1. Class Materials
One of the strengths of the Prodigies Music Curriculum is its versatility. Whether you’re a parent using it as edutainment at home, a homeschooling mom starting a group music class, or even if you’re a classroom music teacher of 20 years, Prodigies will likely cause something of a mini-revolution in how you teach music!
How you end up running your music lessons will be largely up to you, and here we’re going to look at 3 classroom setups and the pros and cons of each. We’ll look at a casual and affordable setup, a slightly more robust setup, and then finally a full bells and whistles type of setup.
The models that follow aren’t hard and fast rules - everyone’s budget, time frame, class size and commitment varies - so feel free to mix and match the different elements and materials as you see fit. Whatever you choose, we’re confident you and your kids will be happily making music in no time!
Model 1: Lightweight (Prodigies Go)
Let’s start out by imagining that you have almost zero budget to work! This is how I started my classes back in 2012, and I ran them for two years to great success on a very small budget.
As you run more classes, you can expand your materials and upgrade your setup for a better experience, but don’t let a lack of startup money get in your way.
In this model, we’ll be running our music class with no instruments or workbooks. Instead, we’’ just be using the videos inside the Prodigies Go Monthly Membership (~$20/mo) combined with the Solfege hand signs (or our free instrument app) as a means of having a really fun music class.
The Lightweight model requires:
- Prodigies Go - allows you to stream Prodigies 300+ student facing videos (~$20 per month)
- Knowledge of the Solfege Hand Sign (to use instead of instruments)
- Device to show the video on (laptop/projector/TV)
- Optional: Tablets for the students to use our free Prodigies Bells Instrument app
- Helpful but not required: lots of energy, charisma or otherwise good classroom management skills
With this setup, you’ll use Prodigies Go to stream all of the student facing videos as you run your class and Instead of requiring your students (or you) to purchase bells to use, students can follow along using the Solfege Hand Signs (or our free Prodigies Bells instrument app).
Pros of this Setup:
- Super affordable - you can use your $20/month membership to run as many classes as you’d like and watch as often as you’d like
- Lightweight - no instruments means easy setup and the strategies are more flexible for large groups
- Low commitment - in the event you already have a lot of music ed. Resources, lesson plans and routines, this setup is great because it will allow you to use Prodigies when you want without introducing a bunch of new instruments and materials
Cons of this Setup:
- No instrumental practice - using the hand-signs and the bell app is great, but a lack of a physical instrument means that kids aren’t really learning the physical coordination and skills that go with playing a musical instrument
- Without Pro level access or workbooks for your students, you don’t have the ability to print the sheet music and worksheets to go with the lessons. This is okay and possibly not a problem if you’re running a shorter class with lots of students, but you inevitably miss a large part of the program without the worksheets and sheet music.
- With Prodigies Go, you need to be very confident in your internet streaming ability to make sure your class goes off without a hitch. You can use the Prodigies Music Lessons app as a way of saving videos offline as well.
Finally, and this could be good or bad depending on your personality, experience etc, with the Lightweight setup, you’ll inevitably need more of your own music teaching routines to run a successful class. Prodigies videos are great, but you’ll want a bit more than just the videos to keep your students engaged over the long term.
Other resources to have on a hand would include…
- A few movement songs or music games to play
- Boomwhackers for movement, percussion and pitch based play
- A guitar or piano you can play for singalongs, name songs, etc
- Barefoot Books (musical books for kids)
The Lightweight model also works really well if you’re using a piano or in a lot of one-on-one settings and you just need another resource, program or tool to reach some of your younger students.
Model 2: A Middle of the Road Approach (Prodigies Pro)
A more powerful and effective situation for most music teachers involves having at least a few sets of bells and/or Boomwhackers to use with your students. By splitting up the bells or Boomwhackers among multiple students, you can do a lot of ensemble like practice with your class without needing a set of bells for everyone.
The Middle of the Road Model Requires:
- A Prodigies Pro Membership - unlocks all student facing videos, all teacher training videos and all curriculum PDFs like lesson guides, sheet music, worksheets and more through PreschoolProdigies.com/resources
- Several sets of bells or Boomwhackers to split up among your students. I had about 4 sets of C Major bells and 6 sets of C Major Boomwhackers which meant that I could do a lesson focused on a single note (like Hello C) with 10 students (4 get C Bells, 6 get C Boomwhackers, and if other kids show up, they can hand sign or use the app instead)
- Device to show the video on (laptop/projector/TV)
- Color printing solution - with your Pro membership, you can print all kinds of worksheets, sheet music and resources. The resources are full color though, so investing in a long-term color printing solution is a good idea if you plan to make the most of those resources.
- In lieu of color printing, you or your students can purchase the workbooks to go with each Chapter of Prodigies to get the sheet music, worksheets and lesson guides
With this setup, you’ll have more resources to use from Prodigies Pro, which means you can print out sheet music and worksheets to go with the lessons you’re teaching that day. You’ll also have at least some instruments to get the kids engaged in playing along with the videos.
- Having the lesson guides, worksheets and sheet music from Prodigies Pro means a more well rounded and complete class experience. You’ll have all of the essential concepts and follow up questions within the lesson guide, and you’ll also be able to run a sheet music center/station/activity after you watch the video.
- Even with just a few sets of bells, you can do a lot more with your classes right away. Let’s say you have you 4 sets of bells and 12 students - this setup actually works really well for 3 note songs. If it’s a Do Re Mi song, give 4 kids Do, 4 kids Re and 4 kids Mi. Then each student plays that bell when the video calls for it, and if you’d like, you can have them hand sign along with the notes they don’t have. This facilitates turn taking and ensemble playing.
- Using Boomwhackers, which are a bit more affordable than the deskbells, you can achieve a very similar result. The limit of the boomwhackers is that it’s difficult for one child to play multiple notes. They do work great if you’re only looking for each kid to play one note however, which is a great way to start but not a super long term solution to truly learning how to play an instrument.
While splitting up the instruments works really well for a more light weight and low cost solution, it’s still not really the full experience of learning to play and navigate an instrument.
Printing all of the sheet music and worksheets can be taxing on your color ink supply depending on how many sheets you use in each class. A middle of the road fix is to print and laminate the sheet music portions (so you can re use them later) and print out select worksheets for your students.
Method 3: The Whole Kit and Caboodle
The ideal scenario for music classes with Prodigies is that each student has their own set of bells during class. This is how the program was designed to be used.
In an even more ideal scenario, the students would either own or rent bells from you for continued practice at home. When we talk about enrollment and class pricing structures, I’ll lay out a few ways to make that happen.
Also, in an ideal scenario, each student would have their own copies of the workbooks so that they complete all the cross curricular and reinforcement activities within the books. Also, that way the students have the sheet music to practice with at home.
And finally, in the most ideal scenario, students would also have at home access to Prodigies, I.e., a Prodigies Go Membership, so that they continue to get lots of practice at home to further develop their musical ears through more consistent and meaningful play with individual musical notes.
- 12 x Prodigies C Major Deskbells. Our 12 pack is a buy 11, get 1 free deal, which makes it an ideal option for running a Music class. Furthermore, you can sell or rent the bells at a profit (more on that later).
- Prodigies Pro or Lifetime Membership - having outlined the benefits of Prodigies Pro above, the key benefit of our ultimate plan, Prodigies Lifetime, is that it unlocks all the curriculum video downloads for offline use. This way, you can make your own playlists, have access to the videos offline, and even put them in a USB key for easy access through a Smart TV.