Instructional Materials

G Suite Music Theory Curriculum

If this is your first time stumbling upon my blog – welcome! Feel free to look through my previous postings if you’d like. If you’re here looking for remote learning/online instructional content, it will be tagged with “Instructional Materials“. There are also additional things related to online learning and my grad school work in the “Grad School Reflections” tag – if you’re new to digital instructional design there are definitely some good information and resource articles referenced in those posts. Please consider following my blog for more content – I suspect I will be posting much more frequently in the future as I try and make it through 6 weeks of no face to face teaching time. Connecting with y’all will warm my spirit in these insane times.

In lieu of being a jerk and monetizing: Instead of charging for access to the materials I have already created, implemented, and revised before this semi-apocalyptic COVID-19 crisis and sudden need for remote learning music education curriculum, I instead would ask you to consider donating a couple bucks to the GoFundMe page setup and managed by the Enumclaw HS Band & Orchestra Boosters for our instrument repair fund if you choose to utilize some or all of the content I have created.

While we are very generously supported by our district, we all know the costs and challenges of maintaining instrument inventories over time. Often we all are forced into fixing what we need to put into the hands of kids ASAP to function. Both the band director and myself walked into a hot mess when we started here a few years ago, with over 50% of our existing inventory in desperate need of repair estimated at well over $10,000 between the both of us. Needless to say, every bit helps, and I assure you that this fund will greatly help our current and future kiddos out.


Now for the stuff you actually came here for!

This curriculum was designed for use within Google Classroom and the G Suite (Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, etc.). My district is 1:1 Chromebook for those in the secondary levels (6th-12th grade). Google Classroom is our primary LMS (Learning Management System). It was originally created as part of my Instructional Systems design grad school work – I’m big on making things that are practical and functional, “to teach the things” and make it a little more enjoyable than our typical experiences with what kids perceive as the “less fun” like music theory and aural skills. Full disclosure, there is definitely a bit of my sarcasm laced throughout, all in good fun.

The design framework was inspired by the Science team at Enumclaw MS – they have spent the last three years creating 6th-8th science an entirely digital curriculum for our building. I have been fortunate enough pursue through their designs and watch this curriculum in action with students as part of my work with my district’s Instructional Cadre leadership team. This team is essentially a group of teachers being paid a stipend to facilitate technology implementation within our district, and attend additional tech-specific professional development throughout the year. My inner nerd always greatly appreciates the extra time and resources.

As it currently exists, this music theory curriculum has three units of instruction:

  • Theory-1: Clefs & Note Names
  • Theory-2: Vocabulary
  • Theory-3: Key Signatures & Scales

I originally intended to also create these units, but I did not realize how much time it would take me to create the first three when I took on the project. I am thinking about putting some time to do these now that I have 6 bloody weeks (pardon the British swear) to provide “enrichment opportunities”:

  • Theory-4: Time Signatures & Rhythms
  • Ear Training-1: Interval Distances
  • Ear Training-2: Rhythmic Dictation
  • Ear Training-3: Melodic Dictation
  • Ear Training-4: Solfege (Movable Do)
  • Ear Training-5: Solfege (Fixed Do)

The units that I have created, implemented and that have been through one cycle of revision, are broken down into this structure:

Lesson Slides – Introduces key concepts and vocabulary within the stated umbrella topic; uses instructor-driven pedagogical knowledge necessary to thrive within an ensemble environment (also provides real world examples in relationship to their chosen instrument(s) to foster connections to practical applications)

Assignment (and Answer Key) – Allows learner to interact with the material introduced and explored within the corresponding Lesson Slides; learning is primarily learner-driven, by providing the answer key and a self-reflection portion to complete and submit for instructor review and credit (allows instructor(s) to check for student understanding and address any misconceptions or confusion in the physical classroom environment, individually or whole group, before demonstration of mastery is completed)

Quiz – allows the learner to demonstrate mastery of the unit explored and engaged in the Lessons Slides and Assignment components; the assessment is automatically graded through the Google Form application (the instructor(s) can check for both individual and whole group mastery of each topic through the data generated with Form completion)


Here are some suggestions for implementation based on my experience:

  • If you are able to grade this work (and you’re not in the fun boat of “provide things that we can’t force them to do because of equity), I would suggest these point breakdowns:
    • Assignment: 15 points (And they get credit only if they do the work AND complete the reflection. In fact, I tell them that being thoughtful in the reflection is what gets them full credit even if they get everything else right.)
    • Quiz: The Forms auto-score, I put it in the grade book as whatever they scored. So if it’s 32 points total, I give them ____ out of 32 in the grade book. How many times you allow them to take it is really up to you – depending on if you are a “one and done” person, or if you’re more into mastery learning. I initially implemented it as one and done, and realized that middle schoolers need more chances than that, so I let them attempt as many times as they wanted and took the highest score. It forced them to take their time after they realized they couldn’t just speed through it.
  • Encourage, REPEAT OVER AND OVER, the importance of clicking the “Turn In” button when they are submitting their assignments. As someone who teaches 170ish kids, dealing with assignments that are submitted, assignments that are done but not marked done, is SUCH A TIME WASTER. I straight up tell kids that if they don’t mark it as done I will refuse to grade it. It’s a good life skill and will make your life so much easier.
  • The Lesson Slides and Assignment are directly in order information with each other. Kids don’t realize this and will feel a little lost if they’re looking at all the information and trying to complete it. Tell them that they are in order and they will be much more okay with the process. And if a kid gets super overwhelmed or you know they will need help because of accommodations, teach them how to make comments and tag you in it so you get a notification email so you can point them in the right direction.

Links to Materials

Music Theory Curriculum Job Aid: A Job Aid is essentially the handbook/guide for how the instructional system is designed to function. It includes all of those fancy learning objectives and goals that your admin love to see, and also a bunch of resources in how to set up Google Classroom and all those things.

Music Theory Curriculum Google Drive Files: This links you to a folder that includes all three units that I have completed and revised for your use. These files are view only, so you will have to make copies into your own Google Drive to upload and edit them for your use.

GoFundMe Page: Once again, in lieu of monetizing these materials, I would greatly appreciate if you consider donating to the instrumental repair fund being managed by the Enumclaw HS Band & Orchestra Boosters. These units are my babies, and the result of a lot of time on my end – I am happy to share and be a resource, especially as the world becomes something out of a contagion movie, but I thought it would be worth asking to benefit my program directly, in an area where there is need.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me through email at nicole_laborte@enumclaw.wednet.edu.

Hopefully this was helpful and thanks for your time!

One thought on “G Suite Music Theory Curriculum

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