Monday, June 4, 2012

Assessing Music With a Line-Up Song

I learned this song from my KTIP mentor, Alicia Franklin, during my first year teaching. I introduce this song in kindergarten and we sing it everyday when we line up. 

I sing the first note as a fermata and hold it until every student is joining in and doing their job to line up. There are hand motions to accompany the song. On the first word "my", we raise our hands in the air (this makes it easy to see who is actually paying attention in line and ready to sing the song). Then, we do what the song says. 

           Phrase 1: place hands back
Phrase 2: exaggerate good posture
Phrase 3: take 2 fingers, point at eyes then 

                 straight ahead
Phrase 4: hands return behind back
Phrase 5: zip lips, pretend to put in pocket, 

                 hands return behind back, mouth is closed

When the kids get to 1st grade, the song only makes guest appearances when we need help remembering how to line up or when I want to see if they can apply the musical concept we just learned.

Using the Song For Assessment

Assess Tempo

If we learned about tempo that day, we may choose a tempo (largo, moderato, allegro) and sing our song accordingly. They may also get to line up to a tempo. I may ask them to show me allegro feet, largo feet, or moderato feet to line up. Depending on how much time is left in class, I may do this individually  or in small groups. If I do it individually, I usually take notes in my grade book for a performance assessment. Older students can watch the conductor and respond to accelerandos and ritardandos.

Assess Dynamics

If we learned about dynamics that day, we may choose a dynamic level for the entire song (piano, mezzopiano, mezzoforte, forte) or watch the conductor to see how the dynamic levels change throughout the song. Older students can usually remember a pattern to assign different dynamic levels to each phrase. Similar to the game discussed above, sometimes we can line up with piano feet (tiptoeing) or forte feet (stomping). Again, depending on the time remaining in class, this is either done individually or in small groups and is sometimes used as a performance assessment.

Assess Melody

If we learned about melodic direction that day, we may use our hand levels to show the melodic contour. (That's why I like the simple shape of this melody going upward then downward.) If we discussed pitch, we may sing it in a high key or a low key.

Assess Harmony

If we learned about minor harmony (Halloween), we may choose to change the song to minor and make it sound spooky. (All the kids LOVE this!)

Assess Timbre

If we discussed different types of voices (speaking, whisper, calling, singing), we may choose to use different voices to use throughout the entire song, or we may change our voices for each phrase. I also have voice cards that I can hold up and show the students what to change to. (View the next post for printable voice cards.)

Assess Rhythm

If we discussed rhythm (long and short sounds), we may sing the song exaggerating note lengths in tenuto or staccato style. If we discussed a fermata, we may choose one or two words to have a fermata and sing those words really long.


These are just a few examples of how I use our line up song for assessment. Sometimes, instead of telling them how to sing it, I let the kids pick a variation to sing. Again, I only sing it every time with kindergarten; and they never get tired of singing it. It only appears occasionally with older grades. It appears sometimes as a warning to those not ready for the hall: "Do we HAVE to revisit kindergarten and sing the line-up song?" Their behavior is quickly corrected. Many older students LOVE the line up song, as it brings nostalgia from kindergarten. 

Even if you have a line-up song already in place, you could probably use these assessment strategies with your song as well. I would love to hear other ideas to use line-up songs as assessment tools. If you have some more ideas, please comment below.


  1. I love this! I use a line up song with each grade level but I think I am switching to this one for K. Thanks so much!

  2. What song do you use for the older kids?

  3. Yes I would like songs for the older grades!

  4. Great line up song, thanks for sharing! I love the assessment ideas as well!


  5. I used this ALL THE TIME with K & 1st. They love it!

  6. Using songs for each moment of the class helps kids get used to the routines with no need for explanations, lectures and, besides, in a more "informal" way, and yet, they do as they are expected according to "formal rules". I sing along with my students from the very beginning of the class. We've got a song to stand up, to wake up (when the class takes place at the first periods in the morning, 8 am), to say hello, to sit down, to put away things we don't need for the music class, to form a line or a circle... They're really useful and fun. I'd love to share them but, alas! they're all in Spanish.

  7. I introduce this song in kindergarten and we sing it everyday when we line up. ...

  8. Great ideas shared here. Thanks a bunch!