NDE Music Classroom 2015

This has been a pretty crazy fall. One of my daughters was recently married, and the other is going back to college. The genealogy bug has hit again, so the music blog is neglected. I have started making lists of ideas, so I hope I can start posting more regularly. Here are some pictures of my room from August. It is already messier by now!

2014 Veterans Day

We tried something new this year. Actually two somethings. First we danced to a song choreographed by John Jacobson. The little ones really loved it–the bigger ones, not so much, but they did it. Sixth Grade students are always so worried about how they will be perceived by the High Schoolers. The second thing that we tried was making a giant flag. I had my fingers crossed. It made me more than a little nervous as I spent a lot of time mapping it out, assigning shirt colors, and explaining it. We always go to the high school in October for the Battle of the Buildiings (a fund-raising event by the student council to benefit Camp About Face). This year I took pictures of every row, every section, and mapped the students’ seating positions. Then I color coded the map and told the teachers what colors for every student. It worked out pretty well. I didn’t get a photo of us singing (standing, with the 50 stars all held up) as I was busy directing. Someday I hope to see a video of it!


We sang four songs: “You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag” (our standard), “Eleven Eleven” (featuring our 1st grade–if I can get the audio recordings merged into the video, I’ll add it), “Our Red, White, and Blue” (one of the prettiest songs ever), and “This Is My Country” (not the traditional one but a new version by Music Express). Here are two of the videos:


2014 Fall Classroom Pics

It’s a new year, and I love to post pictures of my room because it’s the cleanest it will ever be during the school year. There are several new additions to the room. My back shelf area was looking rather tacky by the end of last year, so I decided to cover the shelving with curtains. I realized after taking measurements that the curtains would be about the same dimensions as a small stage. My Mom helped me with the sewing. The cut off pieces of navy sheets were perfect as valances for my windows. Sheets are great to use for curtains because they already have a fire protection coating. These sheets were much cheaper than fabric from JoAnn’s Fabrics (even with a teacher discount). K-Mart is the only place that I could find flat sheets not bundled with pillowcases and fitted sheets. I had enough left over to cover my textbook shelving, the space under my desk, and my sound system cart. I already had some toy microphones, so I added them in the mic stands (kids love them) and bought a couple of red rugs for the stage floor. I plan to make a puppet area with the remaining sheets, making a curtain up about a yard high from the ground to fit the length of a 10-foot 1″ diameter PVC pipe. It could be held in place by the two bar stools I have in my room, one at the piano and one in the front that I use as my reading chair.

Owls are featured in our school theme this year, and I just love it. There are owls everywhere–in stores, on clothes, and there are plenty of great items in the Teachers Pay Teachers store. Most of my bulletin boards were downloaded from there. On the green felt bulletin board (really two cork strips) I added  clip art owls. I did alter the colors of the owls to match the colors of each grade in the old MacMillan/McGraw-Hill Spotlight On Music textbooks. I found the owl door mat at K-Mart, and the colorful trees were saved for me by our former guidance counselor, Susan. One of her family members I believe worked at a Goody’s store, and they just throw this stuff away. She brought me all kinds of cool cardboard decorations last year!

Last year I got hooked on the iPad app iDoceo to keep seating charts and records of attendance, turns, etc. This year I’ve added PlanBook from Planbook.com, and it is wonderful. It is so much easier than Publisher, which is what I’ve used for the past decade. I’ve been teaching at ND for over 34 years and can VIVIDLY remember having to fill in those lesson plan books. It took forever to write everything by hand!

Here’s looking forward to a great, music-filled school year!

The Inspiring PS22

My favorite videos for students to watch, to see students experiencing the joy of singing, is the PS22 or Public School 22 Choir in New York, directed by the amazing Greg Breinberg. I love the children’s passion and enthusiasm. Mr. Breinberg reaches the students by having them sing all kinds of pop and alternative music, and the result is wonderful. Beautiful, original harmonies with great solos are made even better by all the happy faces. I get really nostalgic while watching them. We used to have time to sing and sing and sing in the elementary school. The Indiana State standards have to be covered now, although I can never ever cover them completely. I miss this–the kids standing around the piano and singing their hearts out. Standards are important, but this kind of passion is magical.

America, the Beautiful

I created this video in 2004 and uploaded it in 2008. The music track is by Plank Road Publishing. That was before I knew anything about getting permission for posting on YouTube. Luckily, the nice folks there let me keep it up on the web, because it has been a comfort to many people across the country, especially the young students who really love it. It has over 800,000 views and over 400 comments. This song also seems to draw a lot of wrath from people from other countries who don’t share our love of liberty. Long ago, I locked it down so it couldn’t get anymore comments unless I approved them. There were also a lot of discussions about this song versus our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and which is the better song for our country. Hope you enjoy it!

White Christmas at NDHS

I thoroughly enjoyed the NDHS presentation of White Christmas. The students did such a great job. They have bright futures ahead of them!

2013 Battle of the Buildings

Every year, the North Daviess High School has a fundraiser to benefit Camp About Face. The students at each building bring in their coins, and the top 3 classes in each building compete. The high school has won for the past 3 years at least. Mrs. Allen’s 5th grade class came in second, and Mr. Wilson’s 6th grade came in third for the Elementary. The teachers put on a fun show for the students at the end of the battle. I missed last year due to the death of my father, so I really enjoyed it this year. Here is the video of our great staff at NDCSC!

This video is blocked on mobile devices due to some of the songs the teachers danced to. If you cannot watch it on your iPad, etc., try the vimeo version at this link.

New Storage

Last week I purchased some plastic drawers to keep the books I need for the my classes near my piano. There is a large bookcase in the back of the room, but I don’t like going back there during a class. The books were in a plastic tub last year but I never could find the book I needed quickly. Hopefully with the books sorted in drawers, it may help. Surely, this will be much better!

Some of the books pictured below are new this year. The jazz books are actually from our school’s social studies series. The classroom teachers asked if I might need them. Yes, score! The classrooms also have a new reading series this year, so I was given a big book of songs for first grade. They are piggyback songs that go along with the stories. Pete the Cat has a new book out, but there is something missing–actually someone. Mr. Eric (Eric Litwin) is not the author of this book. It sort of loses the magic of the other four books (I also have a Christmas book that is tucked away until Christmas). After searching on book review sites, I found disturbing news that Mr. Eric and the illustrator, James Dean, have parted ways. There will not be anymore books by this fabulous duo. James Dean is pairing with his wife to write the books. I’m a little bit sad. Hopefully, this is just a temporary scheduling decision, and it’s not permanent!

Checkout the rest of the pictures on my Flickr site!

Real Life Pipe Dream

My students love Animusic, and I posted about it in 2007 (see this link). Now Intel has created a real life version of Pipe Dream. What a great marriage of science, technology, and music! It was created in only 90 days too, which is really mind-boggling.