This past weekend, NJMEA hosted the All-Eastern Conference in Atlantic City, NJ. It was an amazing conference that ran from Wednesday, April 5 to Friday, April 7. The first day offered one session during each time period for Choral, Orchestra, General, Instrumental, and Jazz. The exception to this was Technology, which usually offered two sessions during each time slot on the first day. This setup mirrored NJMEA’s state conference where the first day is devoted to academies.

On Thursday and Friday, there were over 200 sessions and concerts to attend. These sessions included the categories stated above as well as additional ones such as Advocacy, Higher Ed, Collegiate, Conducting, Guitar, Administration, Research, Instrument Repair, Arts Integration, Special Learner, Diversity Seminar, Curriculum, Composition, and Classroom Management. The concerts were phenomenal from the student groups in the lobby, to the honors groups, to the world’s largest pipe organ tour and recital.

My Sessions with My Colleagues: 

Have I ever stated publically that I work with some of the best people? I hope that I have because I sincerely mean it. This conference was the first time my colleagues and I all presented together. Maedean Kramer, grades 5-8 general music/Kestrel House Director, and Callie Shafto, Spanish/Drama Teacher, worked together to present the following sessions:

Get Them Up and Singing!

Maedean and I presented this session together. It was geared for any PreK-8 music educator who is expected to have their general music classes perform concerts. We showed our outline, our approach, and many of our favorite pieces that have worked well in the past. These included a variation of pieces from traditional, to Music K8, to pop music. We also showcased numerous examples from our concerts.

Elementary Grade Plays: Get Them Up on Stage!

Callie and I presented this session together. It was geared for elementary music educators who are expected to have their students perform a play for their parents. We showed how to produce a kindergarten play based on children’s literature like Robert Munsch’s Mortimer and Eric Litwin’s and James Dean’s Pete the Cat. Callie went on to show her method of how to write a grade play, how to include all students, how to include music, and how to put it all together. We showed examples from two kindergarten and two third grade plays.

Saddle Up Your Music Class…Giddy Up SAMR!

One of my favorite music educators and music techies, Cherie Herring, and I presented this session together. This session focused on Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model of Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition, in reference of how to redefine your classroom. We gave examples of using Plickers and Socrative to substitute traditional worksheets for assessments to redefining entire music units. Technology was the main tool we showcased; however, it was not the only tool. We showed how units involved every aspect of the music classroom from singing, performing, moving to music, creating, composing, and connecting to other subjects.

Free Technology Resources for Elementary Music Educators:

Scan for a free month of Seesaw Plus!

In this session, I showed a plethora of resources that included free elementary music lesson plans, free manipulatives, and so much more. I ended with giving a fifteen-minute presentation of Seesaw, the free digital learning journal. Benefits of Seesaw? Seesaw can work on a variety of platforms, it is structured to work internally so only the parents in your school who are signed up can see their children’s works, and you can app smash or upload almost anything to Seesaw. Would you like to showcase an Orffestration? Just video or record the orffestration and upload it to the students’ Seesaw Pages. Seesaw is very intuitive and it is a wonderful tool for you to communicate all of the items in your classroom to your parents via their mobile devices or computers. Seesaw Plus, the paid version, can do so much more and if you would like a free month of Seesaw Plus, please click here.

Lesson Plans: Elementary General Music Classroom With iPads

In this session, I showcased numerous lesson plans for a classroom with one iPad, a few iPads, or 1:1 iPads. The apps I demonstrated varied from note reading, to composing, to music creating, to creativity. I also displayed numerous works from my students.

Other Great Sessions:

There are truly too many to list here. Ones that I enjoyed were Cherie Herring’s SMART Board session and her Green Screen session. Many enjoyed Rita Moreno’s general sessions, “If You Quit, You Can’t!” Josh Emanuel’s session on easy ways to use Scratch was wonderful. I always adore how he clearly explains how to use scratch to code instruments. I also enjoyed Brendan Hughes’s session on Makey Makey and how to use it in the music classroom. I loved the example of the students attaching Makey Makey devices to welcome mats at school and each time someone stepped on them, they would hear certain teachers’ catch phrases. He also gave great tips on how to maintain the devices, especially the alligator clips and the wires.

My ultimate favorite session was S.E. Shull School Hot Marimba Group directed by John Gronert. These middle school students were fabulous! In addition, watching John’s face when he was leading them, you could see that this group is so great because their director has the best passion for music education. He also gave a session after the performance. I would love to see him give a future keynote address about this group and the approach he uses to guide them to make music so well.


If you would like to see the handouts from the five sessions I presented, please click here.


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