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.

86 replies on “About Denise”

I am starting to work on the 2013 AOSA Conference Book and I am checking to see if you would like to place an ad? Ad reservation close is September 15th and ad materials are due September 22nd.

Attached is the rate card for you to look over. If you have any questions please let me know.

Right now the cover 2 spot is available along with the 4 divider pages.

Despite my name, I’m not Francophone. (Long story) . However, we are working on translating as much as we can in the next year. I’m very fortunate to have a young francophone editor on staff! The first translations will be posted next week at http://www.musicplayonline.com

Hi Denise. I have been using Music Play 3, your music program, for years, Sadly, my CDs are scratched and need to be replaced. How and where would I buy another set?

Best way to get replacement CDs is to call our office: 1-888-562-4647 . We do sell replacements. You might consider using http://www.Musicplayonline.com as an alternative to CDs. So wonderful to be able to type any song title in the search bar and it’s right there — and then there are interactive activities, concept slides to help you teach and kids demo videos!

Hi Denise!!! I am so excited to have found a website with online resources. My teaching partner and I are putting some resources together for our kindergarteners and I wondered if you would approve for us to attach your music from Alphabet Action for their learning? I am available at twright@hpedsb.on.ca Thank you so much for your expertise and sharing your wonderful talent!! We love your work!

I can’t find where to purchase the complete musicplay curriculum for kindergarten and grade 1 in London Ontario. I need this as soon as possible and haven’t been successful searching for it! Thanks!

Obviously I should be checking my blog comments more often. You can order from http://www.musicplay.ca and we ship anywhere in Canada and the USA. St. John’s music and Long & McQuade will order materials for you, but they don’t keep the curriculum in stock as a rule.

Hi Denise,

My name is Kailee am book sales rep for the West Australian Orff Schulwerk Society (WAOSA). We recently ran a levels course in Perth where Susie Davies-Splitter was a presenter. She brought some of your books with her and I am interested in ordering some of your resources for the book stall.

Am I able to order then directly through you or would you be able to pass a contact on to me?

Hope to hear from you soon.

Kind regards,


Hello Kailee – I’m sorry that I’ve been so slow to reply to your question. I’m not a very good blogger! Yes, you can order resources from Themes & Variations. Our website is http://www.musicplay.ca and the contact info for ordering is tvinfo@telus.net Leanne will give you a discounted price on any resources you want to sell through your Orff book display, and she’ll get a quote on the shipping cost.

Many are singing A Christmas Wish tune but on different lyrics. A Wish for Peace. May I ask when did you publish the song? We have a songfest and I wish to sing A Wish for Peace for my students.

Hello – I’m sorry for the delay in answering this question. Several schools have changed the words to this song. One school changed it so that they could use it any time of year. “I wish for all these things for every girl and boy” instead of “I wish this Christmas time.” I thought that was a great idea. The other change was made by a school entering the Glee contest and they won $10,000 using the song – very exciting!

If you purchase the single song kit for A Christmas Wish, you are welcome to change the words – I think it’s a great way to use it as a peace song any time of year.

Hello Denise,

Last year our school choir sang your song In Flanders Fields using the performance track. It is such a beautiful song. I am wondering if you have the piano sheet music for this and/or Just One Candle.

Thank you!!!

Hello – We have all of these available in collections or single song kits at http://www.musicplay.ca
Go to song collections, then select single song kits. Just One Candle is from Musicplay 1, so the piano music is also available in the Musicplay 1 Piano Accompaniments.

In Flanders Fields is in the collection Songs of Peace. There’s a second arrangement of it in the collection We Remember. I like both, but think the second one is a little easier. The collections include the piano accompaniment. Just One Candle is a single song kit. Go to http://www.musicplay.ca, song collections, single song kits.

Dear Denise.

I am trying to find your contact details, please? I have bought your “I wish for peace” song, thank you very much, it is beautiful!
I would like to ask if it would be possible for me to exchange a few words in the lyrics to give it a Christian message on top of the peace message? I would be delighted if you woudl give me permission to do this, please. I teach in Cayman Islands at a local Government school (very small school, so my options for putting together a choir are rather restricted).

Many thanks in advance.

Kind regards,
Stephanie Louw

Hello Ms. Gagne,

My name is Kayln and I work for a non profit organization as an coordinator.
We have been searching for a Canada National Anthem that we can use for our opening ceremony, we came across the one you have created and it is perfect for our seniors residents to follow along. I am writing in hopes to have your permission to use your ‘O Canada’ video at the opening ceremony. We hope to hear from you very soon.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Warmest Regards,


Hello Kaylin – Of course you have permission to use our O Canada video. I hope this reaches you in time! I’m terrible at answering comments/questions on this blog.

Hello –

I used to own a copy of your “How to Care for Your Musical Instrument.” I can no longer find a copy of this since it is out of print. Can I get it directly from you? If so, please let me know how much it would be and how we can go about this.

Thank you!

I didn’t realize it’s gone out of print – I’ll contact the original publisher and find out if we can now take over the publication of it.

We would love some action alphabet songs for blends in the kindergarten rooms. Love your peppy songs

Hi! I’ve written a few for my grandson who was in speech therapy – not enough for a collection, but I’ll keep writing.
Hope to get my preschool curriculum done in 2016.

My apologies for the very slow reply. The blog wasn’t working for a time.
My resolution for 2016 is to do a better job of maintaining this blog!

I attended your workshop at ASU last weekend, and you mentioned that if we had an old Alphabet Songs book that we could get the new songs sent to us. Is that still possible?

Ida Bentley

Apologies for slow reply – the blog wasn’t working in the fall for me to get in and answer questions!

I will send you the new Alphabet songs.

Hi Denise,
I love your Listening Resource Kits. I am doing a session at the WI State Conference and would like to suggest your product as a good resource. May I have your permission to provide a pdf formatted file for attendees that lists the pieces you offer in the Resource Kits? The list was created from iTunes.
Please let me know as soon as possible.
Thank you!
Prisha Gustina

Hello – Apologies for slow reply – the blog wasn’t working in the fall for me to get in and answer questions!
Of course you can list the Listening Resource Kits as a resource. We haven’t put the files on iTunes though – the CBC owns the copyright so they must have put them on itunes.

Good morning! A few years ago I purchased a product called “Rhythm Dice Games” and you along with Lil Traquair were listed as the authors/creators. I was wondering if you knew where I could get more of just the rhythm dice. My kids love the games but over time some of the dice have inevitably disappeared. Thank you for any help you can give!


Sara Laliberte
General Music teacher in central Arkansas

Hi Denise!
I just heard that I could come to you to order recorders! Could you pleaseeee get back to me as soon as possible and let me know the steps to take! Thanks a bunch!! 🙂

Hello I hope i have the right Denise Gagne. I was looking on you tube and came across your song make a difference. May we have permission to use your song as a charity song for my new charity REACH? I am in New Zealand and am setting up a charity for Research into child cancer, My charity will be named REACH. we are still in the process of being registered but hope to be soon. We hope to get the children in the cancer ward in Christchurch to sing it, maybe with a well known musician, yet to be arranged. My son passed away in November of Cancer and that is why i am setting up this charity. I do hope that you wouldnt mind if we could use the song . my email is Lightupgoldnz@gmail.com Many thanks Roxana Halstead.

Hello Denise,

Is there a direct phone number to contact you at? Could you email it to us at kih2009@telus.net, as we are a local Educational Resource store in Red Deer, and we’ve been asked by our customers to carry your music books. We’d love to talk to you in regards to this, please. Alternatively, you could also just phone us directly at 403-309-0588. Thank you so much for your time, we’re sure you’re very busy!!

Can we print the Battleship game from this site, or do you have it for sale somewhere? I couldn’t find that information.


Hi Denise,

I love the “Oops” note you listed on your page. Is there any chance you could email me a PDF of it? It would go to great use in my classroom! Thanks!

Hi Denise. I attended your workshops at the MMEA conference at Tan-Tar-A this January. From what I understood you to say, the papers that had our email addresses on them would be used to send some kind of permission via that email to us teachers to allow access to your musicplayonline site for 3 months. I was really looking forward to trying out all the specifics of your site, but have never received an email. Have I somehow missed it? Let me know if there is something I need to do.
Thank you!

Hi Karen – I’ve sent codes to all the participants. The email might have ended up in a spam filter. I’ll check and resend to you. Denise

Hello Denise. I am teaching an undergraduate music education course. I have a question about this song. The lyrics are…there are one, there are two, there are three little angels, etc and that section ends with…ten little angels in the band.
My question is … did you compose the tune to that, or did you find it somewhere, and if you did, do you know the tune’s origin. Thanks for the answer!

I was wondering if you might have “Old Joe Clark”- from the MusicPlay series, available in the key of G? I am interested in using it as part of an orff performance, and looking for an already made score, and accompaniment. I love your work.

I wanted to contact you because I will be going to the NDMEA conference in Bismarck this month and I saw you are teaching a session on beginning ukuleles. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it to that session but I was wondering if you would be willing to forward me some of the information you have from that session? I would greatly appreciate it!


Sara Whipple

Hi Denise,
I’ve been trying to play your listening lessons on Musicplayonline.com. I made an account, but I can’t seem to get to the videos. I was able to do it one time at home while planning. Is there a direct link to the fast/slow, loud/soft…videos with the matching cards? I don’t have a website.

Hi there. We are interested in doing your musica l The Best Gift Ever at my school this year. I live in New Brunswick. We have the guide but how long would it take to receive the performance CD that goes with it? We would be able to pay for express shipping if necessary. Also, what is the cost of the whole manual along with the CD.
Thanks for your help.

I am interested in using your recorder books for my classes this year. Most people are not using CDs. Is there a way I could pay for the CD/book and get the recordings online?
Thanks for considering it.
Joy Hughes
Christ Church Episcopal School
Greenville, SC

Hi Denise,

I’m wondering if there is a way to purchase the recording for SANTA (to the tune of B-I-N-G-O) from your kindergarten curriculum. I am wanting to add this to my kindergarten winter concert this year but I no longer have access to your curriculum. I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

You can purchase the collection it comes from: K-3 Christmas Concert Ideas. It’s $20 and less if you download. Go to http://www.musicplay.ca and select Canada or USA then search for the title in the search bar.

Hi Denise- I’m happy to report that your rendition of Trot ol’ Joe was my number one song played on Spotify in 2019. My 2 year old daughter is absolutely in love with your song!! About 300 plays and counting 🙂

I am interested in attending your July Workshop in Indianapolis (July 21-23, 2020). I was hoping to be on your email list for information regarding registration and workshop detail. I have a 3 year subscription to MusicPlayonline and look forward to using it more! Thank you,
Abbie Ehorn

I am writing from Estonia, we would like to publish Your song “A Wish for Peace” in estonian language. How could I get the print licence?
Best wishes
Tuuliki Jürjo
Church Music Association, Estonia

I’m going to email you from the office on Monday. This is new to me, so I need some advice.

Dear Denise, I am a preschool music teacher at Greenwood Forest Children’s Center in Cary, NC. Over the years we have enjoyed singing and dancing to your Primary Dances and Singing Games that I purchased at an Orff workshop. During this time of separation we teachers are trying to reach out to our little ones in familiar ways through songs and lessons. May I have your permission to post a video of me doing a handful of your arrangements on Facebook and Instagram? I am not profiting in any way. I am simply trying to reassure our sweet preschoolers.

Kind regards,

Hi Denise,

I am a Primary/Junior music teacher in the Halton District School Board. Thank you so much for all the work you and your team have put into making the musicplayonline website so accessible and fun for our students right now! I LOVE the little poster that you’ve included in the online learning lessons titled, “Music is Literacy”. It’s so important for parents to understand that they don’t just have to focus on Math and Literacy, but that music can help to support both of those focus areas. Have you thought of making one about “Music is Math”? Also, would it be possible for you to make a PDF version of Music is Literacy that I can post right in my Google Classroom for parents and students to see?

Thank you!

Hi! That’s a good idea. I’ll make the Music is Literacy pdf available to download from the Beta.Musicplayonline.com site – will find a home for it.
I’ve done a version that includes clickable links to all the studies.

And great idea to do a Music is Math poster.

My name is Carly Schieffer, and I serve as the Iowa Music Educators Association’s professional development conference chair. This year, due to COVID, we are offering a virtual one-day conference. Your name has been highly recommended to present to our Iowa music teachers. Would you be available to either record and share a presentation or present live on Saturday, November 21, 2020?
Please let us know, thank you!

I really appreciated being a part of the virtual Iowa conference, and look forward to doing virtual PD sessions for many districts, organizations in 2021.

I’ve just come across your materials for the first time even though I’ve been a piano teacher for 40 years. I am very excited to start purusing your materials, ALL of them!

In the meantime, I’ve spent HOURS trying to find the best way to print out noteheads with letters on them. How did you do it? I’m hoping to print the noteheads themselves. with different colors even.

I use either a 3rd party font – Metronome – or use Finale.

Either way it’s a learning curve!

Hello Denise,
My teachers love your website. Any chance that you do short workshops for teachers virtually for professional development in curriculum guidance?

HI! I feel like I’ve done hundreds of virtual workshops this year – probably more like 40 or 50. I would be very happy to do a curriculum session with your teachers. I’ll send you an email with my contact info.

Will you please consider putting grades 6, 7, 8 as separate grades for online learning modules on Musicplay Online? It would be a GAME CHANGER for my students. 🙂

I am barely keeping up now building modules for PK-K-1-2-3-4-5-middle school.
We have some good Units for gr. 7-8 – The History of Jazz (Middle School lessons Jan-March), Bucket Drumming, Guitar, Recorder 2 (SSA ensembles), and we hope to add project based learning modules to the beta site in the coming months. For now – I’d use the History of Jazz lessons – they’re great!

Good Afternoon Denise! Hope you are well. I’m trying to locate a few copies of “The Complete Recorder Resource Kit Teacher’s Edition”. Do you still have any of these available? I’m finding “permanently out of print” in most cases but I figured I’d go straight to the top. Please advise

Hello, Denise!
Your work is amazing! I would very much like to chat with you to share some of our work with children in Minnesota with the Rock ‘n’ Read Project, and get your advice about the possibility of launching a new unique program to ensure that all children (whether in MN, the US or Canada!) receive early music-making and that elementary students would receive sequenced, skills-based music instruction (ideally, 2 hours/week). Thank you for all you ARE and DO for children through music.

I will email you. I’m a huge advocate of using music in early literacy. I’ve worked with a literacy team on 3 trips to Belize, and the libraries there have now implemented children’s music into their story times.

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