About Denise

Denise Gagné is a music specialist with 35 years of experience teaching band, choir and classroom music from pre-school to university levels. She has degrees in music and education, as well as Level 3 training in both Kodály and Orff. Her choirs and bands have won many awards at Music Festivals and have performed for local and national sporting events, on national radio and even for the Queen. She has been a workshop presenter in every Canadian province and territory and more than 43 states. She presents regularly for Orff and Kodály chapters, music educators conferences and preschool and kindergarten conferences in Canada, the USA, Asia, Europe and Australia! Denise is currently the managing editor of Themes & Variations. Denise is the author or editor of more than 80 publications for K-6 music teachers including:

  • Musicplay Elementary Music Curriculum K-6
  • Action Songs Children Love, Volumes 1-3
  • Alphabet Action Songs
  • Singing Games Children Love Vol. 1-2-3-4
  • Sing & Play on Special Days
  • We Love to Move
  • Recorder Resource Kit 1-2
  • Holiday Songs for Recorder
  • Melody Flashcards
  • Chart Songs 1-2
  • Rhythm Dice Games
  • Rhythm Flashcards
  • Songs to Read, Write, Sing & Play
  • Staff and Symbol Games
  • Listening Resource Kits Levels 1-5
  • Music Theory for Beginning Band
  • A Student’s Guide to Musical Instruments
  • How To Care for Your Instrument
  • Christmas Favorites
  • It’s A Magical Time of the Year
  • K-3 Christmas Idea Book
  • Slapshot Santa Scores Again
  • The Best Gift Ever
  • The Christmas Concert Idea Book
  • Santa’s Online Adventure
  • Survival Santa
  • The Best Pet Show Ever
  • We’ve Only Got One Planet
  • The Orff Source
  • Composing With Boomwhackers

Workshop Sessions Include (Sessions for early childhood are at the end of the list):

Smart Recorder:  Apps and Digital Resources for Teaching Note Reading, Rhythms and Recorder

In this session, Denise will introduce apps for iPad/iPhone and Android and digital games and resources for teaching note reading, rhythms and recorder. Denise will share different ways and reasons to use iPads in the classroom and will show how to hook up iPad to computer/projector. There are so many amazing free and almost free apps and Smartboard files that it’s hard to find time to review them all. This session will give teachers a preview of some of the best!

Listening Fun and Games

Have fun moving with scarves, ribbons, tennis balls and cups to music! You can make classical music listening the requested activity in your classroom with these fun activities! Apps and digital resources to help students learn even more from their listening experiences will be shared.

Classroom Instrument Fun

Come have fun with shakers, tambourines, sticks, triangles and drums as you sing, create sound effects for stories, move, and dance. You’ll learn how to use the instruments without causing complete chaos.  Learn how to use instruments to help dramatize story books. Discover many different styles of music as you play along. Develop listening skills and create your own music – even if you’ve never taken music lessons.

Sensational Singing Games for K-6 Classrooms (also can be K-3 or 3-6)

Children everywhere love singing games. Teach rhythm and melody reading using your student’s favorite games! Teach social skills, multicultural material, and more through games! In this session, you’ll participate, play and have fun learning about music.

Assessment Made Easy

Quick, practical ideas for assessment in the elementary music classroom. In this session, Denise will present ways to assess the national standards. Songs, games and activities that your students will enjoy that can be used as assessment opportunities will be part of this session.

Literacy through Music

Build vocabulary, fluency, pre-reading skills and more through music.  In this session, you’ll learn fingerplays, action songs and singing games that are fun, and you’ll learn ways to use them to enhance language learning!

Dollar Store Diva – or Musical Manipulatives

Hands on learning engages, inspires and motivates children as well as providing assessment opportunities for teachers. In this session, Denise will share her favorite “toys” for teaching music, and mini-lessons using the toys. Come and be playful with puppets, rhythm bags, flash cards, hand staff, floor staff, melody bags, pointing pages, cookie sheets, skipping ropes, chopsticks, paper plates, bugs, and more. Digital resources and APPs as teacher visuals in conjunction with student manipulatives will also be shared. Music literacy is fun!

Strategies for Singing in Tune

Many students come to school having heard only pop music for vocal models. How do you move those children out of chest voice and into the child’s head voice? Learn to use props, puppets and games that children love to help develop the singing voice. Activities in this session will include storybooks (Up Up Down), Melody the Elephant, the Jelly Bean Dance, spooky voices, Squeaky and Brown Bear puppets, yarn sound compositions, and some great new singing games.

Exploring Cultures through Songs and Games

Children learn music, social skills, and about cultures when playing singing games. Play singing games from around the world that children really enjoy. Singing games provide excellent opportunities to teach and assess musical concepts. In this session you’ll sing and play the games and learn ways to use for teaching and assessment.

Centers in the Music Room

In this session, participants will get to try activities that work well as centers in the music room. Activities to teach rhythm, dynamics, tempo, note names, recorder, composing and listening will be included in this session. You’ll see how children can be engaged and directing their own learning.

Favorite Storybooks in the Music Classroom

Music can be used to enhance and accompany children’s stories. You’ll have a lot of fun dramatizing the stories and creating accompaniments for children’s classics.

Singing Games and Dances Children Love

Singing games are a favorite activity for students in music classes.  In this session, you’ll learn new singing games, and how the concepts in the games, can be used to help your students become better musicians. You are sure to come out of this session with a wealth of new game ideas for your music classes.

Reproducible Choral Repertoire

Purchasing quality choral music in octavo format can be almost impossible for schools with large choirs and limited budgets. This session will present quality choral repertoire from a variety publishers that is reproducible. This is a choral reading session with a decided difference!

Jazz it Up!

Introduce jazz to your music class! In this session you’ll learn how to get your students improvising, scat singing, singing the blues, creating blues compositions, moving, and dancing to jazz. Teachers will be provided with an overview of resources available for introducing jazz to students, but the focus of the session will be on actually singing jazzy pieces for elementary students, dancing to jazzy music and playing jazz music on recorder.  This session is suitable for K-6 music specialists.  You’ll have fun when you jazz it up!

Workshop Sessions For Early Childhood Include:  

Early Childhood Favorites

Songs, rhymes, finger plays, singing games and musical activities for the preschool, daycare, and PreK-Grade 2 classroom. In this session you’ll take part in activities that will help kids develop their singing voices, steady beat, learn musical and curriculum concepts and have FUN! Denise will demonstrate how you can use the music in this session to teach early literacy skills.

Music – Literacy – Learning

The integration of music and language arts can have a powerful impact on the learning in both areas. Use a child’s musical intelligence and love of movement to help develop phonemic awareness, reading ability and other basic skills. Use children’s literature to develop children’s creativity, expression and musical ability. This session will include songs, puppets, movement and use children’s literature to engage children in literacy learning.

Wiggle While You Learn

Movement and music are powerful teaching tools. Use actions songs to teach colors, numbers, healthy habits, safety, self esteem, social skills, alphabet, phonics, themes and more!  All the songs used in the session will be included in your handout, so you can use them next week at school!  This is a very practical workshop with many great ideas for using the child’s desire to wiggle for positive purposes.

100 replies on “About Denise”

We’ve corresponded by email, but yes, I think I’ll be able to do in-person workshops again. Yours will be the first in 18 months!

Hi Denise,

I am really enjoying the singing excerpts in the MusicPlayOnline. Who is the vocalist for “On a Log” from MusicPlayOnline’s Kindergarten lesson 32?


Hi – My memory might not be perfect, but there were 3 vocalists on that recording. Shauna – who is now a crown prosecutor in Vancouver. Jane – who is a talented pianist/singer and a full time mom of 2. And Stacy – my daughter – who is a music teacher in Rockyview district.

Hi Denise.

I am trying to get in touch with you about your MusicPlayOnline website. I have accessed it for free over Covid and was looking at paying for a subscription, however the page has changed and many of the resouces I regularly used are difficult to access. Some things when I search for them are there, but when I click on the link, the wrong activity appears… for example Poison Rhythm, or echo clap the pattern on the board.
I loved that I could click on these options and easily access any level in an instant.
Will this be fixed?
I don’t want to sign up until I know that I can access the materials I was using previously. (And that the links work).
I think your resources are absolutely amazing so I’m hoping it’s just a few glitches that are being resolved.

Everything that was on classic site is on the beta – and much, much more! The new site is organized differently, so that every single activity, video, game can be linked to directly. If you set lessons up in a Google slide, you can put a link to the Trivia Wheel game in, and you’ll go directly to it.

It’s a bit like the kitchen reno that I did in 2019. The first month was strange because I kept opening the wrong drawer to find my bowls. But now, I love the ease and simplicity of the design.

The biggest reason for the rebuild is to allow non-programmers to edit. If I wanted to add a pdf to a Listening example on the old site, one of our programmers had to do it. Now I can do it myself, and I know 0 about programming.

The new Musicplayonline has so much more than the old. We’ve added 10 levels of rhythm practice. Poison Rhythm is in the original 14 levels, but if you click into one of the new levels (half note), you might only see Read, Clap and Play which are our beautiful new animated play alongs. We have Poison Rhythm on the top of the list to build and add to the new levels. We’re also building a really fun set of videos similar to Rhythm Imposter that will be your students new favorite.

Most exciting feature on new Musicplayonline is the MyList feature. You can take my Lesson Modules (I’ve built 350 lessons this past year) and copy and edit the lesson to make it your own. If it’s not live today, it will be live next week.

I’d love to connect with you and give you the tour of the new site! I’ll be making new how-to videos to show you where your favorite activities are easily found, and how-to use the new features.

Just wondering if the “old” site of Musicplay is still available to get to. Also do the old Musicplay manuals match up with the new site.

The old site is classic.musicplayonline.com and it’s still free. But we are no longer supporting the classic site. We don’t have enough staff to maintain 2 sites!

All the new games, videos, activities and features like MyList to create your own lesson modules or edit existing Lesson Modules are on the NEW site which is now http://www.musicplayonline.com. It’s a very affordable $20/month – we hope to keep it affordable, in spite of adding staff and exciting new content.

Good afternoon:
I am in a new school district starting the 2021-2022 school year. We already have Covid cases and I desperately need to utilize this program. Please share the common login for students now. I want them to start using this program now, please.

There is no common login for students – each teacher subscriber goes to the dashboard (on the upper right side of the page) and selects class code, then generates the unique code for their students.
http://www.musicplayonline.com – lots of new games and new features!

Good morning, Is there a way for us to place the music cd for recorders on our google classroom for our 4th and 5th grade students. Thank you

If you own the Recorder Resource Kit you can put the music tracks in your google classroom. You can purchase the Recorder Resource Kit from West, Music in Motion or Musicplay.ca

The free site is classic.musicplayonline.com
We are no longer supporting the classic site. We don’t have enough staff to maintain 2 sites!
All the new games, videos, activities and features like MyList to create your own lesson modules or edit existing Lesson Modules are on the NEW site which is now http://www.musicplayonline.com. It’s a very affordable $20/month – we hope to keep it affordable, in spite of adding staff and exciting new content.

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