Oct 25, 2010

The Podium as Teaching Station

How effective of a music teacher are you?  Do you have all the tools you need to teach at the podium and in your classroom?  Do you communicate the day's rehearsal agenda and/or goals to your students?  As a seasoned teacher, I have seen how music technology has developed, what has stuck around, what has gone by the wayside, and what works to help with student learning.  I have also learned how to differentiate for the multitude of learners and learning styles in my classes.  (Yes you can differentiate in band!)  My classroom has become an efficient learning environment in part because of some tools I use on a daily basis.  And by the way, some stuff I use isn't so techie, but just good for teaching.  Simply put, it allows for more teaching and learning time. 

1)  This is my podium set-up or as I like to call it, Teaching Station.  Within arms reach is an instrument for modeling, a set of sticky notes for marking scores & making notes, as well as an assortment of pencils and high-liters.  There is also a laptop stand which allows my computer to be accessible, but not in the way.  A 30 ft. cable is plugged into the headphone jack and runs to the sound system for any audio needs. 

2)  At every rehearsal, I use an LCD projector to list the day's announcements, warm-up, rehearsal goals, and lesson schedule.  It is also great for video and other resources like Seventh String Tuner and SmartMusic (try using SmartMusic scales as a warm-up in full rehearsal and vary the articulations).  Here's a sample:

3)  Audio System:  I have updated this over the years to its present state.  A desktop computer is used to run SmartMusic and as a secondary resource to play CD/DVD's.  A Mackie mixer (donated) and Crown power amp handle the audio needs.  A Sony Bluetooth receiver allows me to stream music and utilize Tempo & iTick metronome apps from anywhere in the room, via iPhone.  A SuperScope digital recorder and Cascade ribbon mic allow me to record band rehearsals with very minimal set-up time.  

My next addition?  Hopefully, a digital document viewer to show pages of conducting scores and other documents.

Please share any ideas or what you use in your classroom!


  1. COOL and very useful.

    If you can't wait for the document camera, try using a scanner to save the score/document to PDF (or something similar) for use with the computer. Our office copier and email a PDF does this trick for me.

    I have found that seeing the score speeds up the discussion of how things should fit together.

  2. "I have found that seeing the score speeds up the discussion of how things should fit together." Absolutely Roger! I often scan in pages of my score, but it takes time. I would like to do it on the fly. Color coding the score works well too when showing like parts, sections, etc.

  3. Does your copier make pdf files? Ours does, and this is such a time saver as opposed to scanning. Try the AirProjector app on the iPhone for getting pdf's onto your lcd easily, or better yet AirSketch on the iPad. Both of these will transmit the images to the computer hooked to your lcd using Bonjour and a web browser.

    P.S. How are you liking the Cascade? Did you get the upgraded electronics or standard?

  4. Thanks Brian! Talked to our tech person and our copiers make PDFs. Yes! The Cascade is great. Dennis recommended getting it with the Lundahl transformers, and luckily we had the $$$. Very warm sound! I've been recording the band weekly too.

  5. Great article Keith. I can't wait to get to the point I can incorporate a projector in my room.

    I'm currently stuck on trying to get a solid playback system. Do you have any recommendations/resources on where to start when looking for a general wall-mounted system like you have?

  6. What brand/supplier is that neat laptop cart? Is it on wheels?

  7. Bought it at Office Depot online last year. I can't find a brand on the cart, but it is nothing fancy. The height is adjustable and yes, it is on wheels. Thanks for reading this post!