“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”- Do-Re-Mi
These lyrics from The Sound of Music were racing through my mind as I arrived at Southeastern Louisiana University on October 29, 2015. I had been asked by Professor Mike Ruybalid to speak to the students in his Elementary Music Methods course that evening. The purpose of this presentation was to give his students an overall picture of the best practices in elementary general music.
I began with sharing strategies for getting the school year started: lesson planning, seating charts, behavior management, grade books, and classroom organization. Next, I spoke about my favorite technological resources. This included websites like the New York Philharmonic’s www.nyphilkids.org for students and websites for teachers like http://www.musicbulletinboards.net/. I also spoke about various websites for professional organizations and music education groups on social media. Then, I turned my attention to questioning and assessment strategies. As I talked about the resources that have greatly influenced my evolution in assessing musical skills, the students eagerly perused my materials and books.
Along with my presentation, I was asked to give a demonstration lesson. For this lesson, I shared an activity for creating ostinatos (a short, repeated pattern) with body percussion. I then explained how to extend this activity to notating ostinatos using quarter rests, quarter notes, and eighth notes. When the students were asked to come up with other ideas for extending this activity further, they were at first stumped. After contemplating for a few minutes, the ideas started flowing and the excitement began to build as they collaborated.
At the conclusion of my presentation, the students asked me many questions. From curriculum planning to philosophical inquiries, I enjoyed this time for discussion. In the end, I left grateful for this opportunity to go back to “the very beginning”, and reflect on my growth as an educator.