Empowered Music Students

  • Empowered Music Students,  Student-Centered Learning

    The Student-Centered Modern Band

    Happy New Year! This week, we were excited to interview Shemeka Nash, a band director in Chicago, Illinois. Shemeka currently teaches 7th-12th grade band at Morgan Park High School and is also the fine arts department chair. She has done a lot of great things for the band program at Morgan Park, including creating a student-centered modern band.  Shemeka has always felt students should have some input about the repertoire they play. Even in the concert band, she encouraged students to look for music on J.W. Pepper for the ensemble to perform. She found this helped students connect to the repertoire, since it’s something they were interested in. Shemeka was…

  • Empowered Music Students

    12 Days to Pass the Baton

    As 2021 comes to an end, we’ve been looking back at some of the great things that happened for Pass the Baton this year. In December, we celebrated #12DaystoPasstheBaton! Each day, we shared one of our favorite interviews or resources for student empowerment in music. Just as empowered music students should reflect regularly, so should music educators! Counting down the twelve days was a great way for us to reflect on the impact Pass the Baton is having on music educators, and music students, everywhere. In case you missed #12DaystoPasstheBaton, here’s a recap: Day 1: Happy Birthday! First, we celebrated the birthday of Pass the Baton co-author, Kathryn Finch! Check…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Student-Centered Learning

    Creating a Student-Centered Choral Program

    This week’s interview features Brian Ackles, a vocal music teacher at Marcellus High School, in Marcellus, NY. Brian has taught in his current position for 20 years, and previously taught middle school and elementary school music. He received his bachelor’s degree from Westminster Choir College and his master’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. In this interview, Brian talks about his student-centered choral program.  Brian’s first teaching job was in San Antonio, Texas, where he taught general music in two elementary schools. In one elementary school, Brain had to teach five kindergarten classes in the school cafeteria at the same time. Through this experience, Brian learned quickly…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Inquiry

    Using Learning Centers to Promote Student Ownership in Music

    This week, Kathryn and Theresa talked to Levi Allison, a music teacher in South Korea. Levi has taught music in Kuwait and China, and currently teaches first through third grade general music at Chadwick International School. Levi’s school follows the IBPYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme) framework and inquiry-based learning is prevalent in his classroom. In this interview, Levi talked to us about he incorporates learning centers in his music classes. Learning Centers in the Music Classroom  One thing Levi has worked on in the last few years is using learning centers to promote inquiry and student ownership in music classes. Levi became interested in using centers in this way after…

  • Creativity,  Empowered Music Students

    Creativity Through Music Composition (Part 3 of 3)

    This week’s interview features one of our co-authors, Theresa Hoover. Theresa is a former middle school band director, currently working as a music education and technology integration specialist. In this episode, Theresa talks about how she incorporated creativity and music composition in her middle school band classes.  To start the 2020-2021 school year, Theresa’s band classes were completely virtual. In March, the students transitioned back into the classroom for a hybrid/concurrent model. All students attended class at the same time, some on Zoom, some in-person. Initially, the students in the classroom could not play wind instruments, but in May that decision was reversed and students were allowed to play for…

  • Creativity,  Empowered Music Students

    Creativity Through Music Composition (Part 2)

    This interview continues a three-part series about creativity through music composition. Robby Burns is a middle school band and general music teacher in Howard County, Maryland. Additionally, Robby directs the middle school honor band, teaches private percussion lessons, and works as a freelance percussionist. He is the host of the podcast, Music Ed Tech Talk, and frequently presents at conferences and creates online resources for music educators. In this interview, Robby talks about how he incorporates creativity and music composition in his middle school band classes.  Going into the 2020-2021 school year, Robby knew his school would be fully virtual for the beginning of the year. He wanted to give…

  • Empowered Music Students

    Creativity Through Music Composition (Part 1 )

    This week’s interview features Sonya Knussen, a music educator, singer, and composer, currently living in Maryland. Sonya also runs Go Compose North America, an organization that provides music composition workshops for students. Sonya comes from a musical family, and always knew she was going to be a musician. As a result, she’s found a variety of ways to share her music both as a performer and an educator.  Go Compose North America Go Compose North America came about because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sonya was working with a music composition mentor in the United Kingdom who wanted to make sure students knew they could still create and compose, even though…

  • Empowered Music Students

    Project Based Learning in Music Classes

    This week, Kathryn and Theresa talked to Dianne Nelson, a choral teacher at Talmadge Middle School in Independence, Oregon. Dianne has experience in a variety of settings, including degrees in biology and music education, teaching experience in early childhood and Waldorf settings, and a current position teaching music pedagogy at Western Oregon University. One of Dianne’s passions in education is project based learning, which she shared about in this interview.  What is Project Based Learning?  To explain project based learning (PBL), Dianne started by explaining what it is not. PBL is not a stereotypical project where one person does most of the work and it’s not a “dessert project,” where…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Student-Centered Learning

    Crafting Student-Centered Lessons (Part 2 of 2)

    In part two of this interview, Kathryn and Theresa continue the conversation with Jesse Rathgeber, a music education professor at Augustana College, about his views on planning and teaching student-centered music classes. If you missed part 1, check it out here: Crafting Student-Centered Lessons, Part 1.  Transforming an Elementary School Performance  One specific area that Jesse transformed to be more student-centered was what started as an elementary school Christmas program. After purchasing a pre-packaged program the first year, the next year he did a program based on the Carnival of the Animals and worked together with students to create the movements. The next year’s program was a jazz themed program,…

  • Empowered Music Students,  Student-Centered Learning

    Crafting Student-Centered Lessons (Part 1 of 2)

    In this two-part interview, Kathryn and Theresa talk to Jesse Rathgeber, a music education professor, about his views on planning and teaching student-centered music classes. Jesse’s wealth of knowledge and passion for music education are evident, creating an interview you don’t want to miss. Here are some highlights and key takeaways.  About Jesse Rathgeber Jesse Rathgeber is currently a music education professor at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. Before coming to Augustana, Jesse taught at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, where he helped found the Center for Inclusive Music Engagement. At both schools, Jesse has created community-based, participatory music experiences, called JMUke and AugiePlay. Jesse received his PhD…