Name Games for a Socially Distanced Music Class

Name games are an important element of music teachers’ back to school routine. Lately, I’ve been imagining what adjustments I would make for socially distanced music classes. Without that familiar music circle, music teachers will have to get creative, and that’s assuming that they’re back in the classroom at all. Here are my ideas for playing name games while also social distancing and following many other guidelines required during the pandemic.


This is the original notation for this song. Typically, it could be used with a stuffed bumblebee, which would be passed among the students as they sang their names.

Below is the rhythm notation for the song. Here are a few additional changes you can make to keep your students engaged:

  • Use a laser pointer to indicate who should go next.
    • You won’t be able to walk around and tap anyone on the shoulder. Instead, you can grab one of those cheap laser pointers (the kind that are meant as cat toys), and use those to point to the the student you want to go next.
    • You can point the laser down at the ground in front of them, on their shoe, or even in their hands.
  • Have students pat the beat as they chant
    • Younger students tolerate repetition better than older students, but it’s still important to keep them moving as much as possible. If they need a challenge, have them alternate between patting the beat and patting the rhythm.


The telephone song is great for older students who can sing call and echo songs as a class without guidance from their teacher.

Here are some ideas for keeping students engaged as they chant the piece:

  • Split the class into two sections (call and echo)
    • Call section: keep a beat with the feet (march in place)
    • Echo section: clap the rhythm of the chant
    • Have students switch parts and do the chant again

This piece is great for reviewing names in older grades. Plus, it’ll be a nice challenge for students as they work to keep the beat/rhythm and keep track of whose name is called each time.


Please know that I’m rooting for you, whether you’re teaching face-to-face, teaching from a cart, or delivering lessons online. I hope these ideas are useful for you as you plan for an unexpected and ever-changing year. You can download PDFs of the chants by clicking the button below.