Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Musical Toys- Great for the Elementary General Music Classroom


Now that my kiddo is 15 months, I have a lot of toys around.  My family thinks, because I am a music teacher, I want ALL the musical baby toys.  Some are awesome for Henry and some of them, I have found, are AWESOME for all ages and I want to bring them into my classroom for centers, whole class learning and more.

Here are 2 of my favorites- that don't even look TOO toddler-y so I think they would be an easy sell to the kids.

Munchkin Music Cube
Wow- I LOVE this cube (and so does Henry).  It is a 6 sided instrument cube.  The sides are Orchestra, French Horn, Flute, Violin, Harp, and Piano.  When you touch a side, that instrument plays a Mozart Song.  If you touch two sides- both instruments play.  You can start and stop a side at any moment to hear different arrangements of the Mozart Songs.   If you want to hear the whole orchestra, you can touch all the instruments OR just touch the orchestra side.  It is so fun to hear the instruments isolated and then in different groupings.  Very cool for teaching instruments of the orchestra, texture and more.



Giant Step and Play Piano
This one I saw at a friends house and really wish I had my own.  I love that you can play around and then record and playback your composition. This would be awesome for centers on orchestral instruments, texture, and even solfege and rhythm.

Description from the Target Website: 
This GIANT vinyl keyboard provides hours and hours of big musical fun! It features 8 instrument sounds and 4 different play modes, including a demo mode. Choose from piano, saxophone, violin, accordion, trumpet, harp, xylophone, and guitar sounds to create your own musical masterpiece. Test the sounds in Play mode, then record your tune and use the playback feature to share it with family and friends!


Do you have any favorite toys that you use in your music room? 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Building Rapport Music Room

Everybody knows that if students feel loved and safe and like their teacher truly cares about them, they will usually behave better- listening more, being more respectful to the teacher and other classmates, and generally have a much happier time in your classroom.  Trying to teach a kid who feels unwelcome or that you "hate them" will do nothing for that child OR you.  They will just be grumpy and disruptive and there will be no real learning that takes place which in turn can make other students or you grumpy. Winter and Spring are the perfect times to reinforce to students that you care about THEM and not just drilling your subject- whatever it may be.

I have gone back to the basics recently to help continue to build that rapport with my students, and maybe help build their character in the process.

1. Greet students at the door. Be sure you are present as they enter and say hello to EACH student! This can go a long way for students knowing they are loved.  Maybe even make a secret handshake with each class - or even those students you know need something extra.  Also be sure to say bye when they leave! Give high-fives, smiles, etc.

2.  Board-work.  This is not your typical board-work though.  My students have to travel from the main building to my "modular" classroom so they end up arriving at slightly different times from each other.  As upper grades walk in, I have a grid on the board with numbers in each box.  Sometimes students are to write their name in a box, then randomly pick another number and think of a compliment to give that person.  Other times they have to answer a question in a box.  Questions include- "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "What is your favorite music to listen to" "What is your favorite subject in school?" "How can you change the world for the better?" and more.  I always answer the questions as well.  While often this is not inherently musical, I have noticed that students love to tell me about themselves- their hopes and dreams- and then they are more focused during class after having time to just talk and share. Even if it's only 3 minutes at the beginning of class, we are learning more about each other and having fun. Check out more ideas in my "30 Day Happy Teaching Challenge" In the Classroom FUN section.

3. Musical Warm-ups.  With younger grades, I often sing the questions that I would ask the older kids as part of our musical warm-up.  I only ask a few each week, but keep the same question until all have been asked.

4. Paying attention to students interests and adding them to class.  This could mean sight-reading a pop-song you know students like with known pitches, reading rhythms with video game or movie character names (Batman for ti-ti, Thor for ta, etc.), writing parodies of pop songs, or adding technology into lessons.  Today, we even changed the words of "Canoe Song" To be about John Cena and Lebron James.  I just made sure they kept the rhythm EXACTLY the same- which was a challege for them! isleoftune.com, incredibox.com, and even the use of robots (more on this soon!) to hook those kids who are super techy.  Using these websites- I set parameters so students are still working on concepts we are working on in class.
 My students are super into technology and coding so I have been adding games like

5. Read stories and listen to music that can spark some awesome discussion about kids interests, taking care of each other, and even big topics like bullying, self-esteem, and following your dreams.  If a big discussion starts, let it happen! Sometimes we get so caught up in teaching our content, we miss out on these awesome teaching and discussion moments! Some great choices are: Don't Laugh at Me, or songs from I am BullyProof Music.