Venturing out for a Safari

This has been one of the roughest weeks of my life. It got to the point where I truely felt numb from the reality around me because I just could not handle it at the moment. Thanks to good friends and supportive members of my PLN who have given me some confidence in myself again,  I am spending the weekend rebuilding my psyche and preparing for my last week of the year at my current school. It is time to truly in a matter of speaking go “balls to the wall”. I’m going to the leave this school for the year with truly no regrets. I plan on spending a lot of time outside, I plan on making lots of noise, and I plan on just making sure to leave these kids with a lasting love of music. 

I’m sort of using this post as an excuse to lesson plan this activity out, so bear with me if any mistakes come up.


  • Plastic empty easter eggs
  • Decorations for the eggs
  • Markers
  • Basket for found eggs
  • Clues
  • Signs
  • Map of instrument families


  •       Our precursor to this is that we have been working on the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra listening adventure from Carnegie Hall .
  • Before your class comes, find 4 secure places outdoors on the playground or inside that have good hiding spots for your eggs and hang up a sign labeling each of the 4 areas: Woodwind Pond, Brasslands, Percussion Paradise, and String Savannah.
  • Decorate your eggs to look like the little monsters from the adventure (I’m using markers, paste on eyes, and feathers) and label it with a name of the instruments on your hunt. Place a clue to the next instrument inside the egg and a little “You found me!” slip with the picture of the instrument. My clues are:


   I like to hang around with a lot of my friends near the pond, I have no reed but I’m still where I belong. Musicians play me while standing straight and tall, I sound the second highest of them all.


     I’m black and look a lot like a clarinet but I’ve got a reed a lot like the bagpipes that helps me play when wet. 


       I can play waaayyy down low to waaayy up high. My flat reed helps me make all of my friends at the pond jealous with the range of notes I can blow.


         A musician buzzes into me to make sound. I’m the highest gold looking instrument to be found.


         There was a song made that sang about 76 of me. My slide  that goes up and down makes my notes stay  on the beat.


         I’m the lowest instrument in the Brasslands that can be found. I can be found a lot in a band that marches around.


          I’m one of three instruments in my family that have to sit on the ground. Using a bow or fingers, a musician can make my sound.


           A musician plays me by putting part of me under their chin. Playing me with a bow or fingers, everyone wins!


             I am the old lady of my family standing as tall as a room. My beautiful melodies made with my many strings can make anyone swoon.

Snare Drum-

               Rat-atat-tat goes my sound when a musician taps me with sticks. I’m a snare with great tricks.


           Rolling on me can sometimes sound like thunder. There are usually 2 or 3 different sounding versions of me in an orchestra. 


             I have bars on my body and can be played with many mallets at once. My name begins with a letter of the alphabet absent from many words.

  •  After all of the eggs are ready, go hide those eggs around each of the 4 sections. Make sure they stay in the proper section though, trumpet in the Brasslands, Oboe at Woodwind Pond, etc.
  •  Once students come in and get settled,ready to go on to the next section of our adventure. I will calmly break it to them that the adventure is BROKEN! (oh noes!) but Uncle Ollie left us a note

   Oh my Safariers! I thank you for all of your help from afar. Our communication line is broken! I am still in need of your help to round up my instruments! Are you ready for some fieldwork?

~Uncle Ollie

  •  Have a map of the 4 areas for students to look at to know where to go and have their first clue ready that will lead to the first instrument in egg form. Let the kids lead as much as possible.
  • After the hunt is complete, I’m going to have an orchestra seating map I have traced from the adventure ready for them to color.


What activities do you do outside for music class?

The Save Button: Turning a Small Activity into an Epic Masterpiece


      Often to satisfy Bloom’s taxonomy during the teaching of a concept we tend to go through many activities to satisfy every type of learner in our classroom. Something I have seen myself doing on more than one occasion is having my classes do a small activity that really leads to no where other than showing me they know how to make a melody or the difference between a rest or quarter note. I have a really big belief that in order for my students to best understand music is to make their own so we tend to do a lot of small composing activities. 

      I changed all those activities up for my 5th graders this quarter. It was around digital portfolio time a few weeks ago and I had nada. So instead of doing a repeat of projects in the past or an activity that did not lead to much more than a reinforcement concept. I went with a new idea of Step by Step songs.


          You could do this with whatever notation software you have. I decided on QComposer in Quaver music because it was easiest for me. Our build up from beginning to end was:

  • We started with a simple melody line on the treble clef. They were given specific expectations to do this.
  • The first step included only quarter notes and rests, I then had them substitute some of those notes for eighth notes.
  • We learned about the bass line next! We added in the same note that was on the treble line to the bass clef line.
  • Chords were our last step. Since we still were shaky on the bass line, the 5th graders put their chords on the treble.

Each step was done one class period at a time and students saved their work after each step. 

I told them we were adding layers and like Rome, good music wasn’t built in a day.

After they are done each student is submitting their work to me in the Quaver teacher admin panel. I’m getting some great work and next week we get to finish with reflections for their portfolios. The best part about this whole thing is that they understand composition on a deeper level now and I get to thank the save button for it!


Wanna See My Wall?: Pictures of My Student Made MIOSM Statement

In my previous post (Center ideas for MIOSM) I talked about the posters and poems my students were going to be completeing this week. I am here to report, we did it, and with great joy I can proudly say it has become a true statement in the school. Hundreds of poems and posters promoting why music is important to my students. It is a sight for music advocates eyes. I’m very proud of it and the notice it has gotten from other teachers. I plan to keep it up for another 3 weeks until I switch schools one last time for the year. Next week I will be adding the last unexpected part to it, my Kindergartners and 1st graders actually WHINED because they wanted to do this as well so I will be doing a shared writing with each of those classes and adding on!

Instead of just bragging about my wall I decided it would be best to just show you, a picture is worth a thousands words, right?

A link to a video tour of the papers covering my hallway walls:

My Walls

From the mouths of my students, why music is important to them:

IMG_0093 IMG_0094 IMG_0095 IMG_0096
IMG_0098 IMG_0099 IMG_0100 IMG_0101 IMG_0102 IMG_0572 IMG_0104 IMG_0105 IMG_0106 IMG_0107 IMG_0108 IMG_0109 IMG_0110 IMG_0111 IMG_0112 IMG_0113 IMG_0114IMG_0549 IMG_0115 IMG_0097

IMG_0116 IMG_0117
IMG_0119 IMG_0120 IMG_0121 IMG_0122 IMG_0123

Have you ever asked why music is important to your students?

Center Ideas for MIOSM

This week as I jumped into hyper speed mode trying to get adjusted and back into the swing of things. I felt so lucky looking at my plans and quarter outline for next week and seeing the words CENTERS in big beautiful letters. Being it Music in Our Schools Month I decided to throw a little something extra into this round. After reading a few blog ideas, spending some time on Pinterest, and checking out the NAfME www.nafme.orgwebsite I got some ideas. One is a writing activity and one is a drawing activity that I will be putting up finished products on my hallway wall in order to create a really cool ‘why we love music’ wall that all passerby’s can take a gander at as they walk up and down our hallways.

The beginnings of our wall. I added a title and some inspirational quotes.

The beginnings of our wall. I added a title and some inspirational quotes.

Music Poster:


  • Coloring Materials
  • Index card with directions
  • Blank paper


I want you to draw me a poster describing why you love music to a person who has never seen music class before. Tell them why it is important to you and what you particularly enjoy about class. Remember to draw a picture along with your writing.


What Music Means to Me:


  • Coloring materials
  • What Music Means to Me sheet- Worksheet
  • Pencils


Write me an acrostic poem using words that describe why you love music. Use your best words and remember each word must begin with one of the letters in the word Music. You can color and make it pretty after.



Hang these up activities up in the hallway for all to see.


What are you doing to celebrate Music in Our Schools Month?

iPad Apps; To Use As A Whole and To Use On Your Own

It is a short post this week, I was asked to head on down to Boston this weekend to work for some pretty awesome Quaver people. It has been a great day hanging out with Rob, Bradley, and Buzz telling all of these Massachusetts teachers about the program while we all laugh and have a great time. Tomorrow I get to drink a pitcher of coffee (I’m trying to be as caffeinated as Mr. Quaver) and go present at the Quaver session! I’m extremely excited to go share what I do with the program with others!  

This week I’ve had iPad on the brain trying to figure out cooler ways to use the device in my classroom. We all go through that conundrum, a great resource lands on your desk that looks do we use it? It seems a running theme as iPads slowly make their way into the educational world. Starting to figure out what can be used where is the new battle that is appearing. Below are two categories with 3 apps under each. 3 that are amazing to use as a whole class, and 3 that work fabulously with small group or individuals (great for centers or small group activities if you have access to multiple iPads)

For the Whole Class:

  • Dolce Music Flashcards – $2.99  This app is great for a quick review game. I put it up on my projector and students will raise their hand to answer the question. It tracks how many you get right so the class can set goals for themselves!
  • Moozart- $1.99 Teacher melodic contour or up and down? This app is fantastic. Using barnyard animal sounds to compose simple melodies or choosing already made melodies the younger students get a kick out of hearing different sounds and can understand the concepts that you are trying to get across!
  • Recorder Master- $1.99 Made by Joytunes this app is constantly requested in my recorder classes for a fun activity. The students learn more about breathing and tonguing from trying to drive the plane or kill the birds than they do from me just demonstrating it!


For Small Group or Individuals:

  • Garageband- $4.99 This app can technically go for whole group as well, but I prefer in smaller or individual. I have done many projects with students that have produced amazing products. This program records, allows students to jam on iPad instruments, and even allows them to mix premade loops together to create fantastic music. This app gets students creating and improving.
  • Pocket Wavepad- Free So impressed with this app, I have begun to use it for recording everything my students do in class. It is so easy to maneuver that my students can use it themselves. I give them opportunities to be able to create music, go to a quiet place, and record. Recording is a skill I feel students need to learn.
  • Dustbuster- Free I love using this app with my private piano students. I have seen true results from my students who have downloaded this at home on their iPads and come back to me being able to play songs from it BY EAR. My piano students use a real piano with an app, and I can use the app during center times or as part of our tech zone.


If you’re at MMEA, come see the Quaver crew and I at our session at 11:30! If you’re not, check these apps out and let me know what you think!