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MusicEd Blogs is a collection of the best music education blogs from around the internet. We cover general music education, band, choir, strings, music education methodologies, and more. Our blogs are relevant to elementary, middle school, and high school music teachers.

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  • Make a Water Drum In Your Own Backyard
    Does this look like fun? This musical water play is based on an actual instrument called a gourd water drum. Found both in Africa and in the ancient Mayan culture of Mexico, this drum has a completely unique and amazing sound that is deep and resonant and can be heard… Read more »
  • The Qualities of an Empowered Music Student
    For a long time, our focus was on engaging the learners and making sure students were “actively engaged” in music-making in the music classroom. But more recently, we have discovered that engagement is not enough. To make an impact and to optimize life-long learning, students must be empowered. The best… Read more »
  • ASMTA Conference Sessions: Tradition and Innovation Part 2
    Getting Over the Fear of Teaching Online and Video LessonsBy Jennifer FoxxI thought the conference theme this year was a perfect one to share my presentation, Getting Over the Fear of Teaching Online and Video Lessons. This is a session where I stress that teaching online or giving a video… Read more »
  • Mendelssohn – “Elegy” from Songs Without Words, Op. 85 #4
    One of my students wants to learn the Brahms Intermezzo Op. 118 #2, which scares me to death because I’ve never played it.  I’m reminded of the time when I tackled the Alban Berg Piano Sonata, and my teacher Sementovsky (who had never heard the work before) said to me,… Read more »
  • ASMTA Conference Sessions: Tradition and Innovation Part 1
    I just returned from our state conference in Flagstaff, AZ. If you are not familiar with northern AZ, it’s where the rest of the state goes to visit when it’s too hot. Arizona is quite an amazing state because you can go from 115 degree weather in the middle of… Read more »
  • UMT Interview: 5 Ways to Motivate Practice Over the Summer
    I am updating this post to let you know that I went live on Facebook with Glory St. Germain from the Ultimate Music Theory Friday, June 14th, 10:00 am CST. Glory interviewed me, where I shared, 5 Ways to Motivate Practice Over the Summer!If you couldn’t make it live, no worries! You… Read more »
  • Planning the Choir Year: 4 Creative Theme Ideas for Your Children's Choir
    How do you plan your choir year?Maybe you spend some time over the summer mapping out what dates your choir will sing, what hymns you’d like to teach them, listening to new releases from the publishers to get ideas for anthems, and searching Pinterest for games and other creative ideas.Maybe… Read more »
  • Rain Come Wet Me for the Elementary Music Classroom
    I started my college years believing that I’d be a high school band director. Therefore, when I found myself in the elementary music classroom years later, it felt natural to include instruments in my lesson plans. Yet, for teachers without an instrumental background, it can be intimidating. Starting with the… Read more »
  • Summer Reflection: School Year Highlights
    I like to take time at the end of each school year to reflect. It's easy for me to get so caught up in the excitement of new ideas I have for next year that I don't spend enough time really processing the year that has just passed! This year… Read more »
  • Help! My Student Wants to Quit!
    Like all of us, over the years I have had students quit. Quitting is inevitable, we know this, but what makes it especially hard is when the quitting happens prematurely. It absolutely kills me when a student that has so much potential and is on what I would consider at… Read more »
  • Meter Test (1st Revised Version)
    In this blogpost, you’ll find the audio files of the Meter Test – 1st revised version, along with this answer sheet (page 1 and page 2).  I’m proud to announce that I shaved a whopping 10 minutes off the test!  From start to finish, it now takes 20 minutes to… Read more »
  • Summer Plans
    Sometimes the school year winds down slowly. Often I have a chance to plan and get a head start on next year's musical or winter sings. But this year came to a crashing halt. It was a long, busy, hard year. I haven't had a year like this in a… Read more »
  • Games in General Music
    My students love to play games in general music class. I’m guessing yours do to. Games are the epitome of making learning fun and motivating students to be engaged in the classroom activity. This is especially helpful at this time of year, when students (and teachers) are restless anticipating the… Read more »
  • Life Lately: Spring Edition
    I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons lately - how they shift and change, pulling us into something new, yet familiar, inviting us to change right along with it.There’s something so reassuring about picturing your life this way: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose… Read more »
  • How to Use Vocal Exploration in Your Rehearsals: 19 Practical Ideas
    Vocal exploration, or time spent exploring what the voice can do is a vital part of early childhood and elementary music-making. Invite your singers to experience what their voice can do and experiment with different types of sounds.As you plan your choir rehearsals, look for new and creative ways for… Read more »
  • Music Teacher Tip #16: Putting Together the “Puzzle” of Lesson Schedules
    If you have ever put together a fall schedule, then you know what I’m talking about when I say it’s like putting together a puzzle. Student, A needs to switch over to Wednesdays at 4 pm while student B needs to move up an hour, then let’s not forget students… Read more »
  • 3 Curriculum Outlines: Kodaly-Inspired, Orff-Inspired, and Beginning Student
    There are so many different places you can start from when creating a Curriculum Outline. A curriculum outline is a broad overview of your entire program, across all grade levels. It’s a zoomed out picture of what concepts you want to cover, and what grades will cover them.I’ve written about… Read more »
  • Best Strategies for Teaching Tempo
    One of the fundamental aspects of music that students need to explore in general music is tempo, but it can be difficult to come up with different lesson ideas to keep students engaged while giving them the practice they need. Today I want to share some of my most effective… Read more »
  • Are Baby Music Classes Really Worth It?
    Are Baby Music Classes REALLY Worth it? Is my child too young for baby music class and am I going to just throw away a lot of money. To answer this question I asked a friend of mine who teaches a successful baby music class and a mom of four.… Read more »
  • May Favorites 2019
    Today is the day I get to look back on the past month and celebrate some of my highlights with you! I admit, some months I have a harder time coming up with things to share because life seems pretty mundane. Not so in May!1. International Music FestivalI've been teaching… Read more »
  • Summer 5's
    School is out for the Summer! I had a great first year at Liberty Union and I am excited to get time for rest, family, and fun this summer.  I know I will come back to LU feeling refreshed and ready to go next school year.  I thought I would… Read more »
  • Steve’s Must-Read Music Teacher PD Book List
    Must-Read Music Teacher Professional Development Book List These books have a common theme, they promote Informal learning, Non-formal teaching, popular music education, or creativity, and sometimes all four! Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools Rock Coach by Steve Giddings Bit of a shameless self plug… Read more »
  • Bubble Wrap Incentives
    Since spring break, I've discovered a cheap and effective behavior incentive--BUBBLE WRAP! It happened by accident. I had opened a box of supplies but didn't have time to put them all away before my first class came in. The 5th graders immediately spotted the bubble wrap and begged to pop… Read more »
  • Successful Sight-singing Strategies (Killian & Henry, 2005)
    Killian, J. N., & Henry, M. L. (2005). A comparison of successful and unsuccessful strategies in individual sight-singing preparation and performance. Journal of Research in Music Education, 53(1), 51-65. What observable strategies or characteristics are associated with high-, medium-, or low-accuracy among high school sight-singers? Participants were 198 singers in… Read more »
  • 11 Prayers for Children's Choir
    Prayer is an important part of any church choir rehearsal, but maybe especially for children’s choirs.Spiritual growth goes hand-in-hand with music education in this setting, and taking time to pray together is an important part of cultivating faith, learning how to trust, and developing a personal understanding of who God… Read more »
  • The Snowball Fight – A Music Composition Strategy
    A few weeks ago I mentioned a composition technique I tried with my beginning instrumental music students called a “snowball fight.” It’s commonly used in more academic classes, but was the perfect fit for music writing as well! Yes, I realize it’s the end of May and almost summer vacation,… Read more »
  • Piano Teacher Academy All Access
    Elizabeth Gutierrez is offering an unbelievable deal in the Piano Teacher Academy and I wanted to be sure you knew about it. Check out the lifetime membership for webinar workshops…You will receive access to Classical Rep Prep, Repertoire Roundup, Basic Teaching Moves, Technique Solutions and more!Make It A Summer of… Read more »
  • Planner Tour 2019-2020
    It's that time of year again: I've got my planner set up for the new school year and I'm so excited! Today I have a video tour of the entire planner, with links to everything I used and information on how I set everything up.This post contains affiliate links which… Read more »
  • Ada’s Violin – Making Music From Trash!
    Have you heard about the children’s orchestera where the instruments were made entirely from trash taken from a garbage dump?  How could this happen? You’ll love to hear the true story of a man named Favio Chávez who came to a small town in Paraguay as an environmental engineer and… Read more »
  • Adults’ Recognition of Young Children’s Musical Behaviors (Reese, 2013)
    Reese, J. A. (2013). Adult identification of music behaviors demonstrated by young children. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 198, 51-67. Do adults’ backgrounds affect their recognition of young children’s musical behaviors? Participants were 24 child development teachers (not music specialists), 24 early childhood music teachers, and… Read more »
  • Music Makers Podcast Show Notes: Review and Reset (season 2 episode 8)
    For so many of us, the school year has come to a close, or the end is right around the corner!However, before checking out completely, I like to take a long moment to reflect on the past year and plan for the next. What went well? What would I do… Read more »
  • What to Sing with Your Summer Choir
    So, you’ve decided to have a summer choir. 😊You’ve invited your current choir members and put the word out to others in the congregation who might be interested. Now, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to sing each week.Depending on how you structure your summer choir, you may… Read more »
  • Leg over Leg for the Elementary Music Classroom
    If you follow me on Facebook, then you know that I’ve been fox-obsessed lately. We’ve been lucky enough to have a family of foxes (mom and four kits) living in the small, wooded area behind our apartment in town. You can watch a video of them pouncing and playing here.… Read more »
  • Music Teacher Tip #15: A Creative Spin on Performance Introductions
    My most favorite performances that I have attended over the years have been where the performer has been interacting with the audience or there something is happening where the audience is being engaged.I’m going to be totally blunt for a minute, I can’t stand concerts where there is no engagement… Read more »
  • 10 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Music Classroom for Summer
    When you first started teaching, you probably just thought you’d get to wave bye-bye to your students, lock up your room, and peel out of the parking lot.  That’s not just me right?  Well, here’s the deal.  Before you get to go on your merry way, you have to do… Read more »
  • Am I Cut Out to Teach Music?
    There are lots of reasons people ask themselves, "Am I cut out to teach music?". I hear it most in the springtime, both from college students curious about the field, and from weary teachers overwhelmed by stress. My intent with this post is three-fold: to reassure and help burned out… Read more »
  • Meter Test (Original Version)
    Here is a meter test I put together many years ago, but never got around to administering.  I forgot all about it until recently when I was going through some old files and found the test and this blank answer sheet.  Each musical example is in either duple or triple… Read more »
  • Ending the School Year with Purposeful Fun
    It's the end of the year and once again many of us are questioning HOW to end the school year.  Do we show videos or musicals? Do we do singing games? A composition or writing project? How to finish strong?Much depends on the culture of your school and your students.… Read more »
  • How to Motivate Suzuki Students to Practice During the Summer
    Let’s face it! Summer is too much fun to stay on schedule! And yet our Suzuki violin students need to find different ways for effective Suzuki violin practice! Motivating Suzuki students to practice is easy when you have variety of tips and trick to use. The first three tips will… Read more »
  • My Favorite Apps and Websites
    Today I would like to share with you the apps and websites I use most frequently for planning, delivering, and assessing music instruction in my general music classes. Keeping my lesson plans organized and physically available where and when I needed them  was challenging for me for several years. When… Read more »
  • Adults’ Anxiety Toward Singing (Abril, 2007)
    Abril, C. R. (2007). I have a voice but I just can’t sing: A narrative investigation of singing and social anxiety. Music Education Research, 9(1), 1-15. What is the nature of adults’ anxiety toward music/singing, and what do they feel is the root of this anxiety? Abril conducted a narrative… Read more »
  • Jumpstart Your Music Career with These Helpful Tips
    The beginning of a new career is an exciting time, full of energy, motivation, and possibility.Maybe you’re taking that first step from music student to music professional, newly-printed diploma in hand (or in the mail—sometimes these things take a while).Or maybe you’ve been working for a few years and are… Read more »
  • Weevily Wheat for the Elementary Music Classroom
    Weevily Wheat is a fun song and game to do with students in your upper elementary music classes. Be sure to let your math teachers know if you plan to use it, and they can thank you later! NOTATION GAME WITH GROUPS OF FOUR The game for this song requires… Read more »
  • The Adventure Begins -#GoogleEI
    This has been an exciting few weeks: last Tuesday I found out I had been accepted into the Google Innovator program and will travel to London this summer to attend the Innovator Academy! This was my second time applying to the program, after not being accepted in 2018, and I… Read more »
  • Tuesday Book Club - Vocal Exploration Books
    I just wanted to quickly share 3 great books that I use for Vocal Explorations in K and 1.1. SAY ZOOP! by Hervé TulletThis book is amazing.  Each page has another fun thing to say.  The pictures correspond with the words, and sometimes even encourage you to get louder/ quieter or… Read more »
  • Music Teacher Tip #14: Recital Rehearsal
    Do you hold rehearsals for your recitals? When I first started teaching I didn’t. It wasn’t until a few years later when I held my recital in a big venue that students were unfamiliar with, that I thought a rehearsal would be a good idea. Fast forward to today and… Read more »
  • How to End the Year in the Kodaly Classroom
    If you’re like me, you’ve spent the whole year structuring your teaching so that your students are maximizing their fun and learning potential. But as the year draws to a close, the energy dips and our eyes start to turn toward glorious summer. You start to wonder about how to… Read more »
  • Soundscapes 4 Ways
    One of my favorite lesson ideas to keep in my back pocket is soundscapes. I use soundscapes for sub plans, for when I have to change my lesson at the last-minute, when I need to do a one-off lesson with one class to catch up the rest of the grade,… Read more »
  • The Power of Asking Questions
    As the music teacher, it is my job to direct a fifth grade spring musical. I choose the musical and create the cast list but over the years I have learned how to involve my students more and more in the creative process. I truly believe that students should share… Read more »
  • Favorite NEW Games
    I do love a good game!  I also love singing games and clapping games, as you can see from my books on the left! Check out the newest one, Sing a Song Play a Game: Singing Games from Around the World; there are 71 singing games in the collection! Shameless… Read more »
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