PRINTABLE Labels for Essential Questions or Concept Charts

I want to share with you my classroom Essential Questions and Concept display system.  I have a blue pocket chart mounted on the wall by my door.  I made these cute labels to denote each grade level’s essential question or concept for the week.  I use sentence strips to write out what we’re doing to post there.  I like having it by my door because it is a good visual for students on their way in to my room, a good indicator to my administrators of the value of what we’re learning in music, and a good assessment tool as we line up to review what we’ve covered in class.
There are many ways to use these labels though…

  • Mounted on the whiteboard and use a dry-erase marker to write in essential questions/concepts for the classes
  • Mounted on a bulletin board and use sentence strips to write in information
  • Mounted and laminated on butcher paper and write directly onto the laminating film with dry erase. Perfect if you’re limited on whiteboard or bulletin board space.

If you like this idea, click the image below to get your own labels.  I apologize for the small fee at TpT for these, but these things take time to create and I am a poor, furloughed teacher  😦  Thanks for your support!

Also, let me know how you use them!  Leave a comment below and tell me what you’ve done with them…even better, link to a picture so we can all see!!  

Friday Fave: "Sit With Me Maybe" from Listen & Learn Music

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite musicians/music therapist/composers I follow in the blogosphere.  Rachel Rambach is a super talented song-writer and music therapist and I have followed her blog for more than 3 years now.  If you have never visited her sites, start at Listen & Learn Music and start clicking!  She has more useful songs for teaching, ideas, and original songs than I can count!
This past week she posted a little parody to the song “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.  If you live in America and have a radio, you’ve heard this song….at least 17,000 times!!  We all hate to admit we like and sing along as loud as possible!
With starting at a new school, I found Rachel’s version, “Sit With Me Maybe” to be so appropriate for the beginning of the year.  We combined 5 different elementary schools to create Clark Creek ES STEM Academy and so we’re all making lots of new friends here.  So far this week, I have shared the song with the lyrics on a PowerPoint and the kids have had a blast singing along, since they already know the melody!  So head on over to Rachel’s site, have a listen, and if you like it, you can buy the mp3 and a PDF of the lyrics and chords for a small fee.  Totally worth it in my opinion!

And just for fun.  And because it’s Friday of the first week of school and I am deliriously tired…..another parody….for listening pleasure 🙂

Music Classroom Rules Printable Posters

Being at a new school, I am finding myself redoing and reinventing the way I’ve done things for years. I want my classroom to be fresh, new, cheerful, and visually appealing.  I have made new music classroom rules posters to be more positive and happy.  I think these posters do the trick!  The best part is there are 5 rules, one for each of the 5 letters in the word “MUSIC.”  You can mount them horizontally or vertically and they make a great statement in your classroom.  I have unfortunately have not had a chance to put them up in my classroom yet, due to long lines at the laminator 🙂  You’ll see them soon!

Music Class Pencil Container Labels – FREE PRINTABLE!

I am in my third day of preplanning at my new school!  I am working at Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy in Acworth, Georgia.  It is a brand-spanking new building and is STATE OF THE ART!  I love it!  More to come on my school, what STEM is, and my classroom set-up (you’ll love it!) later next week. 

But for now, here is a super cute idea for storing pencils in the music classroom.  I have ALWAYS struggled with this, since hundreds of students use my pencils each week and its virtually impossible to make sure they’re always sharpened and usable.  Thanks to Pinterest, I saw a great idea on labeling pencil cups with “Sharp” for sharpened, ready-to-use pencils, and “Flat”for pencils needing sharpening. 
Source: via Claire on Pinterest

 (click the picture to see the original Pinterest Pin; original source of picture unknown)

I love the music concept reinforcement with this using the actual “sharp” and “flat” symbols.  In making my own pencil cups, I created these labels and I wanted to share them with you!
To make mine, I used empty baby formula cans, but really you can use anything.  Whatever you have….reduce, reuse, recycle, right?!?  Also, like in the picture, I used 2 different size cans so there was also a distinct visual between the two cans (less likely for pencils to end up in the wrong places).  Here is how mine turned out (the paper covering is cheapo $1 wrapping paper from the dollar section at Target – don’t you love that section?!?!)

So, now its time for you to make your own!!  Click below to get the PDF for download!

A special thanks to Karen Coxat for her free download of the Polka Dot borders!  Super cute!  See her TeachersPayTeachers store for the download.

The Ultimate Music Teacher Organizer: Printables!

In keeping with the Back-To-School theme, I am sharing a printable with you today!  We all love printables!
In this printable download, you will find blank templates for Music Class lesson plans, grade books, and seating charts.  These are designed specifically with music teachers in mind.  We are unusual folk…we have 20, 30, or even 40 classes at a time, with 20-30 students in each, and we often teach the same lesson 5, 10, 15 times (once to each class) before moving on to the next lesson. If you’re here reading this, you know this and can easily relate!
The best part of this printable is that I can customize these pages for whatever need you have (for example; grades 3-5 only, 40 students in each class, etc.) since these were designed for the “typical”elementary school music teacher (does that even exist?!?!?What is typical?!?).  Anyway, I hope you can use these and please contact me for customization once you purchase!  I am happy to accomodate!

Once you have your pages customized, I recommend you print enough grade book, seating chart, and lesson plan pages for the school year, add some tabs, take these to an office supply store like Office Max or Office Depot, or to FedEx Kinko’s, add a durable cover and back, and have the experts there bind it for you.  You can get it spiral bound and it will last you the whole year!  I have done this for years and it works great!  You have everything you need for teaching your classes in one location!

Back-To-School Music Class Resources

By now, most school systems are out for summer break; some have just finished school and others, like my system, are preparing for the start of yet another school year.  Crazy!  I can’t believe how fast this year is flying by!

If you’re like me, a couple weeks prior to the return of school, I can’t help but start thinking about lesson plans, classroom arrangements, performances, and of course, school supplies (what teacher doesn’t love school supplies?!?  I admit, I get giddy when I see them!)
So in your preparation for your new school year, whether it is 2 weeks or 2 months away, here are some ideas via past posts and digital products that will get your music-teaching gears going!

End of the Year YouTube Singalong Playlist

Tomorrow is the last day of school for my District.  Woohoo!  My classes are always so crazy at the end of the year that I like to do something a little more active yet still musical.  So I created a YouTube playlist of 11 videos I found that are fun, sing-along (or move-along) type songs with the words and/or lyrics included.
These are the songs I included:

  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from “Mary Poppins” 
  • Hakuna Matata from “The Lion King”
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, book by Simms Tabeck, narrated by Cindi Lauper 
  • Under the Sea from “The Little Mermaid” 
  • The Penguin Dance from “Mary Poppins” 
  • Plain White T’s Song for Sesame Street (if you’ve never seen this, it’s hilarious!  I love it!)
  • Going on A Bear Hunt (this is a great version of this!)
  • If You’re a Kid (a fun movement listening activity – students must stand up for this)
  • Tooty Ta (keep the kids standing up, this one is hilarious!)
  • Mylie Cyrus Party in the USA – all kids love this one!
  • Katy Perry’s Firework – standard summer musical fare 🙂

My students ate this up today and I particularly enjoyed it as well!  I hope you will too!  Feel free to share with friends, colleagues, and family.  NOTE: This would even be a fun playlist for kids on a road trip or bored waiting at a doctor’s office!  

New at Learn Me Music: Newsletter Subscription!!

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Boomwhackers Resources Courtesy of Music Therapist Kat Fulton

Picture of Boomwhackers

I follow a lot of music therapists in the blog world, since I regularly teach self-contained autism classes at my current school.  Music therapists have amazing ideas for working with all kinds of people, not just people with special needs or who need “music therapy.”  I think all music educators can benefit from a good dose of music therapy!  

Check Out My Favorite Music Therapists
Two of my favorite music therapists I follow are Rachel Rambach of Listen Learn Music and Kat Fulton of Rhythm for Good and Sound Health Music.  Both are extremely talented musicians, composers, arrangers as well as therapists!  Please check out their sites and I highly recommend you subscribe to their e-mail newsletters – they are full of amazing music education resources.

Kat Fulton’s Boomwhackers
One of Kat Fulton’s strengths and passions is her use of Boomwhackers in her therapy.  She shares some amazing teaching techniques for Boomwhackers through her two websites and her Facebook page.  She also arranges all kinds of popular tunes for Boomwhackers like Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Katy Perry’s “Firework” (these links go to YouTube video performances of her arrangements on her SoundHealthMusic YouTube channel).

Facebook Boomwhacker’s Promotion and Free Download!!
Right now, Kat Fulton is promoting her “Boomies” arrangements and teaching techniques through her Facebook page.  Click the “Free Scores” tab on her Facebook page and follow the links to watch a video and download her arrangements, teaching technique presentation, and visual aids.  I just downloaded it all myself and was thoroughly impressed!  What awesome, free resources from an expert!!  Thanks, Kat!

Conversational Solfege Sight-Singing Flashcards

Have you heard of Conversational Solfege?  I had never until a couple years ago when I heard John Feirabend speak at the Georgia Music Educators Conference in Savannah, Georgia.  His presentation rocked my world and I came home talking about his ideas to everyone who would listen.  My poor husband about strangled me because I wouldn’t shut up!  Feirabend’s approach to teaching music literacy was innovative, but also so common-sense; it made so much sense to me!  If you are not familiar with John Feirabend and his Conversational Solege, check out these following links…

A free excerpt PDF download from GIA Music from Conversational Solfege Level 1

All Conversational Solfege Products for Purchase through GIA Music

Conversational Solfege Course taught by John Feirabend at The Hartt School

In a nut-shell though, his approach is that you teach music literacy (reading music) much in the same way you would approach teaching a conversational French or Spanish class.  That makes total sense because music notation is simply another language, a language that communicates musical ideas.  When learning a new language, the Spanish class teacher would start by, for example, holding up a pencil and saying “el lapiz” and the students repeat, “el lapiz.”  After doing that 10 times a day for a couple days, the students would start to know that a pencil is called “el lapiz.”  In music, the teacher would show a musical pattern, such as the one to the left, and “read” the symbols out by singing the pitches, “Sol – Mi – Sol Sol – Mi.”  The students repeat “Sol – Mi – Sol Sol – Mi.”  After repetition, the students start “reading” the new language and can start to transfer the knowledge to unknown patterns.  The ultimate goal of Conversational Solfege is for students to be proficient enough to create their own musical patterns through composition and improvisation, using their new “language.”

GIA Publications produces flashcards for Feirabend’s Colversational Solfege and I highly recommend you purchase them as well as the teacher manuals and even CD.  There is a course this summer and anyone who has never heard him speak, he will rock your world as well.

However, in using the method, I discovered a need for digital flashcards.  I created my own iconic and traditional notation flashcards for the beginning pitches of sol, la, and mi.  These are my own patterns and obviously, there are probably some of the same ones as Conversational Solfege, because there are only so many musical patterns you can create with 3 pitches!  The flashcards you can download below are in PowerPoint format, but can be printed as well.