Life Update



I’m still here! I promise. It has been a wild couple of years between finishing my master’s degree, teaching, working full time, and a whole host of other projects that I have been working on. Every step of the way I have told myself that as soon as life calmed down I would come back here to continue creating content which I love so much.

Now that life has changed so much I will be changing a few things up on here, sort of another butterfly out of the cocoon moment which I know I’ve had before (I’ve had this blog for way too long!) No real direction yet and no schedule, just surprises along the way while I mix some old favorites with some new things! Though the goal will always stay the same. Helping teachers incorporate digital resources and 21st-century instruction in our technology-based world!



Augmenting Reality, Bringing AR to the Music Room

Life gets away from you doesn’t it? Too much to do and not enough time in the day. Almost done my Masters though! Sooner than later I’ll be back more and more.

AR: Augmented Reality. A variation on virtual reality where instead of whole landscapes being brought to life through a set of goggles. You are able to input a little bit of pixel magic into the real world with as little as just a phone. A more popular AR game (or formerly popular..) is Poke’mon Go. Take your phone and go explore the outside where you can find little monsters around every corner waiting to pick a fight with you. You win? You keep your opponent. You loose? They keep you!..just kidding. 

AR is a term that has been around for a few years now in the Edtech field but is now just making its way into places like the music classroom. With this technology you can bring music, composers, even concepts to life and watch as students jump for joy experiencing the subjects jump off the page and come to life right in front of them using a simple device to capture the magic. I sometimes compare it to the spy glass from the SpiderWick Cronicles movie, without that the movie would have been a lot more frightening watching the house destroy itself rather than the mutant frogs coming after them. They needed that glass to see the magic like your students need a device to see theirs.

Before we get into a couple of activity suggestions the two main places to look into building AR and one fun one. 

  1. Aurasma – Love this app, you can build targets right on your device quickly and easily! Pretty much the top AR app in education right now.
  2. Daqri 4D – The advanced AR studio suite. This is for those who want to go to the next level and are not afraid to go for it!
  3. Quiver – Yes I spelled it right. An awesome coloring AR app that takes student’s drawings and turns them into moving pictures that jump right off the page!


What can we do with all of these tools?

  • What about a note scavenger hunt? Have students hunt around the school for pictures of notes and rests. When they scan them it produces a rhythm or melody they have to play before they check off that find and move on to the next.
  • Bring composers to life! Have them scan a piece of their well known music and they can see a mini Beethoven pop up on the page and then them more about his life!
  • My favorite is the AR word wall. Turn your existing word wall into an interactive experience. Students scan a word with their device and automatically get the definition and a visual example of the keyword.


What else can you do with AR in your Music Classroom?





The 10 Things Why Every Music Teacher Needs Duct Tape.

I’ve got a month in between classes and trying to get myself into the writing mood, enjoy a  little satire piece to end your Friday!

We all know the phrase “Duct Tape fixes everything!” but does it really? Here’s 10 things that duct tape can do to help make your day to day life in your music class a little less stressful. 

1.) Instrument Repair!

2.) Recorder Karate Belts

IMG_01893.) Hanging Posters

4.) Last Minute Bandaid

5.) Covering Home Made Rhythm Sticks


6.) Earplugs


7.) Quick Clothes Fix


8.) Decorations

9.) Fixing Music Folders


10.) Claiming What is Yours!


*Making your Finish Line Flag for the Last Day of School*

How to PD

You’re sitting in a room with the rest of your building co-workers. It’s a workshop day, you’ve been talking about the mysteries of tracking student math data to meet state standards for the past hour. What’s next after you finish this topic? Writing standards! Yay!……..

You’re bored aren’t you?

I knew it.

Don’t hide it, you’re a music teacher learning about math. It’s ok to admit that you probably won’t ever use this information in your teaching and could benefit from something completely different. It’s common for arts teachers to get stuck in professional development workshops that will never assist them in their daily teaching practices. You have different needs than the normal classroom teacher. What you might not realize is that many administrators are open to alternatives, you just need to know how to ask. They will probably oppose a proposal of “sitting in your classroom lesson planning” so plan something structured.

Try some ideas like these:

Getting the group together– It could be your district colleagues or other colleagues from the area. Find a place to talk shop, maybe have a genius hour, have everyone bring instruments and try out a few new pieces together, build manipulatives for activities, you could even plan a large collaborative project you could all do together!

Virtual discussion– If you can’t get together in person, then do so online. Using a venue like Google Hangouts where there can be 10 people speaking at the same time can make things go very smoothly. You can collaborate on resource documents, talk shop and connect with your peers.

Presenter– Bring in an expert to speak. There are a whole slew of presenters out there who can come to your district to speak to your group. From Orff and Kodály experts to technology gurus who can be brought in for the day for a small price. Most administrators are use to paying a few thousand dollars to bring in a speaker for a district PD day. Ask politely and provide sound reasoning for why you would like the presenter to come.

Webinar– There are thousands of webinars available to watch during a PD day. Some may be live and some may be pre recorded. Most will be technology webinars, but in today’s digital age, a lot will be useful to your daily teaching. Most webinars will have some sort of questionnaire at the end so you can receive a PD certificate to put in for hours.

Going to a workshop– This might be a little more difficult to schedule depending on the area you are in. Lots of local education centers offer professional development workshops and educator get togethers. You might get lucky and find a conference on that day you could attend too!

PD is important part of growing as a professional. How you do it is up to you, you can make it boring or you can make it useful and exciting!

Manipulatives Made Easy

Has it really been over 4 months since my last post? I feel so ashamed and dirty. Now, it use to be every Friday evening I’d sit with my burrito and type up a long brain dump about what happened over the week. Sort of my “I need to do this to sleep at night” release. Now I spend my Friday nights either still trying to get caught up on actual work from work or attempting to squeeze in a little more grad homework before the weekly deadline, (because who doesn’t want to define objective behaviors on a Friday night, right??)

I see them all the time when I travel from classroom to classroom watching music teachers from all over do their thing. Being a manipulative geek myself I use to live and die by them in my classroom. Pieces of laminated paper with everything from quarter notes to NASCAR race cars, popsicle sticks, pool noodles, magnets, even foam dice. If it littered the aisles of the craft section of Walmart, I pretty much found a use for it in my classroom.

The main purpose of a manipulative is to make the lesson or activity more interactive. To give students an actual visual to play with and help understand what you are try to teach them.  Manipulatives can be physical pieces of craft material, pre made products specifically meant to be a manipulative, or they can even be a virtual product able to be used on a piece of technology. I’m sure you are sitting there thinking (How in the heck was this tech wizard able to figure out how to use and make such crafty manipulatives? and how did she get them to work with her lessons?) I know a lot of teachers out there tend to swing in either direction, you are really all about tech or really all about non tech. What you might not know is there is a happy medium! Yes, tech and traditional ways all mixed together into a perfect lesson.


Here’s an example of an activity that would use the manipulative above and a projector and teacher computer:


  1. Students will create 2 measures of rhythm using quarter notes, quarter rests, and eighth notes.
  2. The class will perform selected rhythm compositions from their classmates.


  • Have students get into groups
  • Give each student a pre made bag with a handful of popsicle sticks and a selection of beat cards.
  • As a class, have everyone build the same composition together. Write on the board and have students build along with you. The cards make up the rhythm and the popsicle sticks are the bar lines.
  • Students will now break off into groups and compose their own piece together.
  • The teacher will go to and log into the free side of the kids website. Then make their way to the QBackbeat creative.
  • When students are done, the teacher will explain how the program on the board works and will ask for volunteers to help put their rhythm into the program.
  • Once they think they have it correctly into the program, the class will listen, perform back the rhythm, and then the teacher will ask the volunteer group if the rhythm that was performed is that they thought it was going to be.
  • This process of putting rhythms into QBackbeat will continue until every group has gone.

Possible assessment:

Have students in the small groups perform their rhythm to the class before it is played and compare what they have played to what is written down. 

How easy is that? No fancy technology required and not a lot of effort into the manipulative (And something you can keep for more activities later!) What kinds of manipulatives do you create to use with your students? 


The Day the Crayons Came Home : A Maker Lesson for the Little Ones

Topic: The Day the Crayons Came Home

Recommended Grade Level: 1-4


  • Students will recall the different colors of crayons from the story and important descriptors for each crayon.
  • Each student will choose a different crayon color from the crayon box and write a postcard for that crayon’s personality.
  • Students will design and build a new house for their crayons out of cardboard and other materials.



  • “The Day the Crayons Came Home” book
  • Used crayons (big bucket of broken and used crayons)
  • Pencils
  • Card stock
  • Cardboard
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Molds
  • Heat source


Essential Questions:

    How do you design a project? How do you build it?

Lesson 1:

  • Introduce students to the bucket of crayons.
    • How many colors do you think are in here?
    • What do your crayons come in?
    • Have you lost any crayons before?
    • How do you think they feel about being lost?
  • Read “The Day The Crayons Came Home”
  • Students will now choose a new friend from the crayon bucket to write about.
  • Pass out pencils and paper. Students will write their postcard rough drafts on paper before cardstock.
  • Once students finish their rough draft they may move to card stock where they will also decorate their final postcard and draw a picture of their crayon traveling the world.


Lesson 2:

  • As a class, discuss the home the boy made for his discarded crayons again. What special things did he think about? What did he make it out of? Design a home for your crayons together on the board.
  • Have students break off individually with pencils and paper. They will begin to design their crayon houses on paper. ( they will finish their postcards before doing this step.)
  • Once done, students will make sure to label all of their features and highlight the materials that they will use a majority of in their buildings.
  • They must approve their plans through their Forman (the teacher) before they start building.
  • They must spend the rest of the time working on their crayon buildings.


Lesson 3

  • Students will come right in and continue working on their buildings.
  • Have them pick a few extra broken crayons from the bucket to live in the building.


Lesson 4

  • Students will finish up their buildings.
  • They will display them their tables, the class will go around to each crayon home and talk about what they did.
  • Each of them will get a cupcake wrapper with their name on it. They will take the crayons that lived in their crayon homes and take off any wrappers and break them smaller before placing them in the cupcake wrappers. The teacher will bring them to the kitchen oven to repurpose the old crayons into new ones. These crayons will go home as little gifts.


At the end of this activity, students will take a mobile device and write a paragraph of their buildings and why they built what they built for their broken crayons. This will include photos and building plans. Students will describe the process and what they learned to demonstrate meeting objectives and improved critical thinking skills.

How it Feels When It Happens

You hear it from the time you start college until you retire. “Here’s how to protect your program”  of course I paid attention to the articles, the talks, and the stories..but you never realize how much it hurts until it happens close to home. Now as you know I’ve been out of the classroom for a few years now but when I hear that my old high school. The one I still can see from my office everyday, where the teacher that pushed me into the right direction and still gives me a hug overtime I see her is. Is going to push the program to after school and make major cuts to the program? I had a lump in my throat. 

It was heart breaking, maddening, absolutely upsetting. 

But you know what? Music Geeks are leaders so lead we shall. I talked to alum like me, heard the stories, the feelings. I even talked to my former Teacher to get the story. The people coming out of the woodwork standing up for this program’s right to stay in the school day is amazing.

Isn’t that what we strive to create while teaching music? Hard working, creative..leaders? It doesn’t take long to figure out how music affects you, how it makes you feel but sometimes it takes a little reflection and a push off the cliff to realize the tools it teachers you.

M is for Music


So the community is taking a stand to let every student in the community have fair access to an instrument. What are we doing?

1.) Writing letters– To the school board, papers, anyone who will listen. Why music is important to us, stories, stats, what ever we can say to change their minds.

2.) Spreading the news – Sharing with friends and family builds the army, social media makes news spread fast.

3.) Standing strong with the program– Sharing their news, the good they are doing. Cheering them on and showing the board that we love the chorus and band. We’re ready to go to the school board meetings when the time comes.

4.) Getting in touch with NAfME– I gotta say, best thing ever. They showed me where to start looking for facts, stats, and stories to back up all of the stories the community is being flooded with about why music is important. They’ve been through this with other districts from all over and know where to get you started.

5.) Staying positive– Even though I want to say and do horrible things you get more flies with honey than vinegar. Helping the school board figure out how to change it rather than yelling will make the difference.