Image Map

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Stress Relief Tips for the Music Teacher

Being a music teacher can bring a lot of stress. From teaching classes(sometimes to the entire student population) to putting spectacular performances, it's definitely easy to feel the pressure. Check out these tips for relieving stress and keeping calm.

Being a music teacher can bring a lot of stress. From teaching classes(sometimes to the entire student population) to putting spectacular performances, it's definitely easy to feel the pressure. Check out these quick tips for relieving stress and keeping calm.

Find a Happiness 9-1-1 Song
This is a tip from one of my favorite podcasts, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In one of her episodes, she suggests finding a song that will give you a little pick me up when you hear it. It might be an upbeat Top 40 song or a nostalgic song that brings you back. This can be a go to song or playlist to play on your way home from a rough day or during a break to get you through the rest of the day. Need some inspiration? There's a pre-made Spotify playlist from the podcast!

Take a Short Guided Meditation Break
Meditation has so many benefits. At first, I was intimidated by meditation. I had always envisioned meditation consisting of someone sitting by themselves on a hard surface for a very, very long time. It doesn't have to be that way! I use a wonderful app on my phone called Meditation Studio. The first course breaks down how to meditate in easy 5-10 minute chunks. After completing the starter course, you can choose guided meditations that focus specifically on stress relief that can be as short as 2 minutes. This can be a perfect break in between classes or at lunch to de-stress.

Keep a Pick Me Up Box
Find or purchase a box and fill it with good memories of your teaching career. I recommend plastic since it will hold up a little better rather than a cardboard box. Fill it with student notes or drawings, print out positive parent emails, favorite concert programs, pictures of music making, and anything that will bring a smile to your face. It's great to have the reminder of what I do what I do, especially after a receiving a tough email or having an observation that didn't go exactly as planned. I also put some of my favorite chocolate in my box. You may even want to add a small gift card to your favorite coffee shop to use "in case of emergency" for those extra stressful days.

How do you stay calm during stressful days? Comment below!

post signature

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rhythm & Poetry

Cross curricular activities are great. But sometimes it's tough to marry two subject areas evenly. While using songs to teach addition, grammar, and other concepts is helpful for students, it may not truly be teaching or reinforcing musical concepts. Incorporating rhythm and poetry into a lesson can give both subjects equal attention.

Marry rhythm and poetry together into one activity with rhythm haikus. These fun, easy poems are a great opportunity to incorporate cross curricular activities into the music classroom.

I like to use haiku poems. They are fun, fairly easy to write, and come with a rich history. Students may even be learning about them in their reading class! A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem written in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. When translating this into music, I use one syllable=quarter note and two syllables=eighth notes. 

Pick a topic that you want your students to write about. Depending on the grade level and student ability you may choose to provide them with a word list or you may want to brainstorm words with students and categorize them into 1 or 2 syllable words. To help students determine how many syllables a word has, I have them place their hand under their chin and count the number of times their chin taps their hand while they say the word. If a word has more than 2 syllables, you may consider discarding it or fitting it across 2 rhythms (e.g. butterfly as 2 eighths and a quarter). 

Guide students through the haiku 5-7-5 pattern and give them time to work on their own. After writing their poem, students can practice saying the rhythms and/or saying the words rhythmically.

Interested in incorporating rhythm haikus into your classroom but short on time? Check out my pre-made ones! They come with rhythm sheets, word suggestions, and slides briefly explaining haikus and how to write them.

post signature

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Halloween Costume Ideas for Music Teachers

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! I love planning my costume and seeing all of my students dressed up as their favorite characters. Here are some musical ideas to get your creative juices flowing for this year's costume.

It can be tough finding a fun costume as a music teacher. Love these music themed halloween costumes!  Some are easy and others are definitely a project.

Under A Rest

Grab yourself a striped shirt or an orange jumper, print a rest on some card stock, and attach to a headband. You've got yourself a very punny costume that your students will love!


If you have another music teacher at your school or just a friend or significant other that wants to play along, you could dress up as enharmonics. Just pick your favorite pair and puffy paint them on a plain t-shirt.

The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

This is one of my favorite books and one my students love! Running low on time? Linda from Floating Down the River has a great set that you can easily print, cut out, and tape in a pinch. Check it out here!

Double Bubble

Does your school use thinking maps? Why not turn them into a fun costume? Grab another specials teacher and compare and contrast your hearts out! 

This costume would definitely require some creativity and craftiness. With a big piece of card board and some white yarn, you could turn yourself into a musical masterpiece. You could spray paint the body of the ukulele your favorite color!

Ukulele Costume:

The Beatles

Why be just one Beatle when you can be all four at once? Pick your favorite Beatle and print out the other three out and glue to cardboard. Bonus points if you carry around a real guitar and sing Beatles songs all day!

The Beatles. | 31 Splendidly British Ideas For Halloween Costumes  RAIN: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES live on stage at the Sacramento Community Center Theater March 17 - 22, 2015. For tickets and info: http://www.californiamusicaltheatre.com/events/rain/:

Have a creative Halloween costume idea? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

post signature

Monday, September 26, 2016

Volunteer Organization Made Easy

Do you want to take your students on a field trip but dread volunteer sign ups? Did your last party or celebration have 15 desserts and 1 side dish? Do you want an easy way to display class wish lists and ensure you get what you want? Sign Up Genius is the answer!

From field trips to celebration parties, organizing volunteers can be a stressful experience. Luckily, there's a solution for you! Check out this post for a music teacher's favorite tool.

Pick a Theme That Works
Sign up Genius offers countless themes for your sign ups! I love this feature. The themes are neat and clean. Volunteers can easily see what kind of event they're signing up for just from the picture. 

All Dates in One Place
One great feature of Sign Up Genius is that if you have a recurring event, such as required chaperones at a rehearsal or event, you can put all the dates on one sign up. Volunteers can easily see where there's a need and what works best for their schedule. You can also keep track of who has signed up in real time. You no longer have the stress of keeping track no of paper slips that often come in past the due date.

Send Reminders
One of my favorite features is the reminder feature. Sign Up Genius will automatically send out a reminder email to your chaperones for upcoming events. This takes the stress out of sending out reminder emails or text messages.

I Love Sign Up Genius!
This website has saved me so much time and agony! From signing up ushers for concerts to organizing post concert celebrations, this has streamlined volunteer organization. It is easy to set up, looks clean, and best of all, it's FREE to use!
post signature

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Obwisana - A Singing and Passing Game from Ghana

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

5 TED Talks for Music Teachers

I love TED talks! They are just long enough to fit a substantial amount of information and short enough to watch in one sitting. These are a few of my favorite TED talks to inspire music teachers all around!

As music teachers, sometimes we need a little inspiration! These 5 TED talks will give you just that. From serious questions to fun solutions, these TED talks are sure to inspire and excite!

Eric Whitacre - A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong

Technology is transforming so quickly. It is amazing what happens when you combine technology and music. This TED talk features Eric Whitacre talking about his virtual choir.

Stefon Harris - There Are No Mistakes on the Bandstand

Sometimes as music educators, we can get hung up on perfection and can beat ourselves up over mistakes. Mistakes are only often perceived as mistakes because of the way we react to them. It's a good lesson for us as teachers and for our students as well.

Ken Robinson - Do Schools Kill Creativity?

There is certainly a reason why this is one of the most popular TED talks of all time. As music educators, we value creativity. Ken Robinson is a wonderful advocate for nurturing students' creativity.

Rita Pierson - Every Kid Needs A Champion

This is my absolute all time favorite education related TED talk. Rita Pierson reminds us as educators that it is important to believe in our students and foster positive relationships with them.

TED Staff - It's TED, The Musical!

For those of you who love musicals, check out this TED talk! This one is just for fun. Sometimes you need a little laugh after a long school day!

post signature

Friday, July 22, 2016

5 Name Games for Back to School in the Music Classroom

School supplies are in stores, school clothes are a sale, and the longest days of summer are behind us. You know what that means? The beginning of the year is coming! Check out these 5 fun name games to use in your music classroom during the beginning of the year.

Looking for a fun activity to start the year off right in your music classroom? Check out these back to school name games your students will love!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Name Remix

This song is great for K-2 students. Replace brown bear and other animals with students names.
Jen-na Jen-na (whole group)
Who do you see? (whole group)
I see Ja-mal looking at me! (Jenna)

Bounce High, Bounce Low

This is another game that works well with K-2 students. Usually this game is played with a ball but you could easily replace it with a stuffed animal if you have a small space or are worried about using a ball in the classroom. 

Bounce high, bounce low
Bounce the ball to (student name)
(student passes ball to whoever's name was called)

There are two ways you can play this game: 

1. You can select a student who will receive the ball and have the whole class sing the song. 

2. You can have the whole class sing "bounce high, bounce low" and the student holding the ball sings "bounce the ball to ___________" by themselves and passes the ball to the student he/she chose. This is a great way to assess student's singing.

Jump In, Jump Out

This is a fun call and response game for upper elementary or middle school students. The whole group moves and chants:

Jump in, jump out, turn yourself about! 
Jump in, jump out, introduce yourself!
My name is __________ (one person)
Yeah! (group)
I like ______________ (one person
Yeah! (group)
And I like ___________ (one person)
Alright! Alright! Alright! (group)

There are a lot of different versions of the chant. This is the wording I prefer to use.

Up the Ladder, Down the Ladder

This is a fun activity to do with grade 2-4 students. You could create your own movements or use the ones in the video above.

Up the ladder, down the ladder
One by one (4 x's group)

My name is __________ (student)
Your name is ___________ (group) 
Repeat 3-5 times depending on the amount of students in your class and then go back to the chorus

Who Took the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?

This is classic game an be a great way to learn names. Rather than using the word "stole" as the song traditionally goes, use the word take. This can also tie into a lesson on not taking anything out of the music classroom that isn't yours.

Who took the cookie from the cookie jar? (teacher or group)
(student name) took the cooke from the cookie jar! (group)
Who me? (student)
Yes you! (group)
Couldn't be! (student)
Then who? (group)

post signature

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gamify Your Music Lessons and Gather Assessment Data Using Kahoot

Gone are the days of boring review sessions. Turn your classroom into a gameshow using Kahoot! 

What is Kahoot?
Kahoot is a game-based learning website for all ages. A teacher creates a quiz or "kahoot" containing a series of questions with 2-4 answers. You can also browse the public Kahoot database to see if the material you want to review has been made by another teacher.

What do I need to use Kahoot?
The teacher will need a device that connects to the internet and a way to project the screen on that device. Students will need a device that connects to the internet. Devices include smart phones, tablets, computers, etc.

How does Kahoot work?
The teacher will login and "play" the kahoot they are planning to use in the lesson. Students will need to go to kahoot.it (different than the teacher website) and enter the game pin displayed on the screen. Once all of your students have joined, the teacher begins the game.

The first question will appear. Students will have several moments to read the question before the answers are displayed. Students select answers by choosing the corresponding shape or by color. The quicker a student responds with a correct answer, the more points they get. 

After the end of each round, the correct answer is displayed along with the amount of people that chose each answer. Following that, the leader board comes up, which encourages students in friendly competition.

How can I use Kahoot to assess students?
The most awesome feature of Kahoot might be it's ability to assess data. At the end of a game play, the teacher will reach a screen that gives the option to download the results. You have the option to download as an Excel file or download straight to Google Drive.


When you open the file, you get an analysis of how each student did overall and how they did on each question. A green mark indicates a correct answer, red indicates incorrect answer. You could use this data as a grade or as a way to inform your teaching.

Bottom line, students learn while having fun and you get the data you need to assess!

post signature