Music Room Ramblings

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What do I do with 4th - 6th grade students who refuse to pay attention?

Engaging Older Students at the Beginning of the Year

Obviously, you cannot teach if you don't have your students' attention. Do not fight for it, do not beg for it. Expect it and reward it. You are in charge. Be firm, loving and consistent. 

Your students, no matter what age, need boundaries, desperately. If you don't set them immediately, they will push until they defeat you, And, believe it or not, that's not really what they want. 

At the beginning of the year, students don't know everyone and they are vying for the attention from their peers, and for their position in their class.  Take a deep breath. You are older, more experienced, and smarter than they are! You can do it!


Here are a few ideas that worked for me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Absolutely Blown Away!!

Over 50 items! 

When an item is sold on TpT, the seller is notified via email. Monday, August 21, Eclipse Day, I thought it was a mistake of the galaxy when my phone started making a weird sound. So I checked my email and was convinced there was a mistake because there were so many emails from TpT. I just knew something was wrong.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

You Did the Same Thing to Begin Every Class?

Wasn't that boring?

Nope! Not at all.

I know there's a big push for "bell ringers" and "starter" activities. But children love consistency, knowing what to expect, and being successful. They also love to show off their skills. Working together as a group is a great way for them to experience that feeling of ensemble performing.

Repetition and Reinforcement

How do you start each class? I never changed my plan for over 30 years. And . . . it worked. Following is the method I used.


I began with echo-clapping when kindergartners came in the first day. After a very brief greeting, I told them to be my echo when I pointed at them. I would say and point to myself, "My turn," and clap four

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Assessments in Music—Are You Kidding?

 Nope, not at all!


Assessments, Accountability, and Integrity in Teaching Music

When I first began teaching music, it was because music was not offered in the elementary schools in Nashville, "Music City USA," and I wanted my daughter to have a good foundation in music education. So I volunteered to teach, for FREE!

I quickly realized that teaching just her class was not going to work because the following year she would not be with the same students. Other students from other classes would be mixed in. I would then be teaching students who had had a year of music and others who were brand new.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Back-to-Back Classes Driving You Crazy?

Have a Consistent Learning Activity at the Beginning of Every Class

A little background . . . 

When I first began teaching, I made a set of rhythm cards and a set of melody cards both of which were levels K-4th grade. I would frantically pull cards out and/or put them back in as a new grade level entered the room. 

Finally, it occurred to me that I needed a separate set for each grade level. Duh!! 

And then I had the even more brilliant idea to color-code these cards using a different color for each grade. Bingo!! The students instantly recognized their colors, I used the same colors for their vocabulary words and Word Walls. I cannot stress enough how

Monday, August 7, 2017

And This Is Why I Am Directionally Challenged!

When speaking to an audience or teaching a classroom full of children, do you gesture left to right OR right to left? 

A long time ago, I learned from a child psychologist that any time you stand in front of a group of students, you should "mirror" all of your hand motions. And even though that's difficult, I learned how, and the results are amazing.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Be Careful! Don't Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water!

Textbooks & CDs—Keep or Toss?

Many new teachers walk into their first music classroom and are confronted with a collection of textbooks and CDs (maybe even LPs and cassette tapes). The dilemma is—what to do with these?

Warning! I'm old school. Well, let's just say, I'm old. And retired. But I used the books and CDs long before iPods, and actually long before CDs.

Yep, I used records. For those of you who are not familiar, those are the black circuluar vinyl disks that are put on another circular contraption that goes 'round and 'round when turned on called a turntable and you pull an arm thing over that has a needle on it so it will play. Imagine that?!! 


I moved right along with progress and was the first in our school to have and use a computer. A little Apple Plus, I think. After that, I was thrilled when the iPod came out, purchased one, and immediately loaded all the CDs into iTunes and used a very nice Bose speaker doc and remote (most of which I paid for myself). I had a SmartBoard, projector, and all the bells and whistles. 


But, I always used the books. I feel it's very important for children to have their very own book in