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5 Great Apps for Music Workstations


5 Great Apps for Music Workstations- My students love these apps for composing, arranging and practicing rhythms and pitch names.  Try them in your music classroom!

I love including technology as one of the centers in my music workstation rotations.  Here are a few of my favorite apps for 3rd through 6th grades.


Flashnote Derby
This app provides a fun way to practice naming the pitches of notes.  It lets you select the notes you practice too.  When I use this at a workstation, I leave instructions about which notes to select.  This is fun and students will play it over and over again.

Treble Cat
Another fun way to practice the names of treble clef staff, this app is great for 3rd through 6th grades.  The game starts as notes slide across the screen.  The goal during each round is to "collect" notes of a certain pitch.  Engaging and simple, this is definitely a winner for centers!

Rhythm Cat
My students love this app!  I demonstrated it to the class before using it in a workstation, but it is perfect for iPads!  Students see several measures worth of rhythm patterns.  A tune starts and counts down to when students play along.  Students play the patterns by tapping on the screen.  They score points for accuracy.  I love that the app uses varying tempos and genres in the background music.  The rhythm patterns get more difficult as students progress through them.

When using it in a workstation, I have students start from the easiest level.  This prevents students from sitting down and starting on a difficult level and getting frustrated.


Incredibox
This is my students' favorite app.  They could create with it for our entire class period.  This app lets you create music by "arranging" a cool and funky group of beatboxers.  Creating loops, making musical decisions and sharing these with friends is only part of the fun.  I love the musical conversations that happen around this app.  You can use the web version, but I prefer the app because there are more options.


Staff Wars
I know.  I know.  You've already heard of this one.  It is so easy to use and students are extremely engaged when they are playing this game.  Many of my students download this app to their own devices at home so that they can practice.  Teacher win!!!  In this Star Wars themed game, notes fly across the staff and you shoot them down with your space ship.


If you like these ideas, PIN this for later!


5 Great Apps for Music Workstations- My students love these apps for composing, arranging and practicing rhythms and pitch names.  Try them in your music classroom!
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Magical Music Classroom Reveal

Back to school time is so exciting!  This year I decided to use a magical theme for my music room.  Not exactly magic as in wizards and spells, but more of a celebration of mystical, musical creatures.  This year I've decorated with unicorns, gnomes, dragons, mermaids (and mermen) and narwhals.  It has been a lot of fun!  Take a peek at my room.

 This is the front of my room.  I used some stone wall paper to create a castle using the two bulletin boards and the space above my Smartboard.
 As you enter the room I have a small table set up for pencils, singing sticks and other odds and ends that we may use as the school year goes on.

Dynamic narwhals, tempo mermaids and unicorn ensembles are the perfect addition to my Magical Music room!  They come separately or you can get them in a bundle too.



I upgraded my crayon storage boxes this year.  For the last five or six years I've used plastic travel containers for soap.  This year I decided to go up to index card boxes.  I love that there is a little bit more room.  I also added a little reminder to keep the crayons in the box instead of dumping them out.

I love to have a reference board up for the lines and spaces of the treble clef staff.  This year it features gnomes.  Take a closer look.




For the last three years I have had some kind of growth mindset bulletin board up in my classroom.  It is such a great reminder to students and also to me!  This year I used dragons to help students change their mindset.  The title (which is a little tricky to read with the glare) says "Is Your Mindset Dragon You Down?"


On the side of my room I just used a bit of the stone wall paper to add some interest. 

Positive song lyrics!  My kiddos love these and I'll catch them "getting" what song one of the posters if from and smiling.  Love that!  See them here.

This bulletin board will hold the titles of Songs of the Month.  I'll start with the "Star Spangled Banner" in September.  The border and bulletin board pieces are from Creative Teaching Press.



In this corner I store my Orff instruments, steady beat swords, pool noodle ponies, Boomwhackers and right now, my piano.

My ukulele storage is actually a drying rack from Walmart.  I padded it will pool noodles and added numbers on the noodles and on the ukuleles so that students know where to put their ukes.  


I love these mermaid themed borders but didn't have anything mermaid to hang up.  I took an old bulletin board, Meet the Composers, and gave it a new title.  I think it turned out great.

This is my reading corner.  I added some sequined pillows that add some sparkle.  I decided to sort a few of my books into categories this year.  I think that I may use them during centers time. 


I hope you've enjoyed a peek at my classroom.  You can find most of the decor items that I'm using in my classroom this year in this bundle:

If you like these ideas, you might want to pin this post for later!

Music makes MAGIC happen in your classroom.  See some ideas for decorating your music room with unicorns, narwhals, gnomes and dragons.






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Poison Rhythms


Poison Rhythm is one of my favorite rhythm activities ever.  Students are so completely engaged.  They will read and perform dozens of patterns over and over without complaint.  Read on to learn more about this exciting game.

How to play poison rhythm:

  1.  Choose a poison rhythm and write it on the board.
  2. Have students practice this pattern by clapping and saying it several times.
  3. Explain that once the game starts that they can’t clap or say this rhythm.  If they do YOU get a point.  If no one in the class claps or says the poison rhythm, the class gets a point.
  4. Erase the rhythm and either show flashcards (that have a few copies of that rhythm in it) or clap the rhythm and let them decide from just listening while you echo.

I decided that using the flashcards was cumbersome, so I created a digital version.  That was SO much easier.  The play is pretty much the same except the PDF walks you through the beginning steps and there’s a theme for each set of games.  

Take a look at this video to see how I introduce/review this game with a class:


There are MANY variations to this game.  You can do a quick search on Facebook or Google to see the variations.


Instead of just clapping the rhythms, I like to mix it up.  Sometimes we will use buckets and drum sticks, tubanos, other non-pitched percussion instruments, Boomwhackers and sometimes we turn our chairs around backwards, sit facing the screen and use drumsticks on the back of our chairs. AWESOME!

If you are interested in using my digital versions (that you could also print if you wanted) take a look here:  Poison Rhythms.




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Rhythm Cards for Rockin' Repetition


Use these simple rhythm cards to establish routine and improve rhythm and steady beat skills in your music classroom.  In music education the simplest ideas are the best. Your students will thank you for adding this activity to your music routine.


I love creating a routine at the beginning of my classes.  It helps students focus and gives me a second to handle questions and get things ready to go.  For some classes this is a hello song, echo clapping or a movement activity.  In this post I'll share one of my favorites.  Rhythm cards are the perfect way to get students thinking and moving in music class.

The rhythm cards that I am referring to have 4 beats worth of notation.  I copy the same card on front and back so that they are easier to use. One card has 4 quarter notes.  Another has two half notes and so on.

When using these cards I am reinforcing note values and sharpening skills that we will use in other activities to compose rhythmic ostinatos or melodies.  Students are able to feel the duration and this makes a strong connection.  Using this activity at the beginning of each or during each class for several weeks in a row has been a great skill builder!  I like to call it "rockin' repetition".

Use these simple rhythm cards to establish routine and improve rhythm and steady beat skills in your music classroom.  In music education the simplest ideas are the best. Your students will thank you for adding this activity to your music routine.


I wish this simple but brilliant idea was mine, but I actually learned about it from Kristin Lukow, music educator extraordinaire on the Music K-8 discussion list.  I've incorporated it into lessons for many years now and my students are better for it.  Thanks Kristin!

Here's what I do:
I choose a song with a medium to fast beat (which are much easier than slower songs) and start it as students are walking into music class.  They clap the pattern as an ostinato until I change the card.  That's really it!

Use these simple rhythm cards to establish routine and improve rhythm and steady beat skills in your music classroom.  In music education the simplest ideas are the best. Your students will thank you for adding this activity to your music routine.


This activity works great with my drums, classroom percussion instruments and different kinds of body percussion instead of just clapping.  Often we will do this with tennis balls or basketballs (if I can borrow some).  When we use balls with the cards here are the movements:

whole notes - count as you move it around your waist, back and then to your front.  Think of it as traveling around the world.
half notes - bounce so that the first part of the note is when the ball hits the floor and the second is when you catch it
quarter notes -same as half note but on each beat.  It helps to be closer to the floor for this one.
eighth notes-hot potato!  We pass it from hand to hand in rhythm.

Since this activity is used many times during the school year my play list is pretty diverse and always growing.  I include songs that I'll use with tennis balls, basketballs and with body percussion.  I can choose faster pieces for body percussion than the others.  Some student favorites:

"Can't Stop This Feeling" by Justin Timberlake
"Song of the South" by Alabama
"The Star and Stripes Forever" Sousa
"Best Years of Our Lives" by the Baha Men
"I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit

You can check out my entire playlist for rhythm cards here:  Rhythm Cards Playlist on Amazon Music.

I know this is a simple idea, but once you've implemented it I think that you'll find it  is helpful not only for establishing routine, but for improving rhythm skills and steady beat with your students.  I'm so sure it will that I want you to have a copy of the cards for free!  Print out two copies and laminate the same pattern back to back.  Get the cards here: Rhythm Cards for Rockin' Repetition




Use these simple rhythm cards to establish routine and improve rhythm and steady beat skills in your music classroom.  In music education the simplest ideas are the best. Your students will thank you for adding this activity to your music routine.




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Pass the Chicken - A Game for Reviewing Anything

Looking for a quick and easy review game? Try Pass the Chicken! Great for any classroom, this blog post shows you how to play the game and gives you a free list of music themed categories to use. FUN for music class or any classroom.

Pass the chicken is one of my go to games when I need to review something or even when I just have a few spare minutes with a group.

Here's how to play:
1.Have your class stand in a circle.
2.One student holds the rubber chicken (or whatever object you want to pass).  
3.You say one of the categories from the included list.  
4.The student immediately pass the chicken to the left and the others continue to pass it as the one who was it says five things that fit the category.
5.If they name 5 whoever has the chicken when they finish is the next person who is it.  If they don’t, they have to come to the center of the circle and do the ”Chicken Dance”.  
6.They hand the chicken to the person on their left who is now it.  The play repeats.

When we are reviewing instrument families my categories for the game might be:
Brass Instruments
Percussion Instruments
Instruments with strings
Instruments that start with T
Instruments that have a reed

Sometimes I've planned a lesson that doesn't take as long as I think it will.  Other times I'm stuck with a group waiting for their teacher to pick them up.  Pass the Chicken is a great way to see what they know and keep them focused.  I keep a list of different musical topics near my desk so that I can refer to it when I can't come up with any ideas.




 Like this idea?  Pin it for later!
Looking for a quick and easy review game? Try Pass the Chicken! Great for any classroom, this blog post shows you how to play the game and gives you a free list of music themed categories to use. FUN for music class or any classroom.



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New Year's Resolutions for Teachers

New Year's resolutions for teachers.  You'll laugh.  You'll cry.  You probably won't resolve to do anything with this list of sassy ideas for educators.

I will try to drink more water each day and stop calling my early morning soda my “coffee”.
My bus room kids think that me calling my diet orange Sunkist "coffee" is hilarious.  Little do they know, it is the only thing keeping me from crawling under my desk until the bell rings and they leave me in silence to wake up.  So, perhaps after my first "coffee" of the morning I'll try a little water.  Probably.


I will remember that I really do love kids even when after teaching in a swamp of germs and disease I have my 5th cold of the year.
I do love kids.  I do.  I hate being sick.  I really do.

When taking notes in a staff meeting I will stop making a list of things the speaker says that could be taken in a naughty way.
This one may be the toughest one yet!  I mean when someone says "We just need to come in from behind." or "It's just bigger than we expected."  Don't you automatically put the phrase "that's what she said" in there?  Oh no!  Have I been binge watching too much of The Office?

I will stop freaking out every time the school wifi goes down and instead use it as a time to go class old school with my lessons. 
Old school as in, let's play Red Rover cause my lesson plan is just over.

I will stop telling people that the men’s restroom is actually the Poop Bathroom for men or women.
Yeah.  I do this.  In my building there are like 3 men and 47,987 women.  So, it is just a courtesy to most of the staff to tell everyone to use the men's bathroom when they have to poop, right?  What's funnier than that is telling those guys that I'm telling people that.  Bwahahahaha.  I don't even know if people do it.  It just makes me giggle.  

I will try other organizational techniques than shoving things in my drawers and that one scary cabinet at the back of my room.
I bet I could supply a first year teacher with everything he would need from the awesome stuff that I have shoved in my cabinet and forgotten. Oooo!  Maybe that's how I get it cleaned up.  I should totally "gift" it to a new teacher!

I will stop cramming tons of stuff in my teacher bag and taking it home to do every night and then feeling guilty when I watch TV instead.
I think that instead, I'll just leave it all on my desk and feel guilty anyway.  Same great guilt.  Much less work.

I will stop googling “what other jobs can you do with a teaching degree” every time grades are due.
Seriously....why do I wait until the last minute to get the last few sets of grades in?  Please tell me I'm not the only one.

I will not judge myself or others by the perfection, originality and creativity of their bulletin boards.
I rarely do this, because I change my boards so often that I don't have time to look at other people's displays.  It's really a sickness I have.  I change them at least once a month.  Sometimes more.  Hello.  My name is Tracy and I may have an unhealthy relationship with bulletin boards.

I will talk to more adults about things that are not school related.
This is hard because most of the adults I talk to ARE school related.  There should be a friend matchmaking website that connects teachers to non-teachers just so we can widen our friend circle.    

I will remember that I have the greatest job in the world.
This one is easy because I DO have the greatest job in the world.  I get to be an ambassador of joy and instill the love and appreciation of music in the lives of my students every day.  


Remember these for next year by PINNING them!
New Year's resolutions for teachers.  You'll laugh.  You'll cry.  You probably won't resolve to do anything with this list of sassy ideas for educators.

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26 Things Music Teachers are Thankful For

Things Music Teachers are Thankful for...hearing that song your students are singing in the bathroom, music education victories, a drawer full of chocolate.  Be thankful music educator!  You've got a great job.


1.  Hearing a song you've taught a class, ringing out of the student bathroom as you pass by.

2.  An email that says "My son/daughter has never taken an interest in music, but I think you have inspired them to take up a new hobby."

3.  Boomwhackers, arranged in perfect order and hanging on the wall.

4. That rush of pride and relief that comes after a performance.

5.  Comfy shoes and a drawer full of chocolate.

6. The technology working just as it is supposed to.

7.  Supportive administrators.

8.  Spouses who totally get concert week.

9.  Being tagged in a favorite teachers post on Facebook.

10.  Perfect attendance at after school choir.

11.  That one second in recorder class when everyone rests at the same time and your soul knows a moment of peace.

12.  The parade of the birthday cupcakes, donuts, snack cake and other goodies during the last hour of the day.

13.  Classroom teachers that accept you as part of the team, not a babysitter during their break.

14.  The smooth, clean feel of a brand new tubano.

15.  Artie Almeida.

16.  Pool noodle ponies standing neatly in their "stall" waiting for the next class.

17.  Finishing a folk dance with students that rolled their eyes and moaned in disgust before, but now are flushed and happy and saying things like "That was so much fun!"

18.  Teachers Pay Teachers.

19.  Food Fridays in the teachers' lounge.

20.  Kids who laugh at my jokes.

21.  Friends and family that have to listen to me talk about my classroom and students non-stop.

22.  Thunderous applause.

23.  Being a witness to music bringing people together.

24.  Although many of us would like to see our students more often than we do, we are also pretty darn thankful that we see SOME classes once a week for less than an hour.

25.  Beautiful, colorful bulletin boards hanging perfectly on the wall.

26.  We have the best job in the whole world.  We make a difference in the lives of students every day and are often the only ambassadors of joy they see each week.

Let me know what you are thankful for in the comments!  Like this post?  PIN it for later.

Things Music Teachers are Thankful for...hearing that song your students are singing in the bathroom, music education victories, a drawer full of chocolate.  Be thankful music educator!  You've got a great job.

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Music Teacher Pet Peeves

Music Teacher Pet Peeves is a list of relatable situations and conversations that modern music educators find themselves in.  Don't worry music teachers!  You are not alone.

This blog post was written to let music teachers everywhere know that they are not alone.  It seems that we are always having to justify why the study of music has merit, defend our class times and handle the same student issues over and over.  Here are just a few of music teacher pet peeves I have experienced or that music teaching friends have experienced.

I can't come to the concert because I have sports practice.
Practice?  Not a semi-final championship?  Not even a game...just practice?  This is frustrating.  The concert happens one time a year.  One time.

It's Moat-zart not Mo-zart.
I have modeled this correctly time and time again.  Why?  Why say it incorrectly?  Argh!

No gum.  Anytime.
This one is probably just a personal pet peeve, but we are going sing and you don't need gum in your mouth to do that.  If we are playing instruments, I don't want any gum in or on them.  Weirder things have happened.  Just don't do it.  Spit out your gum or better yet, just don't chew it at school.

Little Johnny is behind in math, can he skip music today?
So that he can become behind in music?  I get 50 minutes one time a week to teach a year's worth of curriculum.  I need every single one of those minute and so does little Johnny.

Is this for a grade?
Bwahahaha.  No, dude.  This is pretty much like recess but with drums. *rolling eyes*
Of course this is for a grade.

Sorry we are late.  It is just so important that we get every single minute of reading in that we can.
This is complete disrespect for my time and my job.  What happens in your room is not more important that what happens in mine.  It may be tested more than my curriculum, but it is not more important.

I understand if once in a blue moon you run late, or forget to give a spelling test because it is party day or whatever, but if this is a regular thing, it is a regular problem.

Somebody farted.  I must roll around clutching my nose, flopping around like I have inhaled poison until the whole class is in complete and utter chaos.
You've smelled bad things.  This isn't theater class.  Let's move on.

P.S.  Okay.  Okay.  I've had a few of these that we actually had to stop what we were doing because we all thought we might die, but usually...we can just move on.

Are you a real teacher?
Seriously?  I have more credit hours with my Bachelor's degree than most classroom teachers have with their Masters.  I have dual certification in both K-12 instrumental music and K-12 vocal music.  I see up to 30 different classes a week with individual lesson plans all the while maintaining accommodations for IEPs and 504s.  I cram all of my yearly objectives into one class period a week.  I do this while preparing concerts where I am judged for 60 minutes of "show" instead of the hours of teaching I do every day.  It's like a big public report card.

I am not just a "real" teacher.  I am a frickin' rock star.

Let me know if one of these is also one of your pet peeves.  What other things make you a little crazy (vanishing pencils, observations the day before Christmas vacation, hearing the word "li-berry" instead of library)?


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Music Teacher Pet Peeves is a list of relatable situations and conversations that modern music educators find themselves in.  Don't worry music teachers!  You are not alone.


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