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5 Ways to Upcycle in a Music Room

Posted by on in Resources for Music Teachers
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Every music teacher goes through lots of resources. And let's face it. Resources are scarce. But there are some ways you can give old things a new life which saves money while making you incredibly hip.


1) Vocal Music Teachers: REPERTOIRE BOX: Do you have piles of old sheet music? Don't throw it out! Instead, make a class project. Have students trim away the margins. Then find a discarded cardboard box. Tape it shut and get some glue. Glue the cut up manuscript all over the box at any angle. When dry, cut a slit in the top it. Now you have the perfect musical repository for students to make suggestions for songs.

2) Concert Band Teachers: HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS: No matter what style of band, you undoubtedly have broken drumsticks, cracked reeds, odd pieces of instruments that don't belong anywhere and the occasional broken baton. Don't throw them out. Instead, collect them all in a bin. You can either get some dirt in a box and make a musical cemetery or grab some glue and make a Bulletin Board in October of things that 'Passed On" during rehearsal.

3) General Music Teachers: INSTANT BULLETIN BOARD: Last day of the month and you haven't a clue what next month's bulletin board should be? Instead of throwing out the hundred catalogs and mailings that you receive each year, keep them. Have students cut out the pictures for some extra credit once in awhile or make it a class project. Turn your bulletin board into a massive collage! To make it a little more fun, ask the art teacher for some black paint and a brush. After the collage dries, use the brush to write "Music Class" in large uneven letters right on top of it.

4) LAL in Music Class: WRITING PROJECT: Do you have tons of copy paper that got copied but never used? Make it a fun writing project and meet your standards in the process. Give one sheet per student with a marker of a random color. Tell them they have to be perfectly silent, no talking, no cell phones, no internet help... Give them ten minutes to write the lyrics out to one 'SCHOOL APPROPRIATE' song right atop the lesson plan/handout/coloring page/sheet music that you handed them. What you'll have is a gradable writing assignment that can hang in the hallway that also is a killer decoration.

5) Everyone: IF YOU WONT USE IT, FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL: We all have a shelf, a bin, a pile, or a closet filled with stuff that we know we will NEVER use in class. We may say 'someday' but that day never comes. And guess what, someone in your school may need it! Ask around. If no one wants it, ask your principal if it is old enough/depreciated enough to simply give it away to a local good will store, a local church or other community group. You'll be surprised how a pile of nothing could change someones life for the better.

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  • John Mitrano Sunday, 10 August 2014

    Can't help but be reminded of the old adage: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without..."
    I have also seen old music books become angels, horns, and other holiday decorations with a little glue and glitter.
    Don't forget - guitars or other stringed instruments that are structurally broken (especially in the back) can become art projects and then classroom decorations!

  • Gregory Pavliv Tuesday, 30 September 2014

    Great point. We should have a share-out where teachers share how they've repurposed instruments that are in such disrepair they end up in the instrument graveyard.

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