QR Codes in the Music Classroom

This is a guest post by Katherine Miller.

QR codes have so many different purposes in our lives. This type of matrix barcode can hold any type of information from grocery sales to recorded performances. It literally means, “quick response” which makes them a perfect fit for any classroom.

I first came across activities that utilized  QR codes for learning on social media when I was doing some research about how I could adjust to accommodate the new expectations brought on by the global pandemic. What other types of things could I use to reinforce new content? How can I get students interested in continued practice of their newly learned skills? In the past,  I heavily relied on singing in my elementary music classroom so I was at a bit of a loss on how to practice learned content without including songs and play party games that we could sing over and over again.   Of course, on top of that, all the manipulatives and activities I might have used in conjunction with singing are also not an option as many of them require students to share supplies.  

While I came across so many amazing ideas, I really fell in love with those that utilized QR codes because it was a common way to get students all the different kinds of activities.  From games to listening activities, virtual classrooms or even just a website, I could teach even my youngest students how to access the camera on their device and away they can go with practice on their own.

QR Code Match Activity

One of my favorite (and student’s favorite!) examples of a QR code activity is a QR Code Match from Lauren Summa at Rhythm and Glues (Adventures in Elementary Art and Music Education).   This activity is great for continued practice on identifying music durations by their name and symbol.  Each QR code is linked to a fun or funny gif that will be revealed to students if they can successfully match the duration symbol to its name. You can see why kids get totally hooked! The humorous images and videos provide the motivation students need to practice, practice, practice.

TpT Tech Center QR Code Music Match

This is a free resource available on Teachers Pay Teachers.  To use this resource, you need to print out the page she created.  Once the page is printed, you cut each strip out. Lastly, you cut each strip directly down the center of the QR code.  

Once your strips are ready, you need to provide each student (or group if you can share supplies in your building) with a full set plus a device to scan the codes. Students will work to match the notes to the names to create a full QR code. If they’ve matched it correctly, the gif will appar when it is scanned by the camera app. If they are wrong, nothing would happen so they would know to try again

Tip: In order to keep each set of strips organized, you could print them on different colors or number each set on the back. 

3 Ways to Extend This Idea 

Once students have tried this out, they will be asking to try it again and again. Here are 3 ways you can extend this idea into some new activities to continue practicing content using QR codes.

  1. Create other matching activities. 

QR code matching could be used in a variety of ways including any type of vocabulary students are working on with the word and the definition on each side of the strip. You could also create strips to match letter names to fingerings on their instrument or composers to the time period they wrote music in. The ideas are nearly endless!

  1. Use them as a task for an escape room

A matching activity is a great task to include in an escape room. For instance, rather than the QR code leading to a gif, you could have it lead to a clue they need to escape. An example of this would be attaching the QR code to a Google doc that has a letter students could use to crack a letter lock if they needed to open it.  (Video example here.)

TpT Video QR Code activity
  1. Change it up!

You could use the same idea but change up the activity by having the QR code reveal a word and having students match it to the corresponding symbol. For example, if the QR code leads them to the word “forte” students would have to match it to a definition card that says “loud”. You can even have students create their own definitions to words revealed in each code and compare them as a class to check for student understanding.

How to Make Your Own QR Code Activity

It is so easy to create your own QR code for any type of activity.  All  you need to do is visit a website that allows you to generate your own. The one I use most often is: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/.

QR Code Generator

Each unique QR code will be created when you enter a URL. Once you have copied and pasted it into the website, you can then save the generated QR code and share it with students!

Tip: To get a URL for things you create on Google, just choose “Publish to the Web” under the “File” menu. A URL will appear which you can easily copy and paste.

Have you created activities for practicing content with students using QR codes? We would love to see your ideas to continue sharing them with others!

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About the writer

Katherine Miller

Katherine (Katie) Miller holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Otterbein University (Westerville, OH) and a Masters of Educational Leadership from Antioch McGregor Midwest (Yellow Springs, OH). She has 15 years of professional musical experience as a music educator and performer.

She is currently employed by the School District of Waukesha in Waukesha, WI, where she teaches K-5 General Music and serves as a district model tech classroom. She was recognized in 2018 as a WPT Education Innovator by Wisconsin Public Television Education team. Twitter: K8TMiller

Looking for More Resources for Music Teachers?

Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.

I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.

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I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.

If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.

Learn more and take a sneak peek inside