Wednesday, March 25, 2020


I think it may be time to start a podcast.  Maybe to collect all the ideas we are seeing, maybe to reduce the isolation.  I have given the Anchor system a try.  The first attempt went pretty well.  There is not much audio editing at all, but the process is pretty intuitive.

You can hear the podcast here.  This was just a test.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Day 3 - COVID-19

Here is an update:

1. Each of my classes meets for 30 minutes (basically a 1/2 day schedule).  Each kid must "check-in" using a one question task on Google Classroom.
2. I just launched Smartmusic and will push much of our work there.
3. I expect to "rehearse" two days per week and "practice" three days per week.  When we rehearse we will use Google Meet.  I will lead/conduct and students will play with their microphones off.  I may ask questions and ask some students to perform.  It will also be a time for students to ask questions and chat by video.
4. I created a Spotify playlist for listening/studying

1. This is exhausting.  I am used to moving around.  Too much staring at screens.
2. How long can we keep this up?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Day 2 - COVID-19

Today was a day of work (like report to duty, get paid, etc...) but at home.  I have moved into a bedroom where I hope to work from 9am-1pm every day.  Students are expected to check in according to a schedule (A Block, B Block, etc...).

I am working out issues with Smartmusic and at the moment think this will be my main platform if I can get over the hurdle of getting accounts created.  I also think Soundtrap and Google Meet will get use.  Our LMS is Google Classroom which is an awkward system but much better than a few years ago.  Yes, I wish I had gotten these platforms out when I was in school.

I will make an effort to make much of our learning the first few days to be asynchronous then move more to a schedule (percussion lessons on Monday, etc...).  I hope to have full rehearsals for choir and band at least twice a week and I am working on how to make that happen.  With every band and chorus director in the country out of school there is lots of experimenting.

home office

Monday, March 16, 2020

Day 1: COVID-19

This is Day 1 of the COVID-19 "break".  We did report to work today, just teachers, although I am not sure if it counts as a day of work.  We picked up chromebooks and cleared our belongings from school.  I don't know if the chromebook pick-up is an attempt to meet digital learning requirements. 

This break is looking more and more like "the end" of the school year.  However, I believe most are still working on the two weeks assumption.  I believe tomorrow we will be tasked with creating digital school and basically reporting to work at home each day.

So far I have read Isaac's Storm and have started The British Are Coming.  Isaac's Storm is about the great hurricane in Galveston in 1900 and definitely had echos of what is happening today (lack of technology, poor forecasting, bickering leadership, etc...).

At home today our schedule was:
11:00: Chores
12:30-1:30: Family Reading
2pm: Art Class
4pm: Workout (girls ran 2 miles--I walked).
730pm: Met Opera

I do not what the teaching will bring.  It is a much different task to create activities to return on April 1 than to return on June 1 (or Sept 1).  For example, do we work on current band music?  Do we switch to more of a music theory or music listening class?  If students do not tune in who is my audience? 

I do expect to be doing some track coaching (if we can leave the house, staying 6 feet apart) and posting lots of videos with the girls (ukulele, piano, etc...).  I also hope to eat right, exercise, and read a ton.

Everything has been changing rapidly.  For the moment everyone I know is healthy so I think nothing else really matters.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Chorale Repertoire

I am currently at the local elementary school but I was able to hold on to the after school stipend for Chorale.  I love this group.  We are not performing nearly as much but we have a real solid program we are preparing for April 4.  There are 12 girls and 5 boys in the group.  We meet once per week.

Mainly since our seniors lost a bit when I got transferred I wanted to have a senior showcase.  So our program will be in two acts.

Ensemble Songs:

1.  Fly to Paradise by Eric Whitacre.  This piece is challenging.  It has a soprano solo and lots of split parts.  It is sung to a tape.  It is not quite as dissonant as most of the Whitacre we have sung.

2.  Selene's Boat by Don MacDonald.  The kids seem to love this song.  Great vowel exercise.  Opportunity for two solos as well.

3.  I'm Gonna Sing 'Til the Spirit Moves in My Heart by Moses Hogan.  This is hard for many reasons.  First--split parts.  Super high, super low.  FAST.  The middle section of sixteenth notes is a bear to do correctly.

4.  Cheap Thrills arranged by Deke Sharon.  We will do three pop numbers and this is probably the hardest one of the bunch.

In addition we will do Bring Me Little Water and some arrangements of Happy Together and Count on Me.  We will end with our theme song: Parting Glass.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Elementary School....

I am about 1/3 of the way into my first year as an elementary music-chorus-band teacher and I thought it would be a good time to get some thoughts down on paper.

1. So far the time commitment is significantly less than my old job at the high school.  I have not adjusted to this yet.  There are virtually no evenings and no weekends required.  This is a big shift. 

2. I have not adjusted to the later starting time.  I usually get here at 7am for an 8:40am start.  Twice a week I have morning band at 745am (band is not scheduled in school day).  Even today I came in "late" but I am still an hour early.  On the flip side I never have to stay after the bell.  I am trying hard to run/exercise in the morning now that it is dark when I get home.

3. The school day is challenging.  I usually get 2 minutes between classes and this can be challenging for my brain.  My schedule is generally Prep until 10:05, 5th grade, lunch, then classes straight through from 11:30am to 3:30pm.

4. I do the same listening and reading segment for K-5.  You can see my listening playlist on youTube.  I then generally have a lesson for K-2 and a 4-5 lesson.  3rd grade is in the gap.   4th-5th are focussing on ukulele and K-2 are focussing on First Steps (at least portions of it).

5. I see Chorus very infrequently.  3rd grade is once per month and 4th/5th grade twice per month.  I see everyone in 3rd/4th and 5th is select.  All choruses are working on following large group rules.  I do have to bleed some "chorus" time into general music.

6. I am realizing as well that students do not do Google Classroom work unless they are in front of you.  Since I only see them about 120 minutes per month this is challenging to get any sort of listening or writing done.  I have to figure out how to leverage that.

7.  I am realizing that learning names may be a lost cause.