Order from CHAOS!

Excerpts from Order From CHAOS: Taming Your Wild Music Class

by John Jacobson and Cristi Cary Miller, published by Hal Leonard

 Whether you are a full -time teacher or a volunteer for one hour a week, leading a music class in which you hope to teach music skills, musicality, ensemble, teamwork and more – you face the big “D”. “D” being “Discipline.” This book is not a long one but it is crammed full of inspiration, ideas and songs to keep your class or group focused, learning and having fun. It even comes with an enhanced CD if you want to use the recommended songs in your class for singing. (Or they could be adapted for ringing.)

Here are just a sampling of the great thoughts found in this book and there are many, more specific games, songs and plans. Even if you don’t ever read the book you may find some “nuggets” of information to use with your young class or ensemble.

Remember your biggest assets:

  1. Your SMILE
  2. Your PASSION
  3. Your ENERGY

RESPECT: Should be mutual: yours for the students; the students for you.

“D” is for Discipline

  1. Most important facet of discipline is to rehearse. (the more the rules of discipline are rehearsed, the more effectively they’ll stick.)
  2. Teach the habit of following directions.
  3. Practice being quiet, start over if intentional noise is made.
  4. Echo-clap, then go to “stand by” position (ready to listen) and teach this behavior but don’t over use it.
  5. Stop teaching when the rules are broken: don’t talk over a chatty class; lower your voice or wait.

Sweat the small stuff

  • If a child does something you both know is wrong, no matter how small, correct it: don’t ignore it.
  • Criteria to use and ask the child: “Is this behavior showing responsibility, respect, cooperation and safety?” (These criteria - or others chosen by you - is taught to the class ahead of time.)

Routine, routine, routine…

  • Good teaching relies on good planning.,
  • Sometimes we teach by the “seat of our pants” but it’s not as fun for us or the students and not as productive as a well-thought-out plan. If you “wing it” every day, your wild bunch will decide that “winging it” is the name of the game and you will have an uphill battle from the start.
  • Plans don’t always work out but without a plan the results will not be as good as it could be.
  • Plan – helps students grow and bloom: it has purpose and direction.
  • Give specific and clear directions” “Use good manners” is better as; “Say “please” when you ask someone for something” and “Say “thank you” when someone helps you.”
  • Teaching by setting routine leads children to good behavior.
  • Know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it!


  1. You are a role model; what you do WILL rub off on the students.
  2. Assume responsibility – for all children in the church or school programs: not just in your class. If there is a standard of behavior and the adults are responsible for teaching it, then all students should be held accountable whether or not they are in our class.
  3. Correct them, not punish and give another chance to make the correct choice.
  4. Eat them to it” demo proper behavior before the situation arises: practice the desired behavior. (For example: a guest, instrumentalist, parent, worship or performance behaviors, etc. …)
  5. Warm up time – a great opportunity to teach listening and direction following and to create good habits.

And, last these words of wisdom:

When in doubt sing. (Ring!) When all else fails, dance. (Ring AND dance!)­

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