Are you searching for a new music curriculum?
Have you heard about GamePlan, and you’re wondering if it lives up to the hype?
I’ve had the pleasure of going through many different programs for music teachers, and I’ve heard quite a bit about the whole GamePlan set of books and resources.
When I first encountered it around 6 years ago, I wondered why it was so popular.
So I decided to check it out.
Years later, I decided to write this GamePlan music curriculum review to help other music teachers determine if it’s worth it.
GamePlan is an all-encompassing elementary music curriculum written by Randy DeLelles and Jeff Kriske. The curriculum is packaged by grade level and follows much of the Orff process through a sequential lens similar to the Kodaly Method.
Let’s dive in and learn more about it.
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GamePlan Music Curriculum At A Glance
Both Delelles and Kriske come from a strong Orff background as instructors and elementary music teachers.
Together, they worked to publish folk song collections and materials for other elementary music teachers.
In 2004, they got together to hammer out and write the GamePlan curriculum.
The music program covers Kindergarten through 5th grades.
Each grade level has its own specific curriculum book.
Their goal was to create a fully comprehensive program.
For them, GamePlan was meant to take all the planning off the plate of music teachers.
To this end, they created a program with specific lessons and activities to cover a whole school year per grade level.
When I saw all that was offered, I knew so many music teachers would get a lot out of this curriculum.
The sequence is well-planned, and the activities are engaging.
For new teachers or those who switch to general music, this is the top curriculum I recommend.
Review Of GamePlan
Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Use this to help you decide if it’s worth checking out for you.
I’ll admit: I’m more of a Kodaly person, if forced to identify as one of the methods.
However, my introduction to the world of general music was through the Orff process.
My host teacher for student teaching was an Orff teacher, and many of my friends are as well.
I have a huge respect for the process and the focus on movement and creative play.
GamePlan came from these ideals first, and every lesson and activity shows this ideal.
Kids love almost every activity and get a lot from it.
As a music teacher for over 10 years and a mentor for many active music teachers, I’ve seen time and again how important starting with quality activities sets your whole class up for success.
Not only does the curriculum use quality Orff activities your kids will love, but it also follows a sequence of concepts.
The lessons move through important musical elements including broad concepts such as dynamics, tempo, and form as well as specific rhythmic and melodic ideas.
The sequence isn’t exactly what I would choose, but there’s nothing wrong with being different.
Most importantly, the lessons and songs used at each point reflect the concepts being taught.
At the end of the curriculum, the students will have experience and learning through all the important parts of music.
For music teachers who want an intentional sequence (without having to go through the trouble of creating their own), this is a great place to start.
Full Sets Of Lessons
Each book contains enough lessons to get you through a whole year of instructions.
If your schedule is based on one, 45-minute session per week.
Outside of this structure, you need to adapt the lesson for your setup.
Still, the level of detail on these lessons is impressive.
Essentially, you have lessons to just pick up and use at a moment’s notice.
This is insanely useful for when you get busy or if you’re new to teaching general music.
In fact, this positive alone is enough for me to happily recommend it to any music teacher as something that will make their lives easier.
Add the great activities and intentional sequence, and you have a winning combination.
Lesson Structure May Not Match
This may not be a negative for your situation.
When I first checked out GamePlan, I was teaching sections 3 times per week at 30 minutes each.
The once per week, 45-minute structure, may work OK to adapt to a twice per week, 30-minute structure, but it doesn’t last as long.
In my schedule at the time, this didn’t work without a lot of effort and planning.
This kind of offset the benefits of the detailed lesson plans.
Still, it’s adaptable with some work.
Heavy On The Chanting
The Orff process does a lot with speech.
This is great for accessing the linguistic intelligence and developing rhythm fluency.
But at a certain point, you may just want more songs.
I love singing, and I know kids do too.
It’s important for developing pitch awareness.
Honestly, this is just me being a little picky and looking for things I wish they did better, but I do wish there were more songs.
Individually Packed Grades Up The Price
GamePlan offers a year of lessons for each grade, K-5.
But the grades are all in their own, individually-priced books.
This racks the price up to higher levels.
Speaking from experience and those of music teachers who live the program day in and day out, they recommend getting the K, 1, and 2 books first.
In general, the K-2 books are the best.
Third grade and above are still good, but there are some other options you may want to explore as well.
Compared to what general education pays for their books, it’s still pretty affordable.
It’s even affordable compared to most online music curriculum while offering most of what they offer as well.
What Does GamePlan Offer?
GamePlan offers 6 different books, one for each grade level K-5.
On top of this, they also offer what they call, the GameBoard.
The GameBoard is an 8 piece bulletin board with a digital connection to interactive boards such as Smart Boards.
Each grade also comes with poster and digital display resources to essentially take the resources fully virtual.
This really drives up the price, but it’s so convenient.
There’s also the whole package option where you get all grades, GameBoard, and digital resources.
It’s pricey, but it takes care of everything for you (and the digital nature of it is perfect for distance learning).
They also offer small collections of folk songs and activities to supplement your teaching.
The Verdict: Is The GamePlan Music Curriculum Worth It?
After reading through this GamePlan music curriculum review, you can probably guess what I think about it.
It’s a valuable resource to use as a supplement and fall-back when times get busy, especially for teachers with little experience such as new teachers or when band or choir teachers have to switch to elementary.
Its fun activities focused on movement with quality folk songs and a well-planned sequence of literacy concepts make a good set of resources to check out for anyone.