Famous Bands who started in college

July 28, 2010

A while back I was contacted by Kaitlyn Cole about an article on the Online Universities website.  I was really blown away by who was on the top 10 list including some of my favorites (R.E.M, Pink Floyd, Queen- guess I am dating myself here…)

What a great conversation starter for any general music class or as an answer to the ever present question- why do I need to study music when I have my own “band”?

Check out this great article!


15 Resources for Elementary Music Teachers

February 8, 2010

The web is an excellent resource for music teachers who need free education materials for the elementary classroom. There are a number of sites that offers articles about music education and teaching strategies, lesson plans, classroom tools, children’s songs, fingerplays, and other helpful materials. Here are 15 sites to explore throughout the school year.

MusTech.net – Created by Dr. Prof. Joseph Pisano, this music technology site is a good place for elementary teachers to read about music education, music technology, and music advocacy. Other site features include links to music-related hardware, software, and freeware.

The Lesson Plans Page – HotChalk’s Lesson Plans Page provides hundreds of detailed lesson plans for music teachers. Lessons are available for elementary, middle school, and high schools students.

Teachers.net – More than 100 music-related lesson plans are available for elementary school students at Teachers.net. Lessons are also available for middle school students.

We the Teachers – This social networking site was not created specifically for music teachers, but it is still a good resource for lesson plans and other classroom tools. Teachers can share lesson plans, ideas, and philosophies in the forum and meet other teachers from around the world.

The Children’s Music Network – Created by teachers, musical performers, and parents in the U.S. and Canada, The Children’s Music Network (CMN) is a non-profit organization that shares songs and ideas about children’s music. Teachers can use the CMN site to find classroom resources, view upcoming events, and learn more about organizations that promote children’s music.

NNCC Fingerplays Plus – The NNCC (National Network for Child Care) offers a large selection of fingerplays and rhymes for elementary school children. Suggestions for related activities are also provided.

Judy and David’s Online Songbook – This no-frills website is a good place to find songs for children to sing in the classroom. Hundreds of songs are available on almost every topic imaginable.

Soundpiper – Soundpiper provides free children’s song lyrics and activity suggestions for the classroom. Teachers can also learn more about methods of music instruction and get tips on making homemade instruments.

Music from Across America – Created for grades K-5, this EDSITEment music learning unit introduces students to different instruments and sounds from various cultures and geographic regions. The unit includes multiple lessons, suggested activities, and other materials for the classroom.

Essentials of Music – Essentials of Music is a classical music site with a large glossary, biographies of famous composers, and information about various eras of music. The site also provides audio excerpts of some of the most famous classical music pieces.

Naxos – Naxos, one of the world’s leading classical music labels, offers an enormous glossary of music terminology as well as a basic introduction to classical music and instruments.

Free Kids Music – This site provides free music downloads from independent children’s music artists. There are songs for learning and education and songs for fun and play.

Free Songs for Kids – Sponsored by Songs for Teaching, this music site provides free kids’ music (lyrics and audio), children’s song videos, printable sheet music, and other useful elementary classroom materials.

Music Teachers Blog – The Fun Music Company offers a Music Teachers Blog with free lesson plans, teaching strategies, and other useful resources for elementary music teachers.

Music Teacher’s Helper – This web-based computer program for music teachers tracks lesson schedules, invoices, payments, and more. It is free to use for teachers who have three students or less.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online degree programs for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.


Get “hip” to your kids’ music with playlist and Lala

December 23, 2009

Before the Christmas break, my alternative music class was working on their projects- “covering” their favorite song, learning the tabs (or notation) and preparing a performance for recording. In the past I have always used itunes to download the songs they were working on so that I had a “frame of reference” but even at $.99 it can get a bit pricey ($30 or so for the class). Since I need to have an idea of what the songs they are working on sound like AND I don’t particularly want to add their music to my itunes library (although some of it is pretty good!) I needed to find a site that I could listen without actually downloading (and do it legally!)

Playlist and Lala are social music sites that allow anyone to upload and share music. It’s a great way for you to “get hip” to what your kids are listening to. Not that we get out of touch as we get older :) Try it out by asking your kids to do a journal of what they listen to in a week (journal exercise).  Type the titles into Playlist or Lala and you will get a window into their world- and realize why they swing like a rusty gate in jazz band…

Now- direct them to the “Jazz” category in Lala and do some listening assignments!


A Bloggable Moment: Biggest Compliment EVER!!!!

November 5, 2009

I just finished teaching my Music Theory 1/Ap Music Theory class (that’s right I have both levels in the same class- talk about differentiating instruction!) there are 30 students, and since I had to “convince” my school to offer the class (they won’t open a section with less than 25 students) I had to “take all comers” meaning that there were about 10 students interested in AP, but that is not enough to make a class…

Anyway, on to the compliment…

As you can imagine, I have a WIDE variety of students in this class, but I am basically teaching EVERYONE AP (not “dumbing it down”) there are some VERY CHALLENGING STUDENTS in the class- ones that really couldn’t care less about the finer points of theory…

After class today- one of these “challenging” students came up to me and said:  “You know, you are like that teacher in the movie Dangerous Minds- you are not happy until everyone learns even us dumb kids” I looked him straight in the eye (tearing up a bit) and thanked him.  I told him that that is one of the biggest compliments I could EVER get as a teacher.  He just looked at me like I had two heads.

What a great day!!!!!!!!!


Jemsite: It’s NOT only Rock n’ Roll (and I like it!)

November 2, 2009

Recently I was contacted by the good people over at Jemsite to do an electronic interview.  After checking out their site, I was really impressed!  If you haven’t seen the site yet, you should check it out- they are branching out into music education and (correctly, in my opinion) realizing that music education is changing and growing, crossing boundaries and blurring the lines with popular music.

It is exactly this type of partnership and teamwork that we need as we transform our classrooms to reflect the needed changes for the 21st Century. Students today are interested in more than just the traditional music education delivery model, and as I have said in my posts many times before, we MUST reach the approximately 80% of students walking around our school hallways who are NOT in our music classroom!

What an opportunity to connect and share resources- A HUGE name in guitars like Ibanez certainly commands attention from today’s non-traditional music student seeking to make choices about how to express themselves musically.  How COOL is it that they recognize the importance of what we educators do on a daily basis and want to support our efforts?  This type of partnership is CRITICAL in the coming years as we change the way we view music education!


How to Enhance Your Music Learning Experience

October 4, 2009


It’s something that the experts advocate in order to keep your mind active and sharp, especially as you grow older. Learning how to play a musical instrument is supposed to be as effective as learning a new language in helping to stave off dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses that affect your neurons and the quality of your life when you enter the twilight years. No, it’s not an easy task, especially when most people who are skilled at playing music begin at a very early age and have the advantage of youth on their side. But, if you really want to achieve this goal, here’s how you can enhance and enrich your music learning experience:

  • Choose an instrument that offers easy access: By this, I mean it’s wise to choose to learn an instrument for which instructors are readily available. They must live near you so that it’s easy for you to attend class every day. When you have to go out of your way to continue to learn how to play, you may tire of the experience and give up too soon. Also, choose an instrument that is not too difficult to play and one which you can continue to play on your own long after your lessons come to an end. So if you’re learning to play the piano, it makes sense to own one so that you can practice at home and continue to play regularly.
  • Don’t expect instant results: It’s very hard to master even the most basic of instruments, especially if you’re learning music for the first time. So give yourself enough time and be patient with yourself even if the going is difficult. You are going to feel extremely frustrated when your fingers do not cooperate and you’re unable to grasp even the most basic of chords. But with patience and perseverance, you should be able to make progress, surely but steadily.
  • Practice religiously: This is the most important aspect of learning to play an instrument – you must practice for hours daily whether you want to or not. If you want to gain mastery over or at least know how to decently play an instrument, you must spend at least an hour or two a day practicing what you have learned. Even the most gifted maestros and musicians spend time every day practicing their craft, because they know that practice is what makes perfection. So make it a habit to practice, and watch your playing skills bloom and grow.
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Facebook: potential problems in the classroom

August 18, 2009

Recently, we had a small problem with a student who vented her anger on her facebook page about a problem that happened in the Drum Corps (Marching Band).  Essentially, the student went on a “rant” about a decision that was made at the staff level and proceeded to use profanity as the student verbally attacked both staff and students.

Naturally, all of her “friends” on facebook were notified of the rant when she posted it and proceeded to comment on it creating quite a vitrual melee!

In these days of digital communication, it can be difficult to manage a situation such as this, and points to the urgency for some type of protocol for dealing with this type of discipline issue when it creeps into the school setting.  In this case, the incident happened over the Summer break, and the final resolution was an ultimatum for the student to take down the offensive post and delete all of the comments or face a conference with the school principal to decide on further action.

While removing a post and comments cannot guarantee that the damage will be contained, it is a logical first step.  There must be close monitoring of the situation in case someone else captures the information and makes it available again in an effort to “stir the pot”.

When dealing with the new ways students communicate, it is incumbent on all educators to teach students that the same rules of written and spoken communication apply to digital communication.

In light of this situation, here are a few general guidelines to help in dealing with digital discipline problems:

1. Communicate to students that Facebook and MySpace are NOT digital versions of a diary- there are no locks or secret places to hide potentially damaging and private information.

2. Teach students that the rules for civility and etiquette that apply to face to face and other written and spoken communication apply to their digital counterparts.

3. Institute a policy that discourages and sets consequences for derogatory references to the school or school organization and/or members of the school or organization.  It may be difficult to balance this with their first amendment rights, so be careful and always check with administration on legal matters.

We are entering an exciting and challenging time as digital communication evolves and becomes part of our everyday lives.  It is important that we enter this new era carefully and thoughtfully so that the full potential of all of the incredible technologies can be realized.

If any of you have a similar situation or have comments or suggestions about how to manage digital communication, please share your comments!


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