Happy 2020! I hope that you had a wonderful time celebrating in the new decade. This brings us to the #2 and #1 spots of 10 websites for the elementary general music class. Please remember the following about this series of posts:
- There are many more wonderful and educational websites or resources for elementary music educators to use in their classrooms. This is just a short list of websites that I have used successfully.
- If you decide to utilize these sites, decide on your goal first. Then, choose the sites that best fit your goal.
- In the next few days, there will be a webinar showcasing the ten websites, which will be hosted at amymburns.com/webinars
- In addition, there are other webinars at this site, with updated Seesaw and Flipgrid webinars. They are free webinars to utilize at any time. If you are an NJMEA/NAfME webinars, you can get PD credits by submitting a short summary to me and answering the questions at the end of the webinars.
Coming in at #2 is YouTube. Started in 2005, YouTube has had a powerful effect that can be felt throughout numerous areas including education. Whether your school permits YouTube or blocks it, YouTube can assist an elementary teacher greatly in preparing for a concert.
When selecting song choices for concerts, I will look through various social media sites to find out what songs other music educators have chosen for their concerts. I will then look up the songs on such websites as J.W. Pepper or Musicnotes. Most of the time, there are recordings that you can listen to so that you can get a good understanding of the song. Afterward, I will go to YouTube and look for videos of students performing the songs. I do this for the following reasons:
- I like to hear what the song actually sounds like in a real, live setting, as opposed to a recording studio.
- It is beneficial to hear how the audience might react to the song.
- There is a great advantage to seeing the variety of choreography that teachers create, adapt, or interpret for that particular song.
- When I find videos that a teacher has posted that shows the individual parts, I feel like I struck gold. A couple of years’ back, I had the faculty choir perform Jim Papoulis/arr. Francisco Nuñez’s Give Us Hope with our second graders. On YouTube, I found a video for each part. I sent out the videos to the faculty choir. This helped them greatly in learning their parts.
Students Viewing Choreography
I admit it. My name is Amy and I am not a choreographer. I am lucky that I do not have to create a lot of moves for my students because they perform on risers. However, I am not good at creating moves. I usually have the students assist me with creating movements or I look on YouTube.
When I utilize another teacher’s movements for a song, I will use the YouTube video for the students to learn the choreography. One that my students loved was Chris Ruzin’s split screen choreography for Teresa Jennings’s Here Comes the Snow. By using Chris’s video, my students successfully learned and performed this choreography for their 2015 Holiday Concert. (Thank you Chris!)
Students Viewing Performances
When my students are struggling with a new piece of music, or if they need some inspiration, I will search YouTube to find a performance that will motivate them to connect with the song. A recent example of this was the song Amani by Jim Papoulis & Jacques Sebisaho/arr. Francisco Nunez. I love this song, but I will admit that the Swahili caught me off guard. Fortunately, my fourth graders could learn the Swahili faster than I could, but me tripping over the words was hindering their learning.
When I finally did achieve singing it, we all were struggling with making this piece come together. We had listened to the recording provided on JW Pepper and Musicnotes, but I needed to find a video of a young ensemble performing this with feeling. I found this video of the Coastal Sound International Choral Festival 2011 Choir conducted by Rollo Dilworth. Though the tempo is on the fast side, this recording is beautiful. Rollo and the children feel this music wonderfully. The students and I were in awe. By the time the concert rolled around, we wanted to sing this song forwards and backwards because we knew it so well and loved it so much. That video helped us bridge the gap that we were struggling with when learning the piece.
YouTube’s Tempo Features
Last year, my third graders attempted to learn and memorize the song, Tour the States (Music by Renald Francoeur, Drawing by Craighton Berman, Video by Don Markus, Video Editor Brad Taylor) for their Adventure America Program. This is a great song, but a bit too fast to learn at the current speed. Therefore, I clicked the settings button in YouTube, scrolled up to speed, and changed the speed by one notch. This made it noticeably slower and the students were able to learn it with the video (as well as without the video-they love the visual of the video).
This video also allows you to turn on the subtitles in those same settings (not all videos can do this). I clicked the settings button, scrolled up to subtitles, clicked on English, and then let the students read the lyrics as they appeared on the screen. This assisted with them learning all of the words to the song.
One Tip: Need to perform a sing-along? See if you can find YouTube karaoke videos to assist in your sing-along.
Sad Tip: YouTube used to have YouTube Video Editor built into YouTube’s site, but it was discontinued in September of 2017.
YouTube is Blocked
At numerous schools, YouTube is blocked. Even if this is the case, there are ways to still utilize YouTube without asking your middle school student to hack your school computer to access YouTube (this is surprisingly common from what I have read).
One way is to access the YouTube videos you want to use in class from home. Once accessed, download the videos so that you can show them from your hard drive. There are numerous ways to download a YouTube video. A google search gives “about 245,000,000 results”. Keepvid and Savefrom.net are two of my favorites.
Another way is to take the YouTube url and place it in Safeshare.tvor Viewpure. Both sites will take out the comments and advertisements from the video. They will also create a new link that you can share with your students. The differences are that Safeshare.tv requires you to make a free account. With that account, you can save your safeshare urls, you can trim the videos, and the video no longer leads you back to the original YouTube video. In Viewpure, you do not have to create an account; however, the YouTube logo is on the screen. When you are using the Viewpure url, you can still click on the video’s YouTube logo and go back to the original YouTube video with comments and advertisements.
Tip #2: The popular website GoNoodlecan host YouTube videos. According to their site, “With the YouTube channel, teachers can utilize videos from YouTube.com to engage the classroom in healthy activity. The videos stream directly from YouTube, but within the GoNoodle environment — which means your class sees none of the distractions of visiting YouTube.”
Some excellent YouTube Channels
As elementary music educators, YouTube has some excellent channels. Here are some I follow:
- Musication – Play along boomwhacker and tone chimes for those classes that are right before break!
- David Row – He is an elementary music educator that has a podcast, vlog, and YouTube channel that shows all of his lessons and ideas he successfully uses in his music classroom. He is amazing!
- Robert Amchin – He showcases dances he is teaching In his music education Classes at the University of Louisville. Phenomenal!
- Cynthia Lin – Great channel for learning the ukulele! Also love Chris Russell’s ukulele blog!
I feel like 2019 was the year of educational podcasts, especially in music education. Podcasting has been around for years. In 2005, Apple’s iTunes added podcasts to their software. I recall back in early 2010s, many of my colleagues trying out podcasts and using Podomatic as their streaming platform. Now, creating and streaming a podcast is very intuitive with services like Anchor. I even have my youngest students podcasting from my classroom as a way for them to reflect and showcase what they have learned to an audience.
If you commute or know you have a long drive ahead of you, podcasts are a wonderful way to learn and take up time while driving. In addition, they are great ways to incorporate professional development easily into already busy schedule. Here are some fabulous, educational, and wonderful podcasts:
- The Tuneful, Beatful, Artful Music Teacher Podcast – Dr. Missy Strong has created an amazing podcast that is now into season two, produced by the Feierabend Association for Music Education (FAME). If you want to learn more about Dr. Feierabend’s approach to First Steps in Music and Conversational Solfege, along with the history of music education, then this podcast is a must. Missy interviews various music educators, in addition to Dr. Lorna Zemke and Dr. Feierabend himself.
- Profiles in Teaching with Technology – Dr. Jim Frankel, the Founder and Director of MusicFirst features episodes with leading K-12 music educators who use technology to enhance their teaching in innovative ways. This podcast is excellent. I love that he interviews educators who have integrated technology into their music classrooms in effective and intuitive ways. I was honored to be interviewed by Jim.
- 10 Minute Teacher Podcast – Vicki Davis hosts this podcast. She is a teacher, author, blogger, mom, speaker, and so much more. She created this podcast as a 10-minute PD getaway. I like that it is quick and concise. Wonderful for when you need a podcast that is brief and straight to the point. I was interviewed about Seesaw on this podcast.
- Music Teach Teacher Podcast – Katie Wardrobe has a phenomenal podcast on all things music technology. When I teach summer graduate classes focusing on music technology in the elementary music classroom, I assign her podcasts because she truly hits the nail on the head about how to integrate the technology effectively and thoroughly. In 2017, I appeared on her podcast.
One little bonus…
Earlier this year, I was interviewed about the importance of early childhood music by Steve Adubato for his program on PBS titled, Caucus NJ. I have been told that this interview is a wonderful advocacy tool for why trained music educators should be teaching music and why music should be taught at the earliest ages.
In the next few days, a webinar about these websites will appear here as well as amymburns.com/webinars!
Happy New Year!
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