Debunking Myths: Letting them Lead

We stand at a unique time in education, depending on your viewpoint. We are at a turning point of heading up or heading down. After a point in the pandemic, the educational views of many took a turn going from traditional pedagogy to pointing toward more modern pedagogy, and now as things in life are starting to head back to a new normal, we are going back to those traditional ways, but it doesn’t have to be like that. We can start to dethrone those long-time myths all teachers hear, why go back to the ways you knew, let’s try something new.

So let’s debunk one of those myths right now: to teach, you need to be in the spotlight, center stage. How many times have we seen a teacher in a TV show, movie, ad posting, or social media meme standing in the front of the classroom teaching? How many times have we found ourselves falling into the same routine, sometimes without even thinking of it. I know I’ve been out of the classroom for quite some time, but having the blessing of being able to see other teachers in their natural habitat. The best teaching times, don’t always come when the teacher is standing in the front of the room or the one commanding attention. I know my favorite times teaching students come from when my classroom was noisiest and the students were the most engaged. How were they engaged? They were given a piece of their learning to be in charge of. When held responsible for the outcome, it increases their attention and focus and motivates students to engage in higher-level critical thinking. (

So how do we give students that bit of freedom without it turning into complete chaos? Well I can tell you, you can’t just say “go.” It takes building up the skills within the students before allowing to set them free to do their work. You want to be, for lack of a better term “the guide on the side.” The skills we start with are those surrounding leadership, through time management, working collaboratively, problem solving, and more. You set students up to be able to work more independently and motivate themselves to continue to learn about what interests them.

So here are a few suggestions for activities to get you started.

  • Oops Masterpiece – One of my favorite activities I just discovered. This stems around the art of learning how to fail with grace and not being afraid to stand up and try again. Get your favorite music creation app, or some lined paper and a pencil. Give your students an initial 5 minutes to create a short piece, this could be a pattern of loops to create an accompainment, a melodic pattern, or a rhythmic pattern. Set the amount of measures you want the students to initially create, and have them only use notes and rests they have learned so far. The trick is, once they put down a note or rest, they can’t erase it or delete it. That’s right, you heard me. Students can’t fix their work the first go around. This encourages students to just get started and go. Once the first 5 minutes is up, have students switch with a partner and do it again, this time the partner gets to add another part to the first, but they can’t listen or read the first and also can’t erase or delete any notes and rests they put down. That’s right, we’re creating chaos here! You can have students switch pieces as much as you would like until they are done. After, have them get their original work back. Then the original composers can listen or play the whole piece to hear how it all sounds together. Doesn’t sound too good on the first go around? Oh well. That’s the beauty of it. You have a good laugh, then they get into small groups or partners to talk about how they would edit their work. Put 10 minutes on the clock, and let them edit and play or sing one more time to hear how the edits sound. We are getting over the fear of messing up before even starting. That is huge for a leader and a big hurddle for most to get over!
  • Projects – Projects work on a lot of skills, time management, goal setting, collaboration, listening, the list goes on. Some of my favorite projects stem from a simple guidance such as “Make me a rhythm” to ones that are immersive and collaborative across the whole school. I find starting small, using 10 minutes of class and giving directions and expectations before letting students start is a great stepping stone and does not take up a lot of your classtime with everyone. Projects do not have to be big, they just have to be organized with a great end result.
  • One Word Goal – Another new favorite activity, if you are reading this right now I want you do something for me. Think of a goal that you want to accomplish between now and the end of the year. Now think of one word to describe that goal, just one word. Now write down that word and put it away where you can find it at the end of the year. Go back and read that word later whenever you need to to help remind yourself of that goal. Imagine doing that with students at the beginning of the year, or maybe when they need some direction or guidance. How much impact can one word have on their life to remind themselves of where they want to go?

Let’s debunk some more myths, what other taboo things have you heard about teaching and education?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Burnout is Real

Whether we want to talk about it or not, job burnout is a real thing everyone experiences at least once in their lives. I know I have run into this hole of darkness more than once myself. We get lost in the world where busy is good and working too hard is praised. Then when we ask for help, in a lot of cases an empathetic smile and a “you got this” are the rewards we get for summoning the courage to share our feelings. It hurts, it gets lonely, and although in the past the solution has been to power through until vacation, try a new hobby, or to treat yourself. Now especially after enduring the pandemic, many are deciding to leave the profession entirely hoping for greener pastures on the other side.

According to an article published in February of 2022 by the National Education Association, 55% of their surveyed members were considering leaving the profession by the end of the year. (Read the article here.) That is a staggering number in itself, but to see how much it jumped by from the start of the pandemic is terrifying. Although there is a huge difference between considering leaving the profession and actually leaving the profession, those that do consider it but are left behind, will continue to have a sour taste left in their mouth about their current career. From a study done by the University of Southern California in 2018, negativity in the workplace can quickly decrease general productivity up to 30% and create a toxic workplace environment that leads to high turnover and absenteeism (article here.)

With low morale, shrinking resources, budget cuts, rising class sizes, some of the highest academic demands we have seen in decades, and to top it all off, surviving a pandemic. There is no wonder why we are predicting a mass exodus of teachers. Spending hundreds of hours of your own time for your students to succeed while spending your own paycheck on supplies and resources to do so with little reward can get tiring after a while. Teachers are NOT OK.

Photo by Breno Cardoso on

Teacher burnout is not a new thing, but due to the pandemic, a mental health crisis began and now teachers are taking action about their burnout in higher numbers than we have seen in a long time. We have set the stigma that makes teachers feel guilty for calling out sick, for completely unplugging at the end of the day, or actually enjoying their vacations. Then when they feel like creating a new career path for themselves because they are done, some feel like they need to whisper their excitement because it is not a good thing they are leaving their classroom and students for their own health.

This is not ok.

I know what you’re thinking, how can we stop burnout? How can we keep teachers in their jobs? Short answer? If a teacher is burnt out, let them do what is best for them. You can suggest positive mental health activities, try to take work off their plate. In the end though, that teacher needs time to put their own wheels back on track even if that means leaving. There is no stopping that. The better question to pose is, how can we work towards a brighter future for teachers? You start with the basics that go beyond the meaningless trinkets and shallow promises.

  • Lessen the academic rigor demanded by strict curricula and state/national mandates. Teachers need time to actually teach. There is not enough time in the day to reach every student in order to personalize their instruction to their individual needs. Teachers spend overtime making sure they reach every student going from thing to thing with little break in between. Giving them time to personalize learning without stringent schedules would help increase time for teachers to plan and put those plans into action.
  • Listen to their needs, show them their voice matters. We’ve all had that one time where you were in desperate need of a school supplies that has run out and get told that they would not be ordering any more this year because the budget is spent, then suddenly a new unnecessary “surprise” pops out of no where that they make a big deal of but half the staff know that it is just going to sit there collecting dust. Even beyond purchasing, listen to the collective, they are the ones who know what is needed. Even if it is just taking a quick poll during staff meetings.
  • Promote a good work-life balance. We need this in every career field, but it is as equally as important in education. I have seen teachers get praised for working from dawn until dusk with the only reward of “getting a lot done.” That’s not healthy. Setting boundaries for when you need to leave work by, taking a mental health day, feeling no regret for taking a sick day because you are actually sick, being OK with not answering that email until Monday. It’s ok to set boundaries so you don’t get burnt out!
  • SAFETY, I say this not only because of recent current events, but a long standing crisis that our teachers face on almost a daily basis. On top of the over 119 school shootings that have happened since 2018 (Thanks EdWeek, read more about this severe issue here.) Teachers are constantly faced with daily behavior issues from students who are asked to leave class for a dangerous issue and come waltzing back only 5-10 minutes later. Issues that cause them to throw chairs, start fights with other teachers or students, or exhibit concerning mental behavior do not fix themselves with a 5-10 minute break. Even if it is a short outburst, there is still a mental caution sign thrown up if they return causing un-needed stress and anxiety for the educator and fellow students as they finish out the lesson.
Photo by Yan Krukov on

Take burnout seriously. When a teacher says they are tired, believe them. When a teacher says they need support, support them. When a teacher needs balance, help even the scales. Take the crisis and make a change to better the future.

Preparing for a Video Chat

It is always crucial when you book a video chat with another class to prepare for it. I would compare it to that of getting ready for a performance. The students are preparing to perform in front of an audience. I normally would try to sneak in a few video chats while students were already preparing for a performance so they got a little extra practice in before the big day. Of course, a digital performance is a little bit different than performing in person, but they are still able to work on those basic skills and practice their music for others.

So let’s go through this step by step;

Follow through and prepare

If you schedule a video session with another class, you no have to hold yourself accountable to make sure your students are prepared for it. Put it in your calendar, figure out which classes you can do with it, and put a plan into your lessons for them to make sure they are prepared. If you are not sharing songs for your performance, what will you have students practice?

It’s different on screen than on stage.

There are small differences to being on screen rather than on stage. Audio is a big one. The mic is a big one that does pick up a lot of small audio so a trick is to make sure students know that even a whisper can be picked up so they will need to be as quiet as possible while the other class is speaking or performing. Coming in and out of the room is another big distractor that could lead to issues with the video so making sure bathroom time or drinks are taken care of is another big must. Another big difference is that they have a camera on them the whole time. Every little move will be seen so they need to understand every move will be caught “on candid camera.” There are many little differences so making sure you spell them out from the beginning and then practice them all is going to help a lot.

Script it out

Make sure you spell out to students what is going to happen so they have the schedule and there are no surprises. Most of my students that I did this with were super nervous to do this so this helped calm some stage jitters. I wrote the schedule of what was going to happen on the call on the board so they could follow the order, and put the start time of the call up top, and when we would end the call at the bottom. This schedule was usually planned between myself and the other teacher so we both knew how the list of events would go.

Test the connection

This is probably the biggest must do before any video chat, make sure that everything works correctly. Schedule a quick 15 minutes or less with the other teacher to just check the setup and make sure camera, audio, and the network are all in agreement and everything looks good. I would suggest doing this a day or two before so you are not testing too far out but also have enough time to alert your IT team and they can jump in like the superhero they are and get it fixed for you.

Take time to get ready for this, it does not have to be a ton of work, but pulling a few things together and preparing the students for an experience like this could set up for an epic opportunity!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Getting Started with Video Chatting

I did this so much in the classroom that I thought long and hard about making a multi-part series talking about how to do it from start to finish so others could partake in the fun when school gets started back up! Getting started with a project like this does take a little planning so get started now if you want to try it this coming year! With this coming school year brings new and exciting changes and opportunities to education. Two big trends that are coming are project based learning and real world application, this activity covers both!

My old video chat set up

When I speak about video chatting, I’m talking about how teachers would connect with each other to connect their classrooms together for students to chat from some like them from halfway across the world. I used to use a website from Skype from Education (which no longer is available as far as I know because it became easier to connect over social media. If you know if the mystery Skype for Education site is still up somewhere please let me know!) Through this site though, I was able to connect with other educators from all over the world to schedule video chat sessions between my students and theirs to explore different learning opportunities together. Being a music educator at the time so there were a few opportunities to explore, the tree that made the most sense were,

  • Song Share – Each group of students learns a few folk songs from their part of the world to sing to their new friends.
  • Question and Answer- Each group creates several questions for their new friends in preparation for the big day before taking turns sharing questions and getting answers.
  • Performance Practice- There were times especially during busy seasons that I was unable to find other music educators available to chat with, but willing educators from all over who were very willing to listen to my classes practice for their grade level shows.

All really good and meaningful opportunities that students remembered for years after. There was one time, I had my entire 4th grade class from one school join me in my room early morning with their teachers to listen to some new friends in England sing some folk songs from their part of the world while my 4th graders sung some patriotic tunes they had been learning and then had time to ask a few questions. Several months later they were still talking about the experience!

So how do you get started,

  • Reach out over social media to connect with other teachers looking for video chat opportunities. The best places to schedule something would be either over Twitter using hashtags like #musedchat, #edchat, #mysteryskype, or through Facebook using one of the Facebook groups like Music Teachers or Mystery Skype/Skype in the Classroom group.
  • Meet up with the teacher either over video chat or email to plan together. Figure out what you want to do, when you want to do it, and how you want to do it.
  • Make sure to prep your students before. Being in front of camera is like a performance, lay down the expectations and rules including noise levels and how to sit or stand while on camera.

Plan ahead and get a few scheduled before the school year starts! These are fun little informances and ways to connect with other teachers and schools from around the world that really create awesome and memorable experiences for your students!

Skype Session with MO

Another Day, Another Quest

Man, it has been one heck of a school year hasn’t it? Between illness, tension, and everything else the world has thrown our way. If you have survived the school year, you are a true warrior. It has not been easy for so many and I hope that there is a brighter future in the fall. Some of my dear readers have only a few days left until the end of the school year, some have almost a month. I know so many are trying to find ways to get some meaningful learning in while they still have the chance, making it fun and memorable so students can walk into the summer with happy memories and be ready to start the next school year off on the right foot. SO here is something a little fun. It’s web quest time, but instead of just another Quaver quest, I’m going to give it to you two ways. One will be one including all free websites, the other will include screen names for Quaver that you can build in an assignment for students to follow. Hopefully this will be a fun activity to get your students to discover a little more about famous composers will having fun with their friends!


Hello friends! Today we will travel a little back in time to discover more about the famous composers Beethoven. Through each step of our journey we will pick up facts about him along the way, pay close attention because we will need these for later!

Websites (I would level this for 3rd-6th grade):

  • Beethoven Für Elise, Listen to one of Beethoven’s famous pieces. How does it make you feel? What do you think about the musician playing the piano?
  • More about Beethoven, Find 3 facts about Beethoven that are interesting to you!
  • Help Beethoven! (Google Doodle), This is a fun game where you have to put Beethoven’s music back in order. Listen carefully to each piece first to help you get the papers in the right order!
  • Beethoven Kahoot, You think you know all about Beethoven? Let’s test your skills.
  • Beethoven Facts Activity (Create an account and create your own Padlet for kids to add to!), Write one interesting fact about Beethoven anywhere on the Padlet board, and read one of your classmate’s facts.

Quaver Screens (This could be leveled 2nd-5th grade):

  • Joyful, Joyful (Lyrics), Listen to one of Beethoven’s famous pieces. How does it make you feel? Does this piece sound familiar?
  • Quaver Book – Beethoven, Find 3 facts about Beethoven that are interesting to you!
  • Talk to Beethoven, Talk to Beethoven yourself and learn a little bit more about his life!
  • QLibs The Classical Period – Level 2, You think you know all about Beethoven’s time period? Let’s test your skills.
  • Student Recording Screen, Record yourself and tell me 1 interesting fact about Beethoven you learned and why you found that fact interesting.

TI:ME/TMEA Prestissimo Author Panel

Even though we were apart for TMEA this year, I was so thankful that we were still able to connect digitally. Every year for close to a decade, I look forward to traveling to San Antonio to connect with friends and colleagues and talk shop while we have a great time catching up. Even though this year was different, I was still able to connect with all of my friends and fill my happy heart again thanks to the power of technology. I will keep my fingers crossed that we will see each other again in person in 2022!

One standout moment was being able to be a part of the TI:ME Prestissimo Round Table with my fellow authors of the Oxford University Press Prestissimo series. This panel was about an hour long and we all were able to talk a little about our respective works and learn from each other.

You can watch the full replay here:

If you are interested in purchasing any of the books in the series head to and use the code TIMEORG20 to get 20 percent off!

Quaver Web quests – The Remix

If you remember back several years ago on this blog, a series of web quests were launched revolving around To this day those web quests are actually some of the most viewed posts on this blog, and I have been so happy to be able to inspire teachers to write their own over the years!

There is one problem that has come up recently though which brings the reason for this new post, with the exit of Flash, the Quaver site has gone through many new updates and changes and a lot of that which was once there has been updated and rearranged. In an effort to keep with the changes, I’m going to make some updates!

So here is what will happen, for right now, I’m going to give you three new quests, more will come but we are going to start with three. I actually really like doing web quests, they are fun to write so I plan to do more.

These quests can be made into assignments or you can get the links to each screen and using your own format or this template below to insert each link to give to your students.

Webquest Template

Web quest One

Topic – Writing Rhythms


  • Rhythm is a Beautiful Thing
  • Half, Quarter, Eighth
  • QComposer
  • QBackbeat

Welcome Adventurers! This morning Quaver was cleaning the lab and found a mysterious door behind the organ! The trouble is, there is a code he needs to find to open the door. Follow the steps below to help him!

  1. Listen to the song Rhythm is a Beautiful Thing to learn more about the code Quaver needs to open the door.
  2. Get some practice in creating your code with the screen Half, Quarter, Eighth.
  3. Let’s start learning how to crack the code using QBackbeat! Make a pattern and listen to how it sounds.
  4. Time to crack the code using QComposer! Fill in the Blanks Below and then put it all into QComposer to hear how it sounds.

Web quest Two

Topic- Ostinatos


  • Ostinato Definition
  • Rhythm Selectah
  • Beat Boxing Warmup
  • Half, Quarter, Eighth
  • Quiz Builder Screen.

Greetings Treasure Hunters! Quaver’s Shop received a mysterious wooden chest this morning but Quaver and Gwenda need help getting it opened! Follow the steps to figure out the combination needed to open the chest!

  • Take a good look at the definition on this screen, you will need to remember this!
  • Remember what an ostinato is? Let’s try to build our own with the Rhythm Selectah! How silly can you make your ostinato?
  • Did you know that Beatboxers make ostinatos with their voices? Head to Beatboxing warmup and try it for yourself!
  • Time to build your own Ostinato, use the screen Half,Quarter, Eighth and give it a whirl.
  • Now, answer this question, what is an Ostinato? (You will need to make this Quiz Builder Screen yourself)

Web quest Three

Topic- Melody


  • Bell Pitch Game
  • Melody Maker (You will need to make a Melody Maker Screen for this)
  • Hot Cross Buns Lyrics Screen
  • Video Submission Screen OR a screen with a way to get a video to you

Hello Crew! Quaver woke up this morning and found that the Phonebox was missing! We need to sing the correct tune to bring it back. Follow the directions below to find get the right melody to bring it back!

  • Let’s learn a little more about Pitch first and play the Bell Pitch game first!
  • Quaver created a rhythm for you in Melody Maker, take that rhythm and add some solfege in to make your own melody!
  • Listen to Hot Cross Buns and pay attention to the recorder part, you will need that for the last step!
  • Video yourself singing Hot Cross Buns and send it to your teacher, they will send it to Quaver to help bring back the Phonebox!

Happy Adventuring!

Will We Go Remote Again?

Truth of the matter is, if you are in person right now, there is a huge chance you most likely will be going remote before the end of the year, even if it is just for a few weeks. With the holidays coming, families missing each other will get together and cases will spike leaving schools to make tough decisions. If this doesn’t happened to you AMAZING, but isn’t it better to have your backup plan ready just incase?

I know right now there are many districts and independent schools around the country who are remote, and many in person but with strict guidelines. It truly depends on where you are and what is happening in your community.

Living with this uncertainty is never good and for all of those teachers out there who are going through it, you are so strong, you are doing so amazing, and this too shall pass. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but things will get better.

What helps to ease my mind is to make a plan. I might never use it, but knowing it’s there would make me breath easier.

  1. Get a list together of resources you can use if you go back remote. What resources will you use?
  2. If you do not have it yet, get a few days worth of remote days ready. Your school could close at the drop of a hat!
  3. Lastly, I highly suggest putting together just a 2 month outline incase you go out for an extended period of time or if you are already out and want to plan ahead a little.

What do you have on your list? What resources do you plan on using with your students if you go remote? Think beyond the video chat format or the platform you are using to push out content to students. You already know what those are. My top 5 resources to use while distance teaching are,

  • Quaver ( I say this for obvious reasons but also because it is a huge library of digital resources for music educators and the new mobile link option is a GAME CHANGER for remote learning.
  • Chrome Music Lab ( A perfect platform for teachers to have students creating music. One of the most important things you can have them continue to do.
  • Noteflight ( Students can compose so easily through Noteflight. It is also perfect for the older student audience.
  • Staff Wars ( The link goes to the desktop version, but they also have an app that students can download to their devices to play.
  • Incredibox ( This was a fan favorite for my kiddos back in the day and they continue to evolve. A great tool to get students creating and composing.

What happens if your school closes for just a couple of days? What do you have in your back pocket you could pull out to fulfill remote learning for those students? Even if it is just a couple of activities that they can go do.

  • Make a rhythm and perform it on items you find around your house. Take a video and send it to me!
  • Go for a walk with your family and listen for 3 things that have a steady beat. List them in this assignment and submit to me!
  • Give them a creation website like Chrome’s Music Lab and have them create a sweet tune!

Then you have the situation where you might be out for a long while. How are you going to plan? What about planning a whole unit that might take up some time?

I made a planner template here you are more than welcome to use, Remote Leaning Plan here

Here is a filled out example of that planner here Remote Learning Plan Example here.

This example would take about 8 weeks and has room for you to input links to video chat rooms and digital lessons and activities for each week. Feel free to use! If you have suggestions on how to make this better, let me know. I’ll make adjustments!

Take just a little bit to plan out, life has been to stressful this year for so many. This can be one of the many things you can do for a little self care. Need help planning? I’ll help you, reach out on Twitter! @Musiccargirl14

I usually ask a question at the end of these, but right now all I want to ask is,

How are you doing?

Photo by Artem Podrez on

Bitmoji Field Trips

I will admit, I have fallen down a deep rabbit hole with these Bitmoji Classrooms. I have made general classrooms, ones for centers, etc. It is just way to much fun! One recent mini project has been little virtual field trips built as a Bitmoji classroom. Taking a few activities, videos, and virtual tours that best represent that area of the globe and allow students to explore. Something fun for students to explore and learn about a place outside of their community. You could include songs, movement games, videos, all kinds of resources. I’ve made two examples in Google Slides below!

Interested in more? Let me know what part of the world you want your students to visit next!

In times like these..we need to make a list.

As I sit watching the morning news over coffee, listening to the unsettling stories about administrators, teachers, parents and students fighting with the best way to reopen education. My heart breaks just a little with every new case, with every new fight, with every panicked teacher and staff who have to go through this. Education is not some place where people should be worried about life or death situations. It is a place for community, friendship, positivity, growth, and most important, learning. While I cannot sit here and tell you which way to start the school year is best. I can tell you, this is the time for hope, for creativity, and for preparedness. This is the year for teachers and administrators to make sure they are prepared for any situation that is going to be thrown their way. 

  • Administrators and school officials should be pretty much creating a new handbook just for this year, all the what if’s should be answered just in case.
  •  Parents should be ready for more lockdowns or online learning. What is your backup plan if you need to go to work?
  • Teachers, take a breath and remember you have a huge support community ready to help you. Right now, it’s time to make a list of everything you need to do and start checking it off. I got one started for you.

Checklist for the beginning of the school year.

  1. What are your district guidelines?
  • Sanitizing standards? What will you need to do and what cleaning supplies will you be provided?
  • School learning environment, will it be in person full time? Hybrid learning? Fully online? Find out the plan.
  • In person environment standards, if you are going back in person what will the district except? How far apart will the desks be? Will there be mask requirements?(will you be provided a mask or shield?) Can students share certain materials?
  • Technology standards, this is especially if you are hybrid or distance teaching. What lesson delivery platform will your district be using? How will students log in? What are requirements for lessons?

   2. Lesson Preperation

  • What lessons or units are a no go completely in your curriculum? What do you need to set aside and not do this year in order to follow safety guidelines?
  • What lessons need a creative solution? Can you adjust some lessons to fit guidelines and still make it a safe and fun experience?
  • What lessons are all good and you can still use?
  • What new lessons can you replace the ones who are a no go with for this year?
  • Do you have at least a 6 week plan for remote learning if a lockdown happens again?
  • With times like these, how are you going to implement more social and emotional learning into your lessons to help students (and yourself)cope with these times?

   3. Materials

  • How are you going to sanitize your materials?
  • What instruments can you use? Which ones can you not use due to cleaning restrictions?
  • What materials do you need to get more of in order to follow district guidelines?
  • What do you need to make? Do you need to make kits for each student?

   4. Communications 

  • If you have families opting out of in person instruction, how will you communicate with them? What work will you be providing home?
  • For communication to parents and families who are opting for inoerson instruction. How will you communicate quickly if there is an issue at school?
  • Do you have prepared communications for transitioning again to remote learning if needed?
  • How about how you will communicate with families who are not in person but have little technology at home to communicate with?

This is just a start to help, we always know there is more to think about. Just remember, this is never a time to give up. It’s a time to take a breath, realize this is just another obstacle in your way that you will learn how to jump over, and remember that you are a strong and creative person who is ready for anything. Always know, that we are here to help.