December 17, 2014

12 Days of Christmas {Music} Giveaways - Day 10

For the 10th day of my Christmas {Music} Giveaway, I am hosting a Raffle Giveaway!  This is my first raffle like this and I am excited to see how it works!  You can enter once for each of the types of entries below.  Two winners will be selected on Friday 12/19 at 10:00 am.  Each winner will receive a $10 TpT Gift Certificate to use on any items on TpT!  So exciting!  Remember you can enter daily to get those entries in!!  The more you enter, the more likely you are to win!!

Continue Reading ...

December 4, 2014

What's On Your Desk? and 12 Days of Christmas {Music} Giveaways!

Rachel Tanenblatt over at Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt is doing a linky party to show what is on your desk at the moment.   I must give a disclaimer before viewing - it is not a pretty sight!  I always have the "stack" on my desk - its where I pile all things I need but don't want to deal with.  I have the "stack" at home too.  It appears to be about to topple off my desk in this pic.

Also, please note my favorite desk item during December - my USB-powered Christmas tree.  He blinks and is so cute and makes me happy all day.  My trusty dusty MacBook Pro is always up - going on 5 years, I love him and hope he keeps on trucking for many more years.  It is a District-owned computer from a time period when the music departments got to pilot Mac products in music.  If and when it dies, I will get a crappy Dell so I am coddling him to keep working as long as I can!

Also please note iPad #4 in the bottom left corner - he is out of commission and won't get onto my classroom iPads' iTunes account - I've been troubleshooting for 2 or 3 days without any enlightenment.
Thanks, Rachel, for the link-up!  Its fun to blog about something not so music-ful!

In other news, I am doing a 12 Days of Christmas {Music} Giveaway!  Make sure you follow me over on Facebook to see what is the daily giveaway!   Click on the image below to follow the link to today's giveaway!

Continue Reading ...

November 30, 2014

Recorder (and Other) Resources and Cyber Sale Link-Up

So with the TeachersPayTeachers Cyber Sale coming up, I am super excited to be sharing with you some awesome resources you can check out during this 2 day Mega-Sale at my TpT store and so many others' awesome TpT stores.  I am linking up with Amy Abbott over at Music a la Abbott with a link party to feature my own and others' products!

My Featured Product

My "RECORDERS ROCK" soprano recorder method book is one of the best-sellers in my store.  And for Monday December 1 and Tuesday December 2, you can get this method book for less than $7.  What a deal!  What makes my Recorders Rock Method book unique is the fact that I start students on low E - 5 fingers plus your thumb.  This forces students to start playing recorder with good air support and proper finger position - you cannot blow super hard and have sloppy fingers and play low E successfully!  Impossible!  So even though the first day or so is hard as you really just work on slow, warm air, and covering the holes correctly, once your students are making a beautiful E sound, the rest comes so much easier than the traditional "start on B" method.  Before Thanksgiving, I had 120 fifth graders playing a recorder concert of 4 tunes playing mostly in tune, in unison, and with good tone.  That was after only seven 45-minute music classes.  This method works!!!

Another cool thing with my recorder method book is the leveled testing system.  There are certain songs throughout the method book that are colored that can be used for assessment.  I have my students play the colored songs individually for me so I can assess their progress and give individual help.  Each level earns the students a colored rainbow loom band that the students can display on their recorders.  As we work through the levels, they will build a rainbow on their recorder!  So pretty!

My Recommended Music Product

I also would like to recommend a product from another music teachers' store that I have used and adored this school year.  Sara Bibee at Music with Sara Bibee (Facebook link) produces excellent resources that are thorough, eye-appealing, and well-designed.  

At the beginning of the school year, I was designing a recorder bulletin board that could be helpful for my students while playing recorder.  I found Sara's Recorder Fingering Charts and fell in love.  She has multiple formats with and without staff notation and big, bold, colorful note names.  I printed them and hung them on my bulletin board along with her Chevron pennant banners with instant success!  

Here are some examples of the different types of charts she has (I added her logo so there would be no copyright infringement - just buy the set!).  

She has the fingering charts in both PDF and JPEG formats.  This is great because I also paste her fingering charts into my ActivInspire flipcharts that I use with my ActivBoard (like SmartBoard but just a different brand).  Love them!  

 My Recommended Non-Music Product

I know this product is not music-related but its too cute not to recommend.  These little guys are gonna show up in some of my winter product later this year and in early 2015.  They are too cute to pass up and will add pizzazz to whatever classroom resources you're creating.  These are the Snow Buddies Clipart Set from Krista Wallen.  Visit her entire store full of amazing clipart here.  

Continue Reading ...

November 24, 2014

Tech Talk Tuesday - iPads in the Music Classroom: 5 Best Apps for Music Class

So this is my 3rd year using iPads in my music classroom.  When I moved to Clark Creek Elementary STEM Academy to open the school in 2012, I piloted a 16-iPad lab as a part of a music technology pilot.  Since Clark Creek is a STEM Academy, this was a perfect pairing of the Arts and STEM.  It was a truly trial-by-fire kind of experience and I learned a lot as I made mistakes and explored this new realm in music technology.  Unfortunately, I was super busy those first 2 years (as my children we super young - when I started at Clark Creek in 2012 my son was 5 months old and my daughter was 2), and needless to say, I had very little time to blog about the entire experience.  I regret this and I wish I could go back in time and write along the way.
One post that I have been meaning to write for these 2 (almost 3…yikes!) years is a review of my favorite apps.  Shelley Tomich over at is doing a Tech Talk Tuesday and encourages other music teachers to also blog about something techy.  Here's my chance!  Thanks Shelley for getting me writing again!  She is also is a mom of little kids so we're in the same busy boat…however, I think she is able to find more hours in the day than me!!  Good going, Shelley!

So here goes my top 5 Favorite iPad Apps for Music Class

Meet the Orchestra $1.99
This super cute app is well-designed, accessible, fun, and authentic.  The orchestra sounds are super high quality and the graphics and images are accurate.  There are two components to this app: Learn and Quiz.  The Learn section allows you to browse through the families and instruments of the orchestra.  Each instrument has 3-5 iconic orchestral and/or solo excerpts for your listening enjoyment as well as a thorough description of the instrument's characteristics to read.  In the Quiz section, there are 4 different games that help students identify instruments by name, by sound, and by sight.  Love this app!  And its worth all 199 cents!

Monster Chorus   FREE!!
This funny app is appealing to the younger students I have.  I use this app when we start talking about pitch.  Its a great app for pitch exploration and to discover pitch relationships within the major scale.  Each monster-alien-thing sings a different pitch in the major scale using a neutral syllable.  What I like is that there are also a built-in songs that students following along like the game "Simon" to play familiar children's melodies like "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Three Blind Mice" with the option to buy more songs.  Cute, simple, and fun!

StoryBots  FREE!!
This app is a lot like Monster Chorus but better.  The robots can sing using the neutral syllables "la" or "bum" but also with the solfa syllables and pitch names.  You can toggle between the syllables easily and visually it doesn't change the robots.  I like the opportunity again for pitch exploration and making observations about pitch relationships (particularly size vs. pitch - the small robots make high sounds and the big robots make low sounds).  I also use this app when discussing pitch relationships with the younger kids.   I find that an iPad is a better beginning hands-on pitch experience over acoustic instruments because the technique challenge (mallets or bells or even boomwhackers have technique learning curves) isn't an issue!  

Tune Train   FREE!!
This adorable app allows students to be successful composers.  The train picks up people in apartments which correlate to pitches and chords.  Each level is set up so that pitch options are limited to the predetermined chord structure of the particular level.  The built in accompaniments in a variety of styles (like pop, latin, pop rock, rock, classical) makes students feel very successful very quickly.  I also use this app when discussing pitch but towards the end of pitch units.  Once my students have a firm understanding of pitch relationships, they can make educated decisions about what notes to use and how they want their melodies to sound.  This time of year Santa and his reindeer even show up in the last level!!

Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra   FREE!!
I am amazed that this app is free.  It is so high-quality that I can't believe you don't have to pay for it!  I love using YPG by Britten to teach about the orchestra.  The music is great listening and this app makes the piece fun and exciting.  There are many components to this app.  You can listen to the piece enhanced with video footage of the orchestra performing and/or the score notation.  There is a listening quiz and a game to organize and arrange your own fugue.  There is a very thorough and interactive  biography of Benjamin Britten that is truly enjoyable.  I used this app almost exclusively last year to teach the orchestra.  I have a lesson plan and complete review in the works.  Stay tuned for more here….

What is best about these 5 apps is that 80% of them are FREE!!!  And only 1 costs money at $1.99.  I highly recommend all 5 of these apps.  Please contact me with any questions you have about how I teach with iPads.  I plan to blog more about my approach and technique over the next few months!  Thanks for reading and thanks again to Shelley for the linky party!

Continue Reading ...