This year I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 NafME Conference in Grapevine, Tx. I absolutely loved meeting and brainstorming with teachers! I attended a variety of sessions that opened my mind and really got me thinking about how I can amp up my program. I believe that you shouldn’t jump into new things right after a conference. You should plan, think, plan, think, and plan again before you try anything in your classroom. Using children as guinea pigs is a waste of their time and yours. Every time they enter your room, you should be prepared and have a plan. Don’t misunderstand me, I am flexible and make tons of mistakes and learn from my children every single day, and have to revamp my original plan and sometimes teach reactively rather than proactively. With that being said, here are a few things I’m interested in incorporating in to my classroom as a result of attending the 2016 NafME conference.
Centers are a huge topic amongst music educators. Should we or shouldn’t we? There are some music teachers that feel that centers separate them from their students, are hard to make, and hard to assess. Well, I would disagree. I was inspired by two sessions at NafME (Centers in Music Class, YES! By Dawn Sloan and Music Education through a Montessori Lens: Rethinking Music Centers by Sarah Burns) to include centers in my music room. I’m hoping to incorporate more hands on activities in Kindergarten/1st Grade by having the students compose using number of sounds and resonator bells. My inspiration for this activity came from seeing NoteKnacks used in Kristin Pugliese’s session (Teaching Your Classroom Teachers How To Do STEM to STEAM) and when Ms. Burns referenced Montessori bells in her session. Students will compose using the Note Knack tiles (NK1) to create the number of sounds they want. Since Kinder does not know rhythmic syllables yet, NoteKnacks is a wonderful tool to get them thinking about the link between number of sounds and rhythmic syllables. After they have determined their rhythmic composition, then the children will transfer the rhythm to the Chroma- Notes™ Resonator Bells set up in pentatonic (CN2125). I would choose to do this for a variety of reasons, but the main one being that I don’t want them to confuse the color of the rhythm syllables with the color of the resonator bells. For now, I will keep melody independent from rhythm. The idea is to get them associating number of sounds within a time signature. NoteKnacks are brilliant for this because of their self-correcting frames (think Scrabble tile holders long enough for 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 meter).
Another center idea for the older students would be to have the children use Music Magnetix Assessment Kit (#RFA) and a tablet (iPad or Android). For example, the children would be asked to build recorder fingerings used in a song. In this example the children would build B, A and G. The children would then open any camera/recording app and record themselves playing the 3 notes in the song. You could simplify this lesson and the children place a name card by their answer and snap a picture. You could extend this lesson and have the children record the entire song, wherever you are in your lesson cycle.
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to the creators of the PBuzz during the conference. These gentlemen inspired me to think outside the box. My ideas for the use of the PBuzz in my classroom will be in another blog, but I am going to focus on the PBuzz as an instrument here. I deeply enjoy the idea of an instrument that can be the gateway to brass instruments. Like the recorder, the PBuzz is elemental in its tone production, but does get the children buzzing, which the recorder does not do. The PBuzz simulates brass instruments like the recorder simulates woodwind instruments, in that it has qualities of its descendants such as the mouthpiece and bell. The great thing about the PBuzz is that it is tempered in a way that the children cannot overblow and hit random partials like the many adult brass players did that tried the PBuzz during the conference. Can you hit partials, yes! Is it easy, no. Perfect for children to stay in the range of the fifth (F, G, A, Bb, B and C) the PBuzz is designed to play. The PBuzz has each pitch color coded to the Chroma-Notes™ colors so you can use your Boomwhacker® music, or any other color coded music you may have already to introduce the PBuzz into your classroom. There are no instructions or curriculum that come with the instrument, but there are many videos online to supplement the use of the instrument and the videos even show children to learn how to play the PBuzz. I fell in love with this simple, yet effective, instrument and have great plans to use this instrument in my classroom. Stay tuned!
Have a question about the conference or this blog? Just ask. Have any questions about general music classroom pedagogy or classroom management, just ask! Email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from you!