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”

Using Technology to Boost Student Engagement

This article was originally published in The Woman Conductor Journal, March 2021 issue. While the focus is on band rehearsals, the strategies described will work in nearly any music class or rehearsal. Technology integration is something that many band directors are aware of but are still unsure how to achieve. Especially since the goal in band rehearsals is to make music! However, as we are experiencing rehearsals that appear very different this year, technology is … Continue reading “Using Technology to Boost Student Engagement”

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”

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”

Singing in the Band Room: Adventures in Conversational Solfege

Most band directors would agree that singing is an important part of instrumental music. Most band directors would also agree that this is easier said than done! It wasn’t until I began playing in collegiate ensembles that singing seemed like a natural (and effective) part of the band rehearsal. As a teacher, when asking my students to sing during rehearsal I often felt like something was missing. That we weren’t quite doing it right. The … Continue reading “Singing in the Band Room: Adventures in Conversational Solfege”

Student Jobs in Music Classes

As I work to empower my students, this year I added student jobs in band and orchestra. At the beginning of the year, we talked about responsibility. Everyone has a responsibility to themselves and to the group. With the addition of jobs, students now get to fulfill specific roles during instrumental lessons and rehearsals to help with functionality and team building. For each job, I created a badge with the title and job description and … Continue reading “Student Jobs in Music Classes”