Four Ways to Use Composing Cards in Elementary Music

Composing cards are a fantastic way to help your students compose, dictate melodies, review, and assess using pitch patterns they already know. Depending on your students, they can use four-beat composing cards, like the ones shown below. For more advanced students, you could use individual Solfége Syllable cards. You can download a pre-made set of composing cards like the ones shown below HERE.


  • Use the four-pitch cards as flashcards for a quick review at the beginning of class. Give students the starting pitch, then ask them to sing it back to you.
  • Give students 2-4 cards, have one of the cards be the question mark. Then, sing each pattern on a neutral syllable, and have students hold up the card you sang. If you sing a pattern that they don’t have, students should hold up the question mark to show that it doesn’t match. For an added challenge, you can ask them to tell you what the pattern was.
  • Using individual Solfége cards, sing a four-pitch pattern, and ask students to write it out using their cards.


  • Lay out 2-4 of the four-pitch cards. Have the students sing through each one. Then, flip them over to the question mark side. Sing one of the patterns and have students point to the card they heard. If it’s correct, they may flip it over to the Solfége side.
  • Each time a card is flipped, add another card to the game.
  • You could also print doubles of each card and use them for a traditional matching game. Cards should be question mark side up. Then, students take turns flipping two cards over at a time to see if they match. If they match, the player sings the pattern. If they don’t, they flip them back down. This would be a good game for centers or stations.


  • Have students get partners. Tell each student to create a four-beat melodic pattern using the individual Solfege cards. Tell them to put the cards “question mark up” so their partner can’t see what they’ve composed.
  • Then, students take turns singing their pattern to their partner on a neutral syllable (such as loo). Each time their partner names a pitch correctly, they get to flip over that card. They should continue playing until all cards have been flipped over.


  • Pass out the four-pitch cards (using pitches the students know well). Ask them to arrange the cards to create their own composition. Tell them to sing each card in their “mind’s ear” at least once before adding another card. Then, to sing it from beginning to end each time they add a card. It would be helpful to do this activity as a whole class first, before students try on their own.
  • Once students have created a composition, choose one student to write it up on the interactive whiteboard. Then, pass out Boomwhackers™ or any other colored-coded instruments for students to play the composition.
  • You could also transfer their melodies to Orff instruments.