Jedi Music

A Resource for the Beginning Elementary Music Teacher


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly"

There are many book versions of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" out there; I included this one illustrated by Pam Adams just because it's the one I own.  It is a nice big size to share in class and includes die-cut holes in the pages to see each animal swallowed.

This is a great book and song to include early in the school year, because there is a variety of different "Old Lady" holiday variations to include throughout the year.

Here are my ideas for incorporating "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" in your music class:


Marvelous Music Makers for Music Ed: "The Hill Brothers"

As the first of my "Marvelous Music Makers", I'd like to introduce..."The Hill Brothers" (and Hill sister, Suzie)! At the beginning of each new school year, I use their "3R's: Respect, Responsibility, and Reading" CD for the first five weeks of school with my first graders. As one of our veteran paraprofessionals recently said to a new staff member, "You'll hear it until your ears bleed!"

The group is based out of upstate New York, but they have traveled down to our school in Western Pennsylvania twice in the past six years. The Hill Brothers give an excellent live show; they involve the audience, and leave behind infectious tunes remembered for months to come.


Great Expectations

As a student, I always hated "THE RULES". Of course, without rules life would be chaos, but there was always a part of me that resented being told what to do! Even as a teacher, I resist saying "Follow the rules". Instead, I ask my students to "Fulfill my expectations".


How are my grades? (Update 1)

This year, I am teaching in a new school, along with another school I've had for some time.  In order to learn the students' names, I allow the students to Grade the Teacher.

At the beginning of the class, I give one student the job of tallying my mistakes (if any) and writing my score on the board.  This generates a lot of interest on the part of the students!  Here are my grades so far:


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "We're Going on a Leaf Hunt"

Happy first day of fall!  While I'm personally not looking forward to raking all of the leaves that will soon be falling at my house, I don't mind an autumn-themed music lesson centered around a fun book for my early childhood students.  Patterned after "We're Going on a Bear Hunt", this book by Steve Metzger is a great introduction to the fall season for your youngest students. "We're Going on a Leaf Hunt" lends itself well to many musical extensions.

Do you have access to an Ellison die-cutter? If so, you can use it to cut out the various colored leaves you will need for this lesson.  If not, you can develop your own leaf pattern; I recommend using google image.


Worthy Website for Music Ed: Creating Music

Wouldn't I love to be a teacher who has access to class computers for music??!! There are so many great ways to reinforce your lessons with Morton Subotnick 's Creating Music site!  Because I don't have access to computers for our music class, I recommend this site for students and parents to explore on their own time at home, and include it on a list on my edline page.  The goal of the Creating Music website is to "provide an environment for children to experience creative play in the creation of music, with the same ease they have been able to enjoy with toys, drawing tools, building blocks, puppets, etc." I recommend this site for students in grades K-3.

Some of the highlights of this site are:


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "Rock it, Sock it, Number Line"

"Rock it, Sock it,
Number Line!
Numbers and Veggies-
Party Time!"
"Rock it, Sock it, Number Line" by Bill Martin, Jr. and Michael Sampson has been on my son's book shelf since it was lovingly given to him by his preschool teacher back in 2007. This is a very silly book about veggies partying in the garden until they are finally made into vegetable soup. 

My very youngest group of special needs students work hard learning to count to ten.  To help with this skill, we use a song called "The Numbers Jump" (on a very old CD that I cannot find a link for online), and also Rachel Rambach's song "Counting Time", which we use constantly and adapt for the seasons and holidays.  "Rock it, Sock it, Number Line" is the newest "weapon" in my "arsenal" of supplements to help my students master counting to ten!  I recently adapted it for music class with great sucess!  Here is what I did:


September Education Buzz

Ahhh...the weekend! It's here after our first five-day week of the year, and it's a great time do check out the Meet the Teacher Edition of the Education Buzz–Life's a Carnival, hosted by Richie at Bellringers! I'll be taking some of my busy weekend time (between going to a workshop for cooperating teachers at SRU on Saturday and hosting my youngest child's third birthday party on Sunday, with soccer, dance, and church thrown in the middle!) to read all of these terrific entries!

...and here's the birthday girl!


Children's Literature for Christian Music Ed: "One More River"

Joan Paley has adapted and beautifully illustrated the spiritual "One More River" in this book suitable for use in a Christian early childhood setting or Sunday school.

With our young students, this lengthy song going to be too challenging to sing all the way through.  Approach it as a call-and-response song, with the teacher as leader singing the verses (call) and the students always singing "There's one more river to cross." (response)

It will be useful to play a recording of "One More River" as the children are coming to class, or perhaps during their playtime.  As a teacher in a Christian school, or Sunday school, collect CDs of Bible songs, hymns, and children's Christian music for use in your classroom.  Hearing the music often will help them get the tune in their ear even before you introduce the song. And since there are so many great hymns out there, the children will be exposed to the music even if you don't get a chance to teach it directly.


FREEEE music for instrumental music teachers!

Usually, I know that my posting leans heavily into the vocal/general side of elementary music, but that is just what I am most familiar with.  One of my new goals is to get more content here for the instrumental teachers, so that Jedi Music can be a more complete resource for the elementary music teacher.

It may seem like I'm rushing into the Christmas season in mid-September, but music teachers always have to think ahead!  Fun Music Company is offering this FREE holiday percussion ensemble piece, an arrangement of "Sleigh Ride".  For so many of us who have little to no budget to work with this school year, this could be a blessing!  The PDF file contains separate pages for all of the parts, as well as a conductor's score.

You can also download a free e-book of seven other percussion pieces, compliments of Kevin Tuck.



Well, now I am officially a boring is my 36th birthday, and the greatest and most exciting gift that I've given myself is that I finally paid off my student loans!!!

It's a party up in here!! Help yourself to some "Yoda Cake"!

or perhaps a "Yoda Cookie" is more your style?


Worthy Website for Music Ed: Noteflight


Noteflight is a fantastic resource for music educators.  Noteflight® is an online music writing application that lets you create, view, print and hear music notation with professional quality, right in your web browser. You can work on a score from any computer on the Internet, share with other users, or embed into your own pages. Anyone can sign up for a free account, or purchase a Noteflight Crescendo enhanced membership.  Any of the notation that I've included on my blog to illustrate a rhythm or melody that I use is embedded here from Noteflight.


Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, I was in my third year of teaching, but beginning the first year as a third grade classroom teacher in the small Catholic school that I attended as a child. It was a beautiful sunny Pennsylvania morning and summer still lingered in the air. My students were busily humming in their newly-learned morning routines.

Our principal rapped on the door and beckoned me to the hall, where she had also summoned the other three teachers on our floor. She explained that two planes had crashed in New York City, and that something seemed to not be quite accidental about the crashes. Promising to keep the teachers posted, she requested that we not share the information with our students.


Mystery Singers: How the Legend Began

One of the best ideas I ever came up with was the "Mystery Singer". In my building, Mystery Singers are a great way to promote our music program, and they enthusiastically perform for the school each Friday morning.

Once upon a time, almost five years ago, our principal was spending long hours digging in the earth around our school. No, foul play is not a part of this mystery story, he was searching for a long-overdue-to-be-exhumed time capsule, which was buried in the spring of 1986.  The expiration on this capsule was 20 years, and it was late fall of 2006 before our principal finally unearthed it.  I missed the big day, along with the assembly that followed because I was on maternity leave with my second child.  Among other treasures of the 80s was an original school song, composed by a previous music teacher.  On my first day back to school after my maternity leave, the copy of the song landed on my desk, along with a request to "do something with it."

Hmmm. OK, then.  What to do? I didn't want to take a lot of class time to teach the song, because I wanted there to be a purpose for learning the song.  But, it didn't seem like a good song for a performance either...Then I started thinking about a first grade teacher I knew who had parents be "Mystery Readers" and surprise their children by coming to the class to read a book. Could "Mystery Reader" become "Mystery Singer"???


More Great Tips for the Music Education Interview

As music educators interviewing for a teaching job, we have some special instances that are unlike a classroom teaching job interview. Kelly Riley has written some great Interview Tips for Music Teachers.   Miamiflute also gives great insights into the interview process with Interview Questions for Recent College Grads.  It is worth checking out these articles to get that extra edge we all need in an interview situation.


Teacher Attitudes: What makes an impression on your students?"

Recently, I attended an excellent workshop for cooperating teachers at Slippery Rock University. Part of the presentation included a discussion panel of five university students, ready to embark on their student teaching assignments this fall.  The students answered a series of questions about their needs, skills they want to improve, and concerns that they will bring to the student teaching experience.  Finally, the students were asked about attributes of their own most memorable teachers.


September Music Education Blog Carnival!

Sing Imagination is hosting the Music Education Blog Carnival for the month of September... and one of my posts is included!!! Sweet!

As if our minds aren't swimming in enough to think about at this back-to-school time, Yoon presents a plethora of terrific resources for music education, music technology, music advocacy, music listening and performance review, music hardware/software, and music tips/learning reflection. I can't wait to start reading, I just have to find the time! Please check out the carnival!


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "One Little, Two Little, Three Little Apples"

Here is a well-known counting tune ("Ten Little Indians" or "Michael Finnigan") re-written by Matt Ringler for a fall apple harvest theme. "One Little, Two Little, Three Little Apples" is nice and calming for the last five minutes of your class when you want your students to be winding down.

This book is appropriate for your students in Preschool, Kindergarten, and First grade, and fits in nicely with a fall/apple/harvest theme.  The counting repetitions are also going to be helpful for use with your special needs students.

The two children in the story-song are apple picking with their parents and grandfather, and while Mom and Dad are preparing an apple pie, Grandpa and the kids go back outside for some fall fun: jumping in leaves and playing ball. When the pie is finished, the entire family enjoys eating freshly baked apple pie.

Here are some of my ideas for incorporating this book in your music class: