Using Puzzles in the Music Classroom

By Sue Albrecht Johnson

I spent twenty-five years of my life as a middle school/junior high school mathematics teacher. I had always loved mathematics and wanted to give my students this enthusiasm as well. This led me to create lots of puzzles, games, and classroom activities for them to do, in an effort to help them learn and reinforce the skills they were learning in class. Depending on the circumstances, these puzzles were either completed in class, for extra credit, or sometimes on days with substitute teachers.

My lifelong love of singing prompted the idea to create puzzles based on musical topics. I was very pleased with the teacher response to my first book, Music Fun 101. Teachers especially seemed to like the Crossword and Complete the Story sections, in which students are asked to identify notes on the treble and/or bass clef. Those notes are then translated into words. The new collection, called Music Puzzler, incorporates three stories and six crosswords. For an additional activity or extra credit, students may also enjoy clapping, chanting, or tapping the rhythms in these puzzles for the instructor. Keyboard classes may enjoy playing through the musical clues.

In addition, there are a variety of other crosswords focusing on musical elements, history, and vocabulary in the Kriss Kross, Word Search, and Musical Sudoku sections. With every puzzle, the goal is to reinforce concepts that are being learned about in class. If you are studying musical theater, assign the Contemporary Broadway Crossword puzzle as an extra credit assignment. If you are studying the instrument families, pull out the Musical Instruments Kriss Kross to complete at the end of class as a concluding activity or assessment.

Music Puzzler is entirely reproducible and a data CD with PDF files is also included. My hope is that this book will be something that both students and teachers will enjoy!

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