Are there any Elementary music teachers out there?

Questions or discussion about Kagan theory, research, or implementing Kagan in your classroom.
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Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:17 pm

Are there any Elementary music teachers out there?

Post by Music2004Man » Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:23 pm

I am an elementary classroom music teacher and I have attended two Kagan workshops. I have some ideas for implementation and am hoping to bounce some ideas off of elementary music teachers who have had success with the Kagan structures. I only see my students once a week and I'm feeling right now that that will stifle some of the possibilities for implementation with this program. Any help is greatly appreciated.


Christi Brown
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Music teachers

Post by Christi Brown » Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:07 am

Hi! You are not alone! There are many teachers, such as myself, with a music background and I hope that we can meet here to talk about some ideas, too! Like you, my classes met once a week, so I think we should be flexible about the specific number of times you try a structure. My personal goal was once a day, but with a different class during the day. My schedule allowed for me to teach music to a fifth grade class every day, as opposed to seeing all the fifth grades in a row for one day. I think it just depends on your schedule. So, I could try one structure with a fifth grade one day, and practice the same structure the next day - it actually helped me to do it that way! :)
Keep in touch and I am inviting more of our colleagues to join in this discussion! ~Christi

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Post by Music2004Man » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:35 am

Dear Christi,

Thank you for your reply. I wanted to give you a little more information about my school and schedule setup, teaching background, and classroom setup to facilitate our discussion. I teach 1st-4th grade classes for 40 minutes a week. It sounds like our schedules are fairly similar because I teach at least 1 class of each grade level a day and sometimes I have 2 classes of the same grade level in a day. I teach recorder to my third and fourth graders and am intrigued by rallyrobin and mix-pair share ideas where the students will utilize echo patterns and improvisation on their recorders. I just finished my Orff Certification in grad school this last summer and Orff's idea's drive my classroom. Do you by any chance know of Orff's music education idea's (or possibly, I am hoping are even certified in Orff?). If you have an Orff background, how do you see Orff and Kagan's ideas interracting?

My classroom is a very open space. I have two white boards set up in the front and back of my classroom and have an array of metallophones and xylophones (1 BX, 2 AX, 1 SX, 1 BM, 1 AM, 1 SM) along the side of my classroom. All of them are on small stands with wheels for easy transportation around the room. The rest of the room is fairly open to facilitate movement exercises and folk dancing. In my mind this gives me a lot of space to support Kagan's use of teams.

I know that this is a lot of information but I really appreciate your time and expertise. I was going to include my current ensemble situation but I think this is enough for now.


Christi Brown
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:15 pm

Post by Christi Brown » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:59 pm

Dear Music2004Man,

Yes, I am Orff certified - originally from Memphis and studied with Jos Wuytack for many summers through the Master Class level. I was Jim Solomon's apprentice for one summer at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. It took me some time to merge (little by slowly) Kagan into my already "cooperative" and interactive music environment, but Kagan structures support musical learning through Orff, and Kodaly, classrooms.

For example, I already like your ideas for MixPairShare (MPS) with recorder practice. I saw an opportunity to use the "mix" for all those movement opportunities (i.e. - kindergarten/first grade = jump, hop, skip, gallop; or intermediate grades = falling leaves, snowflakes, slow motion athletes, etc), and when the music stops= pair up, and RallyRobin 8-beat rhythm patterns. (We were practicing the "question/answer" on body percussion). Mix again, and get a new partner, etc.

I used RallyCoach during instrument time, especially for more difficult patterns and orchestrations: to allow students to teach each other the very pattern I just taught them using Orff.

Here's my "Ah-ha" moment! Look closely at your students as they perform: singing, dancing, playing instruments - is it really "cooperative" or are some hiding behind the best singer, mouthing the words, or handing the mallets to a stronger student? Before they ever sing a solo, they need to sing in front of someone else (RallyRobin) creating a safe learning environment, or RallyCoach (like with recorder fingerings).

I am currently living in the North TX area and attend the North TX Orff Chapter workshops when I can! You can read more about me on this website under "Trainings" and then "meet the trainers."
I sent an e-mail to another Orff teacher yesterday and told her that we were beginning a discussion of sorts. She, too, has been to lots of Kagan training and we are working on a music book, specifically with Kagan structures. I have lots of ideas, and would love to hear from you at great length.
If you wish more one-on-one time, please feel free to e-mail me (while keeping this post going) at:
All the Best,

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Post by stephanie.renfroe » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:28 pm

I'm so glad to see other music teachers on here! :D I've been using Conversational Solfege and Kagan structures fit perfectly with this method to make it interesting for the kids to learn rhythmic and melodic patterns. I'd love to chat with you sometime about how you use Kagan in your classes. : )

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Location: Virginia

Post by mkatz » Sun Oct 19, 2008 6:12 am

Hello Fellow Music Teachers! I use many of the Kagan structures in my classes, but have to admit that I'm fortunate in seeing each group twice per week (30 minutes each time). My favorites so far are Rally Robin, Find-Someone-Who (for the older kids), Quiz-Quiz-Trade, Mix-n-Match, Match-Mine, and my all-time favorite of Trading Cards (which I tend to use a bit differently than the approved structure parameters...more like "mix-n-match" twisted up with "mix-freeze-group" -- for example, everyone has a card with a single note on it; they trade while music is playing, and when the music stops they are given a task such as "find everyone with the same letter-name note you have" or "find 2 others who can make a pattern of 'mi-re-do' with your note" etc.).

I would be glad to talk with anyone about how you're using Kagan. Personally, I love the flexibility and the accountability that it gives the kids who are learning music concepts. As we all know, not every student learns at the same pace as others -- and when we see them for such a short time, we WANT them all to learn it right then! Kagan allows them to work with each other, facilitating the learning process and taking some of the burden of always being the "teacher" away from us. The individual attention they receive from each other, along with the immediate feedback, is invaluable in my book.

I don't remember if my email address is included in my signature right now, so here it is:

Let's keep this discussion thread going!

Christi Brown
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:15 pm

"Mix" ideas

Post by Christi Brown » Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:02 am

Greetings all!
Welcome Stephanie and Marya to the music discussion!
Marya - actually your "Trading Cards" sounds just like Trading Cards - trade cards, stop, then teacher gives them a "clue" on how to group. Our clues would be "groups of 3, in do-re-mi sequence, GO!" Or, "groups of four, a four-beat rhythm pattern, go!" I love it, and think you have done a great job with the structure! :D

I also wanted to build on the movement around the music room. Anytime there is a structure that says, "Students mix," or "students move around the room," I used that time to reinforce specific skills. In primary classes, they would "tip-toe, walk, hop, gallop, skip, jump, etc." Recorded music, or my piano, would play the music to match their movements. Older students were moving in a more detailed, creative movement way. "A [edited] fluttering around the park from flower to flower." "A bird soaring through the air." You may increase the list ad infinitum.

Just some thoughts!
Til Soon,
~Christi Brown

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Post by Music2004Man » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:30 pm

I'm really excited to see new people (Stephanie and Marya :) ) jumping in to discuss this topic. I really enjoy the music teachers that I work with in my district but they didn't show much interest in Kagan so I am excited to have this outlet, and to meet other experienced Kagan music teachers. All of the ideas that I've seen so far have been wonderful and have really gotten my wheels turning in a number of new ways (though I must say I'm pretty jealous Marya that you get to see your kids for an hour a week).

I was hoping to have some clarification on a few things. I'm going to order the main book in a couple of days, so my structure vocabulary is slightly limited right now. Could someone be so kind as to explain mix-n-match? (I figure if I can ask about one structure in each post, then I will expand my structure vocab greatly).

I just had an idea the other day to use Quiz-Quiz-Trade with the lines and spaces of the staff. Do any of you have ensembles? If so, how do you (or do you use Kagan) with your ensembles? I have a chorus of 100 that I split into two groups and see as a 60 and a 40 (once a week 40 mins). I also have an advanced recorder ensemble (and I'm thinking there are possibilities here involving Kagan structures) of 60 that I see in 2 groups of 30 once a week for 40 mins.

I hope everyone is having a good week and I'm looking forward to continuing our conversation.


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Post by Aloe » Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:21 am


Christi Brown is at my school as I type coaching us all on our Kagan Structures and just informed me of this discussion so I thought I'd give a little shout out and say HI!

I really enjoy using many of the Kagan Structures into my music classroom. We see the students once a week for 50 minutes and I teach 1st-5th grades in Las Vegas. We are very Orff based in Vegas as well. At my school, each grade level has a "Structure of the Month" and the specialists are to kind of pick and choose which structures to focus on for the month. It has really been fun (and sometimes challenging) trying to come up with ideas on how to use each structure BUT I have really enjoyed the results so far!

Some of my favorite structures have been QQT, Find Someone Who, Rally Coach, and Match Mine. I also have my students in 4 rows and their "teams" are the people sitting behind them (so they have 4 people/team) and have about 8 teams or so. The "number head" they are is whatever row they are sitting in so I may call out "Number 2's (which is all students sitting in the second row)--go get a white board", etc...which makes it easier when jobs are needed as there is no arguing and stuff like that. I'm sure this sounds confusing.

Anyway, I'm happy that Christi informed me of this forum as it will be fun sharing ideas with you all.


Christi Brown
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:15 pm


Post by Christi Brown » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:08 am

Hi all!

Quiz Quiz Trade ideas are great for review! You can have 3x5 index cards with note names/recognition from the treble clef staff; 4-beat rhythm patterns; and, my favorite - recorder fingerings: one side I drew the fingerings for a note, on the other side of the card was the note on the staff. For example, as students found a partner, they could either quiz their partner, "What is the fingering for this note?" Or, "Can you show me the fingering for low E?" etc...

Ensembles usually found a partner and I could provide a practice with a RallyRobin, or RallyCoach - depending on the difficulty or mastery factor. Listen and check to see if your partner: is on pitch, enunciates the words, pronouncing the {German} correctly, etc....

Andrea (Las Vegas) has done a great job of managing teams, and #'s. I would like to elaborate on what her set-up looks like. When the students enter, they sit in rows facing the front to receive instruction. But, look closely and you will notice that they are four rows across and four students vertically, too.
{Front of the room- teacher stands here}

1. x x x x x x x
2. x x x x x x x
3. x x x x x x x
4. x x x x x x x

I'm not sure this little diagram will transfer to the discussion page - it might shift and all, but I tried! So, all the #1's are in a row, and every team has a #1,2,3,and 4.

Thanks for the great ideas, Andrea! This is great organization for when we need to have the focus at the front of the room!

When standing in a circle, for warm-ups, or whatever, turning to a partner next to them was easy, too.

Keep in touch! Til Soon,

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Trainee teacher using Kagan for a case study

Post by les » Sat May 02, 2009 2:24 am

Hi everyone - I am based in Manchester, England, and am having fun implementing some Kagan structures in a wider oportunities environment. For my main assignment as part of my PGCE, I am comparing two groups of year 4 pupils (Primary). Both groups I teach for an hour a week over 5 weeks, one using Kagan strategies through part of the lesson, and the other using conventional teaching methods. Class sizes in one school is 21, and the other is 27. My focus for the areas of learning are; pulse, rhythm, pitch and dynamics. Both schools I am teaching in are inner city schools based in fairly bad areas, so pupils can be fairly challenged at home. The aim of my research is to see if pupils learn more through using a collaborative teaching strategy, in this case Kagan, rather than a non structured non collaborative methods.
Findings so far are quiet interesting. There is definately more inclusion for all pupils, as I have involved the quieter pupils in the class. I have used "Numbered Heads Together" and "Timed Share Pair". Next week wil be my fifth and final lesson for me to draw any conclusions from this exercise. I shall keep you posted as to my findings once I have concluded this assignment, but I am glad to see that there are other teachers successfully implementing Kagan structures.

Happy teaching!


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Joined: Thu May 02, 2019 10:12 am

Band and Choir in Middle and High School

Post by gurdaz » Thu May 02, 2019 3:39 pm

Hello everyone, I think the last post on here was in 2009 but it's worth a shot. My name is Gabi. I am not an elementary school teacher but I teach middle and high school band and choir in San Diego. I have been to a few Kagan trainings but am looking for more ideas because they never really know how to translate the structures to music. My favorite structure right now is Match Mine. I use it for rhythm. Basically I have two game board options, one for 1 measure and the other for 2 measures. I then used some note value cards I got on Teachers Pay Teachers (could have created them but I had already purchased them for another purpose) and had them "stand-up-hand-up-pair-up." A creates a rhythm, describes it to B, checks B's game board, and switch. Then gradually add more difficult parameters like you can't clap/say the rhythm, you can't say how many beats each note is, A can't look at B's board while giving instructions, B can't ask A questions, etc. If you want to see the materials I created I am happy to share, just email me at

What would you guys recommend for a high school choir class that is mostly kids who don't want to be there but still participate most of the time?


Bill Stater
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Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:42 am

Re: Are there any Elementary music teachers out there?

Post by Bill Stater » Thu May 02, 2019 6:35 pm

Great question. In middle and high school music classes, the structure Rally Coach is great for those times you break out into sectionals. Have the students pair up with someone of the same instrument (be strategic in your pairings, of course). First partner could hum, clap the pattern, or describe the notes in the sequence, then check with their partner for agreement. Once second partner concurs, first partner performs the section. Love seeing Kagan structures in the music room!

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Joined: Wed May 08, 2019 5:28 am

Re: Are there any Elementary music teachers out there?

Post by Gav » Wed May 08, 2019 5:33 am

Hi all, especially Christi (we go back along ways!!) As a non-music specialist I just wanted to add that I have enjoyed reading this thread and learning more about the ways that you all use Kagan Structures. I am Director of Kagan in the UK and wanted to extend a helping hand to Les upon completion of your PGCE, if ever you need more info on Kagan let me know.

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Joined: Mon May 27, 2019 9:23 am

Elementary music teacher

Post by MS LKAY » Mon May 27, 2019 9:32 am

Hello. I am a retired high school choral director and am now a private school elementary music teacher! I would love any resources you all might would share with me on implementing the Kagan approach. I am attending a Kagan workshop in June at our school and am excited about it. I have lots of instruments in my room and just need ideas on how to use and what all to do with them. I see my students twice a week for 30 minutes. Anything you have would be greatly appreciated! THANKS in advance. My email is