Professional Development: What can we do to rejuvenate?

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In my last blog post, I wrote about a wonderful professional development day that I took shadowing another elementary music educator. This post is dedicated to the numerous options that music educators are offered to rejuvenate themselves in preparation for the next school year.

First things first:

  1. Stop. Rest. Relax. Whenever an educator has a break, he/she should stop and rest. Relaxing the mind, body, and spirit is the most important thing we can do for ourselves.
  2. Read for pleasure. If you enjoy reading, then definitely find a time to read for pleasure.
  3. Listen for pleasure. Listen to music that you love.
  4. Utilize your instrument. Whether you perform for fun or professionally, carve out some time to just play your instrument. Recently, I traveled to my alma mater, Ithaca College, and performing in their second Band Reunion weekend. It was so amazing to play my instrument again amongst wonderful musicians and friends!
    My best friend Anna Mattix, an IC alum and who plays English Horn in the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra.

Second: Rejuvenate

  1. Courses in person: Every summer, I teach technology courses for graduate credit in person and online. What is the difference between courses taught in person and online? For me, the difference is this: If you are a learner who just needs webinars and articles to understand the materials, then online works well for you. If you are a learner who likes to ask questions, work hands-on with the instructor, and needs assistance with the materials, then my in-person courses would work best. I am not stating this as a whole, but in my case, those are the biggest differences.
    1. Every summer, I travel to my graduate alma mater, CentralScreen Shot 2015-06-22 at 11.54.45 AM Connecticut State University (CCSU), and teach a music technology course for elementary music educators as a part of the Summer Music Institute (SMI). This summer, I will be teaching the course, iPads in the Elementary Music Classroom, which is the course that goes along with my free ibook, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or More iPads! When you take this course in person, you see the lessons and materials in action. CCSU SMI has more amazing music educators like Barb Freedman, Scott Watson, Stefani Langol, Tom Rudolph, Mike Fein, Janet Galván, and more! Each course runs for one week and can be taken for two credits; however, you do not need to be enrolled in their Masters Program to take the courses.
    2. Villanova offers wonderful music courses on their campus through The University of the Arts. They have a nice listing here from singing to technology. Graduate credits are available.
    3. Mike Klinger performs numerous music technology retreats during the summer. You can see the list here. Graduate credits are available.
    4. Let’s not forget about state summer conferences. NJMEA and NYSSMA come immediately to mind.
    5. Plus, JW Pepper, Denise Gagne summer workshops, and John Jacobson through Hal Leonard summer workshops.
    6. And let’s not forget Orff, Kodály, drum workshops/certifications, and so much more!
  2. Courses online:
    1. Every summer, more online courses on every topic in music education, are being offered.
    2. Barb Freedman’s Music Ed Tech website is offering five online music tech courses at I will be teaching the iPad course for elementary music educators here as well. In addition, Barb, Marj LoPresti, Will Kuhn, and Mike Fein will be teaching music tech courses. Graduate credits available.
    3. Mike Klinger teaches online courses as well as his retreats listed above.
    4. MusicFirst has excellent summer online courses listed here, from teaching music in the cloud to assessment through online tools.
    5. NAfME is offering an online summer course through PreSonus.
    6. Though I am listing mostly music tech online courses, I have begun to see more Orff and Kodaly online courses surfacing. However, at this moment in time, with those philosophies benefitting from the hands-on instruction, I am not sure that an online course can be as effective as being there.

These are just a few great examples of summer PD courses and workshops that being offered. There are so much more. A great way to find more is to visit the Music Teachers Facebook Page and ask over 13,000 music educators what they are doing this summer (or use the search tool and search for a similar post on the topic). During the summer, we have so many opportunities to rejuvenate ourselves!


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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: