Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Tuesday Book Club - Wonderful World

I LOVE this book illustrated by Tim Hopgood! (I love all the musical books illustrated by him!) 
Click the book cover to check out the book on Amazon. 

What a Wonderful World is one of my favorite songs and has such a great message. When using this book, we watch and listen, then create our own songs of things we are grateful for!  I have done it as a whole class, but it could be a great composition project as well! These are some of my favorite pages: 

To create our songs, after reading the book/ listening to the song we list as a class things we are grateful for, or things that cheer us up, or things that bring light when we are feeling down. After our list is complete (I try to get something from each kid), we sort the list into Rhythm Building Block Chunks (see picture).  Your chunks could look different depening on what grade you are working with.  

After we write our list, we use Chrome Music lab to create our song! Students choose the colors needed for each syllable of our chosen words.  For each song I chose 4-8 items from our list.  We then came up with a pattern for the percussion and sang our songs!  Two examples are shown below! 

This lesson is great for any time of year, but especially during the Holdiay Season! It is always great to reflect on the joy of the season and focus on what we are grateful for, especially after this rough 2020! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday Book Club- Boo! A Book of Spooky Surprises

Boo! A Book of Spooky Surprises by J. Litton is one of my son's (and my students) favorites! I made up a little melody to go with the pages and he loves singing it to his little sister.  This is a great book for fall.  It does not mention Halloween specifically but utilizes a lot of typically Halloween characters like spiders, ghosts, witches and wizards so be sure to know your school and students before you use it. Click the picture to see where you can find the book! 

Night Owl, Night Owl   |    m-d m-d

Was that you?                |     l,-d m___

Were you the one who  |     m m-f  m  f

Shouted Boo!               |      m  d   l,___

For the last line I change it up a bit to make it a little more excited for the reveal

m-f m-f m-f m__   mm-f m-f  m-f  m___     l-si  l___

After I sing the book, we turn it into a guessing game, where one student hides their eyes, and another chosen by the teacher shouts "I'm a ___(their Halloween costume) and I say Boo!" or another phrase fun for the season and the student hiding their eyes sings "___, ___(guess x2) was that you?, Were you the one who shouted boo?" using the melody above.  If the guesser guesses correct, they get another turn (up to 3 turns total in my room) but if they are wrong, the student who tricked them gets a turn to hide and then guess. 

Another fun way to use it in older grades is to turn the book into a Rondo.  For each page turn, call on a student to make a 4 character pattern/ rhythm and either say it twice OR say the pattern and then say "Were you the one who shouted boo?"  

Example: Zombie, Ghost, Witch, Bat :||                  OR 
Zombie, Ghost, Witch, Bat. Were you the one who shouted boo?

You could even have students say their character pattern first, and then say your rhythm language the second time through such as: 
Zombie, Ghost, Witch, Bat.
Ti-Ti, Ta, Ta, Ta (or Ta-di, Ta, Ta, Ta or Du-de, Du, Du, Du, etc.) 

What fun books have you adapted for your classroom?

Monday, September 7, 2020

2020-2021 Here We Go! Tips for hybrid/ virtual general music learning!


Wow! What a start to the year! My school is currently hybrid and I am actually kind of loving it.  Half of our students come Mon/Tues and the other half Thurs/Fri.  Wednesday is dedicated to google meets, making videos, and meetings.  

While hybrid, specials teachers in my district see our students in person 1x a week for 30 minutes and then we are supposed to also make 1 video lesson per grade that students can watch and do at home for asynchronous music learning. 

Making videos has been so fun! My specials team has a theme each week to make our lessons kind of cohesive go help families out with the amount of work students have to do. My videos are not fancy at all, but I am basically just pretending that students are in the room and doing a (slightly shortened) version of the lesson I would already be presenting them already.  Each video is done in one continuous take- if I mess up, I start over.  I do this so I am not spending hours editing- I would rather focus on lesson content than be at my own computer all day splicing videos together.  Are there mistakes in my videos- you bet- but does that happen when I am teaching in person as well? Of course! I think it is important for students to see me as human and not a perfect musician- so they feel comfortable trying new things and making mistakes as well! 

Here are my top 5 tips for virtual/ hybrid learning: 

1. Pretend the kids are in the room! When doing toddler music lessons with my kids this summer (yay WeJoySing!) I LOVED that his teacher just taught the lesson as she would as if all the toddlers were with her.  She gave shoutouts to kids during each lesson, played games (and sometimes got her husband to join for 2 person games), sang, moved, danced, etc.  It was as if she was really in our living room.  This is what I am trying to do for my students.  As Artie Almeida says "Heavy Academics, Delivered Joyfully"  I am trying to bring joy to each lesson while not compromising on song literature, content, etc.  even while teaching partly in person, and partly through recorded videos. To helps with at-home learning, I sent home music go-bags with a few materials they will use throughout the year and just let them know at the beginning of the video what they will need.  Go-Bags do not have to be expensive! You can also send home a list of materials for students to find (with alternates) so that students can be playing instruments, composing, and more- all at home.  

Go Bag: 

2 wooden dowels (kids could also use kitchen utensils!)

homemade egg shaker (kids could use keys or an old rattle) 

2 plastic dessert plates

1 scarf (I cut up a plastic table cloth) (do they have an bandana- or even or a kleenex?)

Page Protector (used as dry erase board!)with the following: 

    Heartbeat chart 

    Rhythm boxes chart

    Single Rhythm cards (1 beat per card) 

    Body Percussion Cards 


2. Get kids moving! Even though I sometimes feel a little silly moving by myself in my classroom, I always try to get kids moving in our lessons, both in person (non-locomotor) and virtually. Kids are getting so much screen time, I think it is so important to get them off of the screen for a bit. I try to make my lessons as active as possible, even with the in-person restrictions that are in place.  My weekly assignments are very simple, and often doing/ creating something OUTSIDE.  My specials team had a camping theme for our first two weeks so my music assignment was to go on a listening walk.  Students LOVED it- and so did families because it got kids outside for bit.  I also plan to have students find sticks or other outdoor materials to write rhythms, create a rhythm 4 square game, use found objects to create patterns, and more.  Some of my videos are on youtube- check it out! New videos with no props will be posted soon, as many schools are not allowing any sharing of equipment. 

3. Utilize pre-made materials and lessons.  It is getting easier as I go into week 4 of school but there are definitely still times I feel super overwhelmed with all that is happening.  While I am enjoying making videos, I am also trying to utilize materials I made last year, or curriculum materials I have access to.  I have Musicplayonline.com this year and it is so great! There is so much on the site to have kids really practicing their rhythms, solfege, vocab, and more- they love it and it is already made for me.  I do not have to spend time making interactive games or accompaniments to songs- it is already there.  I am also utilizing Teachers Pay Teachers, as well as things I have made myself in the past.  I am posting past movement routines and other lessons.  (And in the future- I will have SO MANY sub plans ready!) 

4. Make your space feel like home.  I am very fortunate to still be in my classroom this year while we are hybrid and I decorated it with a Watermelon theme. I absolutely love coming into my room each day.  If you are teaching from home, try to utilize a corner or even just a poster that you put up for each video to give your students (and yourself!) a consistent classroom feel. Most of my vidoes are made in my classroom, but when I make them at home I use a corner of my bedroom with a cozy chair and fun hexagon shelves I dressed with gifts from students and picture books I love.  I had big plans to decorate my cart as well, until it was decided at the last minute that I would be able to use my room. Check out my watermelon decor HERE

5. ROCK WHAT YA GOT and GIVE GRACE!  This situation is so different for everyone this year- teachers, students, and parents.  My running theme for the year is Rock What Ya Got.  My students and I are rocking body percussion, only singing in videos or outside more than 12ft apart, lots of non-locomotor movement, rhythm reading, music history, music vocab and more. I am also trying to remember that parents and students are rocking what they got as well, and not everyone is tech savvy or has the same internet access.  Not everyone can come to live google meets, or find the time to make sure everything gets done each week.  I am giving a LOT of grace to students and parents this year.  I know that they are doing their best and I want them to know that I care more about them than being sure that each tiny little part of each assignment is done.  I want families to know I am here for them, and will help them with anything I can. I do not want to add just "one more thing" to the plate of a family, I want to be sure that all the music videos and assignments are joyful and a time that families look forward to completing and singing along with, rather than a burden.  

Give yourself grace as well! There are so many people doing awesome things that make others feel like imposters.  As long as you are delivering your lessons with love and joy- students will see that and LOVE music.  You don't need a virtual classroom, or to edit your videos to add in special effects/ green screen etc.  If you want to do those things- awesome! But if you don't that's awesome, too. Do what you need to do to make this year work for you and your students and try not to compare yourself to other teachers.  It is so hard, and we often ALL feel imposter syndrome at some point, but YOU ARE AMAZING! Rock What Ya Got and have a great year! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tuesday Book Club: 2020 Summer Reading List - Non Fiction

I have SO MANY books on my list this summer, and I hope to get to them all. There are typical music PD books, anti-racist books, books on teaching special learners and more. Below, in no particular order, are a few of the books I KNOW I will be reading this summer. I will give the title, a link to where you can purchase the book while supporting small buisiness if I could find it at a local bookstore, and a little blurb about the book!  What is on your summer reading list??  My Fiction reads will be coming soon!

1. Creative Miracles: A Practitioner's Guide to Adaptive Music Instruction By Kelley Surrette
This book "provides and indepth look at the adaptive music classroom and offers pratical strategies and suggestions as to how music can be adapted to those with hearing loss and to those who have cognitive, intellectual, and other related disabilities." 

I cannot wait to dive into this book. Just flipping through the pages I know I will get so much out of it. It just came out this past year and it is sure to be on music teacher shelves, all marked up, everywhere soon. 

2. Teaching to Transgress - Education as the Practice of Freedom By bell hooks
"In Teaching to Transgressbell hooks--writer, teacher, and insurgent black intellectual--writes about a new kind of education, education as the practice of freedom. Teaching students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom is, for hooks, the teacher's most important goal.
bell hooks speaks to the heart of education today: how can we rethink teaching practices in the age of multiculturalism? What do we do about teachers who do not want to teach, and students who do not want to learn? How should we deal with racism and sexism in the classroom?
Full of passion and politics, Teaching to Transgress combines a practical knowledge of the classroom with a deeply felt connection to the world of emotions and feelings. This is the rare book about teachers and students that dares to raise questions about eros and rage, grief and reconciliation, and the future of teaching itself."
I am doing an online book discussion for this book with some music teachers on Insta and I am so excited.  Being the only Elementary Music Teacher in my district, I love when I get the chance to do meaningful PD and read important books with other music teachers. 

3. Responsive Classroom for Music, Art, PE and Other Special Areas By Responsive Classroom
I follow one of the contributors of this book, Michael Stensrud, on social media and have been to a few of his workshops and he is a MASTER at all things Responsive Classroom.  I already use a few of his techniques in my class, such as non-verbal teaching, and am trying to incorprate the techniques and routines more each day.
Responsive Classroom practices have helped thousands of special area teachers for more than 30 years. Here you'll find practical suggestions, charts, planners, and examples from experienced special area teachers who use Responsive Classroom practices every day. You'll learn how to:

Open and close each period in calm, orderly ways
Set students up for success by modeling and practicing skills and routines
Use positive teacher language
Engage students more deeply
Refocus and recharge students with quick, fun, movement breaks
Respond to misbehavior to get students back to learning.

4. This Book Is Anti-Racist - By Tiffany Jewell and Illustrated by Aurelia Durand.
"Gain a deeper understanding of your anti-racist self as you progress through 20 chapters that spark introspection, reveal the origins of racism that we are still experiencing, and give you the courage and power to undo it. Each chapter builds on the previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression. 20 activities get you thinking and help you grow with the knowledge. All you need is a pen and paper."    

I Love that this book is not one you "just read" but rather there are activities every few pages to help you journal your way through the book and really connect to the words and lessons. I am trying to work through at least a lesson each day. 

5. Creative Musiking: Practical, Real-Life Ideas to Get Your Learners Creating Their Own Music By Steve Giddings.  I read/ proofed an earlier version of this book and can't wait to read the final result! There are SO MANY ideas for all levels of teaching music in this book "providing you with the tools you crave and the mindset you need to get your learners creating their own music, but also provides practical, real-life, and accessible tips, tricks, and paradigm shifts for getting you creating your own music too." 

6. White Fragility: why it's so hard for white people to talk about race -By Robin DiAngelo
"In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively."

This book is a great place to start for anyone who is beginning their journey to Anti-Racism.  White Fragility is a must-read for all educators because racism and racial disparities in access and opportunity continue to be an urgent issue in our schools. As educators, we need to summon up the courage and together act deliberately and honestly to develop the skills we need to engage in conversations about bias, race, and racism—especially our own.”
—Val Brown, professional development facilitator and founder of #ClearTheAir-  If you don't follow Val Brown and #ClearTheAir on twitter- click on over right now :)

7. Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria  and Other Conversations About Race- By Beverly Daniel Tatum PhD
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

8. Music Education and Social Emotional Learning- The Heart of Teaching Music By Scott N. Edgar 
"Music educators are in a prime position to help students become socially and emotionally competent while at the same time develop excellent musicianship. For every child to be successful in the music classroom, teachers need to be aware of the whole student. How do music educators create success when students every day struggle with social awareness, bullying, communication, problem solving, and other challenges? This pioneering book by Scott Edgar addresses how music educators can utilize Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to maximize learning in the choral, instrumental, and general music classroom at all levels, and at the same time support a student's social and emotional growth. Foreword by Tim Lautzenheiser."

9. Hold Fast to 
Dreams - Writings inspired by Zoltan Kodaly by Denise Bacon 
This one is ALWAYS on my list. I am always flipping through, reading parts again, etc.  I got this from the Capital University Bookstore- but I had to call.  I live in Columbus, so I was able to go pick it up, but I think you can have them ship (once they are open again). It goes for over $100 on Amazon- so call Cap first! (614) 236-6116

Remember: Buying a PD book is good, Reading a PD book is great, but don't forget to USE and ACT ON what you read. If a PD book doesn't challenge your thoughts, practices, or ideas how much are you really learning? Be Uncomfortable. Be the Change. Push Yourself and Others. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Novel Effect App

Short post today just to share an AMAZING app that was recommended to me. It is called "Novel Effect."

When you open this app, you can choose a book from their vast collection and then it "listens" to you reading the book and plays music/ sound effects along with your voice! I just did Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site with my son and we both loved it! He was so excited they included the "Hey, Pipe Down" which is his favorite part.

There are a lot of music class favorites including:
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin
Giraffes Can't Dance
Goodnight, Moon
Time For Bed by Mem Fox
The Wonkey Donkey
The Day the Crayons Quit
Here We Are
The Bear Snores On

and they are always adding more!

I cannot wait to get back to school to use this app in my classroom! In the meantime I will continue to enhance stories I read to my kids.  Dragons Love Tacos is up next!

Have fun with the app and have an amazing summer!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Prop Routine Youtube Channel

Hey Friends!

I know these are trying times for many of us.  I decided to post many of my prop routines on youtube so you could share with your students to get us all moving during this time at home.  Many of them don't actually need the props- or you could easily find something to work at home. 

Be sure to subscribe to the channel to get notified when new routines are posted! I will be trying to post a few a week! Here is a link to the playlist! Emilys Kodaly Inspired Music on Youtube!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Winter Folk-Dancing Fun!

My gym teacher and I combine every year to do a folk-dance unit and this year we decided December would be the perfect time.  I tried to find a lot of fun Winter Folk Dances and we did some party line dances and a basket ball routine as well. Students had so much fun and our most requested dance was the Troika! They love the 3 person groups and how fast the music goes :)  February is a great time to start this unit as the winter doldrums are setting in, and kids are getting antsy to MOVE and play more than they can when it's always snowing/ raining!

Dances we learned were:

Sasha - a great first mixer

Rural Felicity from Sashay the Donut - We did this one to Jingle Bell rock and it worked perfectly but you could choose almost any song in 4!

Troika - of course you have to do a dance that imitates a carriage being pulled by horses through the snow! Learn more about the Troika HERE

Trepak from the Nutcracker Ballet - Basket Ball Routine! Check out the video to learn it!

When performing the song, I sing (to the tune of the music) the following to help kids remember what is next.  The form is A A B interlude A coda

A section: 
Bounce (ba da da da bup bup bup bup) 
Bounce (ba da da da bup bup bup bup) 
Bounce the ball with your right ha-a-and 

Bounce (ba da da da bup bup bup bup) 
Bounce (ba da da da bup bup bup bup) 
Bounce the ball with your left ha-a-and 

B section: 
Pass it around your ba-ack, or do another trick 
Then you pass it back and forth  
Pass it around your ba-ack, or do another trick 
Then you pass it back and forth 

Throw it up (2-3-4), Throw it up (2-3-4)
Throw it up (2), Throw it up (4) 
Throw it up (2), Throw it up (4) 

Bounce the ball with your right hand and
bounce the ball with your left hand and
with your right hand, with your left hand
Big Bounce (x), big bounce (x), big bounce (x), big bounce and Catch!

In addition to the folk dances. movement pieces we also did some party lines dances as warm-ups. These included:
Cupid Shuffle
Cha Cha Slide
Electric Slide

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Recorder- Practice, Improvise, Compose!

Ya'll. I teach recorder at 7:30am. I love recorder, I really do- it is one of my favorite things to teach, but I had to really find ways to make it exciting for my students AND myself because no one is awake yet at 7:30. 


Poison Pattern - we all know this game, and recorder takes it to the next level. Students LOVE both teacher vs class (If ANYONE plays the poison pattern, the teacher gets a point and if NO ONE plays the poison pattern the class gets a point) and every person for their self (All start the game standing. If they play the poison pattern they sit and then continue to practice while sitting- last student standing wins!)  Recorder wars from TPT is also a great version of this game.

Record a lesson - Any time I can use students as teachers, I love to let them get up and lead. Flipgrid has been an amazing platform to allow students to record lessons and learn from their classmates.  Students are able to choose any recorder note we currently know and write a lesson to teach that note.  They need to say the name of the note, show where it is on the musical staff, explain and show how to play the note on the recorder, and then use the note in a pattern or song. I love how students often add in extras and really show their personality in their lessons.  In addition to having students watch each others, I also love to save some of them to show the next year.

Make a song "Look Good" and "Sound Good"- My students are social kids (which students aren't?) and really enjoy working in groups. We do a lot of pair and group practice. A few times a month, students are given 10 minutes and a current practice song and asked to make it both "look good" AND "sound good".  Not every student has to play every note of the song, but they all have to play something.  Students have added harmony, movement, sound effects, and more to complete their project.

Create a Recorder Station or Center - I try to do centers at least once every other week, if not once a week with my 5th grade recorder students.  About half way through our unit, students have group project to create their own recorder center to practice a specific pitch set.  Some students just adapt a game we have already played, but many take it even further to develop their own game.  We have had a recorder duck pond, relay races, board games, spinners, beach balls, and so many more awesome ideas. After the centers are created, we have a week where we just play each others games! I often steal their ideas to use the following year in my typical stations rotation. 

Hard at work creating our own recorder centers

Improvise and Compose:

Circle Echo - Students improvise a pattern and the class echos.  We do it both facing in the circle, so you can see who is playing/ the fingerings AND facing out so it is more anonymous and students have to use their EARS to echo.  We do this at least once a week, and it is amazing how much more confident students get both in creating and echoing patterns the more we practice.

Partner Patterns - Students get with a partner and create a 3-8 note pattern that they both love. After we play the patterns for each other, each partner set combines with another to create and even longer melody.  Students are SO creative with these! I love when the groups combine and use harmony or alter their patterns a bit to really make them fit together. It is so neat to see their songs evolve as we continue the activity.  You could continue to combine groups until the whole class has written a song together!

Rock Paper Scissors Composition - Rock = B, Paper = A, Scissors = G.  Students create 2 measures of 4/4 (usually) using familiar rhythms.  They then play rock, paper, scissors to fill in the pitches. Each note head = a game so beamed eighth notes would be 2 games of RPS.  After they have written the pitch names under each note, they then transfer their songs to staff notation.

Dice Composition - This works very similar to above, but is great for when students know more than 3 notes.  Students create a rhythm, then roll the dice for the pitches (1=B, 2=A, 3=G, 4=E, etc.)
After their song is created (we usually do two measures of 4/4) they can write the song in staff notation.  I love to project and copy these songs to use in our warm-ups each day! They always come out so interesting!