Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday Reflection: Never Stop Learning

Three years ago, my student teacher sparked my interest in the ukulele and I began teaching myself how to play. During these years, I have fallen in love with this tiny instrument. Since then, I acquired a class set of ukuleles and began adjusting my curriculum. I even began teaching private lessons on the ukulele and now have a private studio which is growing steadily. Not only has the ukulele changed my teaching, it has also changed my life as a musician.

I have never been a confident singer, but last month I attended my first ukulele open mic night at a coffee shop. I've played for my students countless times with no problems, but I definitely felt nervous as I stepped on stage for an audience of strangers. It had been years since I had felt those performance jitters. It was a great experience to remind me of how my students may feel when I ask them to sing solo in class.

Last Friday, I went to the ukulele open mic for a second time. I felt more confident and my daughter even joined me on stage for one song. She was a little nervous but she is excited to go back next month and try a new song.

Three years ago, I would have never imagined that I would perform at an open mic. I am so grateful for this tiny instrument which has completely changed my life. The ukulele has reminded me of why I fell in love with music. It made me go through the process of learning again which has also made me a better teacher. Great teachers never stop learning. So, stretch beyond your comfort zone and become a beginner again. You're never too old to try something new.

I hope to post more tips on teaching ukulele in the classroom and learning ukulele as an adult.
Click this link to see more  Ukulele Posts.

Click this link if you would like to see videos of me performing on ukulele.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday Reflection: Orff Bar Storage

I am very fortunate to have a large collection of Orff instruments. I am also very fortunate to have a large space to allow most of the instruments to remain out at all times and still have open space for movement. Here is a glance of my Orff set-up. You can view a full tour of my room on this post.

I feel like I have a pretty good system for my instruments ... except for my accidentals. For years, I have kept the accidentals separated in Ziploc bags in a basket on the shelf. When we needed F# or Bb I would have to pass the bags out. Matching the correct bag to the correct instrument was very time consuming. I knew I needed a new system and kept trying to brainstorm solutions. 

Last May, I started saving empty containers of disinfectant wipes. I removed the labels and then used zip ties to attach them to the instruments. I have a few instruments on rolling stands.  These containers were attached to the legs of the stand and the weight rested on the bottom brace. I used 2 zip ties on the top and 2 zip ties on the bottom. 

Most of my instruments sit flat on the floor. I first measured the height of the instrument so the container could sit right below the edge of the top piece of wood. I cut the container easily with a box cutter. The instrument pictured below is Sonor Primary line. There are threaded holes already in these instruments to attach legs which are purchased separately.  I used these holes to feed the zip ties through. It took 3 zip ties to secure these containers through the holes.

The Sonor alto metallophones sit a little taller and didn't need as much trimming. 

I have a couple older Sonor instruments that have pressed wood boxes. These instruments were taller and the containers did not need trimmed at all. They also had metal threads for legs, but there was not a hole going through the wood box. I used a drill to create a small hole through the wood inside the threaded hole. 

I'm so pleased with this new system. I was afraid there may be rattling from the bars vibrating against each other, but we have been playing with them a few weeks and I haven't noticed any noises. My older students have done a great job switching the bars and returning the naturals back when they were finished. The students have also used the containers for extra mallet storage. Since I used zip ties, these containers can be easily removed and then replaced if needed.

The best thing about this system is that it was practically free! I bought some zip ties at a discount store for just $2. In May, I also asked the classroom teachers to send me their empty wipe containers. Since they were cleaning for summer, I quickly accumulated enough for my instruments. 

How do you store your accidentals? Share below if you have a great idea that others may want to copy.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday Reflection: Creating

Today's reflection focuses on "Creating" in the music room. Watch below to learn more about how I introduce composition to my students.

Here are some links to learn more about things referenced in this video: