Credit: pxhere

It was another great day at TMEA! TMEA has so much to offer every music educator that I wish that I had time to attend every session, listen to every ensemble, and learn from every presenter. In an ideal world, that would be possible. It is OK that when we attend conferences, we come out with a grand dessert buffet of ideas, but only take a few bites. Here were some of my bites:

Contemporary Collaborative Music-Making in the Cloud – Meredith Allen, Soundtrap

Credit: Cherie Herring

Meredith gave a great session featuring Soundtrap, an online music making app that allows students to collaborate when making music online. It is like a combination of GarageBand and Google Docs. My students adore it.

Meredith showed many features of the app. She also showed numerous examples of educators using Soundtrap for podcasts, music creations, recordings, and more. My favorite was when she featured my good friend, Tom Berdos, who teaches music at The Pingry School. His students have created podcasts about musicians and their pieces that are played in the hallway between classes.

Multimedia and Composition in the Music Classroom – Barbara Freedman, Greenwich HS

Once again, Barb presented an excellent session. This one involved creating music with high schoolers. As I watched this and listened to many amazing creations from her students, I realized that these projects the students were creating could be adapted for elementary.

Barb began by clarifying the project-based learning as problem-based learning. This is very true and goes back to my previous post about making the learning authentic for the students. She has them scoring music to videos, essentially becoming post production engineers. She also had them create their DJ soundbite as a DJ would have at the beginning and end of their broadcasts. These projects were very relatable to her students and they produced beautiful and unique results.


In the elementary classroom, this can be adapted to their skill level. The students have created artwork that they bring to the classroom. They would use thinking maps (bubble map) to write down adjectives that describe the feelings in their artwork. The students would then pick two words and find two classroom instruments to record themselves using Soundtrap. They are guided to add three instrumental loops to accompany their two sounds.

In the process they learn form (do they want to make a pattern?), balance (can they hear each part), and dynamics (do they use the faders?). Once finished they, or the teacher, could add their music and pictures to iMovie and make a collage of art and music. Finally, post this on Seesaw for them to comment and to ask their parents to comment. Share it through the Seesaw blog to find another class in another school to make comments.

Recorder Romps – TMEA Featured Clinician: Artie Almeida, Elementary Clinician

Credit: pxhere

Artie is awesome! She taught music for over 30 years, she understands teachers, and she definitely understands how a student learns music. I could attend her sessions all day.

In this session, she focused on recorders. I came out with a few ideas that I will immediately use in my classroom.

  1. When introducing a new note, or to review note fingerings, I loved her recorded sound track where they marched for 16 counts, played a note for 16 counts, and started all over again. On the screen was the note name that the students were to play after marching for 16 counts. Very effective and very simple to do. Love this activity!
  2. When helping the students memorize fingerings or music, she introduced a silly sequence. She would first have the students play with one hand behind their head (for a song like Hot Cross Buns). The students would then do that and play on their back. They would then add one leg up and then finish with bicycle legs. They are practicing the song as they have fun. Genius.
  3. Artie had the participants use study buddies. The students would partner in twos. The partner on the right was the articulator. The partner on the left was the fingerer. The student on the right blew and tongued the song. The student on the left would finger the recorder. It was a great sight and so much fun!


The Exhibit Hall opened and it was wonderful to explore and ask questions of the vendors and experts. Graham from Quaver made an appearance to a very large crowd who happily greeted him with cheers. Perry the Sheep also made an appearance at Quaver. It was wonderful to see friends over at the MusicFirst booth. I could get caught up all day browsing for music at the JW Pepper Booth. The elementary shops were there and it is always fun to play the instruments to see whether we need them for the classrooms. The Oxford University Press Booth had numerous books that I wanted to read. Finally, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Missy Strong at the GIA booth.

Chromebooks, We’ve Got You Covered – Julianna Mateyko 

Julianna spoke about chromebooks, the MusicFirst apps, and learning management systems. She spoke about the benefits of chromebooks in the schools from their simplicity, durability, and cost effectiveness. She also explored various apps from Noteflight, to Soundtrap, to Groovy Music.

Free Technology Resources for Elementary Music Educators – Amy Burns, Far Hills Country Day School

I presented on this topic in hopes to assist music educators with finding free resources for their classroom. I did explain about the caveat that some resources are free with limitations that can be lifted if a subscription was purchased. The topics that I covered were ones such as websites with free materials, free music creation tools, free assessment tools, free worksheets, published curriculums that can be downloaded to be used as a guide, free lesson plans, free interactive activities, and free digital portfolio programs. I hope that those attended remembered that though there were a lot of items that I showed, they should look into one or two that would assist them the most.

It was a day of feasting on numerous, delicious tidbits, ideas, lessons, activities, and more. It was a great day to rejuvenate so that when we return to our classrooms, we are ready to try out one or two new ideas.

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