• Empowered Music Students

    Empowering Students With Videos

    Steve Selfridge has been teaching in Garnet Valley School district in southeast PA for 20 years, teaching elementary band, middle school jazz band, and now high school band. Steve has had outstanding success creating videos to empower his band students and band students around the world. Steve created his first video in 2011, when a group of beginner flute students begged him to teach them how to play “Firework” by Katy Perry. While not familiar with the song initially, Steve found a recording online and realized it was a simple 5-note melody. He put the melody into concert B-flat and taught it to the flute students. Then word got out,…

  • Empowered Music Students

    How Checklists Can Give Students Ownership in Music

    Holly Gage is an elementary and middle school band director in South Dakota. She has taught in a variety of settings in both South Dakota and Washington DC and during that time has worked to make her classrooms student centered. Holly likes to use checklists in her band room to give students ownership of their music making. Here are three types of checklists that Holly will use with her students. Student-led Sectionals  While Holly agrees that having a section leader is great, she has found that giving students a checklist helps empower the entire section. The checklist will contain a clear objective, one that is obtainable, as well as options to…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    Incorporating Student-Selected Repertoire in Ensembles

    Laura Johnson is a band director at a Title I middle school in Chesapeake, Virginia. Before moving to Virginia, she taught middle school band in central Minnesota. Laura is passionate about having students select repertoire in her ensembles. She was inspired by her own high school band experience, where she and her classmates were given the opportunity to do this. Laura feels that many times directors choose music they think the students will like. However, instead of making this assumption, she believes it’s more powerful to let the students have some choice. As a result, Laura has identified a six-step process for using student-selected repertoire in her ensembles.  Discussion: First…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Inquiry

    Inquiry In Music Classes

    Michelle Baldwin is a music teacher and instructional coach at Anastasis Academy in Centennial, Colorado. She has been teaching music for 25+ years in a variety of settings and has been at Anastasis Academy since 2011. Michelle talked to us about how she incorporates inquiry into her music classes.  Anastasis Academy follows an inquiry model, where instead of simply delivering content, students are encouraged to discover, experience, and ask deep questions. When this happens, learning is more relevant and meaningful to the students. The school follows the International Baccalaureate themes of who we are, where we are in place and time, and how we express ourselves. Content spirals through the…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    Creating a Student-Run Charity Concert

    We had the pleasure of interviewing Allison Rakickas, a junior high school band director in Aptakisic-Tripp School District in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. She’s been in Aptakisic-Tripp School District for 20+ years, first teaching 5th and 6th grade band, and now 7th and 8th grade band. Allison talked to us about how she passed the baton to her students so they could plan and implement a charity concert. A new performance space in her school inspired Allison; it was a small venue that could hold about 125 audience members. She wanted to give the 6th-grade students a voice in determining how to use this space and decided that they would put on a benefit concert.…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    Consider the Learner Experience

    One thing we have learned over the last nine months is that music teachers are incredibly creative people and very capable of innovation! We’ve seen bitmoji classrooms, virtual field trips, bouncing ball videos and more. All of this to meet the musical needs of our students during a highly unusual time in history. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! As we enter the second half of the school year and continue on this creative path, we should keep one thing in mind: always consider the learner experience.  We’ve seen teachers post on social media about how they’ve spent 30 minutes explaining a concept only to have student submissions lacking…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Voice and Choice

    From A Distance: Giving Students Voice and Choice

    Providing opportunities for voice and choice is one of the most basic ways to empower students (and personalize learning) in the music room. When students feel they have a voice in their musical journey and can make choices for themselves, they can take ownership of their learning. **This post was originally published on Off the Beaten Path: A Music Teacher’s Journey. In my last blog post, Focus on What We Can Do, I discussed how during distance learning we cannot try to replicate everything we did in our classrooms. It’s not the same and we can’t try to make it that way. Instead, by focusing on what we can do now,…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Sneak Peek

    Pass the Baton Sneak Peek: Virtual Ensembles With Michelle Rose

    In August 2019 I interviewed Michelle Rose, a music teacher at North Carolina Virtual Academy. Michelle and I spoke about an innovative way she was connecting the music students in her cyber school – through virtual ensembles! At the time, this idea was pushing the envelope. Few music teachers could conceive of why virtual ensembles might be worth doing.  And then COVID-19 hit, and our lives as music teachers changed drastically!  As a “sneak peek” to our upcoming book, Pass the Baton: Empowering Students in the Music Room, we are excited to share with you this interview with Michelle Rose. Encore: Virtual Ensembles with Michelle Rose Michelle Rose is a…

  • Empowered Music Students

    Focus on What We Can Do

    Many of us have been in this new “distance learning” phase for a few weeks now – or as A.J. Juliani calls it “emergency remote learning.” Whatever term you use, we’re discovering that it’s not the same. We can’t replicate what happens in our classrooms online. And that’s ok. I think instead we need to focus on what we can do with this time.