Easy Music Assessments

MusicplayOnline has many easy assessments. In your planning, start with the end in mind. What do you want the students to know at the end of kindergarten? - at the end of Grade 5?
The Core Arts National standards and most state curriculums are focused more on process than on content.  So - as music teachers, we probably should be assessing both process and content. Creating, Performing, and Responding are the core of the national standards.
Content is not specified in detail in the national standards.

MU:Pr4.2.4a Demonstrate understanding of the structure and the elements of music (such as rhythm, pitch, and form) in music selected for performance. 
MU:Pr4.2.4b When analyzing selected music, read and perform using iconic and/or standard notation.
MU:Pr4.2.4c Explain how context (such as social and cultural) informs a performance.

The question then becomes - what do we assess?  Process or content?

And the answer is that, to the extent that it is possible, we assess both.

If you have a district curriculum, it's more likely that the content will be specified there. Districts want students to be able to go from school to school and have the same or similar expectations. Some districts even provide tracking charts to help teachers chunk out what to teach when.
So, in planning for assessment
  1. find out what kind of reporting you'll be doing
  2. what is your district curriculum
  3. how much teaching time are you going to have with the students.
1. Find out what kind of reporting you'll be doing
  • If you can only report on one expectation each term, choose the expectation that you want to assess with that in mind. Don't plan to assess 10 concepts if you can only report on 3.
  • My top 3 would include assessing
    • steady beat
    • pitch matching in singing
    • rhythm reading 
2. What is your district curriculum?
If your district curriculum clearly defines what content to teach, choose your expectations from the content.  Choose what is most important to you.
3. How much teaching time do you have?
If you are only given 30 minutes every two weeks, that isn't enough to teach a full curriculum, so choose which parts you can teach.

Checklists Vs Rubrics

There are many assessment tools you can choose.  When time is limited, I find checklists to be quick and easy. If you organize students in class list order, you can have them do an activity and quickly go down the class list, checking off the students that are successful - or not.
Example 1 - Steady Beat
Activity - Copycat
Use the music from Listen Kit 1, #36 Gigue by Handel
  • choose 4 leaders to come to the front of the room
  • play a piece of music with a steady beat
  • Leader 1 creates a movement to the beat and class copies. Then leader 2-3-4 create movement.  
Observe the leaders as they create their movement?  Do they keep a steady beat?  Yes/No
The kids demo on Musicplayonline for Listen Kit 1, #36 Gigue by Handel is interesting. Leader 1 doesn't keep a steady beat - but the other leaders do.
This checklist is found on Musicplayonline-Lesson Planning-Lesson Plans-Grade 2-Planning Resources (yellow button) 

Grade 2 planning resources
My plan book would look like this.I'd write in what I was assessing, the date, and check yes or X no that the students were able to do this.
Steady Beat assessment example
The next time I would assess an activity, I'd write in the next column what I was assessing, the date, and check yes or X no that the students were able to do this.
This is a suggested list of assessments you might do over the course of a school year.  I might do an assessment every 2nd class with the students.  Shorter assessments more frequently give you a better idea of student progress than end-of-term lengthy assessments.
Beat and Rhythm assessment chart
Example 2 - Matching Pitch when singing
Activity - Singing "Hello" to Bobo or Melody the Elephant

Instead of taking attendance, sing the attendance.
Bring out Bobo or Melody Elephant and sing "Hello Amanda."  Amanda sings back, "Hello Bobo."  Use a checklist or a rubric to grade the response.
These rubrics are  found on Musicplayonline-Lesson Planning-Lesson Plans-Grade 2-Planning Resources (yellow button) 

Grade 2 Lesson planning
I would probably continue to use my class list, but use the numbers 1-2-3-4 to assess how well the child matches pitch.  I could assess tone, expression, posture another day. 
Class list grading

Rubrics to assess singing
Example 3 - Rhythm Reading
Activity - Reading rhythm patterns from Musicplayonline, Rhythm Practice, reading assessment. 

For ta, ti-ti, rest patterns you can assess students reading either 4 or 8 beat patterns.  There is a video option with 30 examples.  With this option you can assess each student in your class in 3 minutes!  If you prefer to pace the examples yourself, you can print the flashcards or use the projectable slides.

Rhythm reading options
Example 3 - Rhythm Reading - Rubric or Checklist

You can use either a checklist (yes/no) or a rubric (1-2-3-4) to assess rhythm reading ability.
I would probably continue to use my class list, but use the numbers 1-2-3-4 to assess how well the child matches pitch.  I could assess tone, expression, posture another day.

Class list rubric example
 Rhythm rubric 
These assessment suggestions are intended to help you assess student's abilities in important content areas.  
Rubrics to help assess creating and responding are also included in the Musicplayonline Lesson Plans section. There are creating opportunities in every lesson in Musicplay - creating word rhythm compositions, creating ostinato, creating movement and many more.  

Expressive concepts rubrics
Earn PD and watch our webinar on Tracking Charts and Assessments here!

Programs Available on MusicplayOnline:

Star Bucks

By John Jacobson

Cold Snap

By John Jacobson

Christmas Cookies

By John Jacobson


By John Jacobson

Big Dreams

By John Jacobson

American Song

By John Jacobson

Just Sing

By John Jacobson

Survival Santa

By Denise Gagne

The Best Pet Show Ever

By Denise Gagne

The Smallest Christmas Star

By Denise Gagne

By Denise Gagne


Razzamajazz Cover

By John Jacobson

Additional Resources published by Themes & Variations

These are available as downloads (or print/ship) at www.store.musicplay.ca

All are affordably priced ($20-40) and include perf/acc mp3s, piano/vocal scores, and musicals or reviews include scripts.

These include permissions to perform, and permissions to reproduce vocal scores or lyrics for your students.

Celebrate Around the World Cover Art

Celebrate Around the World
This collection includes traditional and composed songs from many different cultures. You could use this as your winter concert, or you could teach the songs any time of year as part of a multicultural study


Festivals and Holidays

Festival and Holidays

Festivals and Holidays is a musical revue exploring celebrations around the world. The songs are unison or easy two-part suitable for classroom or choir, and staging is simple.



Snowtastic Cover Art


This is a fantastic musical about our favourite season!  Includes lyrics, script, performance/accompaniment tracks, and PDF to project. Use it as your holiday concert 



Is Santa Smarter Cover Art

Is Santa Smarter?

Is Santa smarter than the kids in your school? It’s a Christmas musical/revue featuring your school’s fifth graders on a game show with Santa as a celebrity contestant trying to win enough money to pay for the high cost of gas to power his sleigh. 


The Best Gift Ever Cover Art

The Best Gift Ever

The Buymore Shopping Mall has a contest - tell what the best Christmas gift is, and WIN that gift! The shoppers have many unique gift ideas - toys, candy, new teeth, slippers, and baking. But it’s the Charity Bell ringer that has the best gift idea - a Christmas meal for the homeless.


Slapshot Santa Cover Art

Slapshot Santa Scores Again!
Santa dreams that he’s scored a goal in the NHL and decides that he’s going to practice hockey until he can play with his favorite hockey star.
Production on the Christmas toys falls further and further behind while Santa is out practicing his slapshot. The elves make some hasty phone calls and Santa’s favorite hockey team flies to the North Pole to have an exhibition game.


Christmas Favorites Cover Art

Christmas Favorites
Thirteen songs for your class or choir that will be sure to be student favorites! The teacher's guide includes the piano/vocal arrangements for 10 songs, choreography suggestions for some, and reproducible student pages for 7 songs.
Includes Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer


The Christmas Concert Idea Book Cover Art

The Christmas Concert Idea Book

Would you like some drama in your Christmas concert without producing a full length musical? The ‘Christmas Concert Idea Book’ is a collection of skits and songs, each of which is suitable for a K-6 class (or choir) to perform at a Christmas concert. 


Kinder Music Christmas Collection

Kinder Christmas Collection

Here is a collection of songs ready for your next Christmas concert! Your students will enjoy performing them, and their parents will love watching! This collection includes traditional favorites and original songs. You'll find something for everyone!


K-3 Christmas Concert Ideas Cover ArtK-3 Christmas Concert Ideas

Do you need an idea for your K-3 class for a Christmas assembly or concert?
Here are 20+ ideas: Songs, plays, poems, reader’s theatre, dances - each of which is suitable for a K-3 class to perform at a Christmas concert.


Happy Holidays Cover Art

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays is a collection of Christmas and Holiday songs. Not only have we given several traditional carols a fresh new sound by weaving together interesting medleys but there are also new carols to help you and your singers rejoice in a festive spirit this holiday season.

Chants de Noël Cover ArtChants de Noël

Each year teachers request music materials for French Immersion classes. This publication has wonderful unison or 2 part arrangements of seven Christmas songs for your French Immersion classes or your English school choir!


Holiday Songs for Guitar and Ukulele Cover Art

Holiday Songs for Guitar and Ukulele

This collection of holiday songs for Guitar and Ukulele includes arrangements of 40 Holiday, Christmas, and Hanukkah songs. Many of the arrangements are given in alternate keys, so they are all playable on both the guitar or ukulele and in appropriate ranges for children’s voices!


We Remember Cover Art

We Remember

Your Remembrance Day/Veterans Day assembly will be easy to plan when you use the songs, poems, and quotes in this collection. The entire collection is beautiful and very singable for young classes or choirs. The songs will be a moving tribute to all veterans. 

Holiday Songs for Recorder Cover ArtHoliday Songs for Recorder

14 traditional and multicultural songs for unison, 2-part and 3-part soprano recorder. Includes 30 reproducible student pages in regular and “kid note” notation. This is an excellent way for you to incorporate recorders into your Christmas or winter concert.


Holiday Orff Source Cover Art

Holiday Orff Source

NEW!!!  The Holiday Orff Source includes 14 lessons using the Orff process and instruments that vary from simple songs for PreK-K-1 to accompany a storybook, to interesting instrumental arrangements for older students. The students will have opportunities in the lessons to sing, play, move, listen and improvise. 




Leave a Comment