NDE Music Classroom 2015

This has been a pretty crazy fall. One of my daughters was recently married, and the other is going back to college. The genealogy bug has hit again, so the music blog is neglected. I have started making lists of ideas, so I hope I can start posting more regularly. Here are some pictures of my room from August. It is already messier by now!

2014 Veterans Day

We tried something new this year. Actually two somethings. First we danced to a song choreographed by John Jacobson. The little ones really loved it–the bigger ones, not so much, but they did it. Sixth Grade students are always so worried about how they will be perceived by the High Schoolers. The second thing that we tried was making a giant flag. I had my fingers crossed. It made me more than a little nervous as I spent a lot of time mapping it out, assigning shirt colors, and explaining it. We always go to the high school in October for the Battle of the Buildiings (a fund-raising event by the student council to benefit Camp About Face). This year I took pictures of every row, every section, and mapped the students’ seating positions. Then I color coded the map and told the teachers what colors for every student. It worked out pretty well. I didn’t get a photo of us singing (standing, with the 50 stars all held up) as I was busy directing. Someday I hope to see a video of it!


We sang four songs: “You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag” (our standard), “Eleven Eleven” (featuring our 1st grade–if I can get the audio recordings merged into the video, I’ll add it), “Our Red, White, and Blue” (one of the prettiest songs ever), and “This Is My Country” (not the traditional one but a new version by Music Express). Here are two of the videos:


2014 Fall Classroom Pics

It’s a new year, and I love to post pictures of my room because it’s the cleanest it will ever be during the school year. There are several new additions to the room. My back shelf area was looking rather tacky by the end of last year, so I decided to cover the shelving with curtains. I realized after taking measurements that the curtains would be about the same dimensions as a small stage. My Mom helped me with the sewing. The cut off pieces of navy sheets were perfect as valances for my windows. Sheets are great to use for curtains because they already have a fire protection coating. These sheets were much cheaper than fabric from JoAnn’s Fabrics (even with a teacher discount). K-Mart is the only place that I could find flat sheets not bundled with pillowcases and fitted sheets. I had enough left over to cover my textbook shelving, the space under my desk, and my sound system cart. I already had some toy microphones, so I added them in the mic stands (kids love them) and bought a couple of red rugs for the stage floor. I plan to make a puppet area with the remaining sheets, making a curtain up about a yard high from the ground to fit the length of a 10-foot 1″ diameter PVC pipe. It could be held in place by the two bar stools I have in my room, one at the piano and one in the front that I use as my reading chair.

Owls are featured in our school theme this year, and I just love it. There are owls everywhere–in stores, on clothes, and there are plenty of great items in the Teachers Pay Teachers store. Most of my bulletin boards were downloaded from there. On the green felt bulletin board (really two cork strips) I added  clip art owls. I did alter the colors of the owls to match the colors of each grade in the old MacMillan/McGraw-Hill Spotlight On Music textbooks. I found the owl door mat at K-Mart, and the colorful trees were saved for me by our former guidance counselor, Susan. One of her family members I believe worked at a Goody’s store, and they just throw this stuff away. She brought me all kinds of cool cardboard decorations last year!

Last year I got hooked on the iPad app iDoceo to keep seating charts and records of attendance, turns, etc. This year I’ve added PlanBook from Planbook.com, and it is wonderful. It is so much easier than Publisher, which is what I’ve used for the past decade. I’ve been teaching at ND for over 34 years and can VIVIDLY remember having to fill in those lesson plan books. It took forever to write everything by hand!

Here’s looking forward to a great, music-filled school year!

The Inspiring PS22

My favorite videos for students to watch, to see students experiencing the joy of singing, is the PS22 or Public School 22 Choir in New York, directed by the amazing Greg Breinberg. I love the children’s passion and enthusiasm. Mr. Breinberg reaches the students by having them sing all kinds of pop and alternative music, and the result is wonderful. Beautiful, original harmonies with great solos are made even better by all the happy faces. I get really nostalgic while watching them. We used to have time to sing and sing and sing in the elementary school. The Indiana State standards have to be covered now, although I can never ever cover them completely. I miss this–the kids standing around the piano and singing their hearts out. Standards are important, but this kind of passion is magical.

New Storage

Last week I purchased some plastic drawers to keep the books I need for the my classes near my piano. There is a large bookcase in the back of the room, but I don’t like going back there during a class. The books were in a plastic tub last year but I never could find the book I needed quickly. Hopefully with the books sorted in drawers, it may help. Surely, this will be much better!

Some of the books pictured below are new this year. The jazz books are actually from our school’s social studies series. The classroom teachers asked if I might need them. Yes, score! The classrooms also have a new reading series this year, so I was given a big book of songs for first grade. They are piggyback songs that go along with the stories. Pete the Cat has a new book out, but there is something missing–actually someone. Mr. Eric (Eric Litwin) is not the author of this book. It sort of loses the magic of the other four books (I also have a Christmas book that is tucked away until Christmas). After searching on book review sites, I found disturbing news that Mr. Eric and the illustrator, James Dean, have parted ways. There will not be anymore books by this fabulous duo. James Dean is pairing with his wife to write the books. I’m a little bit sad. Hopefully, this is just a temporary scheduling decision, and it’s not permanent!

Checkout the rest of the pictures on my Flickr site!

2013 My Classroom

After a rough start, my classes are finally on a roll–and I am not! That means the wheelchair has been returned, so I’m moving a little quicker. I can stand up now a bit too which means I can get my posters up. My walls are now almost finished. The only thing I have left is my Word Wall. I’ll have to do that in sections because I fill a whole side of the room with music terminology.

Even with a broken ankle, I was able to make some new stuff this year. Last Spring I had help moving the big TV on top of a large cart. This left some blank space on the back of the Clavinova to fill. I decided to make a bulletin board out of Styrofoam insulation. I cut the pieces and covered them with orange material. I had enough to make a second one above my instrument storage area. I also have enough to make another one above my computer but ran out of material. At the end of school last year, I made some Beat Blocks out of large lego blocks. The kids wanted to play with them, so I know they’ll really come in handy. After seeing many Pinterest posts, I decided to make my own version of the saying, “Music is a Language the Whole World Speaks.” I used DJ Inkers great CD to make the letter-size prints. I have a bunch of graphics from DJ Inkers, but I think it was through pcCrafters. My other boards were heavily influenced by Cara of Miscellaneous Me. I love her downloads! The last big change was to my bucket seats. Last year I had them upside down. This year I purchased lids which means the class can’t easily stack them now. We have enough room to slide them back that it shouldn’t matter. The plastic ruffle from last year didn’t make it through a whole year, and the noise and dirt really annoyed me so I decided to make cloth ruffles. I use four colors to help divide the class quickly into parts for singing or playing instruments.

To see the rest of the photos, go to my Flicker site here.

Here’s to another start of a great year! (I say knocking on wood) Check out the pictures from my room!

Writing Rhythms

My students have been working on ways to create rhythm patterns. We talked about repetition and contrast, such as how patterns can be mirrored or simply repeated. I took snapshots (not too great, mostly blurry) of their patterns on a dry erase board. We then evaluated and clapped the patterns. Next time I do this, I will try to bring my camera as the iPhone doesn’t do a great job on indoor pictures on gloomy days.

This is a 4th Grade student whose class was studying different combinations of eighth and sixteenth notes.

This is a 2nd Grade student whose class was studying different combinations of quarter and eighth notes.

2012 NDE Music Room

It’s a new school year, so I took some pictures of my music room. I make a point to do that at the beginning of the year because once we start working on music programs, there are piles of costumes, props, and general clutter. I love my room. After being on a cart for over 7 years and traveling to different schools for years before that, it’s wonderful to have one beautiful room in a beautiful school.

To see the rest of the photos click here to go to my Flickr site.