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A Handy Way to Teach Treble Clef Names

Teach the treble clef lines and spaces with this "handy" trick that involves gloves!  Students leave with a crafty project that helps them read treble clef pitches!

You've probably heard of using your hand as a visual aid for learning the names of pitches on the treble clef staff.  With five fingers....err...four and your thumb to represent lines and 4 spaces, it is perfect!  I wanted to take that idea just a little bit further with my students.  This is what we did.

Teach the treble clef lines and spaces with this "handy" trick that involves gloves!  Students leave with a crafty project that helps them read treble clef pitches!
Using plastic gloves and permanent markers we wrote the names of the lines at the tips of our fingers.  To solidify the concept that our fingers represented the treble clef lines, we drew lines on our fingers too.  Some of my students claimed they were drawing their bones!  

Next we found the spaces between our fingers and labeled them with the treble clef space names. 

Teach the treble clef lines and spaces with this "handy" trick that involves gloves!  Students leave with a crafty project that helps them read treble clef pitches!

With my students this year I used very thin, clear gloves that you might see food service workers use in your cafeteria.  They were pretty inexpensive but were quite large for some of my smaller students.  They were a safe choice for students with an allergy to latex.

Another time I used latex gloves (pictured above).  These gloves allowed us to write more clearly, but were MUCH more expensive.  I bought a box of large and a box of small and they fit better than the plastic gloves.  I would only recommend these if you were working with a pretty small class or were able to secure donations.

Teach the treble clef lines and spaces with this "handy" trick that involves gloves!  Students leave with a crafty project that helps them read treble clef pitches!
Permanent markers dried pretty fast during this project.  I experimented with several other writing utensils include ink pens, flair pens and paint pens.  Permanent markers are definitely the way to go.

After we finished our gloves we practiced using them with Music K-8's songs "Every Good Boy Does Fine" and "FACE" on YouTube.   I also love Quaver Music's "Lines and Spaces" for this activity.

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Teach the treble clef lines and spaces with this "handy" trick that involves gloves!  Students leave with a crafty project that helps them read treble clef pitches!



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Flashlight Routines that Teach Form

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

The first time I experienced using flashlights to demonstrate musical form was in a workshop by the talented and genius, Artie Almeida.  I love using them to keep students engaged and my students love them for their novelty.
Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.
For most flashlight routines that I have used in class I use two or three colors.  I use a large permanent marker and color in the lens. Depending on the marker, you may want to let it dry and then color it again.
Instead of using permanent markers, you could use colored plastic wrap and rubber bands.  I didn't like how often my rubber bands disappeared and turned into weapons, so after a time or two I decided this was not a good choice for me.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.
Flashlights
I chose inexpensive flashlights from the dollar store about bought about 10 more than my largest class because I expected some of them to break easily.  The batteries were pretty expensive, but with the help of a regional grant I was able to get enough to fill every flashlight.  

When using the flashlights sitting down, you get a large light on the ceiling.  It's pretty, but not very distinct or clear if your room isn't completely dark.  In the picture above you can see what it looks like when students are sitting.  In the picture below students were standing.  That produced a smaller, cleaner look to their light and it looked much better when we were all working together.

You could always buy smaller flashlights with a stronger beam to get the same effect.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

Teaching Form
Before putting flashlights in their hands we listen to the piece of music.  We either follow a listening maps or we listen and create our own listening map.  This gives students the experience they need to be successful when they get the flashlights.

We label each section with a letter name and decide on an action for the flashlight.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

This video is of one of my 5th grade classes and their first attempt at a flashlight routine to "Cantina Band".  This is an unedited, imperfect, completely authentic look at how this works in my classroom.  I love how at section D they are in awe of their own awesomeness!



Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

I hope this inspires you to try using flashlights in your classroom.  Do you have any favorite pieces that would work well with flashlights?  I would love to learn about them.  Let me know in the comments.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.


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Dealing with Teacher Burnout

Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.

Some days when I’m greeted with an enthusiastic “Good morning!  How are you?”  I just want to growl and say “I’m tired.”  I hate being that person, because would much rather be happy and cheerful.   How about you?  Let’s face it, teaching can be exhausting and burnout can happen to the best of us. How do you avoid burnout?  How do you know if you’re there?  What does burnout look like?  Read on, my weary teacher friends.

How do you know that you’re burning out?

You are overwhelmed.  You know there’s a lot to do and you are wondering how you will be able to add one more thing.  Maybe you are thinking that you should compromise your values and expectations just so you can mark things off your to do list.  You may even consider prioritizing but tell yourself it just won’t be enough.

You are anxious.  You’ve got that nagging feeling that you should be doing more.  You may even realize that you actually need to do LESS, but still feel like you could do more and you should do more.

You are tired.  Maybe tired isn’t the best description.  You are exhausted.  Weary.  You sleep, but don’t seem to rest.  It’s the kind of tired that makes you want to crawl in bed at 6:30 and wake up in 3 days.  For me, I know I’m experiencing burnout when I sit down at lunch and daydream about going to bed that night.

You just aren’t any fun.  How long has it been since you laughed?  Really laughed?  Belly laughed?  Maybe you just don’t laugh or smile as much as you used to.  I hate unfunny me!  It makes the days feel longer than usual.

You just aren’t up to daily challenges like you used to be.  You may not feel as creative, patient or enthusiastic as you once did.  You may feel like you have just lost your edge.

You just want to be left alone.  Do you just want to find a big cozy blanket and hide under it?  You may be experiencing burnout if you are craving a place to hide, a place where you aren’t tried and tested and no one will question you.  A place that is just…quiet!

Ways I’ve Tried Dealing with Burnout

Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.1.  Look at that teacher or administrator that is really getting on your nerves.   Close one eye and put your pointer finger and thumb in front of your other eye and pretend you are pinching their little heads.  Incredibly satisfying.
2.  Harry and David’s has these magic little bags of happiness called Moose Munch.  Buy. Eat.  Eat some more. Cry when it is gone.  Buy more.  Repeat.
3.  Gallons of Diet Mt. Dew.

I don’t really recommend any of these, but they are things that I have tried!

How to Deal with Burnout 

1.  Get physical.   I know, it’s not what I usually think of when I am tired and stressed, but exercising can give you quiet time, gets your endorphins popping and will make you rest better.  You don’t have to go to the gym either.  Take a walk, dance to a YouTube video with your kids, get a little romantic with your spouse, take a swim or even play a game of ping pong.
2.  Be a list maker.  Sometimes I get stressed because I am trying to remember everything that I need to do and inevitably forget something.  Now, I make a list of things that I need to do and then stop worrying about it.  My lists usually in three parts:  Today, This Week and Sometime.  The Today list includes things that need to be done before I go home.  This week means as soon as I can and the Sometime list is for those great ideas that I want to do, but can’t do right now.  Sometimes I copy things from list to list for weeks until I get to them.  While that might sound crazy, if it is on the list I spend less time thinking about it.
3.  Plan your quiet time.  Schedule a time for a massage or a pedicure.  Plan an afternoon where you have no responsibilities and turn your phone off.  Schedule time to relax.  Make it as much of a priority as you do your tasks at work.  Your family and your students will thank you for it!
4.  Get some rest.   No, really.  Go to bed a little earlier.  End your evening with a hot shower, a favorite drink and perhaps meditation or prayer.  Don’t research online, grade papers, catch up on emails or even make a grocery list.  Just go to bed.
5.  Get to work earlier.  Feeling rushed and stressed can start right away.  Is there a way that you can get to work 15 minutes earlier?  A few minutes of extra time before things get busy and noisy can go a long way in starting your day off feeling prepared and refreshed.  If you can find those minutes in the morning, plan to stay 15 minutes later and get everything ready for the next morning.  (That includes stacking up papers to grade and leaving them there until tomorrow.  Don’t take them home!)

Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.

6.  Be thankful.  Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed it helps to count my blessings.  Be thankful for your family, friends and co-workers.  Be thankful for the things that are going right.  Be thankful for the little things like outside recess and no bake cookies for lunch.  Be thankful.  You have the greatest job in the world!

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Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.


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Note Value Bowling Music Workstation

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

Bowling in music class?  You bet! It may be your students' favorite music workstation!  Read on to find out how to create the fun and functional workstation for your classroom.

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

I have several sets of bowling pins at my house.  I know that sounds weird, but I've been working on and then perfecting a bowling workstation for several years.  The set that I used in the pictures is a wooden set.  It is a nice size and weight and the pins make a lovely sound when they fall down.

This set was on sale for 75% off when I picked it up.  Music teacher WIN!  I've picked up some at discount stores and yard sales too.

From experience with Layton Music's Music Yahtzee, I knew that putting a single eighth not or a dotted quarter note would up the difficulty of this game to the point where not all of my students would be able to play and successfully record their score.  I decided to use notes that would not utilize fractions, or their mathematical brothers, decimals.  I used quarter note, barred eighth notes, 4 sixteenth notes, half note, dotted half note and whole note.  I drew one of these on each of the six pins.  I used a permanent marker, but you could also use a paint pen.

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

I have a plastic set of pins.  I used a white paint pen and a silver Sharpie to draw on the notes.  They have held up quite well.  Although you could store the pins in their original box or container, I haven't found a set that holds up well.  I buy plastic storage containers and place everything in them.
Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

Before introducing the game to students I spent some time practicing.  (Turns out I'm a pathetic bowler!)  I experimented with how far apart to place the pins and how far back I needed to stand to roll the boll.  If the pins are too far apart, they won't all fall down even with a perfect throw.  If they are too close together, they will all fall down every time.  I ended up finding the perfect distance for my set of pins and marking their placement with a piece of masking tape,  I also drew the note on the masking tape to help them set up as quickly as possible.

After much experimentation, I decided that my students needed to stand 4 floor tiles away from the pins.  (That's somewhere between 4 and 5 feet.)

If you don't have a bowling set, you can create your own pins with 20 ounce soda or water bottles.  You could even use empty 2-liter bottles.  Spray paint them before drawing the notes on and add about a third of a bottle of beans or sand to steady them.  Small Nerf balls would work great with these DIY pins. 
Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

To complete the workstation, I include a score sheet on a clipboard and a pencil.  One version of the score sheet contains a "cheat sheet" and shows students the note value of each pin.  The other version does not.  My goal in using this workstation is to reinforce note values, so I don't mind if students use the score sheet with the references.  They still gain practice in adding them all together.

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!
You can download both of the sheets by clicking on the picture above or by clicking HERE.  I hope that your students enjoy this activity!

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!


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