My Favorite Resources for Teaching Fast and Slow

blog-favs-photoI don’t know about you but my first few years of teaching were about surviving.  There was no Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.  There were not these online communities of music educators on social networking.  I was lucky to have a music teacher mentor in my district but, at my campus, I was completely alone.

That was only a decade ago.

We’ve come so far with the amount of both free and paid resources at our disposal as well access to the expertise of fellow teachers of all subject areas and grade levels.  Now, it seems, we’ve gone the other way regarding the access to resources we have.  Because there is so much, it can be hard to really dig deep to get to the best activities to teach various concepts.

I hope to cut through some of that for my overwhelmed music teacher friends with my new blog series: My Favorite Resources for Teaching (Fill in the Blank).  This series will include my personal favorite activities, songs, and videos that I use in my music classroom with my students.  These activities can be adapted to your school’s level of technology available.  When I started teaching, I had one teacher desktop computer.  Now, I’m swimming in technology being in such a blessed technology-rich district.  I hope everyone looking for ideas will be able to take away at least one idea from each of these posts.

Alright, enough explanation!  Let’s get to it!


Fast and slow is a concept that is I usually teach in Pre-K and reinforce in Kinder using these standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills)

1D: Identify same/different in faster/slower in music performances.
3E: Perform music using faster/slower.
6C: Compare same/different in faster/slower in musical performances.

Here is my scope of what skills are taught throughout the grade levels regarding tempo. I know the font is teeny, tiny. :/


The Old Gray Cat is my absolute favorite song for focusing on fast/slow with young students.  Because it comes after loud/quiet in the lessons sequence, this song is also really great for reinforcing beginning dynamics. Here is the notation of the song courtesy of Beth’s Music Note.


I begin by singing it alone a capella as if I’m telling a story.  We discuss why we’re singing slowly and quietly during the majority of the song and then louder and faster at the end.  After the children are familiar with the song, we sing it with different children acting out the parts of the cat and the mice.  It is a hoot.  This lesson is found in the MusicPlay curriculum for 1st Grade and in the Pre-K Spotlight on music textbook from McMillan.

For kindergarten, I like using the Book  We’re Going a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosin and Helen Oxenbury.  Here is a video of Michael Rosin reading the story aloud.

Jamie Parker has a wonderful collection of resources to accompany this book including vocal explorations and a listening lesson incorporating “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”


Here is a song lyrics video of the song as well to be used in your classroom.


Finally, I use Vocal Explorations on the Move which I created to, not only appeal to the boys but to practice fast/slow which also reinforcing high and low (with airplanes versus submarines).



Little bodies love to move!  Also, Texas included movement in the update of the standards.
(C) Move alone or with others to a varied repertoire of music using gross and fine locomotor and non-locomotor movement.

Here my recommendations for movement that to reinforce fast/slow (faster/slow).


This one is super fun because it ends so fast.  The above video is from the Learning Station which also has it on CD.  I like the video version because I can turn it on for the students to dance along with while I do any business that needs attending to in the moment (consoling a child, taking attendance, writing a note, etc.)

Also by the Learning Station is Tony Chestnut.  Here is a video of it but I frequently use just the recording because the video is kind of distracting in my opinion.  Plus I can teach it the way I want to (though it requires a lot of exercise on my part).


Another great dance is the Chicken Dance.  I don’t have a video for this one (and the ones I was looking at online were kind of kooky).  I’ll assume you know that one. 🙂



For listening, I think the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens is my absolute favorite to use.  I mostly use it with first grade close to the end of the year to teach instruments/instrument families but, while doing so, I reinforce both tempo and dynamics.

This video for Kangaroos is fun.  That piece in particular reinforces fast and slow.  Plus, you can have the students respond to the piece with movement to add that extra dimension.




I like Mr. Greg’s Videos.  He has several about beginning musical concepts.  By the way, all the videos are filtered through or viewpure.  Both sites should allow you to go to the original Youtube video if desired. Click on the image to go to the video.


MusicK8 has a great video that I use with first graders learning the vocabulary Presto and Largo.  It’s really fun because they use the Tortoise and Hare idea.  The kids think it’s a hoot.


Another literature is using the book There Was an Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything. This song is so singable and we discuss why the song gets faster (she’s afraid).





Finally, I use these tempo posters in my classroom.  I’m sure you can find products on TpT as well but these have served me well.  You can purchase them here.



Well, I hope these resources will help you when teaching fast and slow in your music classrooms.

Thanks for reading!

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2 thoughts on “My Favorite Resources for Teaching Fast and Slow

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Resources for Teaching Loud and Quiet |

  2. Pingback: My Favorite Things for Teaching Found & Environmental Sounds |

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