Recorders: How Not to Lose Your Mind

Teaching beginning recorder can be a joy when the students do most of the work!

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It is that time of year when many elementary music teachers bring out that old favorite: the soprano recorder. It’s a great instrument for teaching elements of music such as rhythm and melody as well as beginning instrument techniques such as posture, airflow, and hand position. But as we all know, those messy little squeakers can really get on your nerves! With low-effort cleaning, student helpers, and self-grading, you can keep recorders fun for students and you!

Low-Effort Cleaning

If students borrow recorders from you, you must clean them after they are used. This can be a very time-consuming process. Here are some ideas for a cleaning process that won’t keep you at school until 10:00pm every night.

Idea 1: Keep a (covered) bin of bleach water in your classroom. Take the recorders apart and put them in the bleach water to soak. Let them air dry on towels. Change out the bleach water every seven days or less.

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One of these could easily hold enough bleach water to sanitize multiple classes’ recorders.

Idea 2: Have students place their used recorders on a recorder rack. Spray all the mouthpieces with Sani-Mist and let air dry.

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A stand-up recorder rack makes it easy to quickly spray and sanitize the mouthpieces.

Idea 3: Run the recorders through the school’s lunchroom dishwasher. (Make sure to turn off the detergent supply; it leaves a residue.) The water temperature alone is enough to sanitize the instruments.

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A crate of used recorders waiting to be run through the school dishwasher

Student Helpers

One of the best ways to save time in your classroom is to have student helpers. You could have kids in charge of spraying used recorders, bringing the dirty crate to the dish room, putting clean recorders back together, etc. Here are some ideas for jobs that students could do:

  1. Count and sort clean recorders into piles or buckets with the right number for each classroom.
  2. Put clean recorders back together.
  3. Carry the crate of recorders to and from the dish room.
  4. Spray the mouthpieces with sanitizing spray (teach them how to get every angle, of course!)

Self-Grading

Assessment can be dreadful and time-consuming, or it can be a joy and a useful communication tool that helps leads students along the path of improvement and lifelong musicianship. Which would you choose?!? ūüôā I have chosen the latter by having students grade themselves. After filling out the rubric, they bring the rubric to me, I listen to them play, and I either confirm or disagree with what they chose. The grading process is so much faster, students are happier because they know exactly what they need to do to get better, and I am happy because the rubric is clear, easy to understand, and grades students on the exact things I want them to be graded on.

With low-effort cleaning, student helpers, and self-grading, your recorder unit can bring you the same joy it once did when you were in elementary school!

What do you think? Do you agree with these ideas? Which one(s) would you like to try? Any other ideas you’d like to suggest?

Organizational Tips for Traveling Teachers

Here are some ideas and encouragement for traveling teachers.

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If you are a traveling teacher, you understand stress and pressure like no one else. Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs out there, and teaching in more than one location just heightens the difficulty of the job. It may not be an ideal situation, but there are tricks and tools you can use to make it a little easier.

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Tip 1: Pick a “Home Base”

Humans naturally need a place that feels their own. When you are a traveling teacher, you must choose somewhere to keep your things and treat as your home base. This place should be somewhere you don’t have to share, even if it’s only a shelf in a closet. Even better if you get a whole desk or classroom all to yourself. Your home base is where you will keep your main teaching materials, make and receive phone calls, keep that extra sweater or pair of shoes, and attend staff meetings. It’s important that you feel included as a staff member in one of your buildings. Include yourself by assuming that staff messages, meetings, and initiatives at your home base all apply to you. Ask for your own phone. Or, ask the other teacher in the room if you can have that extension for receiving voice mails and placing calls. You need to have one phone number where people can leave a message and know you will receive it.

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Tip 2: Know Your Rights

I am extremely grateful to live in a district with a strong teacher’s union. They promise traveling teachers a minimum of 30 minutes travel time. There have been occasions where a teacher was only given 25 minutes of travel time, and the local union reps worked with that teacher and the administrators to fix the problem. I also get reimbursed for the mileage I am required to drive between buildings. It is important that we know and defend our rights, because over-working and over-stressing yourself on an already¬†stressful job helps no one.

Tip 3: Have a Travel Bag

When I asked other teachers for their advice for this article, the most frequent suggestion I heard was to have a dedicated travel bag. This bag carries all the things you have to have with you at all times, such as your laptop, charging cables, seating charts, mileage reimbursement forms, etc.

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Cable carrier

Pamela B. from Minnesota suggested using a sturdy backpack with padded straps to ease the pressure on your back and shoulders. She also showed me a great idea: wrap all those little cables and cords in twist ties, cable wraps, or ponytail elastics, and store them all in one little pouch (photo above). Your charging cables, earbuds, and adapters stay organized and you always know where they are. Extra benefit: you always have an extra ponytail elastic in case of a bad hair day. ūüôā

Thirty One Bag

Top: “Fold-n-File” by Thirty-One. Bottom: “Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote” by Thirty-One (with Fold-n-File inside)

Kelly K. from Wisconsin said she can’t live without her organizational bag from Thirty-One. She uses the “Fold-n-File” insert to hold all of her hanging files and file folders. It has sturdy walls and handles. It even has pockets on the outside for her markers and calculator. That fits inside her “Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote” which can zip closed to protect files from rain and snow, has shoulder straps, and has extra pockets around the outside for pencil pouches, tuning forks, and spare recorder.

You will read below that I use digital seating charts. However, that doesn’t help when you have a substitute. I print off a full set of seating charts for all of my classes, from both schools, and have a copy at both schools. (Yes, I print seating charts for one school and keep them at the other school.) This way, there will always be an extra set available whether a substitute brings or doesn’t bring them when traveling between schools.

My final piece of advice for your travel bag is to update your mileage reimbursement form EVERY time you travel. I put it in the front of my travel folder, even in front of my seating charts, so I am guaranteed to see it. I make sure to fill it out before I go home for the day. It never fails: every time I try to remember mileage I didn’t write down, I remember it wrong. WRITE IT DOWN.

Tip 5: Digitize

Being¬†“transportable” is SO EASY with digital lessons. I unplug my laptop at one school, slide it in my bag, and open it up at the next school. My lesson plans, seating charts, behavior management, recordings, and lesson files are all there on the screen.

EXTENDED DISPLAY (1)I use what’s called “extended display” (a setting on my computer), so what the students see is different than what I see. I can have my lesson plan on the computer screen and¬†the visuals or behavior management system projected for the class (see photo above). The only things I carry with me, then, are the items that one school owns¬†and the other doesn’t.¬†So far this year, I’ve only had to carry a train whistle and some beanie babies. THAT’S IT.

Here’s my setup:
Computer: Apple MacBook Pro
Interactive White Board: SMART Board
Speakers: Ceiling-mounted
Recordings: iTunes
Lesson plans: Planbook.com
Seating charts: SMART Notebook file
Behavior management: “Scoreboard” SMART Notebook file
Visuals/Manipulatives: self-created SMART Notebook or Powerpoint files
Sheet music/notation: Noteflight.com

I hope these tips have given you some ideas for ways to become more organized or just given you encouragement that you are on the right track. What is your best organizational strategy? Comment below!

Meter Wall

The Meter Wall is an engaging, educational, fun, and easy way to learn and assess meter.

Today, I am participating in the “What’s on your Wall?” linkup with some other blogs. We are all going to write about something that’s on our wall at school. I chose to feature my Meter Wall because it is really cool and fun and I love it! I hope you get some good ideas and maybe even get inspired to start a Meter Wall of your own!

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I love my Meter Wall! It is a place for students to contribute to the music classroom, connect music class with the outside world, and apply music skills. I sneak in a little formative assessment when they’re not looking. Some students even choose to make it a friendly competition!

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Here’s how the Meter Wall works.

At the beginning of the year, the Meter Wall is a bulletin board with the word “Meter” and three large cards in different colors: “Meter of 2,” “Meter of 3,” and “Meter of 4.” (Note: I ended up having to add cards for meters in 5, 6, and 7 last year because we encountered songs with those meters!)

Older grades begin using the Meter Wall immediately in the fall when they review meter. I allow students to suggest any song in the history of the world. If the song is not something I’ve taught them, I write down the title and artist and look up the song later during my prep time. If the song passes my strict school-appropriateness check (and I am strict), I play it for the class during their next session. I will either play the free preview track on the iTunes store or find the full track on YouTube.

Now for the magic. While the song is playing, students have to discover the meter themselves so we can add the song to the Meter Wall.

First, they show the steady beat by patting it on their legs. Then, after the beat is solid, they try to find the strong beats. They pat their legs on the strong beats and clap on the weak beats. This pat-clap pattern makes it very obvious who has it (formative assessment), makes it easy for the students to count the number of beats in a group (kinesthetic learning), and helps students who have not quite figured it out (social learning).

Once most students are correctly pat-clapping the meter, I ask them to count out loud. They say “one” on every strong beat and continue counting until the next strong beat, when they start over at “one.” I wait until the whole class is counting out loud together. Then I ask what the meter is. Most students can get it right the first time when we follow this procedure. Many get upset if I stop the music too early, so I let it play out if there’s time. While the song finishes, I write the song title and the class’s name on a piece of paper to match the meter wall colors (white for meter of 2, blue for meter of 3, orange for meter of 4).

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I take the piece of paper with the song name and staple it to the Meter Wall bulletin board underneath its meter category. As the lists grow, it’s really interesting to see which meter has the most songs and which meter has the fewest. For students with a competitive streak, I allow them to count how many songs were contributed by each class. This worked out just fine because the ones who cared the most tended to be in the lead because they were suggesting more songs. The classes with fewer songs on the Meter Wall tended to be less interested and therefore not hurt that they weren’t in the lead.

Even students as young as first grade have had success with this activity! It’s a fun way for kids to see themselves represented in music class by bringing in their music. It helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what is popular among my students. It keeps students interested in music class when I teach them a new song, because they always want to add it to the Meter Wall. Students can continue the practice of finding the meter of a song when they are listening to music outside of class, bringing what they are learning into the real world. And it’s an engaging method of reviewing and assessing an important musical skill.

Thanks for reading! So, which meters do you think are the most common? Post your answers in the comments section below. I’ll let you know what my students and I found in a later post!

Click below to visit some of the other posts in this linkup!

Meter Wall

Concert Themes

Thinking of themes for concerts is so tough! Here are some ideas to help jump-start your concert planning.

ConcertThemesWhy a theme?

The words “concert theme” strike fear into the hearts of many classically-trained music educators. They think, “If I have a theme, then I am not selecting educational¬†music for my students!” Or, “Themes breed fluff and novelty, not quality!” Having come from that school of thought in my undergraduate and graduate training, I would like to offer a different opinion: Themes can provide guidance, cohesiveness, and flow during concert planning and performances.

I am not theme-heavy in my concert programming. I prefer to think that quality music is quality music, whether there is a theme. However, I’ve found over the years that having a general theme guides my concert planning. It helps me find songs when I’m stuck, helps narrow down a long list of songs, informs my song order for the program, and can result in your concert being a powerful message. Think of this as… Theme Lite.

Here are some ideas for concert themes and some repertoire ideas to go along with each. Feel free to use any or all of them. I’d love to hear what you do with it! Do you have any repertoire suggestions to add? Leave a comment below with your ideas and favorite songs!

1. American Patchwork

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Patchwork quilts are an important part of American history. Stitched together by the women who were the backbone of the family, quilts warmed toes on cold frontier nights, offered¬†soft comfort for broken hearts, told stories of happiness and struggle, and became treasured family heirlooms. Some quilts even contained coded messages during the days of the Underground Railroad. Drawing upon the concept of a patchwork quilt, this concert theme stitches together songs from America’s past and present, creating a tapestry of music.

Repertoire suggestions:
Corn Grinding Song – Traditional Native American

Silver the River РStephen Paulus. This lyrical song is one of those melodies that just flows out of your mouth. Paired with a soaring countermelody, your students will be thrilled with how mature they sound.

Hot Chocolate (from “Polar Express”) – arr. Roger Emerson. This fun song contains engaging rhythms and enough repetition to make it accessible. It lends itself well to riser choreography and can easily be choreographed by students.

The Cat Came Back – traditional. I created a simple ostinato accompaniment for Orff xylophones using la, so, fa, and mi on a descending pattern. The kids loved singing the song, and the accompaniment was low-pressure and easy to learn.

2. All Jazzed Up

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Jazz is a distinctly American art form that has relationships to many other music genres. It’s an important style for kids to learn, and learning how to scat and improvise can build strong vocal skills in all areas of singing. Plus, it’s fun!

Repertoire suggestions:
Dancin’ on the Rooftop – Teresa Jennings (Score and choreography available in “Share the Music” Grade 6). It’s a great song to teach kids about form because it is a rondo. The C section has a scat echo, helping kids learn scat vocabulary in a non-threatening environment.

Sing (from “Sesame Street”) – Joe Raposo, arr. Steve Zegree. This unexpected arrangement takes the childhood classic “Sing” and sets it with some jazz rhythms and scat interludes. Students who are new to scat will need to go over the scat phrases slowly and with many repetitions, but they will be really happy with the results!

Mosquito Blues – Martha E. Burgess. Okay, so blues isn’t jazz, but they are related. This tongue-in-cheek ditty has your students lamenting the presence of those small birds we call mosquitoes. The song ends with a satisfying SWAT!

3. Through the Seasons

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This concert represents the four seasons. I did three songs from each season, and 12 songs ended up being a really long concert. I would reduce it to 8-10 songs if I were to do it again.

Repertoire suggestions:
Spring: Singin’ in the Rain – Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 4)

Summer: Red Dragonfly (“Akatombo”) – traditional Japanese. The harmony part was collected by Julie Schramke at Concordia Language Villages Mori No Ike.

Fall: Skin and Bones – Traditional (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 1). It’s fun to see the audience jump when the singers shout, “Boo!”

Winter: Yuki – Japanese school song (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 3)

4. A Winter Spectacular

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I have students who don’t celebrate Christmas, and I don’t want them to feel alienated in any way in my classroom or my concerts. It’s been a challenge coming up with winter concerts that will satisfy the Christmas parents while still respecting those who don’t celebrate Christmas. This concert theme¬†touches everyone by representing all winter holidays.

Repertoire suggestions:
Winter Fantasy – Jill Gallina. This arrangement of¬†“Jingle Bells” adds a super fun, energetic countermelody!

Kitty for a Present – Teresa Jennings, from Music K-8, Vol. 23, No. 2. This hilarious song is appropriate for people of all backgrounds because virtually every winter holiday includes gift-giving of some sort: Eid, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, Hmong New Year, etc.

S’vivon – Valerie Shields. This song is about the dreidl game. The text is repetitive enough for students to learn the Hebrew. It’s especially fun when sung with an accelerando!

5. O Colored Earth

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For this concert, I wanted to bring together songs from around the world. I especially wanted to represent the students in my choir. I sent home a note asking students to interview their families about their heritages. I also included a section for parents to tell me about songs they know from their heritage. One girl’s mother is from China and was able to recall the text of a beautiful Chinese poem that turned out to be “Moh Lee Hwah.”

Repertoire suggestions:
O Colored Earth РSteve Heitzeg. This inspiring text is set to a mixed-meter melody that is surprisingly easy to learn and just makes your kids want to sing it. It is mostly unison with a few moments of 2-part harmony to help young singers on their journey to part singing. I emailed the composer to thank him for his understanding of the human voice and how to write music that is singable. The students were over the moon when he wrote back!

Ala Dalouna – Traditional Arabic. I created a simple accompaniment that students performed on drums, woodblocks, and finger cymbals, in imitation of traditional Arabic instruments. A small group sang the B section soli. The students helped me come up with simple choreography using scarves so the result was a stunning performance of a quite simple song.

Moh Lee Hwah – arr. Wayne Bisbee. This melody and counter-melody will take a little extra time to learn, but it is totally worth it. If you can get the boys hooked on this lyrical melody, they and your female singers will be thrilled with how they sound.

6. Peace on Earth

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This is another solution to the Christmas concert dilemma. I included songs about peace, many of which have a holiday feel. I stuck in one Christmas song at the end with a peace countermelody.

Repertoire suggestions:
Peace Round – traditional (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 5). I had two students start singing¬†soli¬†alone on stage¬†and had the rest walk in in small groups and join singing in unison. When all were finally on the risers, we split into the round. It was a really powerful demonstration of how peace has to start with each individual before it can spread to the whole world.

Dona Nobis Pacem – traditional. This round was pretty difficult for my 4th and 5th graders to learn, so I’d definitely encourage lots of repetition and unison singing before attempting the round.

Peace, Peace – Rick and Sylvia Powell. This beautiful countermelody to Silent Night is only available in SATB. I just dropped the tenor and bass lines. I taught the whole choir how to sing “Stille Nacht” in German and we added a verse of that in the middle. At the end, I had them split into three groups, with one group singing Silent Night in English, one group singing the soprano countermelody, and one group singing the alto countermelody.

7. Words of Wisdom

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All of the songs in this concert contain advice. Setting good advice to music is a great way for your students to remember it.

Repertoire Suggestions:
Mama Says (from “Footloose”) – Dean Pitchford. This hilarious song parodies the advice of a mama who’s “got marbles missin’.” It’s difficult to learn and the piano/vocal score is different than the original Broadway cast recording, but it is do-able. Best start learning this one early. “Mama says don’t use a toaster while standing in the shower. Now who can argue with that?…”

Won’t You Sing Along – Daniel Kallman. This song speaks to the child’s heart without being childish. It’s a sweet reminder of how important music is. And it contains my favorite: an audience sing-along! This is the song that teachers email me about, complaining that students are singing during class. Hee hee *devilish grin*

Good Fight – Unspoken. This is one of those cool songs that makes boys love being in choir. It’s a male group and has a really catchy beat. I couldn’t find a karaoke version, so I just played the iTunes version¬†with vocals and had the kids sing along. It was a hit for singers and audience alike.

This Little Light of Mine РTraditional. My accompanist and I composed-slash-improvised a driving gospel arrangement of this song. It definitely was not the Kindergarten version you learned in Sunday School. We ended with an acapella verse with hand claps and it was amazing.

8. Here Comes the Sun

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These songs are all about sun, daytime, or daylight. It’s a good reminder to stay positive because no matter what happens, a new day will dawn in the morning.

Repertoire Suggestions:
Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles. There is a karaoke track for kids on iTunes that is pitched slightly higher than the original, making it much better for children’s voices. I’d suggest having your singers practice with the original and the karaoke track because some of the entrance cues are misleading.

Day-O – Traditional (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 3)

Miss Mary Ann – Traditional (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 5)

Yonder Come Day – Georgia Sea Islands, arr. Judith Cook Tucker

9. My Planet, Your Planet

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This is actually a revue from Plank Road Publishing. I came up with a storyline about aliens who came to Planet Earth because their planet is filled with garbage and they can’t live there anymore. The aliens teach the Earthlings how to “go green” before it is too late¬†and our planet fills up with garbage, as well. I added in a rap I wrote called “Recycle Rap.” The students created instruments out of household trash and accompanied themselves on a simple rap about how to recycle.

Repertoire Suggestions:
My Planet, Your Planet – Teresa Jennings

It’s Easy Bein’ Green – Teresa Jennings, arr. Paul Jennings

Agents of Change – Teresa Jennings

10. Lighten Up!

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This is another revue from Plank Road Publishing. The nice thing about Plank Road is they give you permission to modify their revues as necessary. You can pick and choose which songs you want to use and supplement with your own. I used about half of the songs from the revue and added the following.

Repertoire Suggestions:
Zoo Illogical – Clare Grundman. These short Ogden Nash-style poems are lighthearted and witty. Great for older elementary singers because they are melodically challenging and will help you emphasize the importance of good diction. After all, if the audience can’t understand the words, they won’t get the joke!

I’ve Lost My Homework – Marta Keen. This hilarious song lists just about every excuse anyone could think of for not doing their homework. Great opportunities for choreography and props (think ripped up paper thrown into the air on the word “confetti”, followed by two students comically crossing the stage with push brooms).

The Thing – Charles R. Grean (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 5). The singer in this song finds a box¬†containing¬†a–well, you never find out what it is–and he just can’t get rid of it. The final verse is a little risque: “Get out of here with that¬†(knock knock knock) and take it down below!” The 5th graders were scandalized and thrilled that they got to sing about THAT.

11. Positive

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Yes, another Plank Road revue. This concert reminds students to think positively. In a world full of dangers and evil, it’s easy for kids to get caught up in everything that’s wrong. They need a fun reminder that even when things are difficult, your attitude makes all the difference.

Repertoire suggestions:
What I Am – Will.I.Am. From “Sesame Street,” available on YouTube. For the concert, I just played the audio from the YouTube video and had the kids sing along with it. It’s a great song, fun to sing, with a great message.

Mumble, Grumble – Minnie O’Leary (Available in “Share the Music” Grade 2). Kids get to complain in this song! Though it’s not necessarily a happy happy joy joy song, it’s a good reminder that even when things are not fun, “you don’t have to like it, but it’s gotta be done.”

Think Good Thoughts РTeresa Jennings. Professional choreography available on musick8.com. My small group of dancers looked really talented performing the dance moves they taught themselves by watching the choreography video.

12. Americana

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A patriotic theme is appropriate all year long! There’s always some national holiday coming around the corner and you can easily adapt this theme to fit your circumstances.

Repertoire Suggestions:
America (My Country, ’tis of Thee) – Words by Samuel Francis Smith, music attributed to Henry Carey

America the Beautiful – Words by Katharine Lee Bates, music by Samuel Ward

This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie

The Star-Spangled Banner – words by Francis Scott Key, music by John Stafford Smith

One Nation – Teresa Jennings

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier – Traditional. This lilting lament will probably not leave a dry eye in the house. Especially appropriate for Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day.

Thanks for reading! What themes or pieces have been your favorites? Leave your answer in the comments below!

Concert Themes

Music Rules

In my music room, there are three main rules with 4-5 specific bullet points under each.

How many rules should I have?

Many sources say the perfect number of rules is short, between three and five. Lumping all your expectations into three rules means the rules must be vague and open to interpretation. However, practice tells us that kids need to know the specific, concrete expectations they are being held to. My solution was to have three “main” rules with descriptive bullet points under each.

Music Rule #1: Be a LearnerMusic Rule #1: Be a Learner

We are at school to learn. Learning is a lifelong sport and the most important thing you will do here. These behaviors help prepare your brain to learn. In order to learn in this room, you must:

  • Sit in your spot
  • Face forward
  • Pay attention
  • Raise hand to talk
  • Always¬†try

I give a little one- or two-sentence description of each bullet point and what it means. We practice the bullet points as we go.¬†I scan the room to make sure they are following the rules. If anyone breaks or forgets, I go back to the beginning and start over. This sets up the expectation that rules are to be followed and you will enforce it if they’re not.

At this point, I don’t mention consequences.¬†Most students don’t need to know what the consequences are; they are motivated to follow the rules simply because they want to be good and earn approval. The students who do need to know the consequences in advance tend to be the ones who will test the rules to see if you are really going to apply those consequences. (And you better apply those consequences!)

Slide2Music Rule #2: Respect Others

This means you have to be nice to other people and their property: classmates, teachers, building staff, school property.

  • Be nice
  • Listen to the speaker
  • Use positive words
  • Keep hands and feet to yourself
  • Allow others to learn

I explain that “the speaker” means the person who is talking, not a device that is amplifying¬†music! It is hard to explain what “positive words” means, but I always give examples of what negativity looks and sounds like: whining, not trying, saying “this is dumb,” or the worst, “I can’t.” We also discuss how following Rule #2 allows others to follow Rule #1.

Slide3Music Rule #3: Be a Musician

This is the third rule because it’s the third most important. After you have readied your mind to learn and shown respect to others, then you are ready to participate in music.

  • Take care of instruments
  • Only play¬†what…
  • …and¬†when you’re supposed to
  • When music plays: sing or listen
  • Participate in the activity

I explain that when music plays, I will usually tell them if they’re supposed to be singing or listening. They rarely have a choice between the two. However, talking is definitely not an option. The final bullet point is one that is very close to my heart. I don’t care how good you are, I care how hard you try. After all, you can never learn to shoot a basket if you don’t pick up a basketball. You can never learn to read if you don’t touch a book. And you’ll never learn music if you don’t try. If a student has a really stinky attitude, I resort to “yes, you have to do this.” But most of the time a simple reminder that participation and effort are the expectation is enough.

How should I teach the rules?

Each fall, I go over the rules with each class so they know what the rules are. The older kids already know me and my expectations so this goes very quickly, usually less than five minutes at the beginning of the first class. For the middle grades (1-3), I have student volunteers demonstrate the wrong and the right way to perform each expectation. For the very young (pre-K and K), I just read the rules and bullet points slowly, demonstrate them myself, and scan the room to make sure the kids are following them.

Later in the year, the rules are revisited only as needed. I’ve found that Kindergarten typically needs a “rules day” two more times during the year. Pre-K usually doesn’t need reminders of the rules because reinforcement and rewards are naturally built into every activity we do. For older grades, I may simply state the name of the rule (“Donovan, be a learner”) or point to the poster.

Thanks for reading! What rule is the most important to you? Answer in the comments below!

Note: The content in this article is copyrighted. Please visit TeachersPayTeachers.com for your own digital copy of Mrs. Martin’s Music Room Music Rules Posters.