ArkMEA Fall InService 2015

I became so involved and focused in each session, that I forgot to take any pictures! Oops!

Session 1- Developing Critical Thinkers in Elementary Music, presented by Dr. Cynthia Taggart from Michigan State University

This session was great!  Dr. Taggart showed me ways to teach that I would never have thought of.  She truly does develop critical thinkers in the classroom.  The focus of her lesson during this session was musical form. More accurately, getting students to recognize and determine musical form.  There was a section when Dr. Taggart provided note cards with the letters A, B, and C on them and played a piece for us . She then instructed us to line up the note cards according to what we thought the form was.  After that, she sang a short song for us and asked what chord roots we thought would fit.  Upon straightening out some answers, she had us sing the sequence of chord roots while she sang the melody again.  We did this several times to different songs.  She chose a few of them that had the same chord progressions to get us thinking about what other songs we may have heard that have the same chord progressions.  Dr. Taggart then had us return to forms by having us come up with a body percussion piece with three sections: section A with sixteen beats, section B with eight beats,  and a return to the A section. She then had a few groups demonstrate, and it was really impressive to see what several groups of music educators could come up with.  This session was probably my favorite.

Session 2- Helping Students Develop Part-Singing Skills, presented by Dr. Cynthia Taggart from Michigan State University

I decided to stay for Dr. Taggart’s next session, and I was not disappointed.  She breaks part-singing down into a series of skills: students must be able to audiate, have a basic understanding of meter, keep a steady beat, and be able to hear the harmonic progressions of the songs they are singing.  She gave us a handout with exercises for developing and improving these skills. For example, there was a piece where we sang Do (the tonic) as a drone.  Another exercise had us singing an ostinato while she sang the melody.  These are just a couple of the exercises she gave us. She then kept emphasizing that the teacher must let the students sing on their own, because if the teacher is always singing, the students will be imitating the teacher rather than audiating and learning. Dr. Taggart also advised us to teach melody/harmony before teaching words.  She believes students try to focus on the words too much, so to ensure they are thinking musically rather than getting hung up on the words, she teaches melody/harmony first.

Session 4- Orff, Koldaly, and Feierabend, presented by Dr. Becky Morrison from Ouachita Baptist University

I went to a third session, but it was almost completely uninformative, so I will focus on the fourth session I attended.  In the fourth session, Dr. Morrison shared her knowledge of Orff, Kodaly, and Feierabend with us.  One of her goals was to inspire us to continue our education.  Her advice was to do this so that we may have the experience to further the education of our students.  Dr. Morrison had us sing and dance in a few activities that showed just how effective simple learning activities can be.  They can really help elementary and middle school students understand musical elements and simple musical principles simply by singing a short tune and moving with the rhythm.  I greatly enjoyed this session and the presenter!

Overall, this conference taught me many things about aiding students with music.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the presenters and music educators that I encountered.  I hope I have the opportunity to return to an ArkMEA conference soon.


Fox Dance

When learning how to play the recorder, it is best to learn a few note fingerings and practice them for a while.  The first fingerings I am going to teach you are the easiest, in my opinion.  After we have learned the fingerings for C, B, A, and G, we will learn a short song I wrote for these notes.  I like to imagine a fox going along its daily routine to this song.  I hope you enjoy it!

fox dance

Rethinking music education


Rod Taylor’s article, “Rethinking music education in the 21st century” (2015), explains that music should be taught in more creative ways, rather than old ways that may discourage students and musicians.

  • No beginners in music: neurological studies have shown that we start to appreciate music in the womb.
  • Students “tap in” when they feel confidence rather than trepidation and timidity.
  • Students should participate in more hands-on instruction in music, i.e. practicing as they are being taught, hands-on theory and ear-training.
  • Listening to surroundings can help students grow in ability.
  • Listening to fellow ensemble members can help students understand their instrument more. “The ability to listen to others is perhaps the most defining characteristic among successful musicians.” Pg. 30
  • Teaching students to be more emotionally attached to music.

My thinking on this matter has stayed the same. I have always thought that the way we teach music could be drastically improved to aid the students in understanding their instrument and music in general.  If I am able to teach in the years to come, I will try to find new ways to help students connect to music in ways that I was not.  I will try everything within my power to aid students in becoming the best musicians they can be through different teaching methods.



I will play the intro and tell you when to play!

(Bb  C  Dm  F) x3

(Bb  F/A  C) x2

(Gm/Bb  Bb  F/A  C) x4

Gm                                       F

When   she   was   just   a   girl

Dm                             C
She   expected   the   world

Gm                                  F
But   it   flew   away   from   her   reach   so

Dm                            C
She   ran   away   in   her   sleep

Gm               Bb
And   dreamed   of   para – para – paradise,

F                 C                 Gm               Bb

Para – para – paradise,   para – para – paradise

F                       C
Every time she closed her eyes.

  1. Discuss notes needed for chords.
  2. Explain rhythm.
  3. Pass out BoomWhackers.
  4. Play recording for class.
  5. Have class play through song after listening.
  6. Now let’s sing while we play! Your brains will be working hard for this one.
  7. Good job! As you listen to your favorite music outside of class, think about the rhythm and what notes you think might fit. Bring me a short list with your thought on this. Keep your listening ears on! See you Thursday!

The student will Demonstrate proper use of classroom instruments.    P.5.3.1

The student will Select pitches for some of their favorite songs.    R.7.3.1

The Gruffalo

My favorite book when I was growing up was Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo.  For a long time, I couldn’t find anything about this book. Today, you’re in luck, because I found it! Now let’s explore the Deep Dark Wood!

Behind The Gruffalo

gruffalo Publisher: Macmillan Publishers (March 23, 1999)

Sing “The Gruffalo Song“, “Hickory, Dickory, Dock”, “Three Blind Mice”

Listen to Ollie Heath rap the book, Debussy’s ‘Prelude a l’Apres-midi d’un faun

Instruments: Play the vibraslap when the snake comes, temple blocks when the fox comes, slide whistle when owl comes

Create: What would a Gruffalo sound like?

Rhythm: Say phrases like “He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws” together.

Movement: Slither like a snake, fly like an owl, and pad like a fox

Art Activities: Masks, coloring pages, and recipes


Today, we’re going to learn one of my favorite songs! This poem is set to one of Mozart’s most simple melodies, and it is really catchy.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!