When planning lessons, I use a variety of sources from my years as a music teacher and therapist but the following are the main curriculum for the classes and a few reasons why I chose each.
My only fault with Theme and Variations probably comes from the simple fact that she is Canadian and we live in Texas. We have different traditional music, different folk songs, and dances, and the music sometimes seems a little “young” (Kinder lessons seem more appropriate for PreK and this is true for most of the grades). My training and years working as a music therapist with children and seniors taught me plenty of folk songs that are appropriate and regional so I supplement with those.
Theme and Variations is the brain child of Denise Gagne, who is incredible at designing it the way teachers need. She actively takes feedback on her Facebook groups and looks for suggestions before making major changes. She listens to what teachers say works in their classrooms and what doesn’t.
2. Music K-8 by Plank Road
I can’t express enough how much I love the children’s choral music in Music K-8. Every issue has music that can be used with either beginners or advanced choral singers and most issues are themed so there’s less time planning recitals. I also like using their recordings for listening activities. Children love hearing other children sing and these recording feature some wonderful choirs.
3. Chimes of Dunkirk and manuals by New England Dancing Masters
This series of instruction manuals teaches the history of folk dances and has dance steps that are easy for children to follow. The series begins with Chimes of Dunkirk, a longways reel adapted from a French circle dance, that sets beginners up for more challenging reels like Alabama Gal. I’ve used this in my public school classroom, in the homeschool class, in Social Music with young adults with Autism, and with typical adults at a company party. It’s simple enough for everyone to learn and yet still fun. Everyone always wants to do it again at the next class!