Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Top 5 Resources for Teachers on a Budget!

Several years ago, I had a truly wonderful opportunity to teach elementary music methods as an adjunct professor. It was a really amazing experience and gave me the opportunity to spend some time thinking very carefully about what I did as a music educator, why I did it, and how. After requiring my students to spend hours making visuals and coming up with original lessons to address all the music-making activities, I thought it might be helpful to give them a list of some of my tried and true resources. Back then, I wasn’t the editor for Activate! or Heritage Music Press, so this is my top five, unbiased list of essential tools for every new music teacher.

1. A subscription to Activate! I was a subscriber and loyal follower long before I got the position with Heritage Music Press! The price is amazingly low, and you get incredible and diverse lessons from the best of the best, ready-to-go visuals, worksheets, choral pieces with P/A tracks, barred percussion and non-pitched percussion pieces, recorder pieces, informational text, insightful articles, and more! Current price: $79.95 for a one-year subscription—5 issues with a CD. If you can only afford one resource, this would be the one I most strongly recommend.

2. Down in the Valley and/or Jump Jim Joe by the New England Dancing Masters. Both of these resources feature collections of traditional singing games and movement activities. They are fantastic resources that I have used time and again in the classroom, with my own children, and even as a special guest-entertainer at a friend’s child’s birthday party!

3. A slide whistle—you can use it for warm-ups, pitch matching, storytelling, and it is just fun! The kids will think you are the coolest teacher when you pull this out.

4. A set of good rhythm flashcards—they provide tons of opportunities from clapping and saying to games like music baseball. I do have a digital set of customizable flash cards available now (in 4/4). Check out Music in a Flash.

5. A subscription to Music K8. This subscription, published by Plank Road was my go-to for light choral works for many years.

In addition to these five essentials, I would also strongly encourage every new music educator to join a local chapter of the music pedagogy they most relate to, and that offers a workshop series. For me it was DOSA (Detroit Orff Schulwerk Association). Once a month, I went to a workshop, and had the opportunity to spend an entire day learning from master educators including Brian Hiller and Don Dupont, Roger Sams, Deborah A. Imiolo, Lisa Sullivan, and Jeff Kriske and Randy DeLelles just to name a few. Along with the top five resources, I lived off of my session notes for my first three years of teaching.

I would also strongly encourage all new music educators to spend some time thinking about how they want to structure their lessons and transitions. The more non-verbal direction you can give to your students, the better. Establishing a routine with standard cues will go a long way to keeping the kids on track and helping you to maintain your voice and sanity.

Best of luck to all the graduating music educators this spring!

Jeanette attended Ithaca College, majoring in Music Education with voice as her primary instrument. While at Ithaca, she performed with the Women's Chorale under the direction of Janet Galván and was a founding member of the college's first women's a cappella group. She completed her Master of Education degree from Wayne State University while teaching elementary music in L'Anse Creuse Public Schools. In her more than eight years of teaching elementary music education, Jeanette was the writer and recipient of several educational grants, director of after school music clubs, and one of the directors in a district-wide choir. She has also taught Elementary Music Education: Methods and Assessments as an adjunct professor at Rochester Community College in Rochester Hills, Michigan. In 2008, Jeanette became editor of Activate!, a magazine for music educators, and in 2009, she accepted the position of Classroom Resources Editor for Heritage Music Press.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the slide whistle! If you get one (IMHO), go for a high quality metal instrument.