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Once school begins, Back-To-School night soon follows. Many music educators are asked to participate in one way or another. When asked, there are numerous ideas that could be done on Back-To-School Night that could highlight the elementary music program. Here are some:
- Slideshow: By using iPhoto, you can place all of your photos and videos from your music classes into a folder and click on the “Slideshow” button. iPhoto will automatically create a slideshow with default music. By clicking on the settings button, you can customize the theme, music, and timing so that the slideshow fits to the music. You can display the slideshow when the parents enter your music room (or assigned presentation space) from your computer. You can also export the slideshow as a movie file and upload it to your music webpage (as long as you have permission to show videos and photos of students).
- Animoto: I used this website to create a simple 30-second video that I could share on facebook. The lite version for free allows you to do this. The basic and memory keeper versions ($4.99/mo and $9.99/mo respectfully) allows you to create longer videos, customize music, and download the videos.
- Videos of Previous Concerts: Show excerpts from previous concerts.
- QR Codes: Record your students singing songs. Have the parents use their mobile devices to scan QR Codes that you make (you can use this site to make QR codes) that link to audio samples from your classroom. Take it one step further and use Aurasma to link a picture of music to a video of your students singing the song.
- Handouts: When I present at conferences, I still bring handouts as many people still want hard copy of items. Handouts can give the same information found on a music webpage or give more insight into your program. Some possible items to list on a handout include:
- Contact info
- Grading info
- Themes and units info
- Music schedule
- Concert dates and times
- Concert dress
- Where the best place to sit during a concert so that the parents can see their children
- Links to music websites and/or apps for elementary students
- Questions to prompt young students about music class
- QR Codes or Aurasma icons (see above)
- *If there are young children attending and they want to play on the instruments while you present, then I usually do a few things:
- Hide the mallets before anyone enters the room
- Only leave out mallets with soft heads
- Hide instruments that could become loud distractions
- Create a musical activity for the parents and children and that becomes the focus of the presentation
If I do not have a presentation to give, then I walk around the entrance to greet parents. I like doing this because parents then can place a face to the name. This is also helpful if the music educator does not have an assigned space.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com