Issue 110: Emergency Lesson Plans

In the last week of term, no fewer than six class music lessons were entirely derailed by “no-notice” changes – “no-notice” meaning that as I walk in the door ready to start a lesson in about 5 or 10 minutes, I am greeted by…

“could you teach for twenty minutes instead of forty, as the whole school are going up to the church for the rest of the afternoon?”

“instead of djembe, could you teach samba to year 3 and 4 as a special treat? They are so looking forward to it?”

“the hall is not available; could you teach samba in the playground and the other lessons in the classrooms?”

“the overhead projector and computer seem to have gone a bit weird. We are hoping to get them fixed soon.”

I have also been faced with a complete power cut when I was about to teach a class keyboard lesson. I never joined the Scouts as a child, but I have learned, through bitter experience, to Be Prepared.

It’s not a bad idea to have a repertoire of lessons and activities that you can run with no warning, no instruments, no resources, no access to electricity, computers, overheads, whiteboards, no preparation, no warning.

What does that leave you with?

SINGING!   DANCING!   MOVING!   All three at once!

Start with the “counting to 8” game“. You all count to 8 over and over together, keeping a steady pulse. When you hold your hands out palms up, and open, you count out loud, when you close your hands, you count in your thinking voice. See if you are all still on the same number when you open your hands again.

Move up a level; only say certain  numbers out loud, eg 1 and 5 (very easy) 2 and 8 (harder).

Another level; Divide the class into two groups and give each group two numbers to say out loud.  Or let the children all choose their own number – between one and eight, of course…

Final level; Substitute a body percussion sound or an action for a couple of the numbers… how many can you cope with?

Tony Chestnut is a great action song for all ages. I’m getting a bit old and creaky to do all the Toe-Knee stuff, so I get a child, or a group of children to lead it.

to see the elephants...


Do the “Miss Mary Mack” singing game lesson: teach the song, and then partner the children off and get them to create their own clapping game for it.



Calm down with the Silent Game, and choose a “Really Sensible Child” to be the leader.

That little lot should fill the forty-five minutes, and give a good workout on pulse, rhythm, internalising the pulse, creating actions and body percussion sounds, singing and moving.

Poppy divider



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