Holiday Programs – Steps to Success

Holiday programs can be the highlight of a student’s year.  This is especially true of elementary students.  It is a time for parents to feel proud and get that special photo of their child.  It also can be a stressful time for music teachers.  Don’t let the stress get to you. It can make you lose that feeling of joy and pride in what you do everyday as a music teacher.

1.  Make it fun!   As an elementary teacher, I feel that one of my jobs is to instill the love of music in my students.  Make sure you have some fun songs in the program.  It can be as simple as adding motions to the song.  I have white yarn pompoms I made to throw as snow at the end of a program.  This year I added glow sticks to a song and finger beams to another.  You might use a flashlight.  Let the students wave the light as they sing a song in the dark.  The parents love it and the students too!

2. You can teach music from any song.  Don’t let the fact that you have curriculum to get through rob you of a good holiday teaching experience.  Every song has notes, dynamics etc. all concepts that can be taught while learning any song.

3. Get all students involved. Every student wants to feel needed.  Don’t always pick the same students to lead the motions or say a part.  Make small parts that any student can speak.  Encourage them all to be a vital part of the program.  For smaller ones add kazoos or jingle bells.  They are always a hit.

4. Relax  Students always have a way of pulling it off if you prepared them.  They might not be the best in practice, but if you know they are prepared, they will perform for their parents.

Enjoy the season and instill the love of music in your students.




DEN Voices Connect

Last year, I joined a group of educators who wanted to share music with schools around the world.  We decided to make a virtual choir.  The result was DEN voices connect was born.  We had over 100 schools from several continents join us on this adventures.  Not all completed the journey, but the ones who did had a great year.  We had many good conversations with students from all over the world as schools were paired with another school.  If you would like to join us this year, there is still time to sign up.  Here is the link:  The link to the video from last year is  DEN Voices Connect

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Great to meet fellow educators

I was so thankful to meet many educators at ISTE 2015.  At my poster session, I was so surprised at how many music educators stopped to visit me.  It was a great time of sharing and learning ideas from each other.  I was  give the attendees many different ideas on using technology in music.  A couple of my new ideas were enchantium and  introducing them to DEN Voices Connect.

A new DEN VOICES signup will come out early in September.  For those of you who wonder what  DEN VOICES connect , it is a program to unite classrooms around the world with a song and then facetime/hanout etc with the class.  More details will be coming soon so stay tuned.

Cathy                                                                      download


Learning is a year long adventure

Just because school is out, it does not mean learning stops.  Teachers need to be continually learning.  Just as our students change, so should we.  There are many conferences attend in the summer, but if that is not an option for you then social media is your answer.  Look for a conference you would like to attend but can’t.  There will be a twitter feed for that conference. I am attending ISTE2015 in Philadelphia this next week. The hashtag to follow for the conference will be #ISTE2015   and many others to various threads.  Whatever you are looking for, it is out thre.  There will be a facebook page or twitter for it.  Explore and continue to learn.  Don’t get stuck in a rut.  Set aside sometime every day or week to go on a learning adventure. The sky is the limit.



Teaching out of the box with Enchantium

Teaching students to think outside the box can be a daunting task.  Students are used to being spoon feed.  Recently my class had a lesson where there open parameters.The lesson used an augmented reality app to show assessment.  I was surprised at the students that struggled and the students who thought the assignment was easy.  Some of the “A” students had a hard time thinking outside of that box they are so akin too.

As teachers, we need to let our students figure things out.  It is far easier to help them in every step, but that is not helping them long term.  It is hard to know where the line is for helping and letting them discover.

The assignment involved using an augmented reality app called Doceri.  The students had been learning about 20th century music, in particular John Cage. If you are not familiar with this composer he would make his “music” out of everyday items.  One time he sat on a piano bench in front of a piano of 4’33” in complete silence and called it music.  In this assignment the students had to make a graphic score.  They could use any symbol they wanted to represent everyday notation like a quarter note, half note etc.  This is where they could not understand how to use a different symbol.  After creating a piece, they performed it on the Enchantium app by Doceri.  The three lines of the triangle were each a different note.

I think this assignment helped the students realize that there is more than one way to do a task.  I have uploaded a video of one of the pieces to help you understand the assignment more.

Cameras in the classroom

A key buzz word that is so popular now is differentiation. It always amazes me how something that we already do gets a new name and becomes the “in” thing to do.  A good teacher always is aware of the varying abilities of the student.  I am a believer that everything will come around again in education.  Technology is a good way to accomplish differentiation.  I  believe that assessment and learning is not all done with paper and pencils.  Try using a camera (flip, phone, ipad) and have the students interview each other explaining what they have learned.  Video a class and see who is engaged.  Sometimes we miss things when we are infront of the class and a camera will help us see who is listening, if we are engaging etc.  There are so many uses for a camera.   The students will love to be in front of the camera and some will love to be the videographer.  Use some imagination to see how a camera would help your classroom.     You might be suprised!

Almost Summer

I promised I would talk about chrome apps and extentions, but the year has been flying by.  It is hard to think it is almost summer, but now the weather is getting warm.   So, let’s talk apps.   I  like to use one tab.

Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

When your tabs are in the OneTab list, you will save up to 95% of memory because you will have reduced the number of tabs open in Google Chrome.

If you want to search the chrome store, just go to

Chrome store

I am still here.  This spring has been a busy one despite the snow and cold.  I have been at several conferences soaking in lots of great educational ideas and thoughts.   I was able to go to the google summit and learned many things about chromebooks.  I was unaware of the advantages of chromebook.  More importantly I learned many things about chrome apps and extentsions.  The great news is they are free!  Visit the chrome web    I will talk more about some great apps and extentsion next time.  An app is a program to use and and an extentsion is something to use with an existing app or program to enhance it.    Talk to you soon, try to look at the store and see what might help you.


A glimpse into my classroom

As a teacher we all hear comments from students we that make us chuckle.  Last week a student told me that her mom used to watch a tv show in the 1900’s!  Boy do I feel old.  Friday I was explaining a project to the class using  Haikudeck.  The students were going to make a slide show about classical composers from a list I gave them.  My student states” I don’t know any of these guys.”  I replied that it was one of the reasons we were doing this assignment was to learn about these composers.  Just like the students, we need to be learning continually.  Technology does not wait for us.  We must keep up with it.  No one knows what the classroom of the future will look like, but I do know that I must prepare my students for the future as best I can. I usually write with a new app or link.  Today I thought I would just give a thought.  Thanks for stopping by.



Let’s Sing

I just found a new site that is lot’s of fun while being educational too!  The site   is a site that allows you to make your own music by adding melody, effects, beats, and voices.  It allows you to express yourself in music.  This site is an easy drag and drop.  It can be used without musical training. Becareful not to put so many voices etc. in your song that it becomes cluttered and clunky.  Sometimes less is best.  Have fun!