Thanks, Leslie and Deb!

This wonderful concert etiquette idea comes from district colleagues, Leslie Jarod and Deborah Edwin.   I love it because I think the words might have more impact coming from students!  Follow link for instructions and script.



Thank you Leslie and Deb!  Great idea!


Worth Every Hour

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve figured out that one of my favorite things to do is to design a solution to a daily problem that is bugging me.

Listen, friend, I am about to share one of my favorite brain-a-maniac ideas which took several hours…no, really…days… to accomplish, but, “Boy, oh, boy!” has it made my teaching life easier!  LOVE IT!!!!

I uploaded every single CD in our music rooms onto a portable hard-drive!

You might want to read that again!

I uploaded every single CD in our music rooms onto a portable hard-drive!

In addition, I compiled a Hard Drive Notebook (2 1/2′ ring binder) into which I placed a Master Table of Contents for every recording contained, an index for each individual CD, the textbook series master index manual for new and old series, Music K-8 index, etc.


The hard drive is connected to my computer at all times and I carefully keep up with updates and additions.  When I need a recording, no more walking across the room for an index from the cabinet, walking to another cabinet for the correct CD, back to my computer to get to the track!

I use this resource DAILY and I thank myself for it every time!  🙂  It was well worth every hour of labor!

Did you notice the colored tabs?  Sigh………..

Run To Target!

If you shop at Target, be sure to check out their $1 aisle this week for amazing finds!


The BINGO cards could be used in, oh, so many ways and the wee erasers and pumpkins would be perfect for all sorts of games and/or melodic or rhythmic decoding activities.


The ideas are endless, but do be aware that their tiny size could be a choking hazard so be careful if using with young children.

Boo-ti-ful but you’d better run….they’ll be gone!

Triangle Stress Quick Fix!

Yes, triangles are a true ringer when it comes to an instrument children love to play;  however, I’m certain you have experienced triangle stress when those wily little shapes of steel turn and twist as children are attempting to catch an edge to strike. And, let’s just talk about how easily they slip off the holder when passed around.  Eek!!!!!

Well……have I got a tip for you that YOU WILL LOVE!

This summer, my daughter and I completed Orff I under specialist Deborah Imiolo,  who is also an Eastman School of Music trained percussionist.  What an inspiration……she is terrific!  Let me tell you, after she shared this idea, I rushed to Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, bought the supplies and in a flash, I built five PERFECT, cheap triangle holders.


You will need a 2 1/2″ piece of string trimmer line, a wooden knob for each holder, small wire cutters and needle nosed pliers.  In addition, you will need a strong permanent glue.  I keep a tube of E6000 at home and school.  It actually holds better than super glue but is not an instant dry.  Permanent, baby!


Really, all you do is push a generous amount of glue into the hole of the knob (I used a toothpick).  Use the wire cutters to cut a slight, slanted trim on both ends of the piece of line so that it will squeeze into the hole more easily.  Insert one end of the line into the knob hole and then use the pliers to force the other end as far as can.  Really twist and push the line into the hole for a tight fit.  Wipe of the excess glue around the hole if you wish.

Allow the holder to dry for 24 hours before use.


PERFECT!!!  No more “Eek!”

Teachers Make A Difference

Well, Blog Friends, you may have noticed that I have not posted in a while.  The simple, yet devastating reason is that I lost Stan, my dear husband of 26 years, on May 4, of a sudden cardiac arrest.  Stan was remarkable in life and managed to squeeze a lot of significance into 57 short years.

A professional violist, he played for weddings, parties, concerts, Broadway shows and for numerous famous people and dignitaries across his career.  He was actually on a gig, treasured viola in hand, when he collapsed.

Stan taught public school orchestra for 28 years, 18 in middle school and 10 in high school. We, as teachers, can take inspiration from the amazing impact he had on students over these years for he changed hundreds of lives with his love and knowledge of music, his character, and his involvement with their individual lives.  

Stanley Oakes-491
Oh, the outpouring of sentiment from his students and their families, past and present, as they spoke of his influence.  Let me tell you, teachers make a difference!  

This prose perfectly, perfectly reflects the life of Stanley J. Oakes.

to laugh
A devout Christian,  Stan freely gave his life and talent to the God he loved, serving the church in numerous capacities, including being a minister of music for over 30 years.

Together, we raised two beautiful daughters.  Victoria, married to Thomas, is an elementary music teacher and Alexandra is a senior in college.  As a family, we have enjoyed great times of music and travel.  Words cannot begin to express how much we will miss this man’s place in our family…..his ridiculous love of fun and dessert, his brilliant mind, his energy…..all of it.

One of Stan’s many remarkable traits was his steady, joyful approach to life and so, in his honor, we press on with tenacity and with joy. Thank you for allowing me to share my heart!

Stanley Oakes 4

Need an extra set of hands or two?

If you teach music, you know that there are plenty of times when you could use an extra set of hands or two….or three….or four…..right?

I built these several years ago and I use them in, oh, so many ways…….


such as reading or ostinati……


center management….


really-etc, etc, etc!

They are made of 3″ PVC pipe and are 2-1/2″ tall.  The base is an adaptor grate.  All the supplies can be purchased at a local hardware store and they literally take minutes to build.

I made four of them for about $20 each which is pretty cheap when one considers how much they simplify my daily routine!

Wouldn’t you like to have a set?  Here ya go…..Card Stand Project Plans

The next frontier?  I think I’m going to make a 5′ tall one…or two….and attach a bulldog clip.


Let me know what you think!

Rhythm Mini Cards


I use these little two-sided Rhythm Mini Cards with K-2 in a variety of ways……dictation, decoding, composing, etc.   Students are always excited about dry erase markers and are really interested in the smooth glass marbles and the tiny size of the card.

Last week, I bagged them (use a slider bag if you want  younger students to be able to close it) with a dry erase marker (Expo is the easiest to erase), a mini eraser (love the ones from The Markerboard People) and floral marbles from Walmart or Michael’s.


Trust me, you will save yourself some trouble by allowing the students a free draw/write before you get down to business.  They love to write their name and you can get the lesson started by having them decode their name.

We are always pushing ahead on decoding words, claps, etc. so depending on the age and skill level of the class, we use the marbles or writing or both as we move ahead.

Try them, you’ll like them!

Orff-anizer, anyone?

OK, Orff bars were driving me crazy!

Dealing with the bone piles of not-in-use bars (I like to take them completely off)……struggling with several quick reconfigurations a day…..matching bars to instruments quickly…..HELP!

So, being the problem solving gizmo that I am, I began to design some kind of holder that I could carry around as I moved bars off and on. I remembered the kitchen utensil holders I had seen at IKEA and knew that if I could figure out how to connect them and add a handle, I would be in business. After purchasing the cans, I headed to Home Depot to find materials that would complete my project. $30 dollars and very little effort later, I had a design (Orff-anizer Project Plans) which I have used for several years with great success.


I marked the bar ends per instrument (I know…….don’t have a heart attack!)


and use these markings to identify can and instrument.


I just pick it up, walk down the row of instruments, reconfiguring the bars to my heart’s delight!


The Muffin Man

Here’s a fun little game I made up several years ago for Do You Know the Muffin Man.  It is a great way to end class when you have a few extra minutes.

Do You Know the Muffin Man-1

I made my wee 1-1/2″ Muffin Man from a Kid Counter I bought at Lakeshore but of course, you can use any little Muffin Man you wish.


GAME INSTRUCTIONS:  Choose a child to be IT.  The teacher tells IT the general area where the Muffin Man will be hidden.  IT then sits on a chair in front of the classroom, facing away from the class and with eyes closed while class sings first verse and the teacher hides the Muffin Man.  On the second verse, IT jumps up and rushes to find the Muffin Man before the end of the verse.  If IT finds the man, he gets another turn.  If he fails to find the man, another student is chosen to be IT and game begins again.  Be sure to sing the song slowly to provide as much time as possible to hide and hunt.  Be very crafty and creative when hiding the Muffin Man and make sure that part of him is visible to the hunter.  You’ll be surprised how difficult it is for children to see him even though he is in plain sight.  Remind the children to withhold hints and call-outs during the search and be prepared for ‘lots of giggles!

On the chalk rail…..


in the tissue box…….


in a basket……


in the marker drawer…….


on top of a shelf……..



Technology Makes the World Go ‘Round!

I love music!  I love teaching music!  And, here it is…….I love all the glorious technology that makes teaching music easier!

Trust me, I know what it is like to move from a being a non-techno teacher who didn’t know anything about e-mail, typing, computers, internet….ANYTHING….. until about ten years ago when my principal….yes, that’s right, my principal….came into my room at the beginning of the year with a brand new computer and told me that I was to get busy!  So……I jumped in and have NEVER looked back!  I am fearless when it comes to technology and I want you to be as well because well-placed technology will change your teaching and your preparation!


I want to share several techno-tips that will make your job easier.  I promise!


Audacity is a free audio editing software program that I use several times a week to rearrange audio tracks, process homemade audio tracks, adjust tempo or pitch, etc. etc. etc!    It is incredible!  Here is a handy dandy link to a user’s manual, as well.



MuseScore is a another free program that I use many times a week to notate songs for blogging, workshop handouts, etc.  It is truly very simple to use.  Here is a link to the user’s manual.  There are also many, many instructional YouTube videos for just about every situation you can imagine!

musisync font

This is my newest acquisition and boy, is it easy and helpful!  MusiSync is a free font that allows you to type lines of rhythmic notation, say for a worksheet or assessment, with the spacing you desire instead of default spacing.  Although, it can be downloaded from many font sites,  I included the link from FontSpace.  The available character map is very difficult to read, so I created a MusiSync Character Map that makes it much easier.

Now…..jump in…..get busy…..BE FEARLESS!



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