Five Favorite Music Pins of October

1.  I Knew You Were Treble
My students loved this video--nothing makes my heart happier than when my students understand music well enough to laugh at a music parody and start singing along with it.  And it helps them learn the names of the notes on the staff!

2.  Recorder Karate Loom Bands
This is a great idea that I got from this pin.  If you want to read more about some great Recorder Karate pins, go here.

 3.  Name that Solfege Tune
What a fun idea and a great way to reinforce the solfege they are learning in class!

4.  So Mi Fishbowl Notation
How cute is this?  Students will love this activity!  And it's very economical :)

5.  Note-Go-Find
How fun would this be to have a scavenger hunt around the classroom?  And it's easy to differentiate this activity!  Click on the picture to read more about it.


Recorder Karate Ideas Galore!

So, I have seen a TON of good ideas on Pinterest for Recorder Karate.  So, I thought to myself, why not compile them all in one place?  :)  Here's some info on Recorder Karate and also some cool ideas I found.

What is Recorder Karate?
Basically, students master certain songs on their recorder to earn "karate belts."  It's a great idea and comes from this book.

What adaptations have people made?
I personally have found that you need a lot more than just the songs in the Recorder Karate book to help them be successful recorder players.  They need more in-between songs to help them learn the notes.  I have also found that I don't necessarily agree with the sequencing of the original book--shouldn't the black belt be harder than the blue belt?  So, this year I've taken Recorder Resource 1 and adapted it for my school to help there be a more sequential order.
Yes, it's a bit more expensive, but it's very sequential and it comes with Power Points that include the backgrounds to the songs.  I also like that it has a version of the songs with "kids notes."  Basically, the note name is written inside of the note head.  I think this is great for students who are getting additional help in reading--we should be differentiating our instruction in the music classroom too! 
So here is my version:
I made my own spots in the Recorder Resource Kit packet that are the required songs for each belt.  I pasted a cute little karate kid next to each song that is required for a belt.  Speaking of belts . . .

What do you use for Recorder Karate belts?
I used to use thin ribbons, but they often fell off of the recorder, and it took a long time to cut them all.  And I still hadn't found a good way to organize them.  I had also seen people use yarn--which is fine, but I wanted it to look a bit more fashionable :)  So then I saw this beautiful post on Pinterest about using loom bands and wahlah:
An organized assortment of Recorder Karate belts for $15.  It will last me for YEARS before I have to get more.  AND they are latex-free!!
Here's what they look like on the recorders:
Pretty sweet!  And I also bought silver, striped, and glow-in-the-dark belts for my students to earn if they get to their black belt.  FYI--I also keep track of their progress in a notebook, so they can't just go home and add some loom bands to their recorder . . .

And now the biggest question--HOW TO SHOW THEIR PROGRESS!!
This is where there are lots of great ideas on Pinterest.
Here is my set-up for this year:
Each belt has it's own colored paper in the back of the room (with a cute clip art from the original Recorder Karate book--if you want that clip art, it's worth buying the book for it!).  

Then, each student has their own clip that they put on the belt they have most recently earned.   I also used the clip art to make these :)

Other great ideas I saw on Pinterest:  (Click on the picture to get to the pin.)

And here are some other cool Recorder Karate pins that may peak your interest:
Storage Ideas:
Belt Ideas:
Other assessment tools:
How to use recorder karate with Recorder Express:
Differentiation with SMARTBoards and iPads:

Practicing tips for students:

Organization and procedure tips:
Procedure ideas:

     I would also recommend posting recorder rules somewhere in your room along with the fingering charts for the notes they have learned.  
     Hope it was helpful to have all of these ideas in one place!!  Feel free to comment with any ideas you have used--I would love to hear them!

FREE Website for Brain Breaks

     I have a class that really needs A LOT of movement this year to help them focus.  One of my colleagues had sent out a website for us to look at earlier this year, but I never tried it.  Later, I asked my principal if she had a tips to help me with one class and she suggested trying the website out.  The site is called GoNoodle and the best part is that it's FREE! 
     Here's what you do to use it:
Create an account and sign-up under a school.  Mine was already listed!

Once you are in, you can test it out with a demo class by clicking on the question mark.   Later you can go back and add a specific class.  I have added about 10 of them and it hasn't made me pay yet :)

 Then you have to pick a "champ."  The students love these!!
 The teacher-only demo are is great because it lets you figure out the program before you try it out with a class.
 Here is what the initial choices are:
 I haven't had that much luck with the YouTube videos running (and the videos have less structure for the students to engage with).  But the other videos--WOW!  Here is an screenshot of some of the Zumba kids videos:
 And here is Run With Us:
  The Run With Us warm-ups are great for the focus of students and they actually enjoy them!  Most of the time when the students have completed an entire video, they get a point towards earning a new "champ." 

     One of the reasons I like these brain breaks is that students love to have choices, and this is an easy way to give them a "say" in what we do.  This website also takes no extra planning time on my part (which is a huge plus).  Also, I have not found one video that the students have been bored with.  In fact, my 4th graders picked one that was made for maybe 1st grade, and they were giggling the whole time they were doing it! 

     So, whether you are a music teacher, classroom teacher, or stay-at-home-mom and you are looking for a way to help your students/children get their wiggles out, check out GoNoodle!

DIY Conducting Batons

Several years ago I wanted to make conducting more exciting for my students, so I decided to have them make conducting batons!  Here's the basics of what I did:

Purchase supplies:  You will need:
*wine corks--unused (I bought mine online, it was around $11.00 for 100, but not sure on the shipping)
*wooden skewers like you would use for shish kabobs (priced online for .45 for 100

 Also consider buying:
*acrylic paint, gloss, and paintbrushes (egg cartons will work for holding the paint)
*a piece of Styrofoam to stick the batons in for drying the paint

1.  Put each students name or initials on the bottom of the cork.

 2.  Put the pointy end of the skewer into the other end of the cork.
 3.  Have students paint the base of their baton.  They may need 2 coats
 4.  Have students paint the stick of their baton.

5.  Cover with at least 2 coats of gloss.  And--tadah!  You have made cheap batons for maybe .30 each!  They are easy to store in a container with the names up so students can find theirs quickly.  The paint jobs also help them find their baton quicker and also gives them a sense of ownership when conducting :)

6.  Make a conducting CD with great classical and popular songs to help your students experience lots of tempos, meters, and musical styles!  Enjoy!

Why Music Is An Essential Class in Elementary School

As a music educator, I've always seen the value of music for elementary age students (and really any age) for a variety of reasons.  It baffles me when school districts cut music programs!  And here are just a few reasons why:

1.  Music education promotes teamwork and cooperation.  And unlike recess time, when a student may be off to the side because they have struggles socially, music includes ALL students.  I once had a special needs student who I thought was barely aware of anything going on in my classroom.  The very last day of the year, he verbalized that he wanted to play a certain game (the verbal part was a big deal for him!).  Not only did we play the game, but he led it.  The look on his face was priceless. 

2.  Music education develops a different part of the brain than students use during their "core" classes.  Some students who cannot process math or reading in the typical mediums, can learn through music.  Which also leads me to the fact that . . .

3.  Music classes provide self-confidence for students who are gifted in music (many of whom may struggle in other areas).  I have had friends tell me they only showed up for high school because they liked choir, otherwise they may have never graduated!  And that's coming from people who didn't go on to do anything in music for their profession.

4.  Musical movement gives students a positive way to get their wiggles out!  And they may even learn something from all of that movement we do . . .

5.  Children can create beautiful music!  It also gives them an appreciation for music, and we need aesthetic appreciation and creativity in our culture! 

6.  Music teaches children about our culture and heritage.  I require all of my students to memorize the National Anthem in 4th grade.  Where else is someone going to take the time to make sure they actually know they words and what they song is about?  Also, you should see the smiles on the faces of my students when they finally "get" a folk dance they are doing.  You would think they just won a video game.  But wait, they aren't hooked up to a tv or phone, they are engaging with other human beings!! 

7.  Play is essential to the development of children's brains.   Want some more proof that this is true?   One study found that “preschool children taught with games and songs showed an IQ advantage for 10 to 20 points over those without the songs, and at age 15 had higher reading and math scores” (Harvey, 1997). (  Which leads me to my next point...

8.  Music increases test scores because it increases learning.  And since our schools are so concerned with test scores right now, shouldn't music be essential to them?

9.  Music is unifying.  I have not met a single person who absolutely hates all music ever created.  This can rarely be said about other topics such as games, sports, fashion, etc. 

10.  Music is fun.  And beautiful.  And inspiring.  And something so unique from everything else in the world.  It moves us, makes us dance, cry, remember, celebrate, worship, hold loved ones close, helps babies fall asleep.  Music is . . . well, music.  And that alone is powerful. 

Advocate for your school's music program.  Your students deserve it!

“It's [music education] terribly important, extremely important -- because when you are a child, you are in a receptive age ... In high schools, public schools -- that's where they must have the best influence, the first influence, which will go through their whole life.”
- Eugene Ormandy – conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra

Creative Ways to Get Your Students to Remember Music Vocabulary

     If you can find something that relates to your students' cultures, they will love it!  Check this one out.  "I Knew You Were Treble"  Oh, boy . . .

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