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 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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