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”

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *