Category Archives: Innovative Practitioner

Final Teaching

Lesson Plan: 3 May 2018

Focus: Students will participate in “Musical Chairs,” an interactive game where they will learn and review tempo.  For this lesson students will learn Adagio and Presto using the game and songs assigned to each tempo.

“I can…” Statements:

  • …keep a steady beat
  • …define tempo
  • …define Adagio
  • …define Presto
  • …participate in a game


  • 1 chair per student
  • Speaker (bluetooth or aux)
  • Music player (phone or laptop)
  • Tempo terms and pictures (board)
  • Tempo songs:
    • Adagio: Over the Rainbow (Pentatonix), Lon Lon Ranch (Taylor Davis)
    • Presto: Hound Dog (Elvis Presley), Sing (Pentatonix)
    • Tempo Change (Bonus): Bare Necessities (Jungle Book)


  1. Keep the beat: who wants to be the leader (can do multiple movements)
    1. Sing (Pentatonix)
      1. Choose new leader
    2. Over the Rainbow (Pentatonix)
  2. Learn/review tempo on board
    1. Tempo is how fast or slow something is
    2. Go to board
      1. For today we’re going to work with Presto and Adagio
      2. Adagio = Super slow
      3. Presto = Super fast
    3. What do we think that first song was? (Sing = Presto)
    4. What was the second? (Over the Rainbow = Adagio)
  3. Review rules for Musical Chairs and set up (practice rounds)
    1. Everyone lines up chairs back-to-back
    2. Walk around the chairs like the tempo, being safe
    3. When the music stops find a seat
      1. A seat is taken out each round
    4. If you’re left standing, you’re out
    5. When you’re out, keep the beat somewhere on your body
  4. Play game
    1. After rounds what was the tempo
    2. Last round: Tempo Change: Bare Necessities (Jungle Book)
    3. If there’s time do it again, in 2 small groups, or just quicker round


In the beginning everyone is keeping the steady beat wherever instructed.  Everyone is participating in remembering the tempo markings. During the game they are always moving with the beat (whether patting or moving in the game) and identify it as Adagio or Presto.  


Song Teaching (C) – Bell Horses

Lesson Plan: 19 April 2018

Focus: The main purpose of this song is to teach the notation and solfege of the pitch “la.”

“I can…” Statements:

  • …remember a song
  • …sing in a group
  • …sing the song in solfege
  • …remember the pitch “la”
  • …remember the hand sign for “la”
  • …notate the pitches, including “la”


  • Felt boards and notes
  • Bell horses cutouts
  • “Bell Horses”

Bell horses, bell horses, what time o’ day

1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, off and away


  1. Review the song (1-2): hum, sing as a class and with steady beat
  2. Sing song with tapping out words on our laps
    1. Sing song with different parts of body: Shoulders (sol), Lap (mi), Head (la)
    2. Teacher once, then students join
  3. Break down song: “bell horses, bell horses”
    1. Repeat after me with motions (bell horse, bell horses)
    2. Repeat after me with motions (sol-mi-mi, sol-mi-mi)
  4. Hand out boards and cutouts
  5. Put it down on our boards
    1. Sol is going to be on the first space, where does mi go?
    2. Sing on note names and point with horses
  6. Go to the next part “what time o’ day”, and
    1. Repeat after me with motions (what time o’ day)
    2. Repeat after me with motions (sol-sol-hum-sol)
  7. Write down what we know
    1. Does that note we don’t know go up or down? Is it close or far away?
    2. Put it on the line because it is close, it’s called la
    3. Sing part with motions
  8. Sing whole line on note names, pointing
  9. Sing whole line on note names with hand signs
    1. Review sol and mi
    2. For our la hand sign let’s keep doing what we were, but bring it in front of us
  10. Review last line, singing, maybe add motions or hand signs to get started
    1. Get with a partner and see if you can figure out the rest of the song (on staff)
    2. Keep one of your boards the same and work on the other
    3. Check with another group to see if you have it right
    4. Try what we have using our bell horses
  11. Sing whole song with our hand signs
  12. Sing the song (words) with horses


Everyone is participating at each step, doing the motions for each part, singing throughout, keeping the beat and the rhythms, participating in the felt board exercises and hand signs.  At the end of the lesson they are able to identify “la” on the staff and hand signs.

Song Teaching (B) – Bell Horses

Lesson Plan: 17 April 2018

Focus: The main purpose of this song is to teach the pitch “la”  that can be applied to instruments and notation in later lessons.  This lesson is to recall the song and game and perform an Orff arrangement of it, with a bordun part on the xylophone, a color part on the glockenspiel, and an ostinato part on tambourine.

“I can…” Statements:

  • …memorize a song
  • …keep a steady beat
  • …memorize parts on instruments
  • …play an instrument


  • Bass xylophone
  • Glockenspiel
  • Tambourine
  • “Bell Horses” Orff arrangement

Bell horses, bell horses, what time o’ day

1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, off and away

Bell horses, bell horses, what time o’day

3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, off and away

(can continue counting)



  1. Intro: recall the song
    1. Try humming it and see if anyone catches on
    2. Sing it together (1-4)
    3. Sing and pat the steady beat
  2. Everyone say “bell” and clap it (bordun)
    1. Clap bell-rest, until everyone is doing it, then sing the song (1-2)
    2. Who wants to play the xylophone?
    3. Find 2 A’s and play the bell part and sing the song
  3. Everyone say “horses” and clap it (color)
    1. Watch me for the next part
    2. Clap: rest-rest-rest-horses, until everyone is doing it, then sing the song (with bordun)
    3. Who wants to play the glockenspiel?
    4. Find A and D (left hand on A, right hand on D) and play horses starting with the A and sing the song with all parts
  4. Everyone say “bell horses” (ostinato)
    1. Clap bell horses, until everyone is doing it, then sing the song (with bordun and color, 1-2)
    2. Whoever is left grab a tambourine
    3. Play bell horses the whole time, adding parts slowly
  5. Play and sing the song (1-8)
    1. Everyone starts at the same time


Everyone is participating at each step, doing the motions for each part, singing, keeping the beat and the rhythms, playing the instruments.  Everyone can play their own parts on the Orff instruments and recall the others.


Song Teaching (A) – Bell Horses

Lesson Plan: 12 April 2018

Focus: Teaching the song well enough to recall in future lessons for teaching solfege (la).

“I can…” Statements:

  • …memorize a song
  • …play a game
  • …keep a steady beat


  • Sets of bells (or jingly instrument) for each student
  • “Bell Horses”

Bell horses, bell horses, what time o’ day

1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, off and away

Bell horses, bell horses, what time o’day

3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, off and away

(can continue counting)


  1. Intro: learning a song and a game
  2. Listen to the song (1-4) and find the words that rhyme
    1. If they can’t find them, sing it again
  3. Keep a steady beat and listen again, this time for words what repeat
    1. Answers: bell horses, o’clock (accept whichever)
  4. Keep with the steady beat and see if you can sing along
    1. Keep singing until everyone is singing
  5. Sing the song with tapping the rhythm on palms
    1. Everyone stand up and get a set of bells (or other jingly instrument) and sing the song and play the rhythms
  6. Game: now we know the song, let’s do something fun with it
    1. We’re inside so no running (on heels, slow gallop)
    2. You can be with a partner or by yourself
    3. Sing the song while going around the room and play the instruments
      1. On the steady beat or the rhythm of the words
      2. Sing it (1-8)


Everyone is participating at each step, answering questions, singing, keeping the beat and the rhythms, playing the instruments, participating in the game.  


Music Recruitment Video and Reflection

This video was created by Seth Neufeldt, Andrea Henderson, Patrick Jacob, Taylor Ingro

I felt that my group’s video was effective, mostly because of the “testimonies” that we included.  I think that if students can hear from someone that they know, or know of, and their personal experience in band, they would be more inclined to join.  I also think that the inclusion of recognizable themes in the instrument demonstrations that students would know and want to play.  Maybe in the future I would like to include some actual performances of students and showing them having fun, preferably playing something that they enjoy.  I think that to make the video better, I would like to make it shorter, and more visually appealing.  I would cut some of the demonstrations to be shorter, and would include some instruments that are not as popular, such as oboe and viola, and include more about orchestra.  I enjoyed working with a group because it was nice to get different ideas on how the video should be put together.  We were able to work together rather than against each other most of the time, and we were able to stay more organized because we had to coordinate as a group, and the workload was fairly spread out.  It was also easier to get so many instruments into the video, because we split it.  Some things that I did not like about working in a group were that we were only producing one video, and the editing was left up to mostly one person.  We all had our own ideas on what to do, and we did try to respect everyone’s ideas that were presented, but we had to work hard to be able to find a solution that worked for everyone.  In the end I think that we were able to produce a good video.

The video that I decided to take a closer look at was done by Kat, Brandon, Theresa, Nathan, and Robbie.  Some things that they did that were similar to what my group did was putting recognizable themes or songs in the instrument demos.  We also both showed some sort of full ensemble at some point to show what students would be getting themselves into if they joined the music program.  We also focused heavily on band, and I think that was because most of the group members were from band and more comfortable showing and talking about what they know.  Some things they did differently were focusing on the instrument mechanics, they posed a question at the beginning, they did not show band activities, and they used humor.  They went into detail about how woodwinds and brasswinds worked, and when they showed the ensemble at the beginning they asked if the students wanted to be like them.  They took a funny route when they could, like with the ensemble and demonstration of the clarinet components at the end, probably to balance out the lecture on the instruments.  We relied on “real life” examples of band kids and their experiences, but I think that it would be nice to put a little bit of humor and narration in our video like they did.  I would try to make the video a little more visually appealing, like some of the other videos that we watched, or focus on one theme broken into different instruments to see how they could all work together.

If I were in charge of a recruiting process, I would try to make it as appealing to as many different groups as possible.  I think that having a video and some posters or handouts would be a good way to get to both students and their parents.  They can have the information that they need in multiple forms just in case one is not appealing or available to them.  For elementary students I would like to show a video in school, my school or possible feeder schools, with things like showing them the fun songs that they can learn, show events that they can go to or participate in with the group, and even testimonies from older students that enjoyed the program.  The video would be available on YouTube or some form of internet with a link on a handout that the parents could watch as well.  For middle schoolers I would do something very similar, and I would add things like explaining how being in a music program (band or orchestra) is an elective, and is a break from the rest of the classes that they have to take, it is the fun part of the day, and it is cool to be a part of something.  I would try to make as much of the information available to parents, such as the instruments that are provided by the school or have to be provided by them, that having a group like band or orchestra is good for their children, socially and academically, and it is a chance for their children to be a part of something that makes them feel good about themselves.

I could potentially use this video, or an edited version of it, with a different school name and making it a bit shorter.  I would have no problem making a new video if I had to, it would be similar to the one that my group made.  I think that videos are just as effective as sending home letters or making calls to parents, and it is something that can be distributed to schools that possibly feed into mine, if I taught at a middle school and sent the video to neighboring elementary schools.  Another option would be to take an ensemble to perform at an assembly or something similar to get the program noticed, and even have the students do individual, live demonstrations.  I think that if I were at an elementary school I could be comfortable enough to demonstrate instruments live to students and see what they thought, and even turn it around into a sort of petting zoo to see what instruments the students might like.

As far as my participation in the group, I thought I was effective with the instruments that I demonstrated, and the pictures that I provided of my own band experiences.  I think that seeing actual people being a part of something is one of the most effective ways of recruiting.  I was very comfortable demonstrating on secondary instruments because I always try to stay familiar with either playing or teaching them.  I would like some opportunity to play some more instruments in an ensemble, rather than alone because it helps me to see where I am at in comparison to others and how I can blend in.  I want to be able to practice more in and out of class, particularly on some instruments that I am not completely familiar with, such as flute, tuba, or violin.

Technology in My Classroom

Working with Ableton (Live and Push) has been an experience the last few weeks.  I went from knowing just about nothing to having to do a cover of a pop song with a group of middle schoolers (as their helper).  What has freaked me out about using this technology is all of the possibilities of what you can use it for and with.  You don’t really even need to have formal music training to use it, and in a way it can kind of supplement for a music course because through the process of using it you have to figure certain things out.  I think that is kind of the point with this project.  I am working with a couple of middle schoolers with not music training, who kind of know what they are doing with Ableton, and I am a student that has some music training and is not completely familiar with the technology.  In a way we can kind of balance each other out.  Another benefit of this project is getting used to working with people from a distance that you can’t see.

I think that I might like to do something like this in my own classroom if I am given the freedom in a music class like this.  There are a lot of possibilities with Ableton, and with having people to work with.  I would probably stray from the sink-or-swim model that this current project is following (at least that is the way that it seems from my perspective) and have more of a structured approach to using this program.  I would try to give my students more music training before handing them over to college students that may not know how to work with children from afar.  While teaching them what to do with the technology I would try to make sure that they know what it is that they are actually doing, like how to tell what the time signature is (and what a time signature is) and how to listen for a different note (as in a bass line) and how to try and find the key for that so that they know more or less what notes they will need to complete the song.

I also think that communication about the project between students would be beneficial so that they can perhaps form their own groups (between the middle schoolers and college students) like have introduction videos and where their strengths are before randomly assigning them.  I would also like to see more collaboration between people to see what songs they will want to do, so that no one gets stuck on something that they don’t like or that is too hard.  One way to make this whole thing easier would be to maybe have larger groups and assign them to different parts because a larger group on the same song might allow them to collaborate more and get help where they need it, particularly from their peers that they are actually in class with.  This would keep everybody interested, and if they get done early maybe they can split into smaller groups and try another song, and take on different responsibilities.  This would enable them to move around and explore more of Ableton without getting frustrated over not understanding something or getting bored.

I am not sure how realistic some of my ideas are, because I don’t have experience teaching yet, and I am not sure all of the work that it would take and has taken to work on this collaborative project; but they are just some things that have come to mind as I am going though this and I would actually like to try out if I am given the chance.


Flexible Musician

How do you deal with different levels of musicians within an ensemble?

Every ensemble is going to have a gap in the experience and abilities of the members, and as a director it is your job to be able to deal with that.  Green said that “Having clear focus and discipline is essential” (Green, 2003, p. 68), and this is applicable to both the students and the director because they have to work together to make the progress that they need.  Students often are not able to bridge the gaps between them on their own, so it is best to be able to address these issues in a large ensemble setting and give them the tools to be able to work on the gaps.  Ways to do this are to get different types and levels of repertoire, enough to challenge the students with lower abilities but also at a good level for the students with higher abilities.  Having a balance with the repertoire is important because it shows the students that you care about them building their skills, and also shows that you are helping them get the most out of their musical experience. Ayers said that “The root word of “evaluation” is “value,” and authentic assessment includes understanding what students value and building from there” (Ayers & Alexander-Tanner, 2010, p. 81), and I think that this ties in with different levels of musicians because you are helping them build a balance between their music and their skills.

Innovative Practitioner

How do you incorporate theory into ensemble classes and also show students the benefit of it?

In order to successfully incorporate theory into an ensemble setting, the students must be taught the very basics from the beginning.  This can be done in the first few minutes of class every day, for repetition, and should be applied to repertoire as much as possible.  Once the students begin to recognize and understand the basics in the context of the repertoire then you can move onto things that are slightly more complicated.  In a study, “Eleven participants described progressing methodically from simple to complex in classroom instruction” (Paney & Buoniviri, 2013, p. 407) when teaching melodic dictation to their AP Music Theory classes, and this approach can be applied to any teaching of music theory.  This approach would work well with the basics, especially when put into certain contexts, because it worked well when teaching students to listen to and dictate both rhythms and notes, and even at a complex level, when they had little to no experience.  Approaching theory like this, or any music in general, and putting it into a context is when students will begin to comprehend, and see the importance in what they are learning.  Being able to understand the mechanics behind music will make them better musicians, because they will be doing more than just playing the notes on their page, they will be actively engaged and finding exactly how they and their part fit into and function as part of the whole ensemble.

Inquisitive Thinker

How do I know that I am teaching well? That I am comfortable with the way that I teach?

I think that at some point every teacher will begin to question whether they are doing things the right way, and they need to be able to think objectively about what they are doing in order to evaluate themselves.  It is important to look at both the teacher and the students.  One thing that might get in the way is a teacher’s unwillingness to change simply because they themselves are comfortable the way things are, even if the students are not.  Teachers need to be able to think critically about themselves, and this can be done by first observing others teach.  In a study, undergraduate students began teaching and “soon found themselves not only observing other teachers but critically analyzing the teaching methods and outcomes they observed in order to assess what strategies were effective and what teacher actions they may later integrate into their teaching” (Haston & Russell, 2011, p. 386).  This is something that every teacher should do, because by observing others objectively and then turning around and doing the same thing to yourself you can begin to see what direction you want to go from there.  Another way to evaluate your own teaching style is to simply look at the students and see how they react to your teaching style, see how much progress they have achieved since you started teaching them.  This can be done after observing other teachers and their students, and compare the way their students react versus your own.

Community Leader

How do you keep students motivated when music gets more difficult and they might feel discouraged?

Barry Green (2003) said that “Music is one of the most powerful sources of truth that we have: it has the power to change lives” (p. 271) and this is something that teachers and students need to remind themselves of when things get hard.  When students are struggling with something, it is important that both the student and the teacher take the time to address the problem and approach it carefully.  There are people that shut down when they don’t understand something or begin to have problems, and teachers have to be able to deal with them.  Sometimes it is as simple as slowing things down in ensemble rehearsal, not singling anyone out, but working things out as a group in the hopes that the student will catch on or those around them will help.  Sometimes students require more focused or individual attention, like working with a particular section or pulling them to the side and focusing solely on them until they start making progress.  When I have problems, I simply remind myself that “All musicians have bad days” (Green, 2003, p. 275) and that because music is so important I should work hard to keep it a part of me, and this is something to remind students of.


Ayers, W., & Alexander-Tanner, R. (2010). To teach: The journey, in comics. New York: Teachers College Press.

Green, B. (2003). The mastery of music: Ten pathways to true artistry. New York: Broadway Books.

Haston, W., & Russell, J. A. (2011). Turning Into Teachers: Influences of Authentic Context

Learning Experiences on Occupational Identity Development of Preservice Music Teachers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59(4), 369-392. doi:10.1177/0022429411414716

Paney, A. S., & Buonviri, N. O. (2013). Teaching Melodic Dictation in Advanced Placement Music

Theory. Journal of Research in Music Education, 61(4), 396-414. doi:10.1177/0022429413508411