This past weekend, I learned so much from the presenters at the North Jersey School Music Association (NJSMA) and New Jersey Youth Choir’s (NJYC) workshop, “It’s Elementary, My Dear!” Lisa Ludwig Wichman, Trish Joyce, and the entire crew directed a wonderful morning of sessions that involved “A Bag of Tricks for Grades Four through Six”, “Uke Kidding Me?”, “Music for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder”, a Choral Reading Session, and performances by Sola Voce. Some of the highlights from each session were:

A Bag of Tricks for Grades Four through Six – Catherine Flynn

Catherine is an amazing teacher and presenter. She had us move, perform, and decode rhythm patterns. The dance to Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire had us performing a circle dance with an inner and outer circle and rhythm sticks.

I Have, Who Has?

Her activity titled, “I Have, Who Has?” had us focusing diligently on reading and performing rhythm patterns. She had performed the activity with her students the day before to make sure that it was successful. I loved knowing that this activity was student-tested and student-approved.

This activity involves rhythm patterns written on cards. The teacher passes out the cards that are numbered from 1 to the amount of students in that particular class. The teacher also has a card that has a new rhythm pattern that is currently being introduced to the class. In this case it was a syncopated rhythm.

A steady beat was given and the #1 card would begin with “I have ta ta ti-ti ta, who has ta ta ta rest?” The student with card #2 would state, “I have ta ta ta rest, who has ti-ti ti-ti ti-ti ta?” This would continue until all students had a turn. In the midst, the teacher card would come into play a few times. The teacher would respond with, “I have ta ta ta rest. Repeat after me: syn-co-pa ta ta (students repeat). Who has ta ta ta ta?” The teacher was introducing or preparing the students for this new rhythm pattern. The patterns can be found at TPT or a music educator could make them.

Listening, Identifying, and Moving to Chord Changes

She also taught us a simple, but effective, movement activity that reinforced our listening to and acknowledging chord changes. She had us move forward for a V chord and move backwards for a I chord. Eventually, she would add the IV chord. When her students had mastered this, then she would add the vi chord. This activity was a great way to reinforce listening skills and to assess the understanding of chords in music.

Music for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder – Maureen Butler

Maureen gave a great session about this challenging topic. She explored the characteristics and behaviors associated with students who are classified on the Autism Spectrum. She shared some ideas of how to encourage a positive musical environment to all of the students in our classrooms.

The participants shared a great deal as we all have a variety of experiences. It was extremely helpful to share and encourage each other with inspirations and successes.

Uke Kidding Me? – Ardith Collins and Brian Hunter

Since there was only enough time to attend two out of three sessions, I unfortunately did not get to attend Ardith and Brian’s session. However, the participants loved it. There was also a free great website that Ardith showed me to use to play along with on so many songs:

Choral Reading Session – Trish Joyce, Artistic Director NJYC

The workshop ended with a choral reading session directed by Trish Joyce. The Sola Voce choir also performed, which I felt was a great highlight. To listen to some of the selections in the choral reading packet performed by a musical children’s choir was superb. It was a perfect ending to a perfect workshop!

TMEA/TI:ME Conference This Week!


I am so excited about this week’s Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA)/Technology for Music Education (TI:ME) Conference. Tomorrow begins the TI:ME Pre-conference Day. It will have numerous music technology sessions. It will end with a reception and awarding SC elementary music education and technology expert, Cherie Herring, with the 2018 Mike Kovins TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award. I am so honored to be able to present Cherie with this award!

Beginning on Thursday, the TMEA conference is in full swing. With over 25,000 music educators in attendance, TMEA strives to offer a variety of sessions that will reach all participants. They also manage to bring in the gurus of music education. I am honored to be presenting two sessions at this conference:

  • Thursday / 4:00 – 5:00 PM / EXHIBIT HALL CLINIC ROOM
    Free Technology Resources for Elementary Music Educators
    Clinician: Amy Burns, Far Hills Country Day School
  • Friday / 2:30 – 3:30 PM / CC HEMISFAIR BALLROOM 3
    Help! PreK/K Music Classes Were Just Added to My Schedule
    Clinician: Amy Burns, Far Hills Country Day School

If you are at TMEA/TI:ME conference, please stop by and say hi! My materials will be on my website in the next day or two.

Stay tuned for daily recaps from the conference!

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