What’s Plan B?

Wily-Coyote

I once heard the quote that if Plan A doesn’t work, not to worry. There are 25 other letters in the alphabet. Sometimes it is very necessary to have many back up plans. As I mentioned in the previous post, this is the time of year I and several of my co-workers tend to be stricken with various illnesses.  I was asked by one of the substitutes what I do when things happen like losing my voice. I didn’t even hesitate to answer sharing some of my back up plans. I would love to hear what some of your plans are. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorites.

Disney-PeterandtheWolf1946

This is one of my favorite musical stories to share. Peter and the Wolf is perfect whether as a brand new story introducing instruments of the orchestra to Kindergarten through 2nd grade or recognizing themes for 3rd through 5th grade!

RR logo classic

Another treasure to have in your bag of tricks. There are many episodes of this that would be great for a music room. 2 of my favorite episodes are ‘Zin Zin Zin a Violin‘ and ‘Hip Cat‘.  Zin Zin Zin talks about sizes of ensembles and gives a behind the scenes sneak peek at the Julliard Pre-College Orchestra. Hip Cat is a lovely introduction to jazz and improvisation. I love to do some improvisational dance along with this video.

My partner and I have been known to have centers on that day using a musical signal to switch centers.  Our centers usually involve our personal music book library as a reading station, an art center where students might create an instrument from recyclable objects or sketch their new version of an instrument, another center might be a listening center for students to follow along with a story to a recording. We also have access to a couple of laptop carts for a technology day once in a while. I’ll do a more tech focused blog in the near future.

Of course there are always ways to shift gears to help save voice and keep going with whatever unit you are on. For instance, switching from a melodic focus to a more rhythmic focus. It is also an awesome time for students to take ownership of the lesson and their learning. There are always students willing to help.

I think I’ve rambled on enough for now, but I’ll be back soon with more news about the happenings with my students and other hints, tips, etc. for you to use!

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Vocal Health

It’s that time of year. You know what I mean. The time of year when the temperatures change and there are a lot of things in the air that irritate us. No… I’m not talking about government or any other touchy subject that is likely to get someone on their soapbox. I’m referring to cold and flu season.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it happens about now not necessarily due to the time of year seasonally, but due to the weird flux of stress that occurs.  For example, I am almost certain that I am dealing with major allergies because I’ve been in high performance stress for these first 9 weeks of school for our annual dance program. Now I’m shifting gears to a more “typical”classroom routine, still preparing for performances, but no where near the intense level we were at previously.

As such, I’m doing what we should all do which is to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. It is important to not try to sing through conditions like this since what has happened usually is that your vocal chords have been overused and are needing the rest. I tell my students all the time that talking is actually one of the worst things for your vocal chords. Singing actually works with your vocal chords more naturally and is gentler with the muscles than talking. Of course whispering is definitely better than talking to rest your vocal chords since whispering does not engage this set of muscles. Whispering also helps with overall voice levels in your class as the students tend to be at what voice level you the teacher set. Food for thought, you know?

By the way, our dance program was a roaring success! Many thanks go out to the food trucks that provided dinner and dessert for us (Let Em Eat Brats, Funky Monkey Munchies, and Kona Ice), our supportive co-workers and administration, and of course our community of families! We had over half of the school in attendance with their families. The students continue to raise the bar for themselves challenging us to find new ways to challenge them. I’ll be updating soon with a few pictures from the event. For now, I’m off to drink some more water and get some rest!

It’s showtime!

I know a lot of references for my title, but they are not what I’m referring to in this blog. This week is the week of our school’s big dance program entitled this year as “Broadway on 2nd St.” As the title suggests, we are doing a Broadway musicals theme and everyone is getting involved. The night will go something like this:

School ends and busses leave our parking lot about 4:20. Set up for the event starts including food truck staging, sound system checks, parking cones put up around the perimeter so people know where they can set up their lawn chairs and blankets for seating, people start claiming their seats all within about 30 minutes of the busses leaving.

We then settle in for the actual dinner and social time before the program, but once the program starts you have to hold on tight and pay attention. The students will sit with their families while not performing. Our teachers will dance first this year to start the program. This is a tradition that hasn’t been done for a couple of years, but we couldn’t resist. Then each grade level will perform 2 dances; 1 PE and 1 music. To finish the night, everyone participates in a community “dance” that involves parents and children alike. Once this is done, everyone says their good nights, packs up, and goes home while myself, my partner, and our PE alter egos take everything down and put it away for the night.

Now you’re probably wondering, “But Mrs. Fusilier! With such a broad topic as Broadway musicals, how and what did you choose to use for your performance?”Well, wait no longer because here is the list:

Teacher Dance: Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast

Kindergarten: All Star from Shrek (music) and Olly the Octopus (PE)

1st Grade: Step in Time from Mary Poppins (music) and Oompa Loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (PE)

2nd Grade: Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly (music) and Singing in the Rain (PE)

3rd Grade: Seize the Day from Newsies (music) and There’s No Business Like Show Business (PE)

4th Grade: Trashing the Camp from Tarzan (music) and Footloose (PE)

5th Grade: Hard Knock Life from Annie Jr (music) and Hand Jive from Grease (PE)

Community “Dance”: So Long, Farewell from Sound of Music

If you happen to be interested in these dance, please just email me, musicteacherfusilier@gmail.com, and I will gladly share those with you. And please remember to keep dancing like no one is watching!

Let’s get started!

Greetings and salutations!  My name is Mrs. Heather Fusilier and this is my blog to share the happenings and behind the scenes of my musical world! So a little bit about myself for starts…

This is my 10th year teaching in USD 259 Wichita Public Schools. I started teaching officially in August of 2006 after receiving my degree from Wichita State University in music education. I have training in vocal and instrumental music. Besides singing I play piano, violin, viola, cello, recorder, and am currently trying to learn guitar.

In my 10 years I spent many years being shared between at least 2 schools and have taught in about a quarter of the elementary schools in our district. I have had a couple rare occasions of having my own classroom. However, I more frequently traveled from room to room on a cart and am currently sharing the one music room at Dodge Literacy Magnet team teaching with my partner, Resheta Patton.

This is my 4th year teaching at Dodge and once again we are preparing for our annual dance program. Past themes have been Boogie on the Blacktop for Halloween favorites, Party Around the Planet experiencing a little taste from different cultures, and Dancing Through the Decades where the students learned a bit about music history.  This year’s theme is equally fun and is entitled “Broadway on 2nd St.” featuring many popular Broadway musicals to showcase each grade level, the teachers, and even involving the audience.  Before the program each year, we invite our school community to dinner. In the past our PE teachers, Kim Morrissey and Kyle Small, have provided the main dish for the meal. However, the last couple of years we have started being served by our local food truck vendors such as The Flying Stove and Funky Monkey Munchies.

The night to remember is Thursday, September 24th! Dinner will start roughly around 5 p.m. with the dance starting about 6:30 p.m. Come early to find parking and don’t forget your lawn chairs and blankets for seating. We’ll be set up in our parking lot at the corner of 2nd St. and Anna here in Wichita, Kansas. So if you are in the neighborhood, stop on by! We’d love to see you!