Merry Christmas to all!  Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, most of us enjoy receiving gifts.  Here are a few freebies to get your new year started.

First, a fun music history and dance activity that is great for older students.  It is also great for African American History month.  The Big Apple was a dance craze in 1937 that did NOT begin in New York City as you might guess.  The dance began at an African American dance club in Columbia, South Carolina. 

This freebie lesson is available in PowerPoint format and includes brief historical information, photos, links to historical videos, and also links to YouTube dance tutorials.

PowerPoint Lesson:

Find out more about this fun dance in this blog post: Bring the Swinging Big Apple Dance Craze of 1937 to Your Music Classroom

Next, a free instruments of the orchestra "write the room" sampler.  I am working on plans to take my fourth graders to the symphony in February, so I really want them to know the names of the instruments that they will be hearing.  The sampler includes several student worksheets and directions for conducting the lesson.  You must use your own pictures of the instruments with this free sampler version.  

Write the Room - Instruments of the Orchestra Sampler:


Finally, I would like to call attention to a favorite post-concert reflection lesson.  Winter Concert Reflections reminds us that it is important to reflect on our work.  This Concert Reflection sheet is a free download. It is not seasonal and therefore may be used before or after any concert.

I hope you enjoy your break from school.  Get some rest, check out some freebies, and have a freshly energized start to the new year!

I have been feeling the stress of all of the beginning of the year responsibilities, and now concert prep responsibilities are added on top.   Really.  Why does everything have to be done the hard way?!   I think it is time for a little fun!

A group of music friends and I were chatting and realized we all had a mutual love for all things "Back to the Future."  Did you remember that when Marty McFly traveled to the future, he traveled to October 21, 2015?  That's today!  Where are the flying cars and hover boards?  Our conversation was very lively and fun as we remembered the movie scenes and noticed the differences with our real world.

This is a blog post on Sally's Sea of Songs highlighting strategies for using Carnival of the Animals to teach the concept of tempo.

Every year we take all of the 2nd graders in our district to see a performance of the Carnival of the Animals.  A few years ago the Visual & Performing Arts department worked with a theatre artist to create a new storyline to go along with the symphony performance.  It is much more engaging now, even getting the 2nd graders involved singing along with specially written lyrics to the Lion and the Elephant movements. It is great to be able to offer the experience of a live professional orchestra & professional theatre performance to all of our students.  

We spend so much time in our classrooms - they need to be beautiful and functional!  Thank you to The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King for suggesting that we share our music rooms with everyone.  Here is a peek at my beginning-of-school bulletin boards.

I am very fortunate to have a huge long bulletin board on one wall of the classroom.  I have found it easier to manage when I separate it into four separate sections.  Here is the "work in progress" pic of all four sections:

The first section, the prime real estate, contains the terms associated with meter and tonality because we work with those terms all the time.

The second section will get changed every so often.  We're starting out the year with steady beat and tempo, so I decided to get my Tempo Cats out again this year.  They are quite old, but I take them out of the rotation some years so that when I do use them, they are new, especially to the younger students.  Please check out my 2nd Grade tempo lesson ideas using music from the Carnival of the Animals!  Here is the link:  Behind the Scenes at the Carnival of the Animals - Tempo.

Next, is my Composer of the Month section.  Well, truthfully, it is just the Composer section.  I don't always get it changed every month!  My district has specified certain composers that each grade level should focus on, so I do get at least 6 different composers up during the course of the year.  This year, I am starting out with the great set on Bach from Music with Sara Bibee. The picture of Bach and the organ poster come from very old sets of composer & instrument posters.  I think they have been in my room for 20 years!

The last section of this long board contains my movement words based on Laban's basic efforts.  It is good for students to be able to verbalize what they are doing, and having these words available adds appropriate terminology to our class discussions.   

In the front of the classroom, right next to the SmartBoard, are the MUSIC rules and I CAN statements.  The I CAN statements are new to me this year.  I put them up with magnets because I am really unsure if I want all of them to stay up all year, or if I should just put the focus statements up.  You can read about my pack rat magnet success here.

All of these word wall words (and more), music rules, and coordinating binder covers are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.  

Now, perhaps you noticed that I didn't share any pics of shelves or desk or closet.  There's a reason for that! :)  I'm going to be looking through all of the other links for some great organizing ideas to get my paperwork under control!  You can check out the other music rooms by clicking on the picture below.  Thanks for taking my tour!

Today I am linking up with Music A La Abbott & Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to highlight some products that I love this Back To School season.

The big TeachersPayTeachers Back to School Sale is coming soon and many stores, including mine, will be on sale for 20% off.  Using the special code BTS15 during checkout will get you an extra discount!

With the sale coming soon, there are some things that will help you get ready to make the most of it.  First, "dish" out the feedback on prior purchases.  This not only helps sellers to know which of their products are the most useful, but it also gives YOU credit for future purchases.  You will earn 1 credit for each dollar spent and 20 credits are worth $1 towards a future purchase.

Here is how to earn your credits:  Log in to your TeachersPayTeachers account.  Click on My TPT and select My Purchases. From there, the easiest thing to do is sort your purchases.  Select the drop-down arrow next to Sort By, and select Needs Feedback.

Now that you have "dished" out that feedback, let's make some wishes.

I really love that feeling of starting fresh!  That is part of the enchantment of New Year's celebrations.  For teachers and students, Back To School time gives us that same exciting, fresh start feeling.  You may have noticed that I teach in a year-round school, so I am already back at it.  I would like to share some things that I am loving in my fresh start for this school year.

MUSIC Rules and MUSIC Word Wall

I have had a version of these up in my room for a few years, but they were PLAIN!  After spending some time on Teachers Pay Teachers, I finally decided to remake my rules and word wall words so they were easy to print and didn't require me to find construction paper to make a frame.  I wanted frame & words all in one easy-to-print package.  

The rules come in both portrait and landscape versions, so you can choose what will work best for your space.  The Word Wall words come in either 2 per page version or 3 per page version.  I confess that I chose to make my headings from the larger size and the words under the headings from the smaller size to clarify.  You could also mix & match the colors to keep your board interesting.

My room has teal carpeting, and I have been using a teal, purple, and black color theme.  Because everyone has different tastes, I added in some additional color choices to the TPT product.  Here is one of my word wall boards:
Back to School Love!

Joe DO and Mona LA

I am so excited to get the visuals to these awesome songs that help students audiate the resting tones in major and minor tonality.  These songs were written by Jennifer Bailey at SingToKids, an awesome music teacher and MLT expert. I learned them from her, and have used them in my classes, but now she has published these awesome visuals to accompany the songs.  I am really looking forward to using them this year!

Back to School Love!

Move to Music Clip Art

I purchased this Move to Music clip art set from Educlips.  She has several wonderful sets for music teachers that are very useful for everything from PowerPoints to bulletin boards to worksheets.  As you know, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a well done picture can save you a lot of explaining.  You might notice that I used some clips from this set in my movement board above.  

With this set of clip art, I can pick only the images that I need.  It is easy for me to insert the image on to a blank PowerPoint or Keynote slide and enlarge it to fill the page.  I can combine images if that helps to make my musical point, then print them as full size slides.  Now, I know that color ink is expensive, but have you ever gone to the teacher store and tried to buy bulletin board sets on music concepts?  They are expensive, too!  And they don't often have the kind of music images that I would like to use.  If I back up my digital files, I will always have these images, and once the printed images get worn, or when I want to change the board, I can print new ones with only the expense of the ink and paper.  I think that I save money in the long run by purchasing good quality music clip art from some of the awesome artists on TeachersPayTeachers.

Back to School Love!

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to click on the Wish & Dish image above to visit other blogs participating in the linky party.  There's enough Back to School Love for everyone!


Summer's gone, here comes the bus!  The first lessons of the school year are often heavily loaded with class rules and procedures.  I know our students need structure, but a full class of rules is boring and this is MUSIC class!  My preference is to be sure there is some active music making right from lesson #1.  Reading and chanting rhythm patterns is a part of each music lesson, so I include the Back-To-School theme to rhythm reading during my first few lessons.  

Rhythm Reading

By collecting a group of common back to school sayings and "translating" them into rhythmic notation that my students are familiar with, I can get my students reading & reviewing familiar rhythm patterns right from the start.  I like to project these patterns on the SmartBoard for easy group viewing and chanting.  Younger students will echo my own chanting of the pattern, older students will read the pattern for themselves. Then chant the pattern with neutral syllables or the rhythm syllables of your choice.  This second step helps children to realize that words can create rhythms.
In the following example, the words are chanted with a steady beat in duple meter:
Teacher: Summer, summer, summer's gone.
Students Summer, summer, summer's gone.
Teacher: ba-ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, bah
Students: ba-ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, bah
Teacher: du-de, du-de, du-de, du
Students:du-de, du-de, du-de, du

Music Arranging

There are several ways to turn this simple reading practice into a composition activity.  This first example will focus on arranging the teacher's ideas.  Print the sayings on cards, laminate for durability, then display at the front of your classroom on the chalk tray or music stands.  Ask students to arrange the cards in the way they sound the best.  Each class may have a different arrangement.  This gives the students some creative control, allows for discussion of the difference between a composer and an arranger, both music careers. Chant the phrases, then chant with rhythm syllables.  Finish by playing the arrangement on rhythm instruments.  

Musical Form

Choose four back to school phrases and work as a class to create a rondo form.  Of course the class will have to decide which pattern will be the "A" section that repeats.  Perhaps the class could create a movement for this phrase together, then small groups of students could be assigned one of the remaining patterns to create movement.  Put all of this together for a class performance.  This can all be accomplished during one music class and demonstrated for the classroom teacher at the end.  Extend this idea by adding rhythm instruments.  

Complementary Rhythms

Define complementary rhythms and determine which pairs of cards may be complementary.  Rhythms may be considered complementary when one pattern is moving while another pattern is keeping steady.  The first two patterns in the photo below could be considered complementary:

Create a group performance by layering in your favorite complementary patterns.  With younger students, this might mean choosing only two patterns.  Older students may be able to maintain 3, 4 or 6 patterns at the same time.  Add a conducting component to this activity!  Select a student to bring groups in or out of the performance, then discuss thick and thin texture, and which patterns sounded the best together and why.  (Analyze and explain:  higher order thinking in the music room!)

Melodic Composition

If you have access to Orff instruments, tone bells, or other melody instruments, combine them with the back to school phrases and procedures for small group work to create a melodic composition.  I am blessed to have a large number of Orff xylophones, so that is my instrument of choice.  Divide the class into groups of four students.  Give each group one phrase worksheet and one melodic instrument.  I chose C pentatonic when setting up my Orff instruments.

Students should work together to create a melody for their phrase and record it in the grid. Because I wanted students to be able to sing the melodies, I asked students to experiment playing and singing what they played to find a pattern that they liked, then write it down.  Use whatever symbols your students are ready for in their compositions.  Because reading and writing melodic notation was not one of my objectives, I chose to ask students to record the letter names taken from the Orff instrument bars in each box.

Giving each student in the group a job can facilitate smoother group interactions.  For example, one student plays, one student sings what was played, one student notices the letter names of the melody and calls them out to the fourth student who writes them down.  Switch jobs and write another version, etc.  When the group has created four versions of the phrase, they should sing them again and decide which one they would like to select for their group performance.  Of course, editing and combining versions would be allowed!  Create a group performance by sequencing the small groups.  

Additional hints on using a grid for music composition may be found here.

To Make or Purchase?

That is the question.  You do not need to purchase anything to do this activity!  A sharpie and some card stock will get you through that first day quite nicely.  I can say this from personal experience.  An IWB file with the phrases pre-typed on a page could lead to a short lesson on decoding the rhythm patterns by listening.  Write the rhythms by hand on your IWB, then on to any of the other choices listed above.

If you do not have time for even this (no judging - we have LOTS to get ready for the first day of school!!!!),  you can purchase my set of slides, printable cards and worksheets in my TpT store here:  

Here's to making back to school MUSICAL!

I've been working on bulletin boards and room decor this past week because my school started TODAY!  I was scrambling to get my "I Can" statements posted and figured out that they would fit nicely on a section of my magnetic "whiteboard" that I don't use often.  I was contemplating a trip to the teacher store to find some color coordinated magnets when I remembered that I had a stash of old school calendar magnets in the back of the closet.

Many businesses are using magnets as promotional items to promote their business. Sometimes they have extras from a specific event or last year's calendar, and would be happy to donate.

First I plugged in the hot glue gun.  These old calendars happen to be about 3"x5", so I cut them into pieces with some sharp scissors.

A little hot glue was all it took to recycle these calendar magnets and get my "I Can" statements posted.  

All done!

I hope you enjoyed this quick tip!


If you and I were in the same room, we could talk for hours about music, education, families, kids, and lots more.  It happens to me regularly...I'm late to something because I was talking to someone for too long!  BUT.  There always seems to be a catch.  I seem to have more trouble being chatty in print.  While I have lots to share, this blog has been a challenge for me.  Perhaps if we get to know each other a little better, and create conversations rather than one-sided posts, it will feel more like a personal conversation than a writing assignment!  

In an effort to create more of a community feel, several music blogger friends and I have joined together for a blog hop. We've teamed together in order to collaborate as bloggers and bring you music education ideas using a variety of methodologies and approaches. However, before diving into music education topics, we thought it would be fun to get to know each other and our audiences through a blog hop!

How will this blog hop benefit you?

#1.  Getting to Know You
We want a chance to get to know you! Understanding our current and past experiences helps us to form stronger professional learning communities, and we'd love for you to be a part of it!

Now, it's question time!  I'll go first.

What state/region are you in?  

I am living in South Carolina, in the largest town that I have ever lived in!  I grew up in the small town, Mustang, Oklahoma, so I am an Okie at heart.  Each time my family moved, the towns got bigger and bigger.  Now, Columbia is still much smaller than Oklahoma City or Atlanta or LA,  but I have to drive on the interstate to get to work each day, and there is TRAFFIC!

What is your background education/experience?

I was a band kid growing up. I played flute, then switched to French horn my junior year in high school. That year was full of changes for me. My family had just moved halfway across the country and I was now a part of a state champion band.  I caught the serious music bug! My family moved again my senior year, back to Oklahoma. A college band director came to work with our high school band. That was when I first considered the possibility of majoring in music. I was definitely a late bloomer!

I completed my undergrad at Oklahoma State University with some great professors. Prof Montemurro (that band director I had met in high school), Mr. Henry, and Dr. Carter to name a few. I always felt that I had been very prepared for teaching.  I still had beginning teacher struggles, but I knew what to expect. I am very thankful that OSU accepted me into their program and helped me to grow.

Over the years I have taught middle school and high school band, elementary band and strings, children's and adult church choir and handbell choirs. I finally settled in to elementary general music when my own children were in elementary, loved it and stayed. 

The cool thing about music is that you can study for years and still have more to learn. In this quest for more knowledge, better skills and just plain music fun, have completed Orff level 1, GIML Elementary General level 1, GIML Early Childhood level 1, and GIML Instrumental level 1. FINALLY, in May I earned my masters degree in music education from the University of South Carolina, studying with the awesome Dr. Wendy Valerio.

Name something quirky about yourself or one interesting fact.

I like to read and make crafty things, but I am a techy at heart.  My daughter once told me, "Mom, you know you are a geek when you have a technology section in your purse."  While I have taken a few classes, I am mostly self-taught.  My motto is "Just keep clicking until something happens!" Because I have been doing that for a long time, I have skills in a variety of areas and always love learning a new techy trick.  Even with all of those techy skills, I just traded in my flip phone for my first smartphone in April.  

It's time for the next stop, but before you leave, please join in the conversation!  The next question is for you.  Be sure to answer in the comments section! 
Name something quirky about yourself or one interesting fact.

After you've commented with your answer, simply click on the image below to go to the next stop in the blog hop!

#2.  Giveaway

After you're finished with the hop, you can enter a giveaway for your chance to win tons of teacher goodies that are sure to make you smile! Simply leave a comment on this post with an answer to the highlighted question at the bottom of this post. Then, do the same at each blog hop stop. When you reach the end of the blog hop, you'll be able to enter the giveaway for your chance to win!

The winner will receive some paper goodies to stay organized, an inspirational quote block for your desk along with a book that is sure to keep you laughing till your spring concerts; complete with very sweet, but very wrong test answers from students, and some practical items such as hand sanitizer and a glass jar to store your pencils.

So, don't forget to answer the highlighted question at the bottom of this post before hopping to the next blog!

*This giveaway has ended.*

We've got something exciting to share!  A group of 19 music teachers on TeachersPayTeachers have collaborated to do a fun giveaway starting on Thursday, June 25th and ending on Saturday, June 27th!  YOU can win one of two $50 gift cards to TeachersPayTeachers.   That would come in handy because I certainly have enough on my wish list!

This giveaway is fun!  You will be doing a Music Summer Shop Hop, traveling to different stores collecting letters to a secret code along the way.  Then come back here to put the code in to the Rafflecopter.  Here's the details:

1.  Start at Pitch Publications to get your first letter.  Be sure to write the letters down so you have the when you come back to the Rafflecopter.

2.  Then click the green "follow" button at each store while you are there.

3.  Now click "next" (right next to the letter) to go to the next store and get the letter, etc...There should be 19 letters total.

4.  Once you have the secret code, come back here and to put in the final code and enter!

Good luck and thanks for all the support you give!

This giveaway runs from June 25-27th.  Winners will be announced on the 28th!

Have fun!


Music Summer Shop Hop Entry Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One of my strategies for surviving the last month of school is to get kids moving!  The popularity of Cinco de Mayo in recent years gives me a great excuse (as if I needed one!) to teach Los Machetes, a folk dance from the Jalisco region of Mexico.
Today I am linking up with Noteworthy by Jen for Five Favorite Music Freebies!

Who doesn't love a freebie?  These fabulous teacher-authors have offered some of their work as freebies.  Let's see what we can find!

 Cooking Up Some Melodies (With a Side of Fun) by SingtoKids is a great way to get kids thinking musically.  I realize that I spend too much time asking kids to echo and "be the same as me."  I need to get kids using the patterns and melodies that we have learned to create their own music, and "be different from me."  Jennifer's songs are so creative, and the activities are wonderfully age appropriate.  This freebie is just a sampler of a larger product, which is also great!

Tchaikovsky Staggered Book Freebie by Rhythm & Bloom will be a great addition to my 3rd grade Nutcracker unit.  It has just the right number of pages and facts about Tchaikovsky presented in an engaging format.  The other benefit will be that this could go into my sub tub because we all know that I will get sick sometime during the fall, and my students will have the benefit of working on relevant and interesting project!

Personages with Long Ears Listening Map by Cowgirl Compositions is so cute!  The animated donkey, hopping up into the air will keep kids engaged!  The music is not included for copyright reasons, but I had no trouble inserting my own sound file on that page.  (I did have to click on the animation tab, and move (reorder) the sound file to the top of the list so it plays first, before all of the donkey jumps.)  My students will love this one!

"Toad"ally Awesome Music Awards by Music with Sara Bibee are great little classroom awards.  My students seem to need extra incentives in the spring time!  This cute little set has several frog-themed sayings, such as "You had a 'TOAD'ally awesome day in music class!"  To make this extra special, there are also blank cards and an editable PowerPoint version so I can personalize the awards just for my kids.

This Year Rocked! End of the Year Memory Book Freebie from The Bulletin Board Lady Tracy King is an easy to use activity.  Just print only the pages you wish to include, and you are ready for class.  While this is not music class specific, and could be used in a regular classroom, the cute rock music theme works well for me.  My district supports the arts with one fine arts field trip per year for grades 1-4.  I'm definitely using the "Rockin' the Field Trip" page!

Here is a freebie from my store!  Spring Flowers Animated Vocal Explorations PowerPoint and Worksheet will help you young students explore their voices in a guided manner.  I am convinced that doing regular vocal explorations, insisting that students use their singing voices, and find their high, light range has made my students better singers!  The animations include a butterfly, bee, and a grasshopper, and will only work when in presentation mode.  One printable worksheet is included to encourage students to create their own pathway and follow it with their voice.  

I hope you have enjoyed reading about these freebies!  Let me know about your favorites in the comments, and be sure to check in with Noteworthy by Jen's linky party to find out about more great freebies!