Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mr. Rogers' Stop Light (Tempo)

I keep a link to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood PBS Kids website on my classroom page for my young students to explore at home.  Occasionally I will show a video clip from his site featuring music, but most of the time I just let kids visit it on their own time.  For some reason last week I was looking over the site, and came across the Stop Light Game.  Just as the lights shine in the stop light, a light suddenly turned on in my head!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Philharmonia Orchestra Instrument Guides

I recently came across the website for the Philharmonia Orchestra, and discovered that they have a wonderful set of Instrument Video Guides featuring many of the instruments of the orchestra.  All of the standard instruments of the orchestra are included, and they also feature some fun ones like the contrabass clarinet or the celeste.  Learn more after the jump!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Isle of Friday Afternoons

Isle of Tune is one of the best ways to let your students create music on their own at school or at home.  Simply put down a road, a few cars, street lights, houses, trees, plants, and voilà: they have created a song!  I encourage all of you to experiment with Isle of Tune for a while.  Before you know it, half of your day has disappeared creating music!  This site is so intuitive and easy for students pick up, that I have had many emails from teachers and parents sharing with me how much they love this site! Not only can you create songs, but you can also use Isle of Tune as a fun teaching tool.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Behold! The Wall of Whackers!
Boomwhackers are great for the elementary music classroom, but they are such a pain to store.  For the past six years I have kept my large Boomwhackers in laundry baskets and my smaller ones in buckets.  It looked messy and was hard to find the tubes I needed.  I just moved to a new classroom with a very long, empty wall.  I knew I wanted to use the large space for a word wall (which as you can see is still on the to-do list,) but then I found this....

Friday, February 22, 2013


IWB Music now has its own twitter feed!  Simply press the button "Follow @IWBMusic" below, and you're all set! Remember, you can also follow IWB Music on Facebook and Google+.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kansas City Symphony Kinderkonzert

Photo credit:
I have the wonderful opportunity to take a grade level of my students to see Peter and the Wolf and Other Symphonic Tales performed by the Kansas City Symphony at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts next week.  Peter and the Wolf was one of my favorite pieces growing up, and I am incredibly excited to share it with another generation of young musicians!  The Electric Media Manager for the symphony is a good friend of mine and she shared a series of videos the symphony is using to promote the concert and to educate young musicians about the piece.  These videos feature an introduction by Assistant Conductor, Aram Demirjian and an explanation of each character's traits by local actor and narrator, Alex Espy.  The first video is an introduction to Peter:

Check out the KC Symphony's YouTube channel for more videos each day this week!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New World Symphony

Last week I rehearsed Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" with the Lee's Symphony Symphony Orchestra in preparation for their fall classic.  Although I love performing, this rehearsal reminded me of why I'm an educator and not fighting tooth and nail for coveted symphony gigs around the world.  I had never played "The New World Symphony" before, and it was quite obvious within a few measures of sight reading that I wasn't as familiar with the piece as I had originally thought.  I knew I had homework to do, and I knew exactly where to go:  Carnegie Hall's listening adventures!

Carnegie Hall's listening adventure for Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 provides a detailed, animated listening map for the entire New World Symphony.  I love how the melody of most of the themes is either shown on a musical staff or shown with contour lines.  These are the three themes from the first movement:

The interactive maps provide a great tool for teaching form, contour, motifs, and instruments of the orchestra.  It also provides a great cross curricular opportunity for teaching history, geography, and storytelling.  I don't recommend going through the entire symphony in one lesson or even through one unit unless you are teaching older students.  I do recommend using one movement at a time to help supplement your and objectives.

Carnegie Hall has provided a "How to use this site" page to help you design a lesson that works best for you.  They also have an Activities page for each movement of the symphony.  These activities can be a great way to assess your students and to check for understanding.

You can believe that when I perform this piece at the Lee's Summit Symphony's Fall Classic on October 13 (yes, that's a shameless plug,) I will be imagining the sailing ships, dancers, and locomotives.

If you liked this online tool, you will love Carnegie Hall's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.  You can check out my blog posts about the YPGO here: