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March Music Madness: Advice from the experts

February 26, 2018

Have you heard whisperings of March Music Madness, but aren't quite sure what it is or how to implement it?

You have come to the right place!

While I left the classroom before I learned about March Music Madness (MMM), I am a huge fan and will absolutely implement when I return to the classroom. This tournament-style activity is a smart way to inject energy into the Spring doldrum. Students will leave March with music (language!) in their ears and a rhythm to their step--just in time for course selection for the coming fall ;-)

Essentially, March Music Madness operates in the same way as March Madness (College Basketball)--substituting songs from the target cultures for collegiate basketball teams. A bracket is created (see below for advice on this), and then songs are paired up in matches, tournament-style, until an eventual winner is chosen.

I sent out a survey to some of the teachers that I know have implemented MMM for at least several years to find out how they create their brackets and what they do with the songs in each round. I'll be adding more responses as they filter in, so please check back for more. You can also find all of the resources that they shared with me on this pinboard.




MANIA HISTORY: As one of the pioneers, I first blogged about a March Music tournament in 2014 in this post.

WHY MMM: In a twitter #langchat on music, someone once said that music in the classroom is a hook. It connects students with the language and hopefully will encourage them to listen to music outside of the classroom and come to appreciate the language.

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish Level 1

BRACKET FORMATION: I listen to latin music almost exclusively, so I am familiar with the trending music. I try to find top songs from the current year from a variety of genres. For reference, I also look at the Billboard Latin Charts and Top Selling songs on iTunes.  Many of the top hits that I personally enjoy to listen to I have to reject because of lyrics or mature music videos. I try to use songs that are appropriate for all ages.

ROUND 1: This year, I believe I will just have students listen to the song. In the past when I show the video, a lot of students will vote for the song based on just the video instead of the song itself. I have students fill out an opinion sheet and rank the beat, the lyrics, and give it an overall score out of 5 stars.

ROUND 2: In the second round, we will watch the video (official video if appropriate, otherwise the lyric video).  For some songs we will do an activity such as a cloze activity, matching lyrics to English, or putting lyric strips in order.

SEMIFINALS: We simply vote in class after we listen to the 2 songs.

FINALS: We simply vote. I typically put the final vote on a google doc and have the students vote at home.

CHAMPION TREATMENT: I use the song cover album to make a banner and "hang it in the rafters" as the champion of March Music Madness. Really, I just tape the pennant up on wall.

SOME 2018 CONTENDERS: I decided to add a Banda song for the first time this year and feature a lot of Vallenato songs. My pick in the bracket so far is "Loco Enamorado" by Abraham Mateo.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: I'm thinking "Internacionales" by Bomba Estéreo will bit a big hit. We listened to it earlier this year and students really enjoyed it.

Dustin Williamson shares how he implements March Music Madness in his Spanish classes

MARCH MUSIC MANIAC: Dustin Williamson



MANIA HISTORY: I learned about it from my awesome Twitter PLN and from all of the great teachers that share these fantastic ideas!

WHY MMM: To expose students to current music, to expand vocabulary ( a little bit) but mainly to have fun.  The month of March can be long in Maine and MMM is a great way to add excitement.

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish Levels 2-4

BRACKET STRUCTURE: I check the iTunes top Latin chart, Billboard top Latin hits, and songs that are shared on other colleague's blogs and on Twitter.  My students also give me song suggestions.

ROUND 1: We just listen to them and/or watch the lyric video.

ROUND 2: We listen to them and maybe watch the music video.

SEMIFINALS: We listen to them, watch the video, and look at the lyrics.

FINALS: We listen to them, watch the video, look at the lyrics, and maybe do an additional lyric activity.

CHAMPION TREATMENT: We celebrate the championship match with as much fanfare as possible.  If the music video is good, I'll turn it into a MovieTalk unit.  (Last year, Despacito won but we didn't do anything with the song!)

SAME BRACKETS IN ALL LEVELS? I used to have different brackets for different levels but last year I used the same bracket for every level that I teach.  It was much easier for me.  The only difference this year will be that we might explore the lyrics a bit more in the upper levels (definitely depends on the lyrics though!)

SOME 2018 CONTENDERS: Échame la Culpa, 100 Años, Corazón, La Estrategia, 3 A.M. See Dustin's complete bracket here.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: I really like 100 Años by Ha-Ash and Price Royce but my guess is that Échame la Culpa will do very well.




MANIA HISTORY: I've been using music for my entire career. In March/April of Spanish III we almost always are working with Colombia/Venezuela/Dominican Republic in some context. I used to have my students rate their favorite Juanes song. However, three years ago (I think), via my wonderful Twitter PLN, I saw a post (I think it was SpanishPlans), about a "March madness" activity with music.  I immediately knew it was for me!

WHY MMM: There is not just one purpose, there are multiple purposes: Sheer fun, making connections with other cultures, artists, classes and students, promoting life long learning, furthering a love of Latin music, making Spanish "relevant", "interesting", and "cool", promoting student choice and individual interests, providing comprehensible input, enhancing comprehensible input and simply for the joy of it!

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish Levels 3 & 4

BRACKET FORMATION: Has varied each time, but this time my Spanish IV students selected (through nomination and voting) 50% and I selected the other 50%.

ROUND 1: We watch the first minute or so of the official videos of two songs.  I provide minimal information about the artists, or make further connections if the artists are already well known to them.  I always use the chorus of the songs.

ROUND 2: I use the lyric videos for the two songs that have moved on.  We establish more meaning with the songs.

SEMIFINALS: Back to the original music videos, more comprehensible input, further information about artists, as applicable and we SING! 

FINALS: Lyrics and official videos and, of course....SING!

DIFFERENTIATION: It always go better (more excitement) in Spanish IV because these are students that I have had for 2 years and they are experienced in the process.  My Spanish III students will have their first MMM beginning this week. It will take them a little while to get as enthused as the Spanish IV students.

SOME 2018 CONTENDERS: Some of their selections include: Vivir mi vida, Sofia, Bailando, Mi Gente, Robarte un Beso, La Bicicleta, Cásate conmigo, No hay nadie mas, Échame la culpa, como yo. My selections (at the moment) include Tu foto, 3 A.M., Besos en guerra, El Arrepentido, Mi Buen Amor, Quédate conmigo, 100 años, Corazón and 30 de febrero. Complete bracket here.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Robarte un beso, No hay nadie más, or Échame la culpa




MANIA HISTORY: I saw that there were a few teachers doing their own bracket, which I thought was fantastic! Last year I had that idea to try to bring Spanish teachers and students together from across the country to use the same bracket with students all voting in the same poll.  Last year having my students realize thousands of students from around the world were participating in Locura De Marzo was magical! This year we are predicting 25-50,000 students will be participating on our bracket.

WHY MMM: (1) To give students comprehensible input using authentic resources. I use songs to make connections to the curriculum I am teaching (vocabulary, grammar, culture). It also helps with our fluency and pronunciation! (2) To broaden students perspective of the world by introducing them to music/culture/artists from countries in Spain and Latin America. (3) To energize my classroom.  Students LOVE hearing new songs. Students sing them in the hallway. They put them on their Spotify playlists. They are taking something from Spanish class and integrating it into their lives outside of school!

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish Exploratory & Level 1

BRACKET STRUCTURE: This was a collaborative approach with 75-100 teachers giving ideas, vetting the songs, and then voting on what songs should be in the tournament.


1. We watched each song at least one time dating back to January so the students are familiar with the songs.

2. We watch the promo videos so students have heard the songs before. 

3. A couple of the songs- Volar, Internacionales, we have ""learned"" in class, and some of the songs we may ""learn"" after Locura De Marzo is done. We made the selection process collaborative with teachers across the US so it's been fun to learn of some new songs that I had not heard before throughout the process.

4. I print out the bracket, and have the students fill it out to make ""predictions"".  I score my brackets that each round is worth 16 points. So, first round is 1 point/correct answer, round round is worth 2 points/correct answer, third round is worth 4 points/correct answer, etc. Final round students need to predict the amount of votes for each song for a tiebreaker.

5. I give away a Jarritos Mexican soda to the winner (the person who made the best predictions in the bracket)

Believe it or not, that is all I do with the bracket. I don't try to do activities for all 17 songs all in the month of March... not that there is anything wrong with that if you do. I do recommend you do a prediction bracket, it gives the students a little extra buy in!  Either way, when students see how many other students are participating right along with them, it's magical! If you are looking for some activities to do with these songs in March, or any other time in the future, there are some amazing resources being shared on our Facebook Group and the google drive linked there.

SOME 2018 CONTENDERS: "Mi Gente", J Balvin, "Chicas De Revista", Beatriz Luengo, "Voy Ganao", Systema Solar, "Bicicleta", Shakira

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: I predict Internacionales, Bomba Estereo will be the winner! It's a great song, with a fantastic music video as well!

JOIN THIS MANIAC: Señor Ashby has an entire Facebook group with 800+ teachers sharing resources; click here to join, and here is the link to the Locura De Marzo Headquarters.




MANIA HISTORY: When Justin at Spanish Plans first did MMM, I was inspired.  The next year, I made my own bracket with songs my students knew or that I knew they'd love and we did our own!

WHY MMM: This is one of those things I use strictly to get songs stuck in their heads.  If they go home excited about learning Spanish and listening to Spanish songs, they're doing WAY more inspirational work than if I sent them home with a worksheet!

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish Levels 2-4. I do MMM with all classes.

BRACKET FORMATION: I use the top 50 and choose half songs that we have studied and half songs that are new to them.

ROUND 1: We listen to the entire 3-5 min song before we vote.

ROUND 2: We listen to only 1.5-2 minutes of each song before we vote.

SEMIFINALS: We watch the video before we vote.

FINALS: We watch the video again.

CHAMPION TREATMENT: We make a poster of the winner and hang it on the wall.

SOME 2018 CONTENDERS: Cásate conmigo, La estrategia, Mi gente, échame la culpa, Robarte un beso, Un poco loco from Coco

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Mi gente or La estrategia

Allison Wienhold of MisClasesLocas shares how she implements March Music Madness in her language classes!

MARCH MUSIC MANIAC: Allison Wienhold



MANIA HISTORY: My first year, I got the ideas from Bethanie Drew and used her bracket from this post.

WHY MMM: My goal is to expose students to a variety of authentic music from the Spanish speaking world, which will hopefully inspire them to listen to music in Spanish outside of class. It is also a fun way to spice up dreary Iowa winters.

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish Exploratory & Levels 1-3. I do MMM with all classes.

BRACKET FORMATION: It depends on the year. Some years students nominate songs via Google form, but this year I picked the songs, since I wanted to highlight female artists and groups. All of my classes’ votes count together, so there is one bracket for all classes.

ROUND 1: We listen to the whole song & discuss a little in Spanish

ROUND 2: We listen to the whole song & discuss a little in Spanish

SEMIFINALS: We listen to the whole song & discuss a little in Spanish

FINALS: We listen to the whole song & discuss a little in Spanish

DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN LEVELS: Same brackets and activities but approach it differently. In exploratory we are just working with basic phrases like se llama... (no) me gusta, es de…etc. In upper levels, we get deeper in our discussion and exploration of the artist or song.

SOME 2018 CONTENDERS: My 2018 bracket is here.



FIND THIS MANIAC AT: Placido Language Resources

# YEARS MANIACAL: 3+…can’t remember for sure!

MANIA HISTORY: Got the idea onFacebook!

WHY MMM: To get students interested in listening to more Spanish music and enjoying themselves.

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish Levels 2 & 4

BRACKET FORMATION: I've made my own in the past. This year I am trying Señor Ashby.

ROUND 1: Listen & vote

ROUND 2: Listen & vote

SEMIFINALS: Listen & vote; any songs that make it to the semifinals will become our last "songs of the week" for this school year.

FINALS: Listen & vote


Kelly Ferguson shares how she implements March Music Madness in her Spanish classes




MANIA HISTORY: I saw other teachers doing it and blogging about it, and thought it looked fun.  I had first copied Dustin Williamson's Christmas commercial bracket, and kids liked it so I decided to give it a go. I decided to do mine with a variety of different types of songs, including pop music and folk songs.

WHY MMM: My purpose was to expose kids to a wide variety of music they probably don't come across on a regular basis.  Some songs that are oldies and are famous (or infamous) in the Spanish-speaking world, as well as some current popular hits.

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Spanish 1, 4, AP

BRACKET STRUCTURE: I generated a list of songs and then plugged them into to have it make the brackets.  My first time I started with 64 songs, much like the NCAA tournament has, which is WAY too many, although the advantage is that there is a gap between the first and second round for hearing a song.  I did fudge some of the pairings to make some songs last into later rounds (I didn't put the least cool song against the coolest in the first round.).  Because I let each class come up with their own votes, I didn't mark winners on that bracket, I just left the choice in each class's lesson plan so I could follow who won in which class.

ROUND 1: I play the video with the lyrics on the screen so kids can possibly understand the song lyrics more. I might give them a phrase or two, explain what the title means.

ROUND 2: I go through the lyrics to the chorus or a verse, depending on the level & linguistic complexity of the song.

SEMIFINALS:  I go through more of the story of the artist and do the full lyrics (or maybe a couple of verses if it's really long or really hard, or there is something a little sketchy I don't want to discuss in class)

FINALS: I review the lyrics and we watch the official video.

CHAMPION TREATMENT: I don’t do anything special with the winner, but the final 4 songs or maybe last 8 tend to be pretty popular with kids so when we do any work with background music, I will look up those artists on Pandora.

DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN LEVELS: I do the same thing, basically, although I may give smaller chunks of the lyrics to level 1 compared to level 4-AP.  In AP Lit, we may compare the songs to our themes if I see an obvious connection.  That class also meets every other day, so I sometimes begin that class in round 2 (using the choices from my everyday class's bracket).

SOME 2018 CONTENDERS: I haven't started yet, but will probably pick some from last year and look at the 2016-2017 top hits and replace a few I didn't love.


Ashley Uyaguari shares how she runs March Madness in her language classes


FIND THIS MANIAC AT: / Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts


MANIA HISTORY: I started by doing brackets that were more simple, I remember doing the food bracket and battling to find what the favorite food of each class was. After I shared that idea, it was written up at this blog After that, my colleague, Estela Schmalz said we should to the March Madness with Music! I'm not sure where she first saw the idea though.

WHY MMM: I focus on skills/proficiency and not on a certain curriculum. MMM fits in nicely because it brings in lots of things to talk about without predetermining what that will be. The purpose is to have the songs and video, as well as the bracket itself act as a hook for more exciting input and output!

LANGUAGE & LEVELS: Middle School Spanish

BRACKET STRUCTURE: My teaching bestie, Estela Schmalz and her daughters came up with a bank of songs last year and our classes pick out of a hat to determine positions on the bracket. Each class has a unique bracket to work with, which keeps my day exciting!

ROUND 1: For the first round, we do two songs in a day. We'll listen to the music of song one and play some sort of game with it (just to get a feel for the music), then we'll talk about the music itself. We'll then watch that video and talk about it, pulling out new vocab and describing it. We'll repeat that process with the second song and then vote at the end for our favorite. We use secret ballots to vote. The round definitely takes the longest.

ROUND 2: We'll look at something new about the song, either the lyrics, or just discuss the story or theme more. I don't have a specific activity for round two, it depends on what songs make it. Here is an activity that I have used in the past.

SEMIFINALS: I had pairs of students choose their favorite song and create posters for it. Then we vote on our favorites as a class. I can't remember right now if we did anything else that was special for this round.

FINALS: We had our students create lip sync videos! Not all students wanted to do the two final songs, so we let them choose any. They had a lot of fun with this. The language was more about the negotiating of creating the video, than the lyrics themselves. Not really. The poster and the lip sync video is the wrap up of the brackets,  but doesn't necessarily get done with the final song.


SAME BRACKETS IN ALL LEVELS? We only do it with 8th grade so that it stays new and fresh.

2018 CONTENDERS: Click here to view Ashley’s song list

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Not sure. But, last year "Andas en mi cabeza" and "Caótica belleza" were the two winners.

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