Music Room Ramblings

Sunday, December 21, 2014

New Release!

Check it out! The release of "What Wondrous Love" from Jared DePasquale's amazing project, "Awake The Dawn: The Story of Advent." This first release by Scarlet Tapestry is just a preview of an incredibly moving and authentic journey through Scripture. The blends of Rock, Arabic, and Celtic styles into a sonic tapestry of ancient advent hymns and original songs transcends the imagination. Other folks involved have been Terry Christian, a Grammy nominated engineer, Michael Omartian (3-Time Grammy winner) and our own Somerlie. Jared just happens to be our son-in-law and we are very proud!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Unit 2 Lesson Plans
Finally! Finished Unit 2. This set of 6 lesson plans has everything you need for Oct.-Nov.-Dec. Based on the standards, it has extensive instructions for teaching songs, activities, games, and dances. You will also find posters, assessments, program suggestions, recorder lessons, and much more. 

The Lesson Plans for a Year set, that I posted when I first retired 3 years ago, has been a huge success, but many people have expressed to me that they do not have access to the materials and resources that I have referenced in my lessons. I totally understand that frustration. I, too, started out with nothing. I borrowed an Autoharp and taught as a volunteer on the stage in the cafeteria. 

It can be done. And it can be done well.

But the great thing is you don't have to reinvent the wheel. The reason it's taking me so long to complete these units is because I'm trying to find as many of the songs and music as I can for those of you who do not have books, CDs, or other materials in your classroom. You can conduct a quality music program for under $100 and by doing so, you will gain the respect and support of other teachers and especially the parents. 

Write grants. When parents or friends ask what they can do to help or what do you need, tell them to buy a drum, a glockenspiel, lummi sticks, etc.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Program Dilemma

You may be required/asked to provide programs on a regular basis for PTA meetings or other functions. Be careful about always saying, YES. New teachers often fall into this trap and once begun, it’s hard to get out of it short of transferring to a new school!

Programs are great and can be a wonderful learning experience for your students. But do not sacrifice the integrity of your music education program to rehearse. I discovered that I needed to gently teach the adults—administrators, teachers, parents—what music education is all about. Preparing for performance and performing all the time is not best for elementary age children, especially the younger ones. Educating adults was an on-going process. But the results were SUPPORT from all sides!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What Folks Are Saying . . .

October 25, 2014

October 24, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Units, Standards, and Lesson Plans

Units and lesson plans should be designed with an end goal in mind and should be based on the National Standards for Elementary Music. If your district does not have Pacing Guides or Curriculum Maps, then it’s your responsibility to make your own. You must never sacrifice your integrity and professionalism as a teacher by just providing random fun songs and activities with no thought to your purpose and the music education of your students.

I have been working very hard on re-writing my "Lesson Plans for a Year" item. A few years before I retired, I was known to comment that I could do my lessons in my sleep. While not entirely true or even wise, my lesson plans on paper were pretty skimpy at best. All I had to do was look at the title of a song and I knew why it was there and what needed to be done. That's the beauty of 30-years' experience. 

When I posted these on Teachers Pay Teachers, I realized that I needed to be a lot more detailed for the new teachers. So that's exactly what I'm doing. And, oh, my goodness, it's taking a long time! But these lessons will be worth it when I'm through. Because so many of you do not have access to the wealth of materials and resources that I was blessed to have, I am providing links, song sheets, and very detailed descriptions of the activities that worked for me through the years. 

I've been so excited about this set of plans that I couldn't wait to share. So I've put Lesson 1, Unit 2, on Teachers Pay Teachers as a FREE download. Grab it quickly because when I have completed Unit 2, I'm going to remove it. 

Check it out and I think you'll find everything you need to create your own fabulous lessons based on the standards.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

4th, 5th, and 6th graders

What do you do with the older grades? I've had several people ask me for help with those grades through the years and especially for the 5th-6th graders.

Many school districts have K-5th grades in their elementary schools. Mine did not until 3-4 years ago. They added 5th grade to a few of the elementary schools. It was not successful. So now the district in Nashville is back to K-4th for elementary, 5th-8th for middle, and 9th-12th for high school.

That explains why most of my items posted on TPT are for K-4th grades. At one point,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Word Walls in the Music Classroom

Several years ago, because of the need to incorporate literacy into all subject areas, music teachers found themselves confronted with mandated vocabulary words and the need to create word walls. This was a good thing.

Of course, I created my own set of vocabulary cards and printed these on colored card stock to match the grade level colors for the rhythm flash cards. I actually had so many requests, that I began printing these for other teachers in our district.

And it was amazing! Students who transferred from one school to another, were so excited when they entered my room to see the same colors and cards that they had been using in their former school. And then we took it a step further and the PE and art teachers began using the same colors too! Students could quickly find their word walls and the teachable moments were increased tremendously.

The way I used my vocabulary flash cards was to place new words that I was going to introduce on the board. After I felt like the students understood the words, I would then move them to their word wall. It was fun for me and also the students to look at the progression of learning from grade to grade. For example, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders could look at the K-1st grade words and see that they first learned the words, loud and soft, and now know that the musical terms are forte and piano. 

 These are pictures of my room and word walls.

I used doors and whatever wall space I could find. I kept the Kindergarten and First Grade walls close to the front.

This is how to make those reading, vocabulary, and literacy connections. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Work Smarter, Not Harder! How to Manage Flash Cards

Many years ago, I made myself a set of rhythm and melody flash cards. As I'm sure you'll understand, my classes at that time were 30 minutes in length, I had 10 classes a day, and they were back to back. My schedule would invariably be different each day. I might have a 4th grade, a 2nd grade, then a Kindergarten class, and so on.

I started each class with echo-clapping and singing. And then I would use the flash cards to reinforce music reading skills at all grade levels. Every class was a scramble for me to add to and/or remove the cards that were or were not needed for that particular grade level.

Then one day, I had a brainstorm! I designed a set for each grade level. Imagine that! And each grade had their own color for the rhythm and vocabulary cards. The melody cards were all white but were also very grade-level specific.

I found the greatest notebook dividers for my cards. They are clear and have pockets. I used a stapler to divide the pockets so the cards would stay put. Look closely and you can see the staples. This is a picture of the kindergarten melody and rhythm cards.

Then I found another great pocket divider for the vocabulary and symbol cards.

These had an extra pocket for a CD insert that I used for the symbol cards which fit perfectly.

I could now set up my cards for all grade levels in my lesson plan notebook and just quickly flip to whichever grade was coming into the room next.

And, believe me, the kids loved the color coding of the cards. Especially the vocabulary cards. 

Fantastic plan! Why didn't I think of that sooner?

Rhythm Flash Card Bundle, K-4(5)
Melody Flash Card Bundle, K-4(5)
Vocabulary Word Flash Card Bundle, K-5
Symbol Flash Card Bundle, 2-5

Question from customer

QUESTION: Hi Janis, I just bought your lessons, which look very extensive to say the least, however I am thinking that it must be crucial to have the resources that you used to go along with them, i.e.(CD books ext) any suggestions?

ANSWER: It is helpful to have the resources but not crucial. You can take the standards and ideas and substitute your own resources. Actually, most of the recordings, songs, and resources are folk tunes and PD things that you can probably find on iTunes. I've had several folks who have made similar observations and who have also said they are taking the suggestions, templates, and using whatever they have on hand. For example, if you're teaching the Virginia Reel, there are countless YouTube videos/tunes that will help with that.


Inspiration for the New School Year

Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Positive Behavior Meter

Tired of raising your voice? Tired of students talking when they should be listening? Try the Behavior Meter! This is a great way to motivate students to listen, cooperate, and participate. 
It's the best and most successful behavior plan I used in my 30+ years of teaching. And it's so simple. Included in the download are the instructions for assembling the Behavior Meter, Creating the Behavior Chart, and how to effectively and successfully use the plan. 
Although I used this plan in my elementary music classroom, it works just as well in any other classroom also. My husband uses it with his middle school band. 
Check it out at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.