Call and Response is fantastic to use with Common Core reading objectives for fluency and comprehension.  Not only that, but it’s a naturally brain-friendly activity that directly connects music skills with critical thinking and reading.  Plus, it’s a simple integration technique that you can put into practice immediately in your classroom!  Give it a try on the first day of school and you’ll have a great engagement tool that also provides a quick opportunity for assessment.


This is a music concept that is taught as early as kindergarten, with more in-depth variations being taught all the way through 6th grade.  Call and Response is simply another name for question and answer form.  It is NOT an echo….because an echo would be copying the first person.  Instead, this is listening to the “call” from the first person, processing it and then providing a “response” that resolves the first call. You can do this by clapping a call and asking a student to clap back a response (be sure to identify that the response needs to use similar beats as the call, but not in the same order).  Then, you can transfer that onto musical instruments or even singing.


Language Arts uses call and response all the time.  It’s simply a dialogue.  However, if you’ve ever taught writing to students of any age, you know how difficult teaching how to write dialogue can be.  Quotations, punctuation, tone, inflection, relationships are all key parts to writing dialogue and several of those pertain to musical call and response as well.  By using musical call and response form to help teach the dialogue of writing, students have another concrete way to manipulate the concept.


It works on a higher order thinking level. This pushes students out from just rote memorization to actually using the mathematical concept.  For instance, think about a simple mathematical equation sentence.  Many of us teach 2+2=4 and students simply memorize this equation.  Or, they will memorize their 3’s table: 3 x 1 = 3, 3 x 2 = 6, etc.   Instead, if you teach math through musical call and response, the students have to clap or play the first part of the equation.  IE: 3 claps and 1 tap.  And then another student must provide the “answer” using either a clap, a tap or a combination.  IE: clap-tap-clap.  This provides students with the relationship of the numbers among themselves and how to manipulate them in various ways to get the definitive answer.