Thursday, December 1, 2016

Activate! Asks: Mark Shelton

How many years have you been teaching? 
Over 30 years

If you could have only one item in your teaching bag, what it would it be and why? 
Sense of humor. Enough said.

What is your favorite teaching resource? 
Sense of humor

What music do you listen to in your free time? 
Classical/Art music, Electronica, Contemporary Worship, Oldies Rock

What is one piece of advice you would suggest for folks who are new to the elementary music classroom? 
Get an understanding of what is age-appropriate material. It is very easy to teach over the heads of elementary students.

If there was one instrument you could ban from all elementary music classrooms what would it be and why? 
None whatsoever. I once performed for a festival that actually had a list of banned instruments. That is just weird.

Tell us about your most memorable performance moment (when you were directing). 
Facilitating a drum circle at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention comes to mind. Many percussionists, from children to adults, were playing percussion instruments and creating music in the moment (with a few cues from me every now and then.) It was quite a thrill. 

What is your go-to strategy to rein in an unruly class? 
Always start out with positive and/or subtle methods. I have the ability to actually correct undesired behavior with a “look.”

What excites you most about the future of music education? 
Technology will play a larger role in education. Educators must embrace technology while remembering that nothing will replace human-to-human real-time interaction.

Would you like to share your story?

We are looking for Activate! subscribers to share their teaching advice and anecdotes. You can complete the interview at We will share as many responses as we can on our blog, and one lucky subscriber will win a free subscription to Activate! and be featured in the April/May 2017 issue.