Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Have You Been to Melody Street?

One of my favorite things to teach about are the instrument families and the various instruments. I teach this unit in three sections:

3rd grade learns about the four instrument families and the instruments from the orchestra that belong to these four families. We focus on the characteristics of each family and talk about how non-orchestra instruments would also fit into the four families.

In 4th grade we add on to their knowledge about the four instrument families and we focus more on the sound of each instrument and their particular instrument family. We talk about the word timbre and we learn how to describe music using various timbre words.

Finally in 5th grade we talk about various ensembles and how different ensembles use different groupings of instruments. They have to use their knowledge of instrument families and instrument timbres to arrange instruments into various ensembles. Some of the ensembles we focus on are concert band, orchestra, jazz band, and

This year, I'm more excited to teach instrument families than I have EVER been before. This is due to some of the amazing resources I have found. There are so many great youtube videos and games I plan on using for this unit. I'll share different ones in the next few days and weeks, but I'll start with one I have been using with my 3rd graders.

Last summer, I stumbled upon this gem. It is a story called Melody Street. Some of you may have already heard of it. It is a story about the instruments of the orchestra and it plays the sounds of the instruments as the story is read to the kids. The story is in three chapters and I find it to be very interesting.

When I first found the story, I was a bit worried about using it. I was excited, but 3rd graders can be so fickle at times. I love teaching 3rd grade, but they tend to be in that stage where some things are now too 'kiddie' for them. I decided to be brave and just try it this year as an introduction into studying the instrument families. To my delight they LOVED the story and many of them stated "That was really good!"

We have been reading the story in chunks. We read the first chapter the first day and then we got through part of the 2nd chapter. The only thing that bothers me about the story if you cannot start in the middle of a chapter. I want the kids to have the full experience of hearing all the instruments playing, but I am not sure how to finish the chapter without starting all over. (The second chapter is about 15-20 minutes!)

Anyways, there is also a Melody Street site with different music games and activities. One I particularly find useful and will probably use with one of my classes is one where the students have to identify the instruments by sound.

Hope you enjoy these resources as much as I do. Do you have any other cool instrument sites to share?


  1. Hi Brittany! Thank-you so much for your comment! I LOVE Melody Street! Thanks for telling us all about it! I tried it out the other day with my kids and they LOVE it! I blogged about it today and mentioned you in my blog post! I also included a link to your blog! Check it out:


    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I am going to write a post sometime tonight or tomorrow about some other great videos I have been using for my classes. There are some really cool instrumental performances you can find online and I have a great resource for sharing these videos safely with your students. :)

      Thanks for sharing my blog, too! I already have yours bookmarked so I get to read all your updates.