Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Thanks for another great year. I always feel so very tired right about now. But its crunch time and things have to get done.

I am thankful for:
1. Family. Two daughters who are happy and can sing and have fun.
2. My students. Each day we get better.
3. This network. Getting larger and more fun each day.
4. My colleagues. Bringing me back from the edge of insanity at times. This job is not a walk in the park and I'm glad we can do it together.

Have a great holiday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Being Challenged

This is insanely difficult. Nobody taught him this. He just stepped up and learned it. I see some of my kids starting to learn on their own, but it is a long, long road ahead. If I can just get one kid to really commit it can pull so many other kids along.

We are three weeks from our HS concert and I think there will be some really nice moments. The elementary schools are way, way ahead of where we were last year.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Teacher Work

A video that has made the rounds for awhile that I thought I should repost. Long days.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More iPad Apps

Some more iPad apps I have discovered:

Aweditorium: Really kind of cool. Displays a huge panorama of pictures. Click on the picture and it goes to music and information about the artist. Great way to show the enormity of the music business and to find some cool new stuff.

Air Hockey: My daughter loves this. Great way to kill some time AND work on small motor control.

NPR: They did a revamp of their app. Pretty easy to scroll and find latest news. Love that they feature music so prominently. Nobody else does that. Check out the Nick Lowe tiny desk concert. Great songs!

Pulse: A way to scroll through a lot of news feeds. This is a very popular app and I have to figure out how to use it better. Right now its just too much information.

Puppet Pals: This is a really cool way to do story time and animation. Everyone loves doing this. You can create really cool movies just by talking and dragging your finger. Would be better if you could export the movies.

Handyman: A complete digital copy of the magazine. Pretty neat, but not interactive.

Livestream: Watch Livestream events right on the iPad. Been working on this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time to move on?

When do you move on? When do you cut some kids loose?

I have tried every technique I have. Yet, I still have kids that won't do the work. And I am sick and tired of it. Sorry, I'm done holding your hand.

I truly believe that you build a program one kid at a time. I had in my three schools probably 10 kids who really committed last year out of 80. That was my first year.

I have at least double or triple that now with over 140 kids. Our fifth grade band level is playing up a full grade level from last year. Choir and Chorale are singing great. I feel real good about that. The core group is developing.

But lord, if I have to hear one more time that "why dont we play the music we played two years ago" I might blow a gasket. We are improving fast. My standard is simple-- do your best. Get on the bus!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Too many initiatives

Here are the initiatives I am working on right now:

1. iPad deployment. Maintain, sync, research apps, charge, lesson plans, budget. Its a lot of work.
2. Recording studio. Have everything set-up--except a network connection. Can't do anything without IT.....
3. SmartMusic started in three schools.
4. Started Music Theory class.
5. Livestreaming sports and events.

Thats enough. I need more help.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Music Theory 2nd Marking Period Project

Harmonization, Developing Melody, and Composing/Arranging

This project must demonstrate all of the musical stanards:

1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
5. Reading and notating music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performances.
8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

1. Complete all assigned worksheets on harmonization, dominant 7ths, and scales.
2. Do all assigned readings.
3. Listen to something every day.
4. Complete 2nd marking period exam.
5. Sing anything while you play piano (Jingle Bells, Jolly Tune, etc...). Post video to grouply.
6. Learn Bonse Aba.
7. Attend, perform at, and evaluate performance at December 16 concert.
8. Practice improvising bass lines and melodies using iPad, instrument and voice.

Big Part:

Option 1:
Arrange Jingle Bells for our band. 2 Clarinet, trumpet, trombone. Create a score and parts for each instrument. Use Finale to create parts or do it by hand. Will be performed at Winter Concert.

Option 2:
Create a beginner piano book of three songs. Use both hands. Each song should be between 8-16 measures long. Use noteflight or Finale. Create cover art for book. Distribute book to class. Will be performed at Winter Concert.

Option 3:
Create an arrangement of any Nick Lowe song, Little Boxes, or Bach Passacaglia. Write out lead sheet. Will be performed at Winter Concert.

Option 4:
Create an arrangement of any song that has I-vi-IV-V harmonic movement. Write out lead sheet. Perform at Winter Concert.

Its go time. Get to work.

Monday, November 8, 2010

iPad Music Composition Contest

The iPad Composition Contest is live. Please contact me if there are any questions.

I'm hoping this attracts interest from a diverse group of ages, regions, cultures and experience. Do I think iPads are the future of music performance? Well, no. But I think they could be a great tool for composers, especially young ones.

Also notice that almost all the apps used on the iPad can be used on the iPhone or iTouch. However, the music will be performed and judged on iPads.

I had trouble figuring out how to phrase "alternative notation". Many apps on the iPad do not use standard notation. We will require some sort of notation for the contest, so be creative.

Thanks to Soundtree,, Dr. Joseph Pisano, and the Katherine Matthies Foundation for their support.

iPad Composition Contest: Sponsors

We will go live with the iPad Composition Contest on Wednesday. We need two more sponsors. Any interested please send me a message (email or twitter).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How to Sing and Enjoy Life

As I work on curriculum (an ongoing process) I have tried to include performance standards that all students should meet when they graduate. They include:
  • Sing Happy Birthday in tune.
  • Be able to choose songs for your wedding.
  • Have a musical conversation at a symphony concert.
Now I should include "Be able to sing Handel in a mall". Notice how much fun that is. So many of the kids in my school are standing on the sidelines of life. I need to find ways like this to pull them in.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


iPads got loaned out for first time today. I have to figure out a procedure so I'm not managing this all the time. Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3 performance expectations


  1. Memorize Latin Songs. Ensure accurate notes, rhythm, diction (use iPads, piano, partner singing)
  2. Know all pitches bass and treble clef (, piano practice, choir music, worksheets).
  3. Perform one Italian song (use iPads, partner singing, Smartmusic). All the accompaniments are in the iPad.
  4. Sing/record Major scale (iPads, partner). Email a perfect version to me. Put your name and date as the name of the file (ginarscaleNov3).
  5. Sight read basic melody using solfeg (worksheets, partner practice)
  6. Play/Sing Jolly Tune on Piano/iPad (iPads, piano). Advanced play/sing Jingle Bells. Record, playback, improve.
  7. Learn solo to Tango (listen to recording, piano).

Choir Extra:

  1. Adapt Bonse Aba dance for our arrangement (ending is different). Should we adapt song or the dance?
  2. Sing ANY song in smartmusic and play back for class
  3. Create a 60 second video-tv spot about choir or the iPads.


  1. Learn Banner, Sweet Dreams, One Fine, Lollipop, SentJourney for Tuesday.


  1. Play Jingle Bells melody in key of C and key of F on piano.
  2. Play correct arrangement (both hands) of Jingle Bells
  3. Complete and understand all worksheets/vocabulary. Review, listen, watch. Confused? Google something, watch a youtube video, ask a partner.
  4. Be able to harmonize I-vi-ii-V7-I harmonic movement. (pencil, piano, iPads, noteflight). Play on piano. Sing parts. Practice, practice, practice.
  5. Recognize chords, major scales and all pitches (
  6. Listen to Bach Inventions. Choose one to listen to on iPad and then download parts to read in forscore app. Why did Bach write these?
  7. Play Jingle Bells melody on guitar. Guitar players play/arrange/sing Jingle Bells in key of A, E or D (which works best for your voice?).


  1. Continue testing in Smartmusic
  2. Be able to play all assigned Pep Band songs.
  3. Know the concert Bb and concert F major scale exercises in Red book (p42). Percussion know both snare and mallet sides.
  4. Play p45 rhythm studies.
  5. Learn Beethoven Ninth and GForce5
A few notes:
Band: almost all 2nd year players.
Choir: 1/2 are freshman. Most are 2nd-3rd year singers. Almost all could not read when they entered in September.
Theory: these are all non-ensemble students who have limited, or no theory background. We started at ground zero (this is the treble clef)