If you need a sane music lesson, try this warm-up. It helps their listening skills tremendously.
Get out enough untuned percussion for all the pupils, but make sure you have at least two of each object and keep them well apart from each other.
a) Sit all the pupils in a circle and ask just one child to pick up their instrument and play it – invite anyone else with that instrument to join them.
b) Tell them to stop and then select another child and repeat step (a).
c) Repeat until all instruments have been sounded out.
d) Tell the pupils that they have been listening to the timbre of their instruments, and now you wish to see how well they were listening…
e) Invert the circle by asking ALL the children to face outwards, with the instrument on the floor in front of them.
f) Stand in the centre of the circle.
g) Ask them to only pick up (and play) their instrument if they are tapped on the shoulder by you or can hear their twin instrument being played. (They will listen intently for their particular timbre).
h) After a few goes, tell them that you are going to have more than one different instrument playing – and select accordingly.
i) After you’ve assessed the quality of their listening skills, get them to stand up and take two or three clockwise steps around the circle and sit down (at their new instrument).
j) Repeat from step (f) until you’ve had enough!
I could do this with my class all lesson long. They absolutely love it, and it really encourages excellent listening. I even get them to put their instruments away by timbre too.
Don’t forget to remind / coerce them to strict rules – only those that touch the instruments unnecessarily, sit still and listen intently etc.