I am a music teacher planning to introduce the concept of musical ornaments to a group of young children. I want to make this educational experience engaging and fun for them, and I'm seeking creative ideas and methods to effectively teach musical ornaments.


  • Age Group: The children I'll be teaching are between 9-13.
  • Skill Level: They are beginners with little to no prior musical experience.

What I'm Looking For: I want to teach musical ornaments in an engaging way. I want to inspire their curiosity and understanding of this musical concept.

Current Approach: Currently, I plan to start with the basics, such as explaining what musical ornaments are and giving them some examples from familiar songs. However, I'm open to new and creative teaching methods to make the learning experience more exciting.

I started teaching kids appoggiaturas as they have it in their music syllabus, but unfortunately they found it difficult and my students are questioning the use of ornaments and are asking why we can't simply notate the music in a more straightforward way. I found myself unable to provide a satisfactory answer, and I'm seeking advice on how to address their concerns and help them understand the importance and purpose of musical ornaments as I have to teach them mordents and repeat signs as well.

Desired Outcomes: My goal is to help the children recognize and understand basic musical ornaments like trills, mordents, and turns. I also want to instill an appreciation for these ornaments in music.

  • 3
    I’m voting to close this question because this kind of open-ended list question is not suitable for this site. Please read the help center.
    – PiedPiper
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 9:58
  • 1
    Welcome! This is a substantial and well-posed question. The close votes it has attracted can easily be avoided by editing to change “point me to other resources“ into “what’s the best way to go about this.“ Meanwhile: ornamentation has a lot of history. Are you interested in focusing your students’ skills to particular historical periods? (If not, I’d suggest you should be!) Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 12:59
  • 3
    Also, just to clarify: there are no instrumental tags here, just music theory. When I think of ornamentation, I think of it first as a practice. I could imagine teaching on the subject in a purely theoretical class that didn’t require the students to actually make music — but it would be hard. If you are in fact talking about teaching performers, please edit to make that clear. Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 13:02
  • Welcome. Whilst the concept is laudable, asking for resources isn't a good fit for this site, as the question stands. By re-phrasing, as Andy suggests, it may be saved, and answered in interesting ways.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 14:14
  • 4
    I'll throw in one more comment encouraging you to edit and qualify for re-opening because I really want to answer this question! Teaser: My advice is "Don't teach ornaments, teach ornamentation." Today we think of ornaments as "funny kinds of notes, which we play when told to by the score." But that's an artifact from a history in which ornamentation was "making the plain parts fancier by adding a bit of improv." Even if you're not teaching performers how to ornament, I think it's important to introduce that historical context rather than working backwards. Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


We train children to ask 'why?'. We must also train them to accept 'because that's the way it was done historically, and it's in the syllabus' as sufficient answer!

Not sure how useful it is to introduce notational specifics like the appoggiatura to children 'with little to no prior musical experience' who therefore don't even grasp 'plain' notation. But OK, I said 'because it's in the syllabus' is sufficient, so I must stand by it.

We can divide ornamentation into two categories. Notational shorthand that replaced a lot of notes with a single symbol, and the practice of freely extemporizing something that ISN'T notated.

Not sure you can teach the first kind any better than simply saying 'this is a trill, this is how you'd notate it, isn't it easier this way?'

The second kind lends itself rather better to 'involvement'. Examples through the ages of what singers (in particular) do to the written notation, whether composers liked it or not (didn't Mozart have something to say about sopranos?). Dolly Parton's original version of 'I Will Always Love You' compared with Whitney Houston's (OK, it's pointless to knock that sort of success in the commercial music field, but it still makes me cringe when a pop singer just refuses to sing a single straightforward, un-decorated note!) The ubiquitous and seemingly unconscious habit of adding a rising appoggiatura to almost every note.

Then, when they say 'But that's just YOUR opinion, boomer!' mention how performance has always been influenced by fashion and taste, and even by technology - demonstrate how the microphone has enabled whole new styles of singing, make a cardboard megaphone and do a 20s song...

But, if the syllabus requires them to know how to write out an inverted mordant, better drill that into them too!

  • 2
    With respect, IMO "because the curriculum says so" isn't a satisfactory answer to "Why." Though perhaps it's often shorthand for a couple of answers that are: "Beats me, maybe you can research it yourself; I'm not the only source of knowledge here," and "Oh there's a good reason but it would be a deep dive and take too long to get into in this survey course; take my word for it and keep moving (or research it on your own time)." Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 13:18
  • "because the curriculum says so" answers 'why must we learn this?' Students actually accept this quite readily. They know that exams must be passed.
    – Laurence
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 23:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.