Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Inspiration vs Punishment

I have always been able to inspire students to succeed.  I have never had to punish students to succeed.  I believe igniting a love for music and a passion for excellence through a positive environment leads to continued participation and contribution to the arts.  (Just to clarify - I am not incapable of discipline, and "positive environment" does not equal a lack of structure).  In the past, student dedication and teacher/parent support have allowed me to create and nurture young musicians in this positive manner, and the results have been life-changing for all involved.  I now battle lack of support and a general satisfaction with mediocrity, combined with thinning materials, exploding class size/numbers, and more responsibilities.  The magic of past years has vanished.

My goal this summer is to find a solution/balance for having had to sacrifice many of my beliefs as a teacher in order to produce functioning programs.  As it stands, the schedule and responsibilities for next year will remain as they were this year.  In fact, I believe another section of Kindergarten will be added (in combination with cuts in art and PE).  Something has to give, and I am not yet willing to have that something be the magic of inspiration.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Update May 2012

Well, this has been an interesting year.  Needless to say I never got to post any thoughts or ideas regarding music education books/writings.  I had every intention, but roundabout November, my focus turned to survival mode.  I felt a strange kindred to Katniss's plight; the feeling of being in a fight to the death/odds against you environment/the current everyday classroom...

I love challenges; working on problems and finding solutions, and as a student (and thus far as a teacher), I find the answers, or at least viable solutions.  Yet I now find myself unable to reconcile my current situation.  Every day I fight to bury the rising cynicism, seeing the person I will become if I don't change now.  I am heading down a dangerous path that ends in a half-lived and overworked life.  Never once have I questioned my desire to teach...but I am not who I want to be, and that will change, starting today.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Personal Goals for Reading Literature

In order to maintain the learning momentum started this summer, and to keep my brain muscles working out, I am going to read and interpret a variety of books with the intent of summarizing their impact on Music Education, moving through chapters and topics synthesizing what Music Educators can infer from the reading. I've put together a list of books from my shelf, some new and some I will be revisiting. They are:

"Constructing a Personal Orientation to Music Teaching" ~ Campbell, Thompson, Barrett

"Sound Ways of Knowing" ~ Barrett, McCoy, Veblen

"On Musicality and Milestones" ~ Zimmerman, Campbell

"A Philosophy of Music Education, Advancing the Vision, 3rd Edition" ~ Reimer

"Transforming Music Education" ~ Jorgensen

"In Search of Education - The Case for Constructivist Classrooms" ~ JG Brooks, MG Brooks

"Frames of Mind" ~ Howard Gardner

"5 Minds for the Future" ~ Howard Gardner

"Psychology of Music" ~ Seashore

"The Inner Game of Music" ~ Green, Gallwey

There may be more added, but this is the tentative list. This blog will be used to record reactions, wonderments, inferences, and impacts gleaned from the reading.

Stay tuned!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Diagram of the Facets Model
view original at:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Project 2: Curriculum and Context Prospectus

Melinda Feldmann

Project 2: Curriculum & Context Prospectus

This project gives me the chance to outline basic curriculum ideas. This is the first sketch and will be filled out in time.

1. Basic Idea

I would like to develop a year-long curriculum for K-6 general music based on Umbrella Big Idea terms. I’m considering the Many Roles of the Musician as the Umbrella term, with the Big Ideas being Listener, Creator, Critic, Performer, etc. Lessons will relate back to these roles and establish continuity while providing a framework for project based learning.

2. Focus

I want a general plan to follow to eliminate the stress of “coming up” with a curriculum. With these ideas as my focus and the focus for the classroom, it gives me a starting point while not limiting me to a structured routine that is planned months in advance. For example, I may know that I will be doing a project under the role of listener and creator, and that a project for being a performer may follow, but I don’t have to define that the performer project starts October 5th. It also allows for overlapping roles, the connections are constantly being made, but there is a primary role being focused on.

3. Identify the Scope through a Rationale

I would like to attempt to outline a year-long curriculum, and begin filling in activities within the curriculum. I have taught for 3 years and would like a plan of action for the year. I believe I’m at the point where I can attempt a year-long curriculum for K-6 general music.

4. Identify and Describe the Context for this Curriculum

I am working in a triple graded pre-k through 6th elementary school in a community where three different towns are combined. There is a wide range of income levels and socio-economic situations, from very poor, to farmers, to middle class, to very wealthy. There is a very tiny percentage of minority students. There are 3 elementary schools in the district, and one combined middle and high school. I will be the only music teacher in the building, save the teacher that comes in for 4th grade beginning band. I will be in charge of general music, chorus, and 5th and 6th grade band. Chorus and Band meet once a week for 30 minutes. I will see each general music class once a week for 40 minutes. Pre-k I will see for 20. I will have my own room, with a Promethean board and an Elmo, along with one computer and general music instruments and books. There is no set curriculum at this time, and I have relatively free reign to explore ideas in class.

This is a new district that I will be working in, so I am not familiar yet with the inner workings and dynamics of my particular building, but I have worked for this district as music director for their high school musical for the past two years. I would like to cultivate a sense of self-motivation and curiosity that will lead to exploration of the world on their own, rather than having things fed to them. The community at large is also quite conservative, and I worry that too much change will be met with resistance. The position I am taking is a combined position of the general music teacher with the band teacher, both of whom were there for 30 years or so. I am stepping into an environment that has not seen big changes in 30 years.

I think students will benefit from my curriculum ideas with a new sense of interest and personal importance of music. I think they will discover how to learn and experience music in a new and beneficial way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I am increasingly becoming aware of the importance of context for music education and education as a whole...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Significant Seven Project Response

This Post is a response to Janet Barrett's Significant Seven Project.

The purpose of this project is to give music educators the chance to map out curricular needs and interests in light of where you've been, where you are now, and where you think you'll be soon when you return to (or move into) the classroom, drawing on experience, readings, conferences, presentations, and any other source of insight you may have.

  1. Autobiographical Reflections as a Learner

Positive and negative experiences have helped shape my history of learning. Looking back at the strongest positive memories, they were centered around achievement or personal significance. It feels good to succeed in learning and explore the world, and that helped me with my frame of mind as a teacher. “I remember how I felt when…” is a phrase I’m sure most teachers have spoken in regards to their reaction to given teaching circumstances ~ both positive and negative. Your personal learning history is the context from which you have come. I use my insight to have understanding, compassion, and empathy for my students.

  1. Treasured Values as a Teacher

I believe in creating an experience for students that will help them succeed in their musical goals. I love to help students find their niche in music, whatever that niche may be. I believe in pushing students to be at their best level, whatever level that may be. I stress individuality and personal journey in music. I value being and teaching how to be a good person, modeling and guiding students on what it means to be a kind person, and how to show respect. I love exploration, trying out new ideas and exploring new topics with my students. I love helping kids find interest in music. I wish to continue with these ideas, and deepen the personal connection my students develop with music. I want to create new ideas and projects from which students can find new avenues of exploration within music.

  1. Fresh perspectives and New Ideas

I love project-based learning. I walk away excited about what it can mean for my students, and ideas are rolling in my head for applying the practices and beliefs of project-based learning. I love the idea of student-centered curriculum, with broad ideas that develop over the course of the semester through student inquiry. I really like the idea of criteria vs rubric style grading, and I am interested in exploring how to apply that to my classroom. I’m interested in connecting with other classrooms via the internet to share ideas and take our thoughts outside our classroom. I am excited about developing change regarding the relevance of classroom music, improving the connection for students’ lifelong learning in music.

  1. “Disposal Site”

I am ready to leave behind my lack of reflection prevalent in my teaching. I haven’t used reflection enough in my classroom, and didn’t fully understand the significance nor the benefit of reflection. I am ready to leave behind the idea of curriculum as purely content to be transmitted to students.

  1. Influencing your particular field of teaching

I have an imaginative and open mind regarding topic ideas for my classroom, and my energy and enthusiasm for creating a learning experience for my students can contribute to the learning environment at my school. I have patience and good humor, and listen to what people have to say. I can discuss differing opinions without getting angry or confrontational. I am younger and technologically savvy, and am willing to spend extra time to share what I know with my fellow colleagues, as well as take time to learn from them with respect. Through inquiry/questions, I can also lead them towards topics that may change their way of thinking in regards to how they teach music.

  1. Relating your work to music education as large

I am hoping that I can create ideas that will inspire other educators towards more creativity in the classroom. I want to find more ways of sharing ideas on projects, strategies and ideas with other educators, both in and outside my district. I would like to eventually house student teachers, and possibly provide observation opportunities for pre-service teachers, as well as possibly working with a partner to co-observe other in-service teachers. I’ll start with what I can do, and hopefully branch out and connect with like-minded as well as non like-minded teachers in the hopes of making a change in the underlying philosophy of music.

  1. Forging a focus for this semester

I would like to develop key big ideas from which I can gather ideas for projects. I want to establish my big picture, and how to help my students develop their big picture of music. I would like to create project samples that I can walk into class in the fall and use immediately. I would like to change my understanding of what curriculum means, and the potential for what it can be. I would like to develop criteria examples for projects. I would like to explore different methods of reflection. I would also like to explore how to bring the traditional classroom into the 21st century, and brainstorm to find ways of making the traditional ensembles etc. relevant to modern students.