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A shout-out to Josh and Chuck from the Stuff You Should Know Podcast for introducing me to Explorable Explanations. Explorable Explanations is a website dedicated to learning through play. Lucky for us, they have several explorables dedicated to the arts and music! While I can see potential for using these at anytime, I think they would be especially useful for non-music subs.

Here is a short list of Explorables and the concepts to focus on when you have a sub:

  1. How to: Tune a Guitar
    • Intonation is undoubtedly important in performance groups; both vocal and instrumental. Whether students actually play the guitar or not, they’re sure to glean tons of useful tips from learning how to tune a guitar. In this lesson, they learn how to use an electric tuner, how to tune by ear, and tuning techniques.
  2. Basic Beats: 3/4 and 6/8
    • Without daily practice, it’s easy for students to forget the complexities of time signatures and rhythms. This lesson guides students through the difference between 3/4 and 6/8. They even show alternative ways to counting each meter.
  3. Learning Music
    • This explorable is broken up into chapters; such as Beats, Notes and scales, Chords, Basslines, Melodies, which are then broken up further. This would probably work best with a high school general music class or performing group. On “The Playground” page students can experiment with beats, basslines, chords, and melodies. If your students have their own devices, this would be great for subs to quickly pull up if they have extra time at the end of class.

As with any website, you’ll want to vet each page’s contents before setting your students loose. Regardless, once you’ve approved each page, it’s a quick and easy exploratory lesson for subs who have no experience with music. Best of all, students will be learning through play, meaning they’ll be engaged and you won’t have lost an entire day of instruction.