What’s Plan B?


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.


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!


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!