Feature

Free Songbook? Yes, Please!

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So I’ve been teaching a few undergraduate courses in music education the past couple of years, and one thing that I always make sure to tell my elementary education majors about is the Utah State Office of Education Songbook.  It’s a children’s songbook that you can download for FREE from their website:

Utah State Office of Education Songbook Website

What I love about it is that quite a few of the songs include Orff accompaniments or other activity suggestions, and there is even a section for folk dances with detailed instructions.  An added bonus is that you can access MP3’s for all of the songs!  Oh USOE songbook, if only I knew about your awesomeness during my first year of teaching elementary general music when I had absolutely ZERO resources aside from a class set of rhythm sticks and a couple bongo drums to my name!

Literature Lesson: Love Splat!

Love, Splat

I know, I know.  I’ve already posted about Valentine’s Day.  I can’t help it though.  I love holidays!  Last year right before Valentine’s Day I was walking through Wal-Mart wracking my brain for ideas my K-2 music classes and I spotted the little gem Love, Splat!

I had seen the Splat books before and had always thought that they looked cute so I picked up Love, Splat and started thumbing through it.  Unfortunately, as I read through it I didn’t really see any obvious way to turn it into a music lesson.  I bought it anyway–what can I say, I’m a bit of a shopaholic!  Once I got home I read through it again and decided that I would have to create my own refrain for the story.  I created a simple little So-Mi-Do song about Splat the Cat, decided the refrain would work best with an easy boomwhacker ostinato and added some incidental instruments for a few key words in the story.  I felt pretty good about the whole thing until it dawned on me that since the refrain isn’t really a part of the story there wasn’t a real seamless way for the students to transition from the story to the refrain.  I decided to cure that little problem with heart stickers.  I stuck a heart stick on every other page or so of the story where I wanted the kids to sing the refrain.  It ended up working out great because it gave something for the kids to be looking out for as the story was read!

The lesson is great for focusing on So-Mi-Do, ta and ti-ti rhythm patterns, keeping a steady beat, and instrument timbre–have the students pick out the best instruments to accompany Splat’s rumbling tummy and other fun words.

Click Here for the ‘Love Splat’ Lesson Plan

Practicing Your Instrument Can Be Fun!

My Note Games

Here’s one for the beginning band teacher or private instrumental studio teacher, meet My Note Games.  The My Note Games app is available as a free download on itunes for both the iphone and ipad.  It’s an interactive app that utilizes the microphone in the ipad or iphone so that students can use their instruments to play video games that revolve around reading and notating music!  The app is set up for piano, guitar, recorder, trumpet, soprano/alto/tenor/baritone saxophone, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, soprano/contralto/tenor/baritone voice, whistling, violin, viola, cello, and fingers.  The games of My Note Games are:

Hear It, Note It!– Listen to the music and notate what you hear.

HearItNoteIt

Tap That Note– Tap the buttons to name the note.  Great for learning to read the notes on the various music staves.

TapThatNote2

Play That Note– Recognizes the notes you play on your instrument.

TapThatNote3

Play-A-Day– Interactive lessons for your instrument where you learn to play simple tunes that get progressively more difficult as you master them.

PlayADay

Play-A-Carol– Play, sing and whistle carols.  Get a score for accuracy.

PlayACarol

Toonr the Tuner– See the note you are playing displayed on the screen and watch what happens as you play.

ToonrTheTuner

One thing I do want to note is that the app is free to download but there comes a point where you have to buy the games if you want to keep advancing.  You can buy each game individually, which costs anywhere from 99 cents to $2.99 depending on the game, or you can buy all of the games for $6.99.  Not a bad deal for all that you get!

Hey I Just Met You…

Hey I Just Met You...

A few years ago I had the pleasure of receiving a grant from Little Kids Rock that supplied my school with 30 Fender acoustic guitars.  Honestly, the fact that they accepted my application is somewhat of a miracle since the posting stated that applicants needed to have a certain amount of guitar experience in order to apply.  I had none.  Absolutely NADA!  I knew how to hold a guitar and that was about it.  However, I am not one who is easily deterred.  I simply wrote LKR a nice email begging them for the opportunity to be a part of their program promising that I would do whatever it took!  Well, the angels at Little Kids Rock accepted my humble and somewhat pathetic plea and brought me on board.  I am bringing this up for two reasons.  First, because LKR is an awesome organization that everyone should know about–If anyone at LKR is reading this know that I am by far your biggest fan!  Secondly, because not only did LKR give me a tremendous opportunity to teach guitar in my classroom, they gave me the courage to use more popular music in my classroom in a way that promotes authentic music learning.

This past fall I taught the general music methods course at the university and a good portion of the course focused on learning how to play and teach the guitar.  One day a couple of my students sat down and started to try and figure out the chords to catchy summer hit Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.  If you haven’t heard this song you must have been living under a rock.  It was EVERYWHERE in 2012!  Anyway, I decided to be the best professor in the world nice and put together the music for them since they just happened to be working on the chords used in the song.  I’m offering it up for a free download since maybe it will be of use to someone else.  Enjoy!  And please don’t hate me if the song get’s stuck in your head for the rest of today–and most likely tomorrow.

Call Me Maybe Sheet Music–Click to Download

 

*Please note that I am not a guitar hero, if I was I would be touring the world making gobs of money and partying to my hearts content.  Alas, I am a just another overworked music educator that is used to putting things together quickly and prone to making the occasional mistake.  If you see mistakes or have any suggestions on how to make the arrangement better please email me at masterofmusicmayhem@gmail.com

JoyTunes!

JoyTunes

I love the recorder. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was while learning the recorder as a third grader in Mrs. Cox’s music class that I discovered how much I loved music.  So a few months ago while stalking perusing facebook I stumbled upon a post from a really good friend about JoyTunes.  If you haven’t taken a look at JoyTunes you are totally missing out!  JoyTunes teaches students how to play the recorder (or piano) via a series of video games that get progressively more difficult as the student becomes more accomplished.  I’ll confess that upon learning about JoyTunes I spent the afternoon in my office with my recorder trying to beat all levels of the game.  I know that people walking down the hall were definitely passing judgement–my office is located in the music building of a university after all–but it didn’t deter me one bit!  I’ll also throw out that I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love JoyTunes!  I introduced it to my general music methods class a few months back and within seconds of playing the first game they were whipping out their iPads to download it.  Legend has it that some of my students were even practicing recorders in the student lounge after class.  Yes, it’s THAT COOL!

So why is JoyTunes the greatest music tool invented since the metronome?  First of all, it’s free!*   You can use it on the computer OR you can download the free app from iTunes.  It doesn’t require any fancy equipment.  All students need is their recorder and a computer with a microphone or iPad.  JoyTunes is a great way to encourage your students to practice, I mean who doesn’t love playing video games?!  Also, JoyTunes is set up so that teachers can monitor student progress from their practice sessions at home.  For the recorder there are two different programs: Recorder Master and Recorder Express.  Both are a ton of fun, but Recorder Express is wonderful if you happen to be using Artie Almeida’s Recorder Express method book since it shares the same learning sequence.  How cool is that?!

*JoyTunes is free on the computer but the iPad app does cost $1.99