Teaching Music Made Easy for the Classroom Teacher

If you are a classroom teacher I understand how teaching music can be very daunting but I can tell you that I was in your shoes 10 years ago.

Without having any university training in teaching music I just happened to be the closest there could be to a Classroom Music Teacher in my rural school because I had learnt Piano, Clarinet & Saxophone in High School. To make things easy on myself I went about finding a developmental curriculum that was easy to use and understand with minimal background in music teaching.

Musicroom_Book7_cover_300I stumbled across a fantastic Australian resource ‘Music Room: A developmental classroom music program‘ by Bushfire Press. At the time they had only published level 1 & 2, now seven years later we have 7 levels in the series and Book 7 was awarded ‘The Best Primary Teaching Resource’ at the Australian Educational Publishing Awards 2012.

This program has been a saviour for many classroom teachers & starting our specialist music teachers to help us teach music across the Primary Years. Many experienced Music Educators also use it compliment their program and as a relief teacher resource. I know from personal experience my relief teachers always comment how easy the resource is to use and that it puts them at ease because of the simple layout & instructions.

I a previous paragraph I used the word ‘we’, this is because six years ago I contacted Bushfire Press when I got an Interactive Whiteboard in my classroom and asked them if they were putting Music Room into an interactive resource or if they knew of anyone who had. I had started creating some presentations using their books to try and streamline the resources so…

  1. I didn’t have fiddle with a CD player, DVD player & Data projector to project the charts
  2. I had some interactivity in my lessons and didn’t waste the $8000 resource hanging on my wall

Out of this question to Bushfire Press birthed my 3 publications ‘The Interactive Music Room: A classroom music program for the interactive whiteboardEasy Teach MR1 COVER Levels 1, 2 & 3 (Level 4 will be out early 2014 and 5-7 to follow).

My aim with these publications, apart from the 2 reasons above, was to make the resource even more easy for classroom teachers to use and to capture those hard to engage students. The comment from my Principal at the time when he saw my published work was “Cheryl I think you have actually put yourself out of a job, this resource is so easy to use”.

Have I achieved engaging those challenging students? YES!

I recently have taken parenting leave to allow me time to focus on my children while keeping up with a publishing schedule. I have been shocked by the number of students who have approached me asking when I am coming back because they miss my music lessons and what breaks my heart is when I tell them not until the end of 2014 their faces drop. However the best part in these situations is that over 50% of these students have been the ones we struggle to engage with in the classroom – and these are the moments we live for as a teacher.

I’d like to encourage you to check out my resource and the rest of the great curriculum resources we have for Music and The Arts at www.bushfirepress.com.

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Teach to transform!

Cheryl

Combining Garage Band & iMovie in the Music Classroom

midi keyboard setupOn a student free day last year my son inspired me to combine Garage Band and iMovie as a fun way to fill a rainy day spent inside.

It started off as any normal day teaching Oscar his piano lesson until he decided he wanted to record the song he was practicing ‘Icecream’ in Music for Little Mozarts Book 2 (we have a KeyControl 49 XT MIDI controller keyboard attached to my iPad though a camera connection kit and played through the Apple App Garage Band) .

So we had a few practices and then hit record, thankfully for a 6 year old he has a pretty good understanding and grasp of beat because it took only 2 to trys and we had a recording of him playing the melody we were happy with.

I then taught him how to add himself singing the song with the audio recorder and then showed him how to add loops in.  I can not claim to have helped him choose because as any mother of a 6 year old will tell you, you are not allowed to offer suggestions… “MUUUUMMMM I can do it myself!”

This is the result of what he composed: oscar garage band song

  • Classical Grand Oscar played & recorded himself on the keyboard
  • Kit & Elec Guitar are loops he chose fom Garage band library
  • The Audio Recorder is him singing

Now he was quite chuffed with his result but oh no it wasn’t finished there… now we had to do the music video so I sent him to to organise his props & dressups and to practice performing, by now his little sister, Natalia, had joined in the fun and Oscar decided she was to be his backup singer.

I filmed them performing and then Oscar helped me design his music video using iMovie and this is the result

*The Icecream Rap by Oscar

(*he wanted to call his arrangement “The Icecream Rap”. The original is ‘Icecream’ from Music for Little Mozarts by Barden, Kowalchyk & Lancaster (c) MCMXCIX Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.).

I have just started a project similar to this in my music classroom this week and it is working really well.  I won’t show you the outcome as I don’t want to post images of my students online and you get the idea from what Oscar & I did. The project is based on Bushfire Press’s Music Room: a developmental classroom music program, Book 6 Module 3 Pacific Harmonies Lesson 4.

I have split my Year 6/7 class (of 18) into 2 groups, one is creating video & still shots for the opening credits of a Hawaiian movie using iMovie, the 2nd group will record the background music in Garage Band. They will be using a backing track supplied by Bushfire Press and then adding their own recordings; a glockenspiel harmony, bongo beat and instrumental/non-instrumental sound effects and maybe some loops already available in Garage Band.

This is part of their IB PYP Unit of Inquiry into performance and will be shown at their end of year concert. What is fantastic about this is that all students are actively engaged in a project and those that are not all that enthusiastic about music are enjoying being part of the project in another way.

I hope this inspires you to not only use Garage Band in your music classroom but combine it with iMovie to broaden the classroom experience.

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Teach to transform!

Cheryl