Music Center Maestros: Tips, Tricks, and Tools from Quaver!

Music Centers are a wonderful way to put learning into the hands of your students whether they are in the classroom or at home with distance learning. Giving them the tools they need during lesson instruction empowers them to become music-makers on their own. Centers can also allow students to experience music from a variety of entry points: listening, composing, playing, creating, and more! Using tech-based and non-tech tools in Quaver, teachers will walk away with a better understanding of how students will strengthen their understanding of musical topics and skills by being exposed to a variety of resources through Centers.

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Advice on Centers

1.) How to keep track of the groupings

  • Questions and ideas to consider:
    • Consider how many centers needed for groups of 3 to 4 students.
    • How will the groups be formed?
      • The teacher picks the members of each group.
      • The students pick their groups.
      • Use a selection hat (think Harry Potter).
      • Use a number randomizer app.
    • Student Interactions?  Differentiations?
      • Consider having the student try working in a group but also have extras of any center that could be completed alone. 
  • Create a rotation schedule for either groups or individual students using either a table, spreadsheet, or individual student cards.

2.) How to keep your centers immortal

  • Lots of laminating! Laminate anything and everything you can.
  • Use different sizes of Baggies to keep everything organized.
  • Use small containers for dice. To keep dice from going all over the music room, purchase very small containers that will fit two dice with room for them to move around.  The students can “shake” instead of roll the dice then look on the bottom of the container for the numbers.
  • When it’s time to rotate the centers, have the students put everything back together for the next group to play.  This ensures that little pieces stay with the game.

3.) How to rotate the room/groups

  • Do you have the room for the number of centers needed? 
    • Consider using the hallway for a quiet center (check with your admin).
    • If possible, try to create a circle with the center needing the most space in the middle of the circle. This will help with the flow.
    • Display a number at each center to help the students navigate the order 
  • Consider how long it takes to complete the center activity or game. You want to have centers that are about the same in time to complete.
  • Give a 5-minute warning to and 1-minute warning to finish up the activity.
  • If possible, try to create a circle with the center needing the most space in the middle of the circle. This will help with the flow.

4.) How to incorporate social distancing guidelines

  • Designate seating.
  • Consider dividing up the class into different center activities. Also, consider having the class use only one or two centers during a music class so multiple classes that day could use “disinfected” center activities.
  • Make sure you have a whole class set for physical materials.
    • Once you check with your district about sanitizing standards, find whether it would be better to store materials in a container or baggie.
  • Check with your district for guidelines on how to sanitize and store your materials.
  • If you have a specific situation or want to brainstorm ideas – contact us!

5.) How to share directions

  • Notecards – Write the directions out for the center on a notecard, laminate them to keep them around longer!
  • Google Slides – Create a slide for each center with directions, visuals, and whatever else you need students to see. You can then present them the directions at the beginning of class and then have them available on mobile devices or printed for class. If you are doing centers while distance teaching, share the slides with students so they can access them on their devices!
  • Word Document – Create a word document for center time with all of the directions, visuals, and whatever else you need students to see. You can then present them the directions at the beginning of class and then have them available on mobile devices or printed for class. If you are doing centers while distance teaching. Share the document with students so they can access them on their devices!

6.) QR Codes

  • Create QR Codes – If you are doing centers through distance learning, you can place a QR code on your screen for students to scan and access on a different device or phone! To find QR codes in Quaver, head here…
  • Access tech tools at stations – QR Codes are an easy way to get students to get to a website or document quickly through a mobile device. Create a QR code for each center where you have a digital component like a document or website you would like them to get to on their devices.
  • Best devices – The best devices to use with QR codes are ones with a camera, such as phones, tablets, laptops with a special app. All of these are acceptable devices to use with a QR code. The devices you will find most in classrooms or available to students are phones, tablets, and Chromebooks. 

7.) How to save digital work

  • Email – Most work students do on any device can be saved to a computer or sent directly to the teacher using email. If you are not comfortable with students sending work to your office email address, create a different email you can put into directions for students to send work to during center time. 
  • Digital Folders – In most school environments, students already have access to digital storage systems like Google Drive or Dropbox. You can utilize these in your room most of the time to have students go in and save work directly into their archives. 
  • Cloud-based programs – This includes programs such as Quaver and more have the ability for students to quickly save work right into the program itself to be able to pick up later. You can have them use individual accounts, save work, and then submit it to you as an assignment later. 

8.) How to manage logins for websites and devices

  • Universal Logins – This pertains more to logging into a device itself as opposed to a program that requires a login. (We always recommend using individual student accounts if you are using Quaver.) For school devices requiring a login in order to even access the desktop, make sure you double-check with your IT team about using one log in. They might be able to give you a separate one or you can use your personal one if needed. 
  • Login cards – Especially if you are using individual accounts with Quaver, get a stack of index cards at the beginning of the year and ask students to write down their username and password on one side and then their full name and teacher on the other side. Keep these cards handy during centers so they can grab theirs if they need it. 
  • Sites without login requirements – Obviously, this is a best-case scenario, and there are sites out there like Incredibox that do not require students to log in. Quaver has some ways for students to access resources as well without having to have a username or password. 

9.) How to handle device noise 

  • Headphone recommendations – I always allowed students to either bring their own headphones on center days but if needed, we recommend a headphone that goes over the ear and not inside of it for sanitary purposes and make sure to have a strong cleaner. Especially during these unprecedented times, we highly recommend asking your administration to go ahead and purchase a set of headphones for every student – this would help a lot with centers. 
  • Headphone Hub – There are small headphone hubs that allow all students to plug in multiple sets of headphones into one device. A perfect tool especially for listening centers. 
  • Noise level regulations – When you do not have regular access to headphones create a noise meter for your classroom. If you are distance teaching, you have the power of the mute all button or a digital noise meter. Noise meters can be a physical piece of paper or even a digital model. If you are looking for a digital noise meter, we recommend as a fun way to allow students to see what their noise level is. 

10.) How to let students take control

  • Adapt tech for them – In the classroom, you will sometimes need to adapt the technology to work better for the students. Sometimes I had to provide a wireless mouse or remote desktoped into my computer from a mobile device so students can use the computer from a different part of the room. One might also apply different adaptive technology controls to help students take the lead. 
  • Give simple directions – The more simple and clear the directions are, the more likely students will be successful using the technology without much assistance. Write down how to use it if you need to so they can go back and refer to the directions whenever they need them. 

11.) How to do this with distance teaching

  • Kits for home – Create kits for home to prepare for any distance teaching you might have to do in the upcoming school year. Pull together a small kit with manipulatives for each class to send home. Looking to send home instruments with students too? How about using our Orff Library app instead! Every student has a full instrument at their fingertips!
  • Virtual Classroom – You too can build a virtual classroom using Google Slides. This way students can click on specific links in a visually engaging environment to take part in virtual centers. Create a classroom with several tables and put a virtual activity at each table. Students can then click on the center to get directions and complete work. Example:
  • Centers diagram with links – Don’t have time to get fancy with a virtual classroom? If you recreate it in a Word document it will serve the same purpose. 
  • Video Chat breakout rooms – Through programs like Zoom or Google Hangouts, you can have multiple rooms going. Have small groups in each room and go through the centers together. 

12.) How to work centers with a cart

  • Preparation – If you are traveling around from classroom to classroom on a cart, you will need to do a little extra preparation in order to make centers work. Before, make sure to prep your centers with directions and all the materials you need. You might want to put them in separate bags or boxes and load everything onto your cart. 
  • In Action – When you get to the classroom, you can set each bag or box on to the tables. If you need devices, students can grab them from right there in their classrooms if available or you could rent a computer cart from your media center for them to use. When class is complete, make sure to have students help you pack up the way they found it and help you load your cart back up to help maximize time. 

Center Directions

Dynamic Sentences
Directions: The teacher will create about 20 Quaver sentences (some included in link above) or parts of a song (example: “I’m brave, I’m strong, I’m loved, I’m smart and I’m unique!”). Write each sentence or parts of songs on separate index cards. Cut out and laminate the Dynamic Flash Cards. To play the game, each student draws one index card AND one Dynamic Flash Card. Using both cards, the student will say the sentence on the card using the drawn dynamic marking.
Full Directions Here: 
Song Lyric Sentence Strips 
Directions: Copy the lyrics page using several different colored papers so that each student in the group is working with a different color. Cut each line of the song and place the sentence strips into individual envelopes based on the paper color (recommended to laminate the paper before you cut into strips). The students will place the sentence strips in the correct order with a specified amount of time using an egg timer. *This activity could also use a song that is being prepared for a performance/program.
Full Directions Here: 
Notes and Rests Fish Cards
Directions: Go to Resource Manager to get the Fish Rhythms in Notes and Rests Fishing. To create the fishing poles, use dowel rods, string, and a magnet on the end. Copy, cut-out, and laminate the fish then attach a large paperclip to each fish. The students will “fish” for 4 fish. When the group has finished fishing, each student performs the fish rhythms for their group members.
Full Directions Here: 
I Have a Dog with a Tail Stop Motion
Preparation: Please have paper, coloring supplies, scissors, and a mobile device with the app Stop Motion Studio on it to do this center. 
Directions:“Its time to make your own movie! Open up the Stop Motion Studio App. Start moving the dog around one little frame at a time taking pictures along the way. Afterward, record your voices singing the song I Have a Dog with a Tail as your video moves and then play to see your masterpiece! Once you have completed your work please name your work with your name and class.”
Preparation: Bring out and sign into a set of devices to cut down on time trying to log in. (We recommend that you use a universal login to make it easier to control during class time.) Make sure you also have typed up directions for the WebQuest you want them to follow. 
Directions:“Choose one of the devices, sit down at the table, and follow the WebQuest directions on the table! Please let the teacher know when you are done.”
Example: Webquest samples can be found here!
Interactive Games on the board (Student Interactives, etc.)
Preparation: Please bring up the program on the board and get it prepared for students to use it. You might need to provide a pointer or a wireless mouse for students in order to use this center. 
Directions:“Please be careful with the board and remember to take turns. The game that is up for you is the only one you will be using today. Make sure to give me the highest score right before we switch to the next center!”
Examples:Quaver’s Note and Rest Grab and Staff Champion
Mini Bach’s Brain Video
Preparation: Create a shortlist of composers for students to choose from as well as several devices and safe websites they can go to do research. To add more fun to this center, make sure to provide them with props, greenscreens, and more. 
Directions: “Please look at the list of composers and choose one. Then pick out a device and head to one of the websites I have given you to be able to do research. Find at least 3 facts about your composer and write them down. Then take those 3 facts and create a short (and unique!) video about your composer in the style of a Bach’s Brain Video!”
Example: Quaver’s 7th-grade Lesson 17, Screen 7