Music Room Ramblings

Look before you buy!

How discerning are you?

There is a current trend to purchase online resources for the classroom. As a Teachers Pay Teachers seller, I am all for this, of course. But just because something is for sale or free online, easy to download, print and use, does not necessarily make it a viable resource for your classroom.

A few things to think about when you purchase a resource you find in places online like Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers—

  • Check the seller's credentials.
  • Ask yourself, How long this person has been teaching? Does he/she have enough experience in the classroom to be sharing activities?
  • Has the seller actually used the product in his/her classroom and knows it will work? 
  • Look at the Preview. Is it visually correct for your students? Easy to read? Clear directions? Based on the standards?
There are many sellers who are great at creating cute games, visuals, activities, and other resources and quickly making these available. However, they may not have not been used or tested in the classroom.

Sellers have actually dropped out of the classroom after 5 years or less to go into full-time creating and selling. Why? Because there's a market for quick, cute activities that require little preparation. And the saddest part? They have thousands of followers.

Experienced educators know that when an activity is introduced, many times it needs to be tweaked and revised before it provides a solid, learning experience for the students. However, in today's world of instant gratification, teachers think nothing of spending $5.00 on an activity, and if it doesn't work, no big loss, right?

I am seeing more and more products for the elementary music classroom that will actually hinder student's learning experiences.

I copied the following rhythms straight from cards being sold online. Do you see anything wrong with them?


Importance of Spacing! 

In this post, I'm going to talk about one specific issue—music notation.  

I'm seeing too many resources with poorly notated music.

Everything you put in front of children should be in its correct form. How much more difficult would it be for students to learn to read or write correctly if their teachers used printed materials that looked like these 2 examples? Or the first one time and the second the next time?

 h   e  l l o      m y    nam  e   i   s  sA  m.


He  l   lo,  m   y   n   am  e    i s   SA  m . 

Spacing matters!

The correct reading and interpretation of printed words or notated music are highly dependent on spacing. The above examples of simple rhythms and simple sentences require concentration re-focusing your eyes, and over-thinking what you are seeing. What should be easily spoken or clapped becomes difficult and frustrating, especially to a new learner!

So why do we think it's OK to use poorly notated music cards, songs, and activities?

In reality, we are doing the same thing. The visual representation of music is a very important part of teaching the language of music. Check out the post I wrote about notation is Sticks vs Noteheads. Another example of how to teach children to read music through age-appropriate and sequential learning experiences.

How much do you know about music typography? Do you know the importance of the spacing of notes both vertically and horizontally. Probably not. But music publishing companies can easily explain that these are extremely important to a musician. They have done the research.

Vocalists, conductors, accompanists, and pianists read scores with multiple staves both horizontally and vertically, while many other instrumentalists only read horizontally. Because of this, music typographers know how to space music accordingly.

Correct music notation is a visual and also an aesthetic art that most musicians take for granted.

With the advent of technology, musicians and music educators now have access to notating software. Anyone can play music into a microphone or through midi devices and presto! You can generate printed music. But is it visually correct? NO!! And many times, so difficult to read, that performers struggle.

I won't bore you with the reasons that music notation that is electronically generated is actually not what is best for the reading of music. Suffice it to say that our eyes trick us and when something is perfectly spaced according to beats, etc., we see optical illusions that prevent us from accurately interpreting rhythms correctly. There are very few music typographers left who know and practice this art.

Please be a discerning buyer! Research, do your homework. Be careful about taking the easy road. Your children deserve nothing less than the best. And the best is out there! Make the right choice!

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