Category Archives: Thoughts

Children Need to Play

I’m sure that I’m mostly preaching to the choir here, but more and more research is coming out with a clear message about childhood: Children learn through play. This is how human beings are programmed to learn. And yet, more … Continue reading

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Change: How do I get there?

I’m trying something very new and experimental in my classes this year. It’s wonderful, discouraging, overwhelming, eye-opening, frustrating and amazing all at once. As teachers, we want the best for our children. We are visionaries, and we want to be … Continue reading

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Composition and Notation, Part II: Moving to Traditional Notation

If you haven’t read Part I, have a look there first. At some point, the graphic notation will start to prove difficult. Students who are making more conscious, precise decisions about dynamics, pitch, and rhythm will need an equally precise … Continue reading

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Composition and Notation, Part I: Don’t Sweat the Small Staff

I used to get very frustrated trying to teach notation or getting students to accurately notate their compositions on the staff. But I’ve changed, and so can you!* Don’t get bogged down with notating compositions. It kills the creative flow. … Continue reading

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Response-ability

Response-ability: I was introduced to this term in a workshop with Cathryn Berger Kaye, a former teacher who focuses on service learning, and it has really stuck with me. Instead of “responsibility” we think about “response-ability”: Anyone has the power to … Continue reading

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Responding to “I don’t know”

“I don’t know.” It’s a common response from students, particularly on those days when I make a point of calling on students who are avoiding eye contact and trying to hide behind someone. And I will start by saying this: … Continue reading

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Earth Day

April brings Earth Day, which is observed by people in countries all over the world. For the most part, our students have some awareness about the environment, and they quite naturally feel the need to take care of it. No … Continue reading

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Instead of “I don’t know”

Okay, the title is a ruse. Children say, “I don’t know.” You can’t stop them. It’s a go-to response, it’s natural, and it’s fine. But what we want is for students to not stop there. “So you don’t know (or … Continue reading

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Context, Not Drills

There is a lot of debate about homework these days. When I was in school, homework was pages of multiplication problems, or reading a text and answering simple recall questions (usually worded identically in the question and the text, so … Continue reading

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In the Audience: A How-To

We often spend so much time composing, practicing, and performing in Music that we overlook the role of the audience. After all, music practiced for a performance is generally prepared and performed for an audience. And though music as a … Continue reading

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