Creativity With Composing Pieces

At the beginning of last school year I knew regardless of the teaching modality – virtual, hybrid, or some combination of the two – I wanted to expose my students to a variety of diverse music and composers. I also knew that incorporating student creativity was very important. After some research I found Jodie Blackshaw’s piece, 13 Moons, which fit both categories perfectly. 13 Moons: Four Composing Pieces for Wind Bands of All Ages was … Continue reading “Creativity With Composing Pieces”

Use Student Leaders to Empower Your Musicians

Many music teachers look back at their own school music experience and have fond memories of being a student leader. They may have been a section leader, a drum major, or a concertmaster. Typically, leadership roles are given to the most experienced musicians, and it’s an honor to hold the title. While these positions are important for many reasons, musical and otherwise, it’s important to remember that student leaders can exist outside the high school … Continue reading “Use Student Leaders to Empower Your Musicians”

Top Five Blog Posts of 2020

Each December I like to look back at the blog to reflect on the year. Which posts were the most read? When was I most consistent in publishing? Were there any noticeable themes? Given the events of the year, it’s no surprise that a big focus was technology and almost all blog posts incorporated that in some way! Many music teachers were looking for ideas and support in this area as instruction was forced online. … Continue reading “Top Five Blog Posts of 2020”

Increase Ownership Through Score Study

As a band director, I love studying new pieces of music. It was one of my favorite things while working towards my master’s degree in instrumental wind conducting. I enjoy digging into a new piece to discover its nuances and details. Dedicating time to score study increases my capacity to teach the piece to my students effectively and efficiently. Score study often comes to mind as I think about how my middle school band students … Continue reading “Increase Ownership Through Score Study”

Getting Started with Google Jamboard

I see the irony that my last post was about understanding your WHY in the classroom prior to determining your WHAT, and today I am starting another series on specific tech tools. However, with the school year beginning soon in many parts of the US, I know getting information about these tools will be helpful to many music teachers. With distancing recommendations, I believe technology will play a large role in any teaching situation, remote … Continue reading “Getting Started with Google Jamboard”

Don’t Ask What, Ask Why

Last week my school district made what I’m sure was a tough decision: we will start the year virtually. While I know there are many viewpoints on this subject, I’m not here to debate them, I feel relieved that I can now make plans for this upcoming, unprecedented, school year. A lot of the content on social media related to virtual and distance learning has to do with the latest and greatest tools. And this … Continue reading “Don’t Ask What, Ask Why”

Playing an Infinite Game

One of my favorite things in the summer is to catch up on all the books I purchased during the school year and didn’t have time to read. I buy them with the best intentions, but it will often take weeks or even months to finish reading one book. In March, right before the world locked down for COVID-19, I saw Simon Sinek speak in Washington D.C. Simon Sinek is the author of several well-known … Continue reading “Playing an Infinite Game”

From a Distance: Let Students Create

Over the last few weeks I’ve said several times that trying to recreate our classrooms while distance learning isn’t where we should put our energy. The two aren’t the same, especially considering the fact that this isn’t exactly “distance learning” – it’s attempting education during a pandemic. Instead, we should Focus on What We Can Do right now. We can try new things, experiment, and give students the opportunity to take ownership of their music … Continue reading “From a Distance: Let Students Create”

From a Distance: Giving Students Voice and Choice

In my last blog post, Focus on What We Can Do, I discussed how during distance learning we cannot try to replicate everything we did in our classrooms. It’s not the same and we can’t try to make it that way. Instead, by focusing on what we can do now, there are numerous ways we can empower students so they still have meaningful musical experiences. Providing opportunities for voice and choice is one of the … Continue reading “From a Distance: Giving Students Voice and Choice”

Focus on What We Can Do

Many of us have been in this new “distance learning” phase for a few weeks now – or as A.J. Juliani calls it “emergency remote learning.” Whatever term you use, we’re discovering that it’s not the same. We can’t replicate what happens in our classrooms online. And that’s ok. I think instead we need to focus on what we can do with this time. School vs. Learning In 2014, George Couros published a blog post … Continue reading “Focus on What We Can Do”