SongWorks Practices

Children following line maps
Following a line map

SongWorks is a principles-based approach to teaching and learning music.

SongWorks principles serve as guideposts which help educators make informed and intentional decisions when selecting content, planning lessons, and delivering instruction.

SongWorks practices are a collection of teaching strategies which have been developed over many decades by teachers dedicated to answering the question, “How do children learn?” These practices cultivate learning experiences that draw directly from the music, while nurturing playfulness, responsiveness, and musicality in learners and teachers alike.


Antiphonning is a way of performing a song in which a leader and responder(s) alternate performing successive parts of the song.


Chinning is the act of singing a song on a neutral syllable such as “loo”, “la”, or “doo”.


Solfege (solfa) is a set of syllables that represent pitch or relationships between pitches in music.


A music map is a line that represents the flow or movement of music.


Movement and making music are inseparable activities.

Secret Song

Presenting a song as a “Secret Song” entails performance of a song in other than in whole form.

Song Dots

Song Dots are made by tapping the rhythm of a pattern or a whole song with chalk or a marker, leaving a visual record of this movement.


In ideographs, symbols or pictures are used to represent phrases or chunks of a song.

Stress Patterns in the English Language

Word accents (stresses) are especially important connections between song and language because they give shape, expression, and meaning to both.

Vocal Production

Vocal production within the SongWorks framework refers to the “lifted voice” and a voice that is well supported by breath energy.

Inner Hearing

Singing a song in your Inner Hearing is the same as singing it in your head.

Fielding Student Responses

Student involvement in a lesson may be determined by the way we field their responses.

SongWorks Principles

SongWorks I

Principles of Teaching and Learning

  1. Students have the right to be treated with respect and dignity for their ideas, skills and stages of development. (Video)
  2. Students deserve an engaging learning environment in which they feel safe enough to demonstrate freely their understandings and skills through various types of participation.
  3. Student learning is the responsibility of both teachers and students.
  4. Learning is holistic and constructive.
  5. A teacher’s attitudes, behaviors, and methodologies should be compatible.
  6. Accurate and constructive feedback helps students become independent learners.
  7. Quality of life is enriched through music and singing.

SongWorks II

Principles of Teaching and Learning Music

  1. The major goal of music study is the development of a responsiveness to music.
  2. The musicality that is critical to music performance is just as important in music study.
  3. The fundamental skill in music behavior is listening.
  4. The way music sounds rather than how it looks guides the selection and presentation of patterns for study. (Video)
  5. A distinction exists between skills and concepts that are musically easy and those that are musically simple. (Video)
  6. Song provides direct involvement for making music and studying sound relationships.


Bennett P. D. & Bartholomew, D. R. (1997). SongWorks I: Singing in the Education of Children. Bozeman, MT: SongWorks Press.

Bennett P. D. & Bartholomew, D. R. (1999). SongWorks II: Singing from Sound to Symbol. Bozeman, MT: SongWorks Press.

Additional Resources

To learn more about SongWorks and how to use this collection of teaching strategies and study techniques, refer to the Books and Articles pages on this site, sign up for our Newsletter, come to an Event, and consider becoming a Member.