Keys to Musical Success

About 3 years ago, I decided to come up with a way of tracking behavior in the music classroom for the group as a whole. I wanted to keep with the music theme but have something each class could keep track of.


This is the outcome of that thought process. It started very plain and they all looked the same but now they are multicolored… multi, I mean that there’s a pink one, a green one and so on.

Every year, after making sure I have enough for all my classes, I laminate them so they can be used for the whole year (and beyond depending on your dry erase marker). This year, I need 35 so the front of my room will be littered with them….thus the multicoloredness (and the making up of words).

Every day, at the end of class, the children (with minimal input from me) grade themselves on the following behaviors as outlined on the keyboard.

-Coming into the room quickly and quietly.

-Handling supplies the right way

-Respectful with words

-Hands and Feet to self.

-Lining up as expected first time asked.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the children use a song to line-up. If all the children are not lined up and SILENT at the conclusion of the song, that key is not awarded. Also, I will make them sing the song over and over again until they are lined up and silent. I think the most I’ve sung the song with them is 5. Lol!

Each positive behavior earns the children a key with a total of five possible keys earned a class time. There are 30 in a keyboard so (for my kids) they would fill it up roughly every 6 weeks. I’m strict with it though. I’ve been known to remind them if we had any issues that day. It really helps the children take ownership of their behavior.

It also helps the classroom teacher know how music went. I’ve had teachers ask their students how many keys they got and the kids are so excited when they fill it up.

Which brings me to…..what happens when the students fill up their keyboard?

I don’t reward good behavior. Good behavior is expected……but I do celebrate good behavior! Cara, isn’t that the same thing? Probably but I try to encourage the thought that it’s more cause and effect rather than reward or consequence.

A celebration might be using the last five minutes of class to watch an Animusic clip. They love this! It could be playing a game that reinforces learning. This year, the upper grades are going to earn steps in the Marching Feet opener (more on that later).

This file is now available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

Thanks for reading!



25 thoughts on “Keys to Musical Success

  1. I would like a copy of your form – doc. I begin today but will have these up by next week! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Hi Cara! I would love a copy of your form – doc. Thank you for sharing! I use stars instead of keys … but I like your idea much better!

  3. Cute idea! I use a similar system, with stars awarded for “NOTEworthy Behaviors”. I love the idea of using the piano keys!

    When my classes fill up the chart, they can earn a “students’ choice” day. They get to pick (from my list) what they want to do. It’s usually singing games, instruments, or music centers. It also helps when they come into class asking to play a favorite game–“not today, but when you have your free choice day, you can choose to play that one!”

    • NOTEworthy! What a great idea! Thanks for visiting and sharing! I really enjoy learning what other people do as well as sharing what goes on in my classroom.

      Thanks again!


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  5. Cara, I’m so glad I found this tonight. I can’t tell you how much I love this. My older students went wild over doing a keyboard unit earlier this year and I know they will find using a piano themed chart to show evidence of their good choice making a great incentive. Please send me the document copies.

  6. Hello Cara,
    I love this idea and would love a copy of the PDF. This fall will begin my third year teaching general music and right now I’m in the what-can-I-do-to-improve thinking stage! Thanks for the great ideas!

  7. I would like a copy this also, It seems like a great idea! I would have to change some things because I go to their classrooms.

  8. Hi Cara

    I love this idea- particularly the idea that the whole class, working as a team, is important. I teach high school music (years 7-12 in Australia) so it’s a little different but I’ve been trying to emphasise the importance of each member of the class in being able to work as an ensemble- both in playing music and in learning. It’s quite a contrast for the ‘me’ generation to think beyond themselves.

    The only thing I’d request, is that the file could be included as an editable file also (eg pub or doc). This way your readers from other parts of the planet can change parts of the wording to make it more appropriate for their students. (The main bug for me is the American spelling of the word ‘behaviour.’ I know most the kids won’t notice, but it will niggle away at me.)


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