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. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Always on My Mind

I am not trying to post things that are perfect.  I recognize that I am in the beginning stages. This recording has a few slip ups in it.   I wanted to post a song that had more than 3-4 chord changes.  I struggled with the D chord and the strumming pattern--I am trying to do triplets.

Pretty shocking that I am three weeks away from an elementary school gig.  I really still have little to no idea what to do.  I imagine I know more than I think but I also feel I really need to teach a few classes to see how the pacing goes.  I need to get a ton of tiny activities ready for the little ones.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Learning Journey

I am trying to hard to write (sometimes I forget) and to document my learning journey and the ukulele.  The recent addition of the concert uke has helped and I have been playing about an hour per day.

I am working on my strumming.  I still struggle with learning tunes.  I don't know if that is part of my stroke deficit or if I just can't do it.  I could never memorize choir songs either.  I still don't think I could confidently sing the National Anthem without the words in front of me.  Verbal recall definitely a problem.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Kala KS-15 Concert

I bought a new Kala Concert KS-15.  It is basically the same as the KS-15S that I bought for school but much easier to play with the bigger size.  I don't yet feel comfortable buying a more expensive version of the instrument.  The Kala discounts for educators are very cool by the way.

I have gotten pretty comfortable with the "basic" playing on the ukulele.  I still struggle with the "exotic" chords but I can do the pretty basic ones.  My strumming is getting a little more natural.  I have been working a lot from Doctor Uke which has a TON of songs, almost all with audio attached and the Uke Tenor youtube page 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Over the Rainbow

In Over the Rainbow I added an Em chord and I am trying to get the upbeat feel on the strumming.  This is clearly a work in progress.  I almost get it some of the time...

Yesterday I visited by colleague at the other elementary school in town and she has promised to share resources with me.  That will be a huge help.  The most important thing I need is some organization and she will share her scope and sequence.  Then I can start learning tunes, methods, games, etc...

Lots to do!!

Comments welcome.

Monday, June 18, 2018

You are My Sunshine

So I took Friday-Sunday off as I visited my mom and went to Molly's soccer tournament.  Yes, they allow ukuleles in Pennsylvania, I just did not bring one...

So I am trying to get my right hand moving a bit and learn some more songs.  I choose You are My Sunshine which seems to be a song students learn how to sing, and maybe we can get them to sing and play.

Its not in this song but I am trying to change my G fingering to the "proper" way.  I think that is why my G7 is now getting confused.

I tried a few patterns on the right hand.  I definitely struggle with the offbeat feel.  I can do it without singing, but the singing throws me off a bit.  Will improve with practice.

I hope to continue to post my progress (or lack of...) and welcome comments and ideas.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Let it Be

I got some advice from Chris Russell to use my index finger to strum and to hold my right hand farther up the neck.  I struggle with the G chord (3 fingers...) and I see different fingerings out there for that chord.

I have been using the Roadie Tuner which was expensive but is pretty cool.  I hope it lasts!

I am transitioning slowly out of the high school.  I have had my last class and I am packing up.  Not easy!

Here is Day 2 of Let it Be.  Advice welcome.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ukulele Day 2

We received 60 Kala 15-S.  I think they are set-up pretty good, but I am pretty ignorant.  I have been benefitting from my friend  Chris Russell who I wish lived closer.  I need to find Abe Deshotel or someone to get me a lesson.

I have been trying to practice each day and "learn" a new song.  I had a stroke in 2010 and I am finding the Ukulele might be good for my right hand (which struggles on piano).  But, also my brain malfunctions a bit.  I find a play much better at home (no distractions) than at school.  You will notice I have minor pauses in the video.

I also have to start to figure out how to find my initial pitch.  I settled in, but I need to play my starting pitch before I start, which I naturally do on piano.

Anyway, I'm trying to wrap my head around elementary school.  This was my last day of class (still have exams) after 26 years at high school.  I hope to learn a lot on this journey and be able to share it.

Let it Be has four chords.  I still struggle a bit with G.  I keep wanting to play G7 (which is a bit easier to finger).  I also get confused between Am and F which are very similar.

Be nice (I'm trying)....

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Choir Olympics

Today we did Choir Olympics and it was super fun.  It is a great end of year activity.  I think the class loves it.  We don't do a lot of this, so its more special when we do it.  Here are some favorite events:

1. Fastest singer.  We do "super bubble gum" warm-up.
2. Highest
3. Lowest
4. Make Mr. Schneider laugh.
5. Stand stacking.  I loosen a metal stand so it is very flimsy.  Event is stacking as many music books on stand without falling over.
6. Chair spinning.  How many revolutions can you do in the piano chair without putting your feet down?
7. Chair stacking.  How fast can you unstack five chairs into a row and then stack them back up again?
8. Mystery karaoke.  Duet faces away from screen.  A senior chooses song for them to sing.

Lots of laughs.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Uke Day 1

I was transferred to the elementary school in my district.  There has been an emotional month as our high school program goes through many changes.  Obviously there is not much I can say here, but I think everyone can agree on there has been a lot of trauma and crying.  We just won Best Play this year and there is a lot of uncertainty about next year.

I need to learn how to teach elementary school.  We had been planning on spending some of our fundraiser money on the elementary school and we decided to buy 60 ukuleles.  One set for each school.

I do not yet know what I will teach, how I will teach, or why I will teach but I will use ukuleles.  Chris Russell has been a great friend and resource in getting me started.

I bought 60 Kala KA-15S Sopranos for $30 each (a deep discount).  I am hoping this can bridge my ensemble background to the general music world.  I am going to commit to practicing and I hope to chronicle some of that journey here.

Here is day 1

Monday, May 14, 2018


I recently learned I will be transferred from my HS position to the open elementary position in the district.  This will be a challenge!!

A few things I am worried about (besides the transition and uncertainty here at the HS).

1. HOW DO I TEACH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS?  I have a lot of work to do.
2. See #1.

Stay tuned.