they buy ukulele books at a music store
2. If you want to create an ensemble with Orff instruments or recorders, C tuning is much easier
3.  Teaching melodic note reading is easier in C than in D where the melodies will have many sharps.
Pros Ukulele in D
1.  Students playing the easiest chord will sing a step higher.  (or you can teach them the D chord)
We've created Easy Ukulele Songs in both C and D tuning, so if you've used D tuning forever, this great collection is available in D tuning, AND the student books are available in C and D as well.
Easy Ukulele Teacher's Guide - C tuning      
Join the Musicplay Teachers Group on Facebook - you'll get the earliest notifications about additions to the website
LIKE our Musicplay Page on Facebook - another way to get notices of workshops, and new activities on
Sing Canada's History - Canada Site
American teachers - if you want to do a multicultural musical about one of your neighbouring countries, this is a great collection to use to learn about the history of Canada. USA SITE
 This is a great resource to use in a performance for Canada's 150th birthday!
$10 Recorder Packages, Recorder Kits, Accompaniments & More!
a Handel or a Yamaha Recorder, The Recorder Resource Student Book AND CD - order 10+ Packages and we pay the tax and shipping.  
Link to $10 Package - HANDEL GERMAN RECORDER 
Link to $10 Package - Yamaha Baroque Recorder
Recorders, Books and other packages are available! Visit and select Recorders.
USA Teachers - Link to West Music Recorder packages
Recorder Resource Kit 1 with PPTS:  (Canada)
Recorder Resource Kit 1 with PPTs: (USA)
Recorder 1 Orff & Piano: (Canada)
Recorder 1 Orff & PIano:  (USA)

Learn and Play Recorder App has all the songs in the Recorder Resource Kit!    
Recorder App ITunes .         Recorder App Google
Recorder Fingering Charts:  (Canada)
Recorder Fingering Charts:  (USA)
Combined Classes?  Do you have combined classes?  For teachers with Grade 4/5 combined classes, we've created duet parts for the Recorder Resource 1.  If you have an older version of the kit, I'm happy to give you the duet parts.  Send a photo of the teacher's guide from the Kit to to request the free duet parts.
LINK to FREE RESOURCES:  Jan. 25 Free Recorder Resources!
The Recorder materials are also available as part of our online resource: .  For a limited time, new subscribers will get 1 month free!  It's a great time to try out the site!
The Musicplay K-6 Curriculum is sequential, affordable and aligns with state and provincial curriculum from Texas to Ontario!  To learn more about this curriculum view our webcast:
While Musicplay is affordable, we realize that some schools have no budget at all except what the music teacher can fundraise for!  Apply for a grant to assist with the purchase of Musicplay!
Our new online resource: is an amazing resource and complement to the teacher's guides.  Try it free for a month.  If you or your entire school district would like a longer trial period, email to request a longer trial.  If you have zero budget, email to request a discount code to help you subscribe to the site.
8th Annual Artie and Denise Music Symposium - July 2017, Las Vegas
We're still confirming locations, but hope to have the 8th annual in Vegas, on or around July 25-26th.  Details will follow in the Musicplay Newsletter, and the Musicplay Teachers Group on Facebook.
Canadian Office
#2-4664 Riverside Drive
Red Deer, Alberta  T4N 6Y5
US Office
PO Box 309
Danville, WA, 99121
(real people answer our phones!)
Denise Gagne does many workshops each year.  She's just completed the following sessions at the Missouri MEA:
- Special Ed Students in the Music Class (new session)
- Reading Music is Easy!
- Engaging the Early Learner (new session
At the Ohio MEA she presented these sessions:
- Listening Fun with Scarves, Ribbons and Tennis Balls
- Sensational Singing Games
Upcoming Workshops:
North Central Teachers Convention
- Sensational Singing Games
- Rhythm Instrument Fun
- Listening Fun with Scarves, Ribbons and Tennis Balls
Central Alberta Teachers Convention
- Super Fun Singing games and Activities for K-2
- Super Fun Singing games and Activities for Gr. 3-6 classes
Calgary City Teacher's Convention - Denise will be at St. Mary's High School for a full symposium - 8 fun sessions on Thursday and Friday
Super Fun Lessons for K-2 Music Classes
Super Fun Lessons for Gr. 3-6 Music Classes
Rhythm Instrument and Reading Fun
Ukulele (and Guitar)
Listening Fun with paper plates, parachutes, tennis balls and more!
Music Around the World
Recorder and More
Rounds, Canadian Folk Songs and Choral Music,
GETCA - Greater Edmonton Teachers Convention
Ukulele Fun - with Alan Choromiac
Listening Fun with paper plates, parachutes, tennis balls and more!
- Sensational Singing Games
Mighty Peace Teachers Convention
Denise is presenting 3 sessions, and Christie Noble and Tracy Stener are presenting 3 amazing sessions using the Making Music Fun series.
For Workshops with
Denise Gagne
Christie Noble and Tracy Stener - 
Dan Fee - 
What else is new at Themes?

Easy Music Theory is a music theory book for beginning band, choral, general music classes or for teachers who teach private lessons.  A class set of 25 is only $100 - $4 each.  You can't photocopy a set of theory worksheets for $4!  The teacher's guide includes multiple choice tests that correlate to the sections of the student books - your assessment is done for you!
Easy Guitar Songs - Teacher's Guide and Student Books

The Easy Guitar Teacher's Guide and Student Book  
is a great song collection to teach young beginners to sing and strum on the guitar.  The teacher's Guide includes introduction to guitar, music, lyrics, chords and chord charts. It includes 25 folk songs with perf/acc CD, Digital Resources.  Kids want to play pop songs - so we've included  links to 25 very easy pop songs on YouTube that your students can play with.  Order a classroom kit for $100 that includes a teacher's guide and 25 student books.  The student books/CD are only $5  ~ you couldn't copy the book/CD for that!
Know Your Note Names
Learning the letter names of the notes is a very helpful skill for students who are beginning the recorder.  

Includes 50 reproducible pages of kid-tested activities to help your students learn their note names in the treble and bass clef. A wide variety of reproducible activities are included: create a word, matching, silly stories, crosswords, games and flashcards.
We've created five great apps for iPad or Google devices.  If you have a class set of iPads, volume purchasing is available for these apps.

Vocal Warm-ups for Singers or Choir
This app is based on the warmups book, "Strictly Warmups" by Kerry Heisler.  The warm-ups in this collection are organized into five sets.  Each set includes a physical warm-up, breath awareness, then five minutes of a variety of mid-range warm-ups. 
Vocal Warmups - ITunes
Learn and Play Recorder has everything that you need for your beginning recorder classes.  
Recorder App ITunes
Recorder App Google

Rain Rain Story -  is a sound story book that uses the Rain Rain Go Away song, and a poem for students to accompany.  This app includes ear training activities and instrument exploration.   Rain Rain Story app  (iTunes)       Rain Rain - Google
Note Name Match Game -  10 levels of Memory to match notes with their letter names.  Great for recorder students, piano lessons, beginning band.
Note Name Match Game (iTunes)                 Note Name Memory (Google)
 Learn and Play Recorder 2 is now available for iTunes and Android devices!
This app gives your recorder players 24 songs for two part soprano with optional alto.  Naming notes is reviewed, now with interactive practice!  Counting music is reviewed, with an interactive name the note value activity.
The full score with both regular alto and transposed alto for teachers to project is included.  
 Learn and Play Recorder 2 App (iTunes)     Google Play- Learn Recorder 2
Note Name Smash: Kids love to break things.  In this app, choose the notes to practice in treble or bass clef.  Every correct answer smashes a hole in the wall!
Only .99 for an engaging way to practice note names on iTune or Google devices. 
Themes & Variations  •  #2-4664 Riverside Drive  •  Red Deer, AB T4N6Y5
Subscribe    Unsubscribe    Preferences    Send to a Friend    Report Spam
Powered by MyNewsletterBuilder
Share on Facebook Bookmark and Share