USA in the Morning

Mr Mike's Musings

Songs Kids Actually Like Performing

Any teacher can tell you that it can be tricky keeping kids interested in the class curriculum. Its no different for music classes! While teaching the classics is an important part of our music lessons, we also need to keep the students interested and enthusiastic about what they are playing. The more interested, the more effort they make and the better they sound. And its all about challenging them to exercise those musical muscles so that they can improve.

I’ve found that kids like to play modern and upbeat songs mostly. Have a listen to what is popular or ask your students for some ideas on what they would like to learn. If its something that they struggle with or a piece that has no “life” to it, they will lose interest fast and not give their best. But if its something they are familiar with, say a song from the latest action movie, they tend to really get into those.

The challenge these days are in finding songs that are deemed acceptable for certain age groups. So I’m forever trying to compromise with my students to find songs they like that don’t involve sex, swearing or violence in them. A good example here is “Firework” by Katy Perry. Its upbeat and the song itself is about self esteem. A lot of kids relate to this one so it’s a favorite we like to play quite a bit.

A classic favorite that kids like playing is “Entry of the Gladiators” for its circus fairground appeal. It also gives each section a chance to be heard, something the kids enjoy a lot. I’ve had a lot of requests to learn some of the songs from High School Musical (quite appropriate) and I have one that both the marching band and the music class kids both like called “We’re all in this together”. Again, this is an upbeat and popular tune that kids can relate to.

Christmas songs, you either love them or hate them, but when that time of year rolls around, all of the music students want to play them. It would do you good to check out the more contemporary versions of the old carols. They have a bit more of a rock and roll vibe to them that kids really get into.

Last, but not least, is the favorite Party Rock Anthem, which is one that my drum section especially loves to play. It was after they had seen a video clip of the Ohio State University playing this one that I was inundated with demands to learn it. I actually had fun with this one too.

You have to keep in mind that each kid is an individual with their own tastes, and you can’t always please them all. But if you stick to stuff that is fairly popular, has a good beat to it, or is just a fun piece to play, you can’t really go wrong! This is why I try to rotate the songs I use and add in some of the latest music that I find the kids listening to. It keeps things fresh and you aren’t always going over the same songs. Even a favorite one can get boring if it gets overplayed. If you are stuck with a song that is a requirement, like part of the schools music curriculum, see if you can’t be bit creative with it, spruce it up a bit and make it something the kids will enjoy learning.