Mar 29, 2018

Take Your Concert Programs to the Next Level with these Tips

School music concerts not only showcase our students’ hard work and musical skills, but they're an opportunity to educate and connect our audience to the overall music program. Additionally, concert programs show what is important and valued in the music program. Whether your programs are professionally printed or they're copied at your school, including the following elements can take your programs to the next level.
  • Music advocacy articles. Include 1-2 articles that promote the value of a musical education. 
  • Program notes with QR codes. QR codes have the ability to make your concert programs more informative and interactive. They provide a online link giving the audience member more information about the composer, a YouTube video, or even show examples of student work. Try this QR code generator for Chrome.
  • Private teacher list. We all know that private lessons give students an edge and concerts are just another opportunity to mention the benefits of studying privately.
  • Summer music camp recommendations (include a QR code or website address). See my example.
  • Create a Padlet for audience members to send well-wishes to their performer during the concert. Or, have the audience members list their favorite piece performed at the concert. Be sure to share the link or generate a QR code for access.
  • Field trip form or permission slip. We all know that it can be tricky getting our students to bring important things home. Including a permission slip in the concert program helps to insure the parents receive it. Plus, any important information about the trip can be mentioned at the concert.
  • Include puzzles or activities for parents and siblings to keep busy while waiting for the concert to start. For example: What’s your elf name? (December concert), What's your leprechaun name? (March concert), music word searches and crossword puzzles, etc.
Whichever elements you decide to use, your time and energy will be well-spent in creating a program you are proud of and also appreciated by your audience. Make sure to proofread the final draft for all spelling and grammatical errors, especially student names. If you've created programs with additional elements not listed above, please leave a comment below. I'd love to read about your creativity.

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Mar 22, 2018

Five Reasons to Use a Daily Rehearsal Slide - FREE Template Included

Quite a few years ago before my band room had an LCD projector, the rehearsal plan was written on the chalkboard, just like every teacher did. Although this was one way to communicate the lesson to my students, it was very limiting. With the integration of an LCD projector, a rehearsal slide created in Google Slides is a much more effective communication tool. Links, videos, and audio files are easily embedded into Google Slides. Images, like screenshots of music or a warm-up created in Noteflight can also be integrated. Consider embedding a countdown timer video from YouTube so students are in their seats and ready to play on-time.

Five reasons to use a daily rehearsal slide:
  • Students can easily view the rehearsal plan as they enter class.
  • Slides are highly customizable with numerous color schemes, font choices, and backgrounds.
  • Every slide is saved automatically, creating an archive of rehearsal plans for the entire year.
  • Announcements and reminders can be shared and highlighted.
  • Music notation using FLAT can be added to Slides. 

To access the free Daily Rehearsal Slide template, subscribe to the all new Teaching Music & More RESOURCES page.

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Mar 14, 2018

Flat Music Notation - A Google add-on that both teachers and students can use

The Google add-on Flat Music Notation provides a practical solution for integrating music notation
in a Google Docs or Slides presentation. In fact, it's easy enough for students to use it too.

If it's not already installed, you’ll need to download it from the add-ons store. Once installed,
simply click Add-ons > Flat > Insert musical snippet, then input the musical notation you want to

I've created a short video tutorial to help you get started using the basic features.

Suggestions for use
Use Flat to create worksheets, custom warm-ups, or insert to a Google Slides presentation and
project it for the class to play. Students can use Flat to create their own rhythmic notation to submit
as an assessment or even use it as a basic composing tool.

Oct 15, 2017

Not Your Ordinary Playing Assignment

If you're like most band directors, you have students that struggle with practicing at home. Student musicians, especially younger ones, often have not developed the intrinsic motivation yet to practice on their own. Creating a practice and self-assessment assignment that involves goal setting, reflection, and performance motivates them to practice and even gets their parents involved too. 

The most rewarding aspects of a practice assignment:
      1. It's self-reflective
      2. Engages students in goal setting
      3. Reinforces practicing
      4. Encourages parental involvement
      5. Communicates performance standards
Take time to guide your students through the assignment and communicate your expectations. It is helpful to send an email home about the upcoming assignment describing what to listen for. TIP: include a music symbol guide describing the types articulations and dynamics they may see and hear in their child's music.

The parental feedback I've received is overwhelmingly positive. I often read how enjoyable it is for parents to hear their child practicing at home and giving a 'living room' performance for the family.  These assignments can be tailored to all kinds of music. From scales to the Star Spangled Banner, the possibilities are endless.

1. Goal Setting Practice Assignment:

2. Concert Music Playing Assessment

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Aug 17, 2017

Getting to Know Your Students

Creating a positive student-teacher relationship at the beginning of the school year is so important. Learning about as much as you can about your students will pay huge dividends down the road. Those relationships will help maintain a positive rehearsal environment and allow you to implement an effective classroom management plan.

A first step, is having your students complete a Get-to-Know-You survey the few days of school. Any types of questions can be included, but think about what you really want to know about your students. What kind of information would help you reach your students? What could you learn about your students that would help you be a better teacher? These are a few essential questions to consider when creating your survey.

Feel free to steal my Get-to-Know-You survey and customize it for your own use. For Google Classroom users, these questions can easily be posted to the class as a Google Doc or even converted to a Google Form for your students to complete.

Additional blog posts: