Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Choir Music I Love - 1

Monday, September 21, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

MATCH 2015 - Music and Technology Concert - Houston - See you there!

Click on the picture to read all about this new and exciting event!  


Monday, August 17, 2015

It's that time again!

Check out my latest blog post just in time for the beginning of school at 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 Word Wall Update - Complete!

Hey everyone!  

I've finally finished ALL 10 sets of the 2015 update of the word wall words.  

To download everything, check out MELODYSOUP.COM

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Word Wall - Set 5 - Symphony instruments

The new and improved set 5 of the word wall is here! In the previous version of my word wall all of the instruments were included in one set without any sorting. For the 2015 edition, I've sorted the instruments into 3 types. Here is the new and improved set of symphony instruments.
There are two versions of the word wall. The first is intended to be printed on 8.5x11 card stock and does not include the colorful background. The second version is intended to be printed on 3x11.5 sentence strips which depending on how the supplies work at your school may be easier to get a hold of than regular card stock. I first learned about printing on sentence strips from pinterest. Please visit the awesome blog that provided those very detailed and useful instructions click at "A Turn to Learn" .
The pictures give an example of each sub group of words. Don't be fooled by the pictures. The height of each word and most font sizes are identical throughout the entire collection. The clip art I used came from the following sites: MSN clipart, ICLIPART, Clip Art ETC, WP Clipart .
world instruments picture
symphonic instruments
The words contained in set 5 include:

bass drum
double bass
english horn
french horn
snare drum
world instruments picture

 Word Wall pictures - dynamics and tempo

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Teaching Music 101 - Instructional Road Mapping for Music Teachers part 2

 1. Synchronize your calendar with your instructional rotation.
Your schedule will vary significantly depending on how often you see your students.  In my 16 years of teaching I have taught within a variety of rotations including a 3 day rotation, a 4 day rotation, a 6 day rotation.  I currently teach with a 4 day rotation.   The first thing I do when I get my school calendar is write little numbers 1-4 in the corner of each school day.  Then I can figure out how many rotations or lessons I will have to plan each semester.   When you take this first step, watch out for school holidays, teacher in-service and testing days.  Some schools choose to cancel music class on testing days, others don't. There are other special days when music is canceled for everyone. Your team leader or your principal can let you know if you must skip a class on those days or if the schedule just picks up where you left off.  For example, my school doesn't have music on field day.  So if "day 2" was supposed to come to music on Field Day, then they just come to music the day after instead.   I typically teach 15-16 rotations in the fall and 16-17 rotations in the spring and have included a little square in the corner of each day so that I can jot down who i teach on a given day.  The chart that I use is in my planner.  I printed it and had it spiral bound.  When I look at my kindergarten row I can see 4 rotations at once.

2.  Start with the first day
Procedures, movement activities, name games, more games, music literacy review, picture books and more procedures. After Road Mapping you will want to take the time to write good lesson plans, but not now... Now just write down a grocery list of things you want to include or sudden inspiration that you don't want to forget.  If you already know where to find a resource, great!  However, if you don't know, or if you need to create it, it might be a good idea to highlight what is needed in yellow so you won't forget that it doesn't exist.  Although this isn't a lesson plan, try not to get caught in the trap of writing one word for each grade level.... Although the lessons I will ultimately plan for the first day of school could certainly be summarized as "First Day Procedures" if that is all I write down for rotation one, I will miss out on an opportunity to brainstorm.  After all,  first day of kinder doesn't look anything like  first day of 2nd grade or 5th grade and yours won't either.  Road maps are a great place to start figuring out HOW each grade level will be different even when you are teaching similar standards in more than one grade level.

3. Squeeze your curriculum into your road map
Using either your district scope and sequence or your national or state standards, it's time to begin placing concepts into your road map.  I include objectives, songs and activities and materials.     If you need ideas about how to teach a particular objective I highly recommend using, music blogs, Pinterest, Google, and Youtube.    If you an get into your new school, go raid the closet and either plan in your new classroom without A/C OR ask if you can take some of the materials home to study.  This is one of those times that all of the Kodaly and Orff training will really pay off because even if you have nothing else, you know where to start.   I typically end up starting with kindergarten because there are fewer standards and starting with the simple ideas sort of warms up my brain for summer.  Remember to review last years material at the beginning of the year.  Building in time to assess and review concepts that should have been learned last year is critical when you are new to a school because you can't assume that the students remember what should have been taught last year.

4. Consider your day across grade levels
It would probably be best if you avoided a day that includes barred instruments with kinder, risers with 3rd and square dancing with 5th, especially if those classes happen immediately following one another.  While quick changes are often necessary and keep us teachers from getting bored or "ear-weary", road mapping offers an opportunity to look at your day as a whole and plan it so that you can get through it with a smile rather than a grimace. Do you have time in your schedule to make a quick switch?  OR, would it be best for you to group your days so that there are times when more than one grade level can use the same resources?  I don't keep the risers in my room, so when it's time for the 3rd grade to start using them , I schedule time to teach my kindergarten students how to be on them safely and then we choose activities that are not complicated by the risers.

5.  Accommodate for performances
My 3rd graders perform in November.  Depending on how often you see your students in can take anywhere from one to two months to prepare and execute a performance.  Because my 3rd graders always perform in November, we are able to anticipate this and add some 3rd grade concepts to the end of 2nd grade.  Also, at the beginning of 3rd grade we make sure that even our first day of school activities are slightly accelerated and we work hard to ensure that our performances are curricular rich so that when our 3rd graders come back after their Thanksgiving holiday they are ready to finish out the first semester well and truly prepared for 3rd grade music in January.  Our performances are on Thursdays and our teammates who teach PE and Art are gracious enough to give us Monday-Wednesday to do full grade level rehearsals.  How much time is needed for full grade level rehearsals is entirely dependent upon access to the stage and the complexity of the performance.  You may need anywhere from 3-5 days with the entire grade level.  In my road map for a grade level that has a performance I include when each song will be introduced, when each will be choreographed (if needed), when auditions for speaking parts will occur, when costumes will be sized by volunteers, when everything will be memorized and when the grade level rehearsals will occur.  There is even a day when we take a few minutes to assign a place on the risers for each child.

If you would like a copy of my performance planner you can download it for free HERE

Another thing I do to ensure that I have space in my brain left over for preparing for each performance is that I intentionally plan low key composer study, listening lessons for each grade level who is not performing the week before and the week of the performance.  Find something, anything, centers, composing with ipads, rhythm scavenger hunts... the history of jazz, whatever,  that is easy that also has solid instructional integrity for those weeks.  I choose composer study and listening skills for those rotations.  Trust me, those will be the weeks when you are most distracted by your "to-do" list, are most likely to have administration stop by and most tempted to just throw in the towel and put on a video.... Don't do it!  Plan well and teach your 5th graders to adore Bach while you have volunteers sorting props in the back of the room and a parent on the phone with an emergency. Plus, if you get pulled from your room because the custodian has a question about the chairs, your door neighbor can keep an eye on your engaged students.   You can do it and do it well IF you have a plan!  It starts with a road map!

6.  Like Peanut Butter and Jelly
As you go through your curriculum and place it on your road map, you will start having to make decisions.  You may notice that there aren't enough lessons in your schedule to give a dedicated day to each of your objectives.  This is when planning gets fun!  Brainstorm ways of combining objectives creatively.   Songs are not made up of only one element of music, and neither should our lessons.  Make room in your road map to spiral, review, apply, assess, and label everything that you are doing.  Your students may be ready to assess dynamics and be introduced to tempo on the same day.  Additionally, in order to keep my students engage and to reinforce skills that need daily practice I try to include a singing name game, a singing gross motor game , a music listening / movement, playing instruments, music reading and writing in every lesson.  I may skip one here or there but I fit in as many as possible no matter what the lesson.   I am also intentional about integrating other subject areas into my teaching  technology, language arts, math, social studies and science are all included in my road map wherever I can anticipate that they would be a good fit.   The road map keeps me on track with things might slip under the radar and my students would loose out.

7.  Pacing is Everything 
As a new teacher I think it would be FANTASTIC to have all of the objectives and idea about what you'd like to teach all laid out before the first day of school.  However, especially this year it might be wise to make a few short term goals.  First try to road map just for the first grading period 6-9 weeks.  If your district has laid out a clear scope and sequence for you, then it's easier, but I promise, even if you find yourself in a situation where you are starting from scratch, the investment that you give today in really digging into the standards and figuring out what to teach will pay off in huge ways for your students AND this process will get easier. I promise!   If you choose to only look ahead 9 weeks, plan on sitting down with your road map kit and cup of coffee every 4 weeks or every time progress reports go home.  One advantage to this plan would be that your road map would be based on the reality of the students you are teaching rather than the students you thought you would have.  Believe me, By the third week of school you will know tons and tons and tons more about what you are doing than you do right now.

8.  Use it! 
If you don't use it, then you will miss out on a great tool!  Use it to stay 3 weeks ahead on your lesson plans.  Use it to keep track of what materials you need to gather and create for upcoming lessons. Use it to keep track of who has been taught what.  - Those 4 squares with the 1,2,3,4 on my template are for exactly that.  I write down the date of when I teach the lesson mentioned.    When I was a young teacher, the art teacher at my school kept a tracking chart by her desk.  She would write down the progress that each class made on a given lesson so that when they came back she would know where they were in the lesson.  When you teach the same lesson to multiple classes, it is very easy to loose track of what you have done and what you've missed.  If you look closely at the pictures I've included in this post, you'll noticed that under the number 4 I wrote FD.  That is because I know that on that day there will be fire drill during first grade.  I also know that there will be an assembly on that day so I wrote the letter A instead of the date.  That tells me that I need to fit in that first lesson with my 1st and 2nd grade classes on Day 4.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Teaching Music 101 - Instructional Road Mapping for Music Teachers - Part 1 - Free Downloads!


You've got your first job as a music teacher at an elementary school!  Now what?  

It's July, so that means that in about two breathes you will be standing in front of your very first set of students.  Your first year of teaching will be a wild and exciting ride.  However, if you choose to take the time to road map, I can't guarantee that you will end up exactly where you plan, but at least you will have a chosen destination.  

What is an instructional road map?  

  • A road map is a tool that lots of teachers use to keep the on track so that when they sit down to write lesson plans they don't forget where they are in the curriculum.
  • A road map is a document  you will look at periodically and adjust often.  Think of it as a sort of instructional grocery list of things that you want to remember to include in your time with students. 
  • A road map is not a lesson plan.    Besides the fact that road maps aren't very detailed, many school district have an online lesson plan tool where teachers are expected to write and share their lesson plans. Lesson plans  and grade books are  legal documents that are kept by your district and can be audited for up to 5 years.   Road maps work as a sort of draft for your lesson plans.   
  • A road map is not set in concrete.  Instructional road maps, particularly in music are heavily influenced by existing calendars, performance schedules that you develop with your principal, and unforeseen changes like fire drills and author visits.  With that in mind, plan to create your road map with some wiggle room to allow for interruptions, reteaching and reviews. 

Why should I create an instructional road map? 
  • You should do your best to road map because as a new teacher you may find it difficult to come up with ideas.  There is nothing worse than trying to come up with last minute ideas when you don't have a deep reservoir of experience and materials  to draw from.  Road mapping will help you set aside some time to get ahead of the rush and allow you to be thoughtfully creative rather than perpetually panicked.  Road maps are organized places to keep your ideas.  When you have one, put it in your road map.   
  • You should become a "mapper" because as a newbie you may find that you forget what comes next.  If you have your preferred rhythm teaching sequence included in your road map then you won't accidentally miss dotted half notes. 
  • You should road map so that you don't become a rabbit chaser. Time is precious and the opportunity to do your best first teach is limited.  Don't waste them by chasing rabbits.  It may be tempting but trust me, your 5th graders don't need to become a Sondheim experts...... A taste of Sondheim that fits into the curriculum well and that is appropriate? Perhaps... but watching  "Into the Woods" with 5th grade because you've run out of ideas in May would be questionable and definitely a rabbit....
  • When used properly, you can adjust your road map to fit the outcomes of your instruction.  It's a great place to keep track of how your lessons actually went.  Where your students able to demonstrate their knowledge?  What went really well in that lesson?  What do you want to remember to do differently next year?  Who missed the lesson?  When will I fit that lesson in with my Day 4 class? 

When possible I also suggest planning with a buddy.  An experienced music teacher can save you hours.  However, if you are a music teacher who is on your own don't be afraid.... You can do this!

You will need:...
  • a school calendar -  If you are new, your principal or team leader may already have performance dates set for you,   If your new school is waiting on your input, creating a road map will be invaluable tool as you form your own opinion about what you would like to do.   
  • instructional schedule - How many times do you see your students within a given week?  If you aren't sure, your team leader or principal may be able to provide this information. Your instructional schedule more than anything else will inform the pace of your road map.  
  • national or state music standards - As a new graduate, these may be more familiar for you than anything your district may provide, so this document is especially vital if you don't have any curriculum from your district.  
  • scope and sequence, - Most districts have developed their own based on the state or national standards.  The most recent versions often exist on your district server which you will eventually have access to even if you don't yet.... However, if you have access to your classroom, there is probably an older version on the top shelf of the old musty closet in the corner.  It might not be up to date, but at the core, the changes are not THAT huge and there may be enough there to at least get you started... Once you get your hands onto the current version you can easily update and I'm certain you won't be far off. 
  • a pencil with a big eraser
  • resources - blogs, teachers editions, music teacher friends, Youtube, class notes, Pinterest, Orff and Kodaly goodies that you made in college.  
  • Someplace to write - a spiral notebook will do, but you are welcome to use one of the forms HERE.  
You can also download the road mapping templates HERE.  
These templates can also be used in conjunction with the melodysoup.com music planner which can be found and downloaded for free HERE.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

2015 - Word Wall Words!

I hope that you are getting plenty of rest this summer!  

I am!  I am taking it really easy and spending time with the friends and family that I never get to see because most of the time I am so busy.  

While I relax I am updating my word wall words!  

Here is a link to all four sets that have been published so far.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Soaking Up Summer! - 6 strategies to having a refreshing and useful summer experience

1.  Soak up the Silence - or at least the almost silence

My ears get weary....  So my favorite thing to do during the summertime is to enjoy silence.  Turn off the TV, turn off the music, put away your ever present devices and do something surrounded by quiet.  If you have a family at home with you, your best avenue for comparative silence might be a walk in the park, or a trip to the playground or the library, but whatever you do, find sometime to rest your tired ears.

2.  If chores are necessary, do the ones that are relaxing first

I am starting this summer by organizing all of my audio files.  It's time consuming, and repetitive work that I can accomplish while enjoying my favorite coffee at Starbucks or while snuggled in my recliner with my favorite TV series.  I like chores like this because when I am finished I feel like I've done something important that will make my life easier without sacrificing the slower and less demanding pace of summer

3.  Read!

Even in the slower pace of summer it feels positively decadent to lounge around and read a book.  Even professional books are not such a burden if you can take it to the beach....

4.  Pinterest!

So I really think that Pinterest should count as legitimate form of professional development.  Earlier this week I spent an entire day re-organizing boards that I had created simply for the joy of looking at all the neat ideas I had found.  It's so much fun, and addictive.... very addictive....  If you would like to follow me on Pinterest I can be found HERE! 

5.  Youtube

Build up your video files by searching through Youtube for clips that can be used in your classroom.  Some you may want to pin on pinterest, while others you may want to keep.  In most districts you can only show Youtube without ads and other stuff, so I've gotten in the habit of using safeshare.tv
and keepvid.com

6.  Create crafts with a purpose
Once you are all inspired up with Pinterest ideas, you may find that there are things that you would like to make for your classroom.  Summer is perfect for those types of projects!  Just pick one or two, break out the gluegun and scissors and have a blast. This summer I have plans to make some curtains for an area of my room that needs some coverage.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Farewell to Family - Celebrating the year with a good goodbye

Have I mentioned that I LOVE my school?  THIS is how awesome they are!

Teachers voluntarily attended several before and after school rehearsals in MAY to learn how to play a song on instruments all in order to celebrate what a great year it has been and to take the time to say "thank you" and "we'll miss you" to those who will not be at our campus next year.   Those who were too busy to attend or who had a conflict, practiced on their own time and on the last day, everyone came together, admin, teachers and staff on Friday morning and we sang!  As my co-teacher would say, our performance was "beautifully flawed"

The entire experience was so much fun! Every rehearsal saw a different group hurrying down to the music room.... teachers would come in with end of year tasks etched on their faces and leave 20 minutes later relaxed and smiling ready to get to work....  During the performance on Friday  there were smiles, there were tears, there were hugs, there was sincerity,  there were hooray's and there was a deep sense of thankfulness that we had all made to the happy side of another year of teaching!  It was fantastic!

What sorts of things does your school do to celebrate the end of the year?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Planner Cover!

So you've figured out the parts of the planner that you want to use.  You've downloaded everything and only printed what you need... but now there are more decisions... 

Binding v.s. hole punching 

  1. I LOVE notebooks!  but  having relied on notebooks all these years I've had one too many binders bust open when they are knocked to the floor.
  2.  My planners are most likely to bust open when a student backs into my music stand and knocks it over... It doesn't happen very often unless my binder is on the music stand ready to bust open and then it happens all the time.  
  3. HOWEVER, if you have an uncertain schedule, or if you anticipate a change then a notebook with hole punched pages is your very best friend.  

Covers, Lamination, Tabs and Dividers 

1.  I've included cover pages in my planner.  Last  year I just printed them on plain paper, but this year I've decided to print them on card stock.  I have too many sections to use the tabs offered in the print options, and I'm rather fond of the post it tabs so I'm going to use those rather than get them printed.  

2.  After using the planner for a year, I also recommend getting your covers thickly laminated.  Thick enough seems to be 10 mm... I had the left, top and bottom trimmed so that the page could fit into the binding and then I CAREFULLY trimmed the corners so that they were rounded rather than sharp.   I left the laminated edge on the right side so that I can add my tabs later. 

3.  I have pictures of family on my cover and like to personalize it, but if you are stretched for time and want something easy, feel free to use this cover. 

To download this planner cover 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015-2016 Revised Music Teacher Planner - Chapter 5 - Meetings, Notes and Budgets

This chapter is the final chapter of the planner.  You will find a variety of note taking templates for all of the wonderful meetings we get to attend.  For myself, I find it useful to keep my professional development notes separate from my every day meetings.  I also found that this last year, my notes section wasn't quite big enough, so I decided to actually remove my weekly calendar to buy some additional note taking real estate.  

You will also find budget and financial planning templates in this chapter.

Being good stewards of the resources we are entrusted with is extremely important.  To do less than our best in this area can only cause problems.  Furthermore, when you are trying to build or maintain a solid program, investments in music and equipment are necessary.  In these days when budgets are always decreasing while the needs stay constant, it's a great idea to get creative about how we find resources.  Multiple funding opportunities means a need for very purposeful planning and record keeping so that you can make every work for your program.


If you would like to download chapter 1 click   HERE! 
If you would like to download chapter 2 click HERE! 
If you would like to download chapter 3 click HERE! 
If you would like to download chapter 4 click HERE! 

Advise about printing:  

The PDF files that are linked here include pages as I have them set up for my own planner.  Your needs may be different than mine so feel free to print more or less of any given page. You will notice that each page is either left or right of center.  This is to allow for binding or hole punching. 
For best results try to arrange your planner so that when your book is open an even numbered page is on the left and an odd numbered page is on the right.  

Please remember that all parts of this planner are intended as a gift to busy music teachers who spend hours of their own time and regularly contribute their own money to the cause of making their music classrooms a haven of learning through music.  If you choose to use any part of this planner please do not sell it.  If you choose to share any part of this planner with others, please share the link to the blog rather than downloading and then mass producing planners for others.

If you find any part of the planner useful or if you have a request or suggestion please leave a comment below.