Thanksgiving Concert: A Fun Project for Instrumentalists

November 2021 – this post has been updated! Check out some new ideas on how to complete this project. I started doing the Thanksgiving Concert project a few years ago with my band and orchestra students. While I don’t believe in giving “homework” over long breaks, it is great when students can still play their instruments during that time. The Thanksgiving Concert is a completely optional, yet fun, way to achieve this. I encourage the … Continue reading “Thanksgiving Concert: A Fun Project for Instrumentalists”

Conversational Solfege – But Can They Read Music?

This post is a few month overdue, but as the sayings go, “better late than never” and “better published than perfect!” Previously I wrote about a new (to me) method I was incorporating with my beginning band and orchestra students, Conversational Solfege. The Conversational Solfege method is based on the concept, sound before sight. Students are taught to be musical from day one, but reading music is not the primary focus right away. If you … Continue reading “Conversational Solfege – But Can They Read Music?”

The Snowball Fight – A Music Composition Strategy

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a music composition strategy I tried with my beginning instrumental music students called a “snowball fight.” It’s commonly used in academic classes, but was the perfect fit for music writing as well! Yes, I realize it’s the end of May and almost summer vacation, but this is a great time to try it! If you’re interested, here’s what Discovery Education says about it – SOS: Snowball Fight. The Snowball … Continue reading “The Snowball Fight – A Music Composition Strategy”

Five More Ideas to Try After a Concert

Last year around this time I shared the post, Five Ideas to Try After a Concert. That post was one of the top-read in 2018, inspiring me to add five more fun activities. While the title says “after a concert,” in reality, you do not have to wait. They would be great for anytime you need something different to do – before a break, during testing time, you name it. Here are five more ideas … Continue reading “Five More Ideas to Try After a Concert”

Student-Centered Performances

In a performance-based class it may seem challenging to empower students and create a learner-centered environment. Musical ensembles are director-let by nature. Shifting focus to the students is not impossible, but it requires an open mind and careful planning to make it happen! Here are four ways you can create student-centered ensembles and performances. Student Choice in Repertoire I don’t know if others are like this, but one of my favorite things is programming repertoire! I love … Continue reading “Student-Centered Performances”

Connected Music Students: Skype With a Composer

I’ve written before about how I believe empowered music students should be connected. The word connect, as opposed to collaborate, is intentional. I agree that it’s important for students to collaborate; it is a skill necessary for the 21st-century. But too often people hear the word collaborate and assume that means just with peers. Students working with other students. While this is something I advocate for, I don’t think it can be the end. Students … Continue reading “Connected Music Students: Skype With a Composer”

Personalized Learning Tidbits

Last week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning (MACPL). As a member of the Personalized Learning Design Team in Arlington County, this was very exciting! Last year I wrote about my work with Personalized Learning in music a few times. While I haven’t written about it in a while, it’s still something I work to incorporate in my classes. For those new to Personalized Learning, iNACOL defines it as: “Tailoring learning for each … Continue reading “Personalized Learning Tidbits”

MIOSM for Empowered Music Students

Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSMĀ®) is a great time for educators to showcase the fantastic things happening within their music programs. Throughout March, music departments all over the country put extra effort into making music front and center in their districts. This year I’m going to ask you to take that one step further. During MIOSM, instead of just making sure your program is front and center, I want you to make sure your … Continue reading “MIOSM for Empowered Music Students”

Apps for Beginning Band and Orchestra

It’s no secret; I am a fan of technology in education! All of my 4th and 5th-grade students have school-issued iPads. I enjoy using the iPads in my elementary band and orchestra classes and have found several apps that work well in this setting. While I would never advocate for using technology exclusively in an instrumental music class (they need to play the instruments, right?) it can be a great supplement. Here are my favorite … Continue reading “Apps for Beginning Band and Orchestra”

Organizing Multiple Ensembles

Anyone who conducts multiple ensembles or prepares for multiple performances knows it can be challenging to keep track of every group. What was covered during rehearsal?  What sections need more work? When were run-throughs were executed? The list goes on. Personally, I teach four separate ensembles during the school week – 4th-grade band, 4th-grade orchestra, 5th-grade band, and 5th-grade orchestra. Also, this winter I am also directing the County Junior Honors Band, and I work … Continue reading “Organizing Multiple Ensembles”