|Teacher Idea Room
10 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity in
100th Day of School
A Day with John Jacobson
A Hundred Years
All-School Star-Spangled Banner
Back to School After Break
Big Instruments for Little Kids
Blue for Save the Music
Build Your Music Library with Music
Can Music and P.E. Form an Alliance?
Candy Wrapper Rhythms
Choreography for The Star Spangled
Christmas Sock Rock
Classic Arts Showcase
Classroom Tips to Start the New Year
Continued Success at the PEAK Festival
Country Line Dance
Create a Form
Create Your Own Marching Choir
December Holidays Around the World
Destination: America–A Big Hit In
Did You Know About National Board
Einstein Music Education Advocate's
Five Goals for
Musicians Young and Old
Foster School gets M.E. Award for Best
Give the Gift of Music
Good Advice for the First Day of Class
Gwyn Pellegrini–Winner of the 2003 Music
Express Survey Contest
Halloween Costume Concert
Have You Heard About The Teacher Tax
How Does Your Garden Grow?
John's Choreography on TV
Kimberly House – Winner of the 2004
Music Express Survey Contest
Magic Music Hat
Manipulatives for Melody
March Is Play-The-Recorder Month
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Music Express Archives
Music Express Bulletin Board
Music Express Ends the Year on a High
Music Express for Everyone!
Music Express Workshop Kit
Music Fast Facts for August/September
Music Fast Facts for December
Music Fast Facts for January/February
Music Fast Facts for March/April
Music Fast Facts for May/June
Music Fast Facts for October/November
Musical Review Bulletin Board
My Town, My World Tip
Names, Names, Names
New Calendar for the New Year
Oklahoma Teachers Enjoyed Music Express
Peak Festival–a Great Success
Presidents' Day March
Ready for a Summer Boost?
Recommended Web Sites for Elementary
Reflection on Parents and Teachers
Remember these? National Standards for
Reviving the May Pole
Justin Timberlake–Advocate for Music
Sesame Street Music Works
Shopping and Making Music?
Snow Songs a Big Hit!
Spread the Cheer
Suggestions for Funding
Summer Music Activities
The Best That I Can Be
The National Anthem Project
The Quest as a Theme
Trolley Car Ride
Up for the Challenge!
Veteran's Day Concert Idea
Warm Cinnamon-Orange Cider Recipe for
Why Do We Teach Music?
Milwaukee Sings! is a music festival that has been hosted by the
Milwaukee Children's Choir for the past five years. The festival
was developed based on the philosophy of John Jacobson's America
Sings! festivals: to combine community service and philanthropy
with the arts. The motto is: "To children who feel they have no
hope from children with hope to share."
We start in September by contacting all the public and private
elementary and middle schools in a five county area. Schools can
register singers for $15 per singer. This fee helps cover the cost
of running the festival and a T-Shirt. Most schools bring about
25-30 singers. The 2002 festival featured about 700 singers (one
side of a gymnasium!) Each teacher is responsible for teaching the
music in advance and for trying to bring a "balanced" group of
sopranos and altos to the festival that usually takes place on a
Friday night and Saturday in March or April.
Each school is assigned an item to collect and bring to the
festival for our designated community organization. This year we
collected school supplies and packed them in brand new backpacks
for children in the Milwaukee Women's Center, an emergency shelter
for families of domestic violence.
On the Friday evening we get everyone seated and start rehearsing.
Saturday brings more rehearsal, lunch (provided by parent
volunteers), a talent show, the service project and dinner
culminating in the evening concert.
Nothing can match the complete joy on the faces of the children
and the audience as they perform an exciting concert (accompanied
by a live band!). No admission is charged, but the audience is
invited to contribute to the chosen charity on their way out. Over
the past 5 years over $12,000 has been donated to Milwaukee-area
charities along with hundreds of donated food, baby and school
This year's festival "Love in Any Language" included two Music
Express songs: "Child of the World" by John Jacobson and John
Higgins and "Heroes All" by John Jacobson and Roger Emerson.
|How Does Your
Start with 350 "seeds" from kindergarten to grade three, add
teachers and parents and anyone else you can get to help,
organize, and nurture… and after four months, you will enjoy a
spring "bloom" filled with colorful sights, joyous sounds and
Without getting into the day-to-day weeding, pruning and
fertilizing of this process, I will pass on some quick notes that
I found helpful in putting together this production of John
Jacobson's inspired musical How Does Your Garden Grow?:
• Give your Principal the lead role as "Herb" the gardener. This
guarantees interest from the students and teachers alike.
• Get teachers on stage in vegetable costumes to help with stage
direction of the various flora/fauna (e.g. Weed coaches, Flower
• Give teachers a rehearsal tape for their class to listen to as
often as possible and work into their weekly activities.
• Get parent volunteers involved in making costumes and sets, as
well as to take photographs and assist with rehearsals.
• As early as possible, post a collage of rehearsal pictures to
generate interest and enthusiasm for the production.
• Dedicate the play to a cause or person. Our production was
dedicated to a young teacher and gardener who had recently
succumbed to cancer.
• Send invitations to prominent community members.
• Try to get some of the kids on a local radio station or
community cable TV station to stir up interest in the community
and generate excitement among the kids.
• Ask a local florist or garden shop to donate flowers and props.
We had kids hand out flowers to audience members during the
• Ask if a local grocer wants to set up a mini Farmer's Market at
the performance site to add to the gardening ambiance.
• As the audience arrives, have appropriate garden music playing
on the PA system. Our favorite was Tiny Tim's "Tip Toe Through the
• Adorn the gym/facility walls with the kids' art masterpieces
• Embrace the PROCESS of this production. Present everything with
enthusiasm… as if it's the most important thing they are about to
do. Have fun but expect lots!
May you all have green thumbs when it comes to staging this
|Did You Know About
National Board Certification?
Music educators who have been teaching for some time can pursue a
certificate that recognizes their higher level of expertise and
professional development. And most states and local districts give
incentives for the certificate!
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is
providing National Board Certification In "Early Childhood and
Middle Childhood Music" and "Early Adolescence through Young
Adulthood Music". For more information, visit the National Board
for Professional Teaching Standards website at www.nbpts.org, and
click on "Standards & National Board Certification" on the
left side of the page. To check on the incentive for your state,
click on "State & Local Support & Incentives."
|Have You Heard
About The Teacher Tax Break?
A new federal law has been passed giving teachers an
"above-the-line deduction of as much as $250 a year for
un-reimbursed classroom materials such as books, chalk, erasers,
paper and other supplies. It also includes computer equipment and
related software and services. This "above-the-line" deduction
means that it appears before the adjusted gross income on your tax
return, so you don't have to itemize your deductions to qualify.
|Trolley Car Ride
Some cities are lucky enough to have a Trolley Car service
available for transportation. These "buses" can also be rented for
special events such a weddings, etc. How about renting it for the
cast of your fall musical? Before the performance, all
participants can ride around the city in full costume to advertise
the musical. It's a great way to boost morale and get your city
involved (and at) the performances. If your musical has a country
theme, use a hayride.
Have your first concert of the year be the most eye-catching by
having all performers (plus director) dress up in costumes. After
the performance they may "parade" in front of the judge's panel
(selected teachers and/or administration) to be awarded prizes in
several categories at the end of the program. Here are some prize
suggestions: Most Scary, Most Original, Funniest, Most Unique,
etc. Prizes can be anything from a movie pass to a liter of soda.
My favorite activity uses Saint-Saëns "Danse Macabre." I have it
playing when the students enter the room, and I don't say a word.
Moving slowly, I indicate where they should sit for the day. It
doesn't take long for them to get "in the mood." After they're
settled in, I turn the volume lower and lower, until it's
inaudible. I turn out the classroom lights and turn on the
overhead projector, which displays a "Danse Macabre" listening
map. As they listen again, they take note of which instruments
represent which characters, actions, emotions, etc., while
following the listening map. Then the "real" fun begins (according
to the kids!) With most of the lights turned out (my room has no
outside windows), we break into groups and act out the music. We
have a fiddler dancing about and ghosts swirling and twirling—it's
always such a favorite of the kids that they ask to do on the last
day of music class for the year (which is their free choice day).
State Street School
Close your patriotic concert with a great rendition of "America
the Beautiful." Show a slide show of "American" photos in the
background while the choir sings. Suggested photos: mountains,
prairies, city skyline, ocean, wheat field, desert, Grand Canyon,
Statue of Liberty, American flag, etc. Ask your students for
family vacation photos that can be easily converted into slides.
One thing I do with my 5th and 6th graders that really helps them
learn composers is power point or newsletter presentations. They
work on researching composers in teams of at least two and no more
than four (co-operative learning). I give them a sample viewing
and a rubric before they start. I then have books and magazines
available as well as Internet and encyclopedia CD-ROMs available.
After plenty of time to research, they work on a power point
presentation or a newsletter (their choice). I have found adding
the computer in the research process sparks interest in the most
reluctant learner. This has also been very successful for all
levels of learners. The more advanced learners and the challenged
learners are able to produce equally outstanding presentations
National Standards for Music Education
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied
repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
5. Reading and notating music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performances.
8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and
disciplines outside the arts.
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.
I have each elementary music class for forty minutes. The last ten
minutes of each class time we play some type of music game to
reinforce music theory or singing skills.
Since December is so busy planning for performances, I have a
stand-by game that I play at every grade level to make my December
planning easier. They all love it!
I call it "Clap-a-Carol." It reinforces listening skills and
rhythm. I clap the rhythm to a familiar Christmas carol and choose
students to guess the carol. The student who guesses it correctly
gets to clap the next carol or choose someone else in the class to
do it for him/her.
San Jose Christian School
Timberlake–Advocate for Music Education
A wonderful new partnership took flight on Wednesday, June 12,
2002 when *NSYNC's Justin Timberlake, AMC's (American Music
Conference) new partner on behalf of music education, made a
special phone-in appearance on MTV's Total Request Live to
encourage teens to make music and help assure access to music
learning. Timberlake has founded his own pro-music organization,
the Justin Timberlake Foundation, and during his call to TRL he
announced his partnership with the AMC and also provided an
interview on the importance of music education that will be
targeted to publications like Time and Newsweek to help influence
policy-makers' decisions in the future. At www.amc-music.com they
will continually have updates on this exciting new relationship.
Music Education Advocate's Toolkit
The American Music Conference (AMC) is committed to providing
materials and tools so that people can become advocates for music
education and help to sustain and save music programs across the
country. You can order materials like the Music Education
Advocate's Toolkit, also known as the "Einstein" Kit from the AMC
website at www.amc-music.com, and click Music Advocacy Resources
or type "Einstein" in the search field. This kit includes advice
on making a school board presentation, materials for duplication
such as letters to parents, board members, etc., new releases,
power point presentations and research summaries that prove music
education increases student learning power. They also offer public
service announcements at no charge by well-known artists such as
Clint Black, Itzhak Perlman and Sting for your local radio
stations to use as community service spots.
Try a "Christmas traditions from Mexico" theme for your next
Holiday concert. Here's an easy recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate
or Chocolate Caliente.
6 cups of milk
6 oz sweet chocolate
6 oz semi sweet chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla
Dash of cinnamon
Heat the milk over medium flame.
Break the chocolate into pieces. When the milk is hot, dissolve in
it the chocolate pieces, moving constantly until everything is
Increase heat and let the mixture slowly boil.
Add the vanilla and the cinnamon.
Continue beating until frothy.
|10 Tips for
Keeping Your Sanity in December
1. Listen to your favorite holiday music every day on the way to
work and on your way home.
2. Keep a flower on your desk and smell it every day.
3. In between classes, do this Yoga stretch. Reach up as high as
you can, inhaling deeply. As you exhale, slowly bend over like a
rag doll. You don't have to touch the floor or your toes. You
don't even have to touch your knees. Just hang there and relax.
Then slowly roll up one vertebra at a time as you inhale. Stand
tall, exhale and welcome your next class.
4. When you get home, rub your feet with lotion and elevate them
while you watch your favorite holiday movie.
5. Take your best class caroling around the school during their
class period. Visit the office, the janitors, the cooks, the
library, and other classes (if they don't mind the interruption).
6. Make a list of the things you need to do that day, and praise
yourself when everything is crossed off!
7. Try to stay away from all the Christmas treats; they burn off
fast and leave you feeling drained. Try to munch on high protein
snacks that will last the whole day through.
8. Drink lots of water! Dehydration is one of the main causes of
fatigue. So, water equals energy.
9. Welcome each class with a different holiday song. Make a list
of songs next to the door and cross them off for each class as you
10. Hang up mistletoe and dare someone to step under it.
|Back to School
The elementary kids are always so eager to report to me what they
did on vacation. Since I have only 30 minutes once a week I made
up a little song to the tune of "Skip to My Lou:"
Our friend (student's name), what did you do?
Our friend (student's name), what did you do?
Our friend (student's name), what did you do?
What did you do on vacation?
Then each student answers back with one exciting thing they did on
Dr. Lewis S. Libby School
I use school lunch trays and bingo chips for manipulatives for
music class. I draw a staff on the small lap size flat trays
making sure the spaces on the staff are the same width as a bingo
chip or other circular marker. Students can use these to practice
melodies going up or down, notes moving by step, skip or repeat by
placing the chips on the staff. Also, the teacher or other
students can call out note names, while the students place their
chip on the correct line or space. I use this activity for grades
1-5 and they all seem to enjoy this hands-on practice. Using the
trays helps keep the chips from sliding off. The students either
sit on the floor using their chair as a desk or simply place the
tray on their lap.
Jacobsville Elementary School
Sesame Street Music Works is a public service initiative that
encourages children to explore, create and grow with music. This
multi-media initiative has been developed by Sesame Workshop, the
creators of Sesame Street, with generous support from NAMM,
ChevronTexaco Foundation, MENC, the national Endowment for the
Arts and the Hecksher Foundation for Children. Sesame Street Music
Works is designed to provide parents, early childhood
professionals, music educators, and music therapists with tools
and activities to bring music to life for young children, as they
discover new ways to make, learn from, and appreciate music. Log
on to www.sesameworkshop.com and type "Music Works" in the search
field for more information and great ideas!
|Can Music and P.E.
Form an Alliance?
Some states have passed legislation requiring a set amount of
physical activity per week for every child. As you know,
scheduling can be a jigsaw puzzle, but consider this: In order to
accommodate the P.E. requirement, can movement and dance in the
music classroom count toward this weekly goal? You bet it can!
Some state officials have agreed that the minutes spent in the
movement components of an elementary music class could count
toward the mandate if a local district so chooses. Make sure your
administrator is aware of this when contemplating the schedule for
|Five Goals for
Musicians Young and Old
1. To become a skillful and acute listener.
2. To become a kind, caring, positive ensemble member.
3. To become a competent user of musical notation.
4. To become a sensitive and spirited performer.
5. To taste the feeling of being a part of great music.
We had a Red, White and Blue assembly on September 11, 2002 and
the third graders sang "We Remember" (from the Aug/Sept. 2002
issue). The song was very well received. There were many adults
and students with tears in their eyes. The words and the music
were exceptional! The students begged to sing it after they had
worked on it during music class. They LOVE the Music Express
Lewis and Clark Elementary School
|Build Your Music
Library with Music Express!
At the end of each month, I build my music library by collecting
all the student Music Express magazines. I three-hole punch them
for a two-inch binder and place my teacher magazine in the binder
also. I also copy the table of contents and place in the outside
plastic cover, so I'll know the contents of the binder. I will do
this for each month, and wow, what a big curriculum supporter this
Faith Christian School
Our school plays "The Star Spangled Banner" over the intercom
every morning after announcements. I asked for student volunteers
to sing our national anthem and many responded. We used the tracks
from the August/September 2002 issue and made individual
recordings of each student (groups or solos) singing "The Star
Spangled Banner" arranged by Moses Hogan. That is now what the
principal uses over the public address system. Now each day, we
hear a member of our class singing our national anthem. It's a
great morale booster and good P.R. for the music department.
|Music Express for
What a great gift for the music teachers in the Milwaukee Public
Schools! Barry Applewhite, music specialist for the Milwaukee
Public Schools arranged for grant money to be used to purchase
sixty Music Express subscriptions for MPS music teachers. And
because John Jacobson happened to be in Milwaukee for a Music
Express planning meeting, he stopped by to talk to the teachers
about the magazine, show off the new look and sing and dance with
them. If you're interested in multiple subscriptions for your
district, talk to your music supervisor about The Music Express
|The Music Express
Get your whole district to enjoy the benefits of Music Express!
Tell your music supervisor that you have a great idea for a music
in-service workshop. You can receive a Music Express Workshop Kit
that includes a student magazine for every teacher at the
workshop, plus one teacher magazine/CD for the presenter. The
issue will be relevant to the time of year the workshop is
presented (i.e. a fall in-service will use the August/September
issue) Then you or some other talented, energetic teacher (perhaps
even the music supervisor) can introduce Music Express to all of
the teachers in your district. If your district purchases multiple
subscriptions, you can receive the following discounts:
10-24 yearly subscriptions $185.00 per subscription
25-49 yearly subscriptions $175.00 per subscription
50+ yearly subscriptions $165.00 per subscription
Regular single yearly subscription is $195.00
Contact Janet Day at Hal Leonard Corporation via e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (414) 774-3630, ext. 316 for
more information about this great opportunity.
Sites for Elementary Music Educators
Researched by Charyl Granatella
National Arts Centre
This is a fabulous site from Canada (also available in French) and
very kid friendly. It's especially good for teachers with computer
labs and also great for recommending in a newsletter to families
or to classroom teachers. It includes instruments of the
orchestra, composers, performers, all things classical.
BBC Radio Games
I dare anyone to go here and not spend at least a few minutes
playing! Very people friendly, interactive music games, including
a listening lesson on Peer Gynt (one of my favorites), and
www.bbc.co.uk click on Radio 3
Music Education Madness
This is just for the teacher and includes friendly reading, lesson
plans, lesson processes for teachers and good for substitutes,
chat room connections, and bulletin boards (computer name for
posting and reading notes).
Carnegie Hall Listening Adventures
This is the Cadillac of all listening models. Dvorak's Ninth
Symphony, From the New World, in brilliant animation that gives
graphic understanding to the music without being annoyingly cute
or in the way of the music. This will be a kid's and teacher's
World Book African-American Music
This World Book site gives a history of African-American music
from slavery to blues, jazz, rock and roll, and classical. It is
very well done with some listening excerpts.
type "African American Music" in the search field
New York Philharmonic
If you can only experience one site on the Internet this must be
the one. It is highly recognized, thoroughly educational,
entertaining; a delightful experience.
American Symphony Orchestra League
This is a fantastic interactive site with orchestras, orchestral
music, excerpts, interviews, games presented in a media rich
format that challenges children's ability to STOP!
World Music Rhythms
The RHYTHMWEB is dedicated to building world peace and cultural
understanding through the study of drumming. It features great
pictures of instruments from around the world. Don't forget to
visit the "Woodshed" for great lessons and playing. Includes
percussion loops for modeling and accompanying.
Music Theory Web
How lucky we are to work in an internationally understood
language. Here is a site from Puerto Rico, which can be accessed
in English and in Spanish that introduces and tutors children in
This educational site covers absolutely every subject area and is
very useable for music teachers with nursery rhymes for K-2 and
music printouts. But best of all, the site offers printable
manuscript paper for those times when you forgot to run to the
|A Day with John
Thanks Music Express, for making it possible for John Jacobson to
come to Highland School on September 27, 2002. Through the contest
in your magazine, (Terry was the winner of our 2002 survey
contest) our sixth graders had a day of music and dancing they
will never forget.
We have already performed several more of John's songs and Music
Express songs including "The Christmas Sock Rock" in our holiday
concert. Many of our students also loved being able to see
"America Sings" on television for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day
parade and were amazed to think that their director was at our
school! (For more information on America Sings!, log on to
These photos are sent with thanks for all that you do in bringing
this fabulous magazine to us – it's my very favorite resource! And
most of all, thanks for bringing John to my school!
Midland Park, New Jersey
After blindfolding one student, place rhythm sticks end-to-end
about one and a half feet apart to form a pathway on the floor.
Make straight a ways as well as turns. With other rhythm
instruments, assign a direction to each sound (for example:
triangle-go one step forward, claves-go one step backward, hand
drum-turn left, tambourine-turn right, etc.) Place the blindfolded
student at the entrance of the maze and with the help of the
"musical" directions, see if the class can lead the student to the
end of the maze without touching any rhythm sticks!
|Magic Music Hat
When choosing students to be the "leader" or "soloist," we use the
Magic Music Hat to help select. I decorated an old top hat (a
cardboard box will do) with music notes and symbols. Inside are
small slips of paper with many different "qualifiers" for choosing
students. For example: "The leader today will be the first person
to raise their hand that (choose paper from hat)...
- is wearing red socks today.
- has a birthday in October.
- is wearing the color purple.
- ate pancakes for breakfast this morning.
- has a first name with six letters in it.
This activity is a great motivator for kids. They want to be the
Take a familiar children's song melody, and have your students
make up their own springtime lyrics. For example:
To the tune of: "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round And Round"
The birds in the sky go chirp, chirp, chirp...
The bees in the trees go buzz, buzz, buzz…
The flowers in the ground go pop, oo, ah…
The bunnies in the field go chomp, chomp, chomp...
Try some summertime lyrics!
To the tune of: "If You're Happy and You Know It"
To have fun in the sun, let's swim, (pretend to swim)
To have fun in the sun, let's swim,
To have fun in the sun, make sure school is done,
To have fun in the sun, let's swim.
To have fun in the sun, play some ball,
To have fun in the sun, ride your bike,
To have fun in the sun, let's surf,
Have your students come up with other summer fun activities and
Decorate your bulletin board with a review of your "musical" year.
Concert programs, photos of kids performing, a copy of the
students' favorite song, a letter of excellence from your
principal, etc. can all be displayed prominently on the bulletin
board in your music classroom as a reminder of all you've learned
and the fun you've had. Better yet, decorate the main bulletin
board at the entrance of the school to show everyone what the
music department does all year! Great for recruiting students!
(Don't' have time? Ask key students to help.)
During the last month of the school year, I pick Fridays to be our
Request Day. The students choose the lesson, song, activity or
game for that day. My library is well organized so whatever they
pick, I can find it in a flash. They love it!
|Ready for a Summer
It's hard to think of next year, when you are trying to finish up
this year. But this summer, won't you be ready to boost your
spirits AND get lots of great ideas for next year? Attend one of
Hal Leonard's summer choral workshops at various locations across
the nation. There will be choral reading workshops in Orlando,
Dallas, the New England area, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Atlanta,
Washington D.C. Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, Columbus, Los
Angeles, Sacramento and more. For a complete listing and contact
information, log on to www.halleonard.com/choral, click on
Calendar of Events and go to Choral Events. Or you may contact
Janet Day at (414) 774-3630, ext. 316 or email@example.com. Hope
to see you there!
|Classroom Tips to
Start the New Year
1. Laminate a blank seating chart for every class. As you assign
seats, write the student's name on the chart with a thin tipped
dry erase pen. When you change assignments or move a student,
simply wipe off the name and reassign the seat. You may choose to
keep them in a three-ring binder and flip your way through the
day. Easy way to remember names and chart progress too!
2. Number your choir folders and each piece of music in them. Then
assign each student (or students, if they are sharing) a folder
number. They can sign the folder out for the night or weekend to
rehearse at home, but they are responsible for its return and all
of its content. By numbering each piece inside, you know
immediately where to look if a number is missing when you collect
3. Plastic bins work well for instrument storage. Label each bin
with the type of instrument (i.e. recorders, rhythm sticks, etc.)
and have a special assigned place for them in your classroom. That
way, everyone knows where they are and where they are to return.
4. Catalog all of your CDs by placing them in a CD binder
(available at any CD retail store). Some of these binders can hold
over 100 CDs and make it easy to find your selections at a glance,
eliminating the plastic case that usually breaks anyway. Keep the
jacket insert with the CD so you will have information on that CD.
5. Enlarge a picture of a gumdrop, color or decorate. Place above
the garbage can to remind students that gum chewing is not allowed
We have had many of our readers share their thanks for the "We
Remember" song by John Jacobson and Mac Huff in the
August/September 2002 issue. Here are some of the ways they used
this great song:
We used "We Remember" for our 9/11 commemoration and it was
wonderful. The kids loved it and it was truly meaningful to all.
We used the sign language and all third, fourth and fifth graders
sang outside around the flag. It was great! Thanks!
South Beauregard Elementary
I had just received the September issue of the Music Express
magazine when my principal asked me to prepare some music for a
ceremony to honor the heroes of 9/11. A number of us have
relatives who work in Washington, D.C. and at the Pentagon. I knew
the selection would be very important. Imagine my relief in being
able to tell him that I had the ideal piece and felt sure that the
chorus could learn it in a week! Thank you, John Jacobson and Mac
Huff, for "We Remember." The beautiful, yet simple lyrics were
perfect for our audience of over 2,000 middle and elementary
school children, parents, teachers and guests. I am so thankful I
had this resource to call upon.
Chancellor Middle School
Spotsylvania County, VA
Our community has a strong veteran's league and we are frequently
asked to perform a Veteran's Day concert or a selection at a
Veteran's Day program. "We Remember" is the perfect choice! Thanks
for making it easy to learn, yet dignified. The sign language adds
Panama City, FL
All the name songs and name games in the world will NOT put the
hundreds of names into my head quickly enough to communicate with
them, assess them, move them and generally keep them in line and
I finally made a 3 x 5 card for every student, which they attach
to their shirt with a clothespin. Their first name and last
initial are written in marker (BIG), and their classroom teacher's
name is written in pen. (Identification or chair numbers can be
added, too.) I can put stickers on these when they accomplish a
given task, and I can toss one on my desk when there is a
discipline problem that needs my attention at the end of the day.
It takes some management (each class puts the name tags in place
for the next class); but for me, it is well worth the trouble. I
am hoping that I can team up with the art teacher this next year
and the students can make their nametags in art class so that they
will have one they like to wear.
Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary
The Star Spangled Banner?
You bet! Here are some suggestions from John Jacobson on how to
add some "sparkle" to this beginning of the year must!
First, let's learn a simple starburst: clap hands and immediately
go to jazz hands fanning out. Divide your group into 4 sections,
each group clapping a starburst once every four measures from the
beginning vocal entrance, then go every two bars, then go every
measure. This adds a "fireworks" effect to this cherished anthem.
Title the board "ALL ABOARD THE MUSIC EXPRESS" and make a train
with cars connected with rope to the engine. The engine would
represent the conductor (or teacher), and the cars that follow are
the students. You could decorate each car with a detachable music
symbol (i.e. whole note, quarter note, rests, treble clef, etc.)
Put Velcro on the back and switch the symbols to coincide with the
lesson you are teaching.
Richland Center, WI
|Music Fast Facts
August 16 is the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley
(1935-1977). Pay tribute to the "King" by putting on blue felt
spats and dancing to "Blue Suede Shoes."
Buddy Holly was born September 7, 1936. Sing "Happy Birthday" to
Buddy and free dance to "Peggy Sue."
Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner on September 14,
1814. Learn our national anthem as arranged by Moses Hogan in the
August/September 2002 issue of Music Express. Try the choreography
suggestions listed above.
On September 26, 1957, Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story opened
at the Winter Garden, New York. Use excerpts from this show as a
September, 1934, Decca Records, a European company, debuted in
America. Its success was tied to their recording stars such as
Bing Crosby and records that cost 35 cents! Locate a hit recording
by Bing Crosby and play it for your class. Can they describe his
August 15-17, 1969, an estimated 400,000 people attended the
Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, New York. Performers
included the Who, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, and Jimi
Hendrix–who performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" to a few thousand
stragglers on Monday morning. Discuss that performance with your
students. How does it differ from most performances of the song?
On August 4, 1900 (some sources cite 1901), Louis Armstrong was
born. Known as both a trumpeter and vocalist, Armstrong had hits
with songs such as "What a Wonderful World" and "Hello Dolly." He
was affectionately known as Satchmo. Do a search on the Internet
to find a picture and sample recording of Louis Armstrong singing.
How could the students identify his voice?
September 12, 1910, Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony (Symphony of a
Thousand) premiered in Munich. An audience of 3,000 was so moved
by the new piece they surged towards the stage. Play excerpts of
the Symphony for the class and identify some of the components
needed for its performance.
August 1, 1981 MTV debuted by playing the video for "Video Killed
the Radio Star" by the Buggles. Lead a discussion on how video has
changed pop music since the early 1980s. What are some music
videos that have stood the test of time?
Parents and Teachers
I dreamed I stood in a studio
And watched two sculptors there.
The clay they used was a young child's mind
And they fashioned it with care.
One was a teacher – the tools he used
Were books, music and art.
The other, a parent, worked with a guiding hand,
And a gentle, loving heart.
Day after day, the teacher toiled with touch
That was deft and sure,
While the parent labored by his side
And polished and smoothed it o're.
And when at last their task was done,
They were proud of what they had wrought,
For the things they had molded into the child
Could neither be sold nor bought.
And each agreed they would have failed
If each had worked alone.
For behind the parent stood the school
And behind the teacher, the home.
Number the corners of your music room (1, 2, 3, 4). Each child
picks a number and goes to that corner. For our listening
activity, the children listen to the music and move to the beat
(fast-run, slow-walk, skip, etc.) around the room. When the music
stops (whenever I press pause) the children go to a corner of
their choice. Then I choose a number (1, 2, 3, 4) from a hat and
the children in that corner answer the "Listening Question" (i.e.
What instruments do you hear? Which instrument has the melody? Is
the music fast or slow?) The children in the chosen corner discuss
the answer among themselves and one child gives me their answer.
If they are correct, they all get to continue the game. If they
are wrong, all the children in the corner must sit down in the
center of the room. The children remaining continue the game. The
last child (or children) standing is the winner and can choose the
numbers for the next round. My kids love it! They are excited
about listening! They even like it better with the lights off.
Clara City, MN
|Create a Form
For my third through fifth graders, I divide the class into small
groups. Each group gets a card that shows a different form: ABA,
AB, AABA, ABACA. As a group, they need to create a movement and or
instrumental rhythms that will demonstrate the given form. They
perform it for the class and the class guesses the form they are
Jacobsville Elementary School
|Blue for Save the
The fee-free credit card from American Express called Blue is
teaming up with the VH1 Save the Music Foundation to raise money
and awareness about the importance of music education. As music
educators, we all know that music makes better kids, but the
public needs to be more educated and music programs need to be
restored and safe from the dreaded "cuts." This program, called
Blue for Save the Music, was launched at the 2003 Grammy Awards
and is committed to raising one million dollars this year to help
restore public school music programs. Watch for special events in
your area such as fundraisers, instrument drives, and special
performances by music students. Thanks American Express and VH1.
We're with you all the way!
Two of my favorite things! How could they possibly be linked?
Well, you can raise money for music education by shopping online
through www.ForSociety.com! ForSociety links to over 400 of your
favorite online retailers, such as The Gap, Expedia.com,
Amazon.com, and PetSmart. These retailers then give commissions
for each purchase you make. ForSociety then sends 100% of those
commissions on to MENC. Help raise funds on an everyday basis and
at no additional cost to you, through ForSociety.com! Christmas is
coming, so start shopping and benefit your favorite cause—music,
all at the same time!
|Country Line Dance
Let's celebrate country music by learning a simple country line
- R foot step forward, tap L foot behind R.
- L foot step backward, tap R foot in front of L
- R foot tap heel out, then in
L foot tap heel out, then in
- Repeat above
- Grapevine L, tap R heel
- Grapevine R, tap L heel
- Grapevine L, tap R heel
- Kick R foot out, ball change on R foot, step with R foot and
make a quarter turn to face new wall.
Repeat above line dance to all four walls of the room. Remember to
hook your fingers in your belt loops and yell a few "Yee Haws!"
while you are dancing!
|Music Fast Facts
On October 4, 1962, EMI records released the first Beatles'
recording, "Love Me Do" with the flip side "P.S. I Love You" that
started The Beatles craze in America. Make a yellow submarine out
of a large cardboard box. Your little ones will love moving to the
beat inside it while they listen to the Beatles singing "We all
live in a Yellow Submarine."
Camille Saint-Saëns was born on October 9, 1935. Celebrate his
birthday with a listening lesson on The Carnival of the Animals.
Sometimes referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry
was born on October 18, 1926. Celebrate his birthday with a
rousing free dance to "Johnny B. Goode."
On October 24, 2003, Felix Mendelssohn makes his piano concert
debut at the early age of 9. See how many other child prodigies
you can name. (There may be one in this issue.)
On November 13, 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasia is released in New
York and a new generation of toddlers is introduced to classical
music. Watch an excerpt of this video in your classroom and use it
as a listening lesson.
The singing von Trapp family are celebrated on Broadway in
Rodgers' and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music on November 16,
1959. Learn several selections from this monumental musical
including "Do-Re-Mi" and "My Favorite Things."
On October 1, 1982, the first compact disc player went on sale. It
was developed jointly by Sony, Philips and Polygram and cost $625
(more than $1,000 in current dollars). Celebrate this awesome
invention by having a CD party. Everyone brings in his/her
favorite CD to share. Teacher censored, of course!
Giuseppi Verdi was born on October 10, 1813. This Italian composer
wrote 26 operas including Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata and
Aida. A great listening piece by Verdi is the "Anvil Chorus" from
Il Trovatore; don't forget to add drums where the anvil strikes.
On October 29, 1969, the first connection on what would become the
Internet was made. Bits of data flowed between computers at UCLA
and the Stanford Research Institute and was the beginning of
ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet developed by the Department
of Defense. Assign an Internet research project to your students
on their favorite composer, past or present.
November 2, 1920 is the date of the first scheduled radio
broadcast. Station KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA, broadcasted the results
of the presidential election. Find more "radio" trivia and add
them to your RADIO KYDZ project throughout the year.
Mickey Mouse's birthday is celebrated on November 18. In 1928,
this cartoon rodent first appeared on the screen of the Colony
Theatre in New York City. The film, Walt Disney's Steamboat
Willie, was the first animated cartoon talking picture. Learn the
Mickey Mouse theme song: M-I-C (see ya later) K-E-Y (why, because
we love ya!) and spread the Disney fever!
Don't forget, November 21 is World Hello Day. People in 180
countries have participated in this annual activity for advancing
peace through personal communication. Everyone who participates
greets 10 people. For more information go to
www.worldhelloday.org. Sing Cheryl Lavender's "I Will Sing Hello"
from the August/September 2002 issue of Music Express and learn
how to greet your neighbors and friends in 16 different languages!
|A Hundred Years
A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account
was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… But
the world may be different because I was important in the life of
We have a complete listing of every song, every article, every
feature, everything from the first issue of Music Express to the
most current issue. Click on the Back Issue Search link. You will
then choose between the song archives and the articles archive.
Those will lead you to absolutely everything that has been in the
Music Express magazines since Volume 1. Remember that great
activity you used for Christmas, but can't remember what issue it
is in? Wow, somebody asked me a question and I know John answered
it in the Dear John feature. Where was that? Planning your
lessons? Programming a concert? Preparing a music advocacy
presentation? Search and find . . . it's that easy.
|The Christmas Sock
"The Christmas Sock Rock" from your December 2002 issue was a BIG
hit at our holiday program this year. As part of the "The
Christmas Sock Rock," we collected about 50 pairs of socks to use
as props, and then we donated them to a local homeless shelter
after the program.
Are you feeling all alone and helpless in your relentless task of
keeping the music program alive in your school? Are you facing
budget cuts? Teacher shortages? Scheduling issues?
Go to www.SupportMusic.com, a public service of the Music
Education Coalition. Learn step by step how to build your case for
your music program. Get tips on forming local and regional support
groups. Collect facts and figures to support that music makes
for Little Kids
Some elementary teachers may also be the band instructor. Here's a
great way for kids to carry those large instruments such as
baritone sax, trombone or tuba—roll them! Attach an old roller
skate (you know the kind that attach to your shoe and use a skate
key) to the bottom of the instrument case using a drill, a screw
and a nut. The kids can roll their instrument instead of lugging
|Spread the Cheer
Arrange a holiday performance at an area nursing home or senior
care facility. It doesn't have to be polished, maybe a dress
rehearsal for your main program. The kids will get a chance to run
through things before the "big" night and the senior adults will
SO enjoy the energy and cheer that young folks bring to the
Cinnamon-Orange Cider Recipe for the Holidays
Try this hot cider recipe to warm the hearts of your students and
fellow teachers. Yum!
Warm Cinnamon-Orange Cider
As if by magic, the cinnamon candies melt, giving this spiced
cider a rosy glow.
1/2 bottle (64-ounce size) apple cider
2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons red cinnamon candies
1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
Heat apple cider, orange juice, candies and allspice to boiling;
reduce heat. Cover and simmer 5 minutes.
Remove allspice. Stir in honey. Serve warm.
|Music Fast Facts
Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915. Celebrate old
blue-eye's birthday by ending your class time with Frank's version
of "New York, New York" or "I've Got the World on a String."
Ludwig von Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770. He was
probably born on the previous day. See how many Beethoven "themes"
you can hum. Can your students? Here are a few to get you started:
Für Elise, Minuet I in G, Moonlight Sonata, Symphony No. 5 in C
Minor (First Movement), Ode to Joy (Symphony No. 9 in D Major,
On December 24, 1818, Joseph Mohr, the assistant pastor at St.
Nicholas Church in Oberdorf, Austria came to the church and found
the organ out of order for the Christmas Eve service. He quickly
found a poem that he had written several years earlier and asked
the choir director, Franz Gruber to set these words for voices and
guitar so that there would be music for the service. The result is
"Silent Night," a beloved carol sung each Christmas. Have your
students research the history of "Silent Night" and write a paper
Little Richard was born on December 25, 1932. Take out your
"fruit" percussion shakers (available at many music stores) and
play along while you listen to "Tutti Frutti."
Around the World
Sinterklaas In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas brings gifts to Dutch
children on the eve of St. Nicholas Day. He is accompanied by his
Moorish helper, "Black Pete."
King's Birthday and National Day This public holiday in Thailand
is celebrated throughout the kingdom with colorful decorations and
illuminated stores and homes.
Saint Nicholas Day Celebrated in Christian homes around the world,
this day honors this Bishop noted for his charity to children.
Hanukkah (or Chanukah) This Jewish Festival of Lights lasts for
eight days and commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over
Syrians (165bc) and the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem.
Guadalupe Day This is one of Mexico's major celebrations honoring
the Virgin Mother and includes parties and pilgrimages to the
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Mexico City.
Santa Lucia Day Also called the Festival of Light, this Swedish
national celebration honors St. Lucia.
Navidades In Puerto Rico, the traditional Christmas season begins
in mid-December and ends on Three Kings Day.
Las Posadas In Mexico, the Christmas celebration commemorates Mary
and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem before the birth of
Jesus. For nine nights, children dress up like the holy family and
go from house to house in their community asking for shelter.
Yalda Iranians celebrate the longest night of the year, Yalda, by
staying up all night with fires burning and lights lit trying to
help the sun conquer the darkness.
Winter Solstice Winter begins on this day where the sunrise and
sunset points on the horizon are farthest south for the year and
daylight length is at its shortest.
Christmas Day This Christian celebration commemorates the birth of
Jesus of Nazareth generally with gift-giving, family gatherings
Boxing Day Usually observed on the day after Christmas, this
public holiday in Canada, United Kingdom and many other countries
commemorates the day when Christmas gift boxes were expected to
Kwanzaa Created in 1966, this African-American observance stresses
self-reliance and the unity of the black family in a seven-day
festival. Kwanzaa means "first fruit" in Swahili.
My mother always told me to dream big! But sometimes those dreams
need a little help to come to fruition.
Our second graders do a patriotic program every year around
President's day, integrating beautifully with their Social Studies
curriculum. When I heard John do an overview of "Dear Abby" at his
2002 workshop, I knew that was the show for us—even though the
vocabulary and the music seemed a bit above a second grade level.
I'm blessed with a team of second grade teachers that trust my
judgment. (Although I almost lost them on this one!) They take the
rehearsal of the lines and music into their classrooms. My job for
this musical was to teach the music, the movement, the staging and
the use of microphones and vocal projection. The second grade
teachers got their classes together for run-throughs and I
attended when my schedule allowed. As the show dates were in late
February, we had casting completed and lines distributed before
winter vacation so that children could start memorizing lines. A
letter went home at that time telling the parents they had free
reign to create the perfect costume for their child. Parents can
be amazing assets, as you can see by the photos.
We integrated further with the Art department as the children
helped to create and paint the interior room of the White House.
We were able to perform the show three times: 1.) an assembly for
the student body (including second grade "pen pals" from another
school in the area), 2.) an evening show for parents and family,
3.) a performance for the local retirement home.
The kids had a wonderful, integrated experience that they want to
repeat now that they are third graders. Now that's the way we
H.C. Storm Elementary School
In the 2003 January/February issue of Music Express, you included
an article about Moses Hogan. Our students so enjoyed that article
and the music on the CD. As a class project, the students
interviewed local musicians, imitating the style of your article.
One child interviewed two musicians who play for the New York
Philharmonic Orchestra. One of them, a bassoonist, even visited
our class last spring. These kids are in the fourth and fifth
grades, so the questions were genuine and refreshing. Thanks again
for this great teaching tool and for including the article on
Margaret A. Redling
Choreography on TV
Music Express Magazine has always been awesome since it began. The
magazine is just getting better and better. The addition of John's
choreography ideas on the website is so fantastic! My kids and I
are having a wonderful time with them. We have a 32" television
monitor in my classroom connected to the web through my computer.
So we learn the choreography together by watching John on TV. It's
like having him right in the classroom with us. It's the best!
Bedford Public Schools
The Classic Arts Showcase is a non-profit organization that
provides commercial-free television programming, via satellite, to
schools and universities to use in the classroom at no charge.
Classic Arts Showcase features videos from the world of ballet,
opera, modern dance, classical music, classic film and much more.
Students can learn, explore and watch the history of the classic
arts. As you know, the arts encourage self-esteem, develop strong
bodies and critical thinking and even help with math scores.
Go to www.classicartsshowcase.org to learn where it is aired in
your area and how to use it in your classroom.
|New Calendar for
the New Year
Have your students create a music calendar for the New Year.
Create a template for a fill-in-the-date calendar and pass them
out to each student. Pick a musical "subject" for each month. For
example, January can be musical terms month. Have the students
fill in the dates and title for the month of January and make a
border of musical terms around the edge. Here are more ideas for
monthly subjects: note and rest values, dynamics, accidentals,
articulation, ties and slurs, C major scale, key signatures,
tempos, etc. You may also include special musical dates and
|Music Fast Facts
On January 7, 1955, Marion Anderson, at the age of 53, becomes the
first black person to sing at the Met. She sings the role of
Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. Celebrate black history
month with more "firsts" for African American musicians.
January 10, 1893 - Antonin Dvorak, having been brought to New York
to teach, starts work on his symphony From the New World. Discover
the listening lesson on Dvorak's New World Symphony is the
January/February 2004 issue.
Stephen Collins Foster, America's song master, dies at the age of
37 on January 13, 1864. Pay tribute to this great composer with a
medley of his tunes such as Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races, Swanee
River, My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!, Jeanie with the Light
Brown Hair, Beautiful Dreamer.
During a concert on January 19, 1911 in Wales, John Philip Sousa
falls seven feet through the floor as he was conducting his own
"The Stars and Stripes Forever." Re-emerging, he announces, "We
will now continue." Use the listening lesson on "The Stars and
Stripes Forever" from the August/September 2003 issue of Music
George Gershwin debuted Rhapsody in Blue on February 12, 1924 at
Aeolian Hall in New York. It was snowing outside, but men and
women fought to get in the door, as they do sometimes at a
baseball game, prizefight or the subway. Think of other events
where you might "fight" to get in the door. After listening to a
recording of Rhapsody in Blue, open a discussion with questions
like: Would you "fight" to hear this piece? What music (or
performing group) would you stand in line and "fight" to hear?
Louis Braille, the inventor of the widely used touch system of
reading and writing for the blind, was born on January 4, 1809.
Tie this into the Ray Charles lesson in the January/February 2005
issue by having your students read and write short passages in
On January 4, 1936 Billboard magazine published the first list of
best-selling pop records and thus the first pop music chart was
born. Have your students research how many different music charts
there are today. Also research the top hits of today compared to
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. This famous
black civil rights leader, minister and advocate of nonviolence
won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In 1986, the third Monday of each
January was designated as the annual legal public holiday
observing his birth. Celebrate with a rousing rendition of "Lift
Every Voice and Sing" by James Weldon Johnson. This song is
considered by many to be the national anthem of African-Americans
(also a great song to learn for Black History Month–February).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg,
Austria. Considered one of the worlds greatest music makers,
Mozart began performing at age three and composing at age five.
List other well-known musicians that started as child prodigies.
[Editor's note: Read the Ray Charles bio in the January/February
On February 9, 1964, The Beatles performed live on The Ed Sullivan
Show. For a studio that only held 728 guests, Sullivan received
over 50,000 requests for tickets! After performing five songs, The
Beatles cemented their music and their style into the hearts of
all Americans. Rock and Roll would never be the same. Lead a
student discussion on attending pop concerts, teen heartthrobs and
their impact on the music industry. Sing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Heart's Club Band" in the January/February 2005 issue.
Pellegrini–Winner of the 2003 Music Express Survey Contest
Thank you so much for giving me the Joy of Singing trip to
Washington D.C. The entire time I felt like a celebrity. Everyone
was so friendly! This should be another great year of "singing and
dancing" thanks to all your exciting music!
Sierra View Elementary
North Highlands, CA
|My Town, My World
Here's a suggestion for the song "My Town, My World" from the
August/September 2003 issue. The kids can shout the name of their
town on the three claps in measures 25, 45 and 53. My town happens
to fit perfectly, "My town, Kan-ka-kee, my world!"
Bonnie S. Brewer
|The Best That I
Imagine 550 school children (grades K–5) singing the "The Best
That I Can Be" every morning for the past two years! I am the
music teacher and that's how we start our ten-minute morning
program every day. I lead the song on a microphone and after that,
no matter what my mood has been before, I am UP! It has become our
school song! I cannot change it! Thanks, Music Express!
Ben Franklin Elementary School
[Editor's Note: "The Best That I Can Be" by John Jacobson and
Cristi Miller can be found in the August/September 2001 (Vol. 2,
No. 1) issue. It is also available as a Songkit Single that
includes 2 Director's Scores, 40 Singer's Editions and 1
Performance/Accompaniment CD. Ask for 07990035 at your preferred
music retail store.]
The Nassau Music Educator's Association presented its second
annual PEAK festival this past October 25, 2003. PEAK—Parents,
Educators and Kids—gathered 130 third graders from all over Nassau
County, NY to participate and celebrate elementary classroom music
programs. The chorus sang, "Makin' Music All Day Long" and as you
can see by the pictures, the smiles lasted all day long too!
Thanks, Music Express!
New Visions Elementary School
[Editor's Note: "Makin' Music All Day Long" by John Jacobson and
Mac Huff can be found in the August/September 2003 (Vol. 4, No. 1)
|Music Fast Facts
On March 4, 1678, Antonio Vivaldi was born in the midst of a
Venetian earthquake and baptized immediately by the midwife for
fear he might perish. Imagine what the world of music would be
like without The Four Seasons. Present the Vivaldi listening
lessons on The Four Seasons in the March/April 2003 issue (Spring)
and the May/June 2003 issue (Summer).
Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady opened on Broadway on March 15,
1956 and enjoyed a run of 2,717 performances that lasted more than
nine years. The original production featured Rex Harrison as Henry
Higgins and Julie Andrews as Eliza. Learn the song, "With a Little
Bit of Luck" and perform it at your next concert.
Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov was born on March 18, 1844 in Tikhvin,
Russia. Learn more about this famous Russian composer in the
listening lesson on "The Flight of the Bumblebee" in this issue.
The great American blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters was
born on April 4, 1915. Teach your students the C blues scale by
setting out the following resonator bells: C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb,
C'. Play a twelve-bar blues progression in C (C–C–C–C, F–F–C–C,
G7–F–C–G7 while your students improvise on the C blues scale on
the resonator bells.
On April 27, 1810, Ludwig van Beethoven released a popular piano
piece called "For Elise, as a remembrance." What he really wrote
is "For Therese," but the publisher misread his dedication and
this famous composition became known as "Für Elise." Play this
familiar piece on the piano or perhaps one of your students is
studying this piece and can share it with the class.
The bill designating "The Star-Spangled Banner" as our national
anthem was signed on March 3, 1931. Review the words of "The Star
Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key with the reproducible lyric
page found on the inside back cover of the October/November 2004
issue or in the extension activities section of this website.
Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685. Invite a guest
pianist (or student0 into your classroom to play a Bach two-part
invention. Have the rest of the class listen and raise their hands
whenever they hear the main theme.
Elton John was born March 25, 1947. Review the hits of this
contemporary pop composer and end the class by singing, " The
Circle of Life" from Disney's The Lion King.
The 35th Anniversary of Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22
of 2005. This day, sometimes celebrated on the first day of spring
or on the weekend closed to April 22, is a global event
encouraging environmental citizenship. Have an Earth Composition
Contest. Topics may include: trash/recycling, planting
trees/reforestation, food alternatives/organic farming, energy
alternatives, composting, car free days/walk to work. Add your own
topics and give your composers a timeline and guides for
composing, lyrics, tune, etc. The winner gets their song sung
during the morning announcements and/or a tree planted in their
name on the school grounds!
Giving a performance of a musical in the lunchroom without a
curtain? Here's a great way to deal with that problem and involve
your audience. Give everyone a sheet of colored paper that says
CURTAIN on it as they walk in the door. When you need a scene
change, simply ask the audience members to "raise their curtain"
covering their eyes with the paper. Then quickly change what is
needed on the stage. When the scene change is done, ask the
audience to "lower their curtains" and continue with the show.
Have you ever needed a piece of music RIGHT NOW? iTunes is a
solution for "immediate" people, like music teachers who need
songs ASAP. Whether you have a Mac or a PC you can download music
from the iTunes.com site. There is a fee, but some single works
are as little as 99 cents. If you think iTunes is only for pop
music you're wrong! Happily, the classical music ranges from
single pieces to whole symphonies and collections. Obtaining music
for listening and learning has never been so easy. Try it at
Encourage your students to "keep the music going" all summer long
with these suggested activities for young musicians:
- Attend a Music Camp
- Take Private Lessons
- Enroll in a Summer Musical Theater Program
- Start a Garage Band
- Attend Outdoor Concerts
- Play or Sing in the Community Band or Choir
- Sing a Solo in Church or at a Community Club
- Put on a Neighborhood Variety Show
- Have a Music Listening Party (parent censored, of course)
|Music Fast Facts
Let's celebrate the birthdays of some of the finest composers for
Broadway and film that happen to be born in May and June. Student
activities could include: 1.) listening to selected songs by each
composer, 2.) researching the shows and the songs that made them
famous, 3.) singing their most famous song, 4.) viewing portions
of a video or DVD of their most popular Broadway show or film, or
5.) selecting a show and writing a synopsis of the plot.
Born May 2, 1895, Lorenz Hart was the lyricist in a partnership
with Richard Rodgers and together they wrote many Broadway
musicals including Pal Joey (Bewitched), Babes In Arms (My Funny
Valentine), The Boys from Syracuse (This Can't Be Love).
Born May 11, 1888, Irving Berlin was famous for the songs "God
Bless America" and "White Christmas," but also shows such as Annie
Get Your Gun and There's No Business Like Show Business.
Born May 18, 1902, Meredith Willson was best known for the musical
The Music Man, however another famous song by Meredith Willson
from a lesser-known show is "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like
Born June 7, 1928, Charles Strouse will be remembered by most kids
for writing Annie (Tomorrow), but he also wrote such big hits as
Bye, Bye, Birdie (Put on a Happy Face) and Applause.
Born June 9, 1891, Cole Porter wrote incredible hits such as "I've
Got You Under My Skin" and successful Broadway shows such as Kiss
Me Kate (Another Op'nin', Another Show) and High Society (True
Born June 10, 1904, Frederick Loewe partnered with the lyricist
Alan Jay Lerner to create such mega-hit shows as Paint Your Wagon
(They Call the Wind Maria), My Fair Lady (I Could Have Danced All
Night) and Camelot (If Ever I Would Leave You).
Born June 28, 1902, Richard Rodgers partnered not only with Lorenz
Hart (see above) but also Oscar Hammerstein II to create
unforgettable shows like Oklahoma! (Oh, What a Beautiful Morning),
Carousel (You'll Never Walk Alone), South Pacific (Some Enchanted
Evening), The King and I (Getting to Know You), The Sound of Music
(Do, Re, Mi).
Born June 29, 1910, Frank Loesser brought us these fabulous shows
just to name a few: Where's Charley (The New Ashmolean Marching
Society and Student's Conservatory Band), Guys and Dolls (Fugue
for Tinhorns), The Most Happy Fella (Standing on the Corner).
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is born on May 7, 1840. Young listeners
best know him for his Nutcracker Suite, which we enjoy around
Christmas time. Other well-known works by Tchaikovsky are Swan
Lake and The Sleeping Beauty ballets, Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb
Minor, Op. 23, Opening Movement, and the Romeo and Juliet
Overture. Treat your music classroom to some of these grand
Also on May 7 but in 1824, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was
performed for the first time in Vienna, Austria. As Beethoven
himself conducted this Choral symphony, one of the vocal soloists
had to tug on his sleeve between movements so that he would turn
around and see the clapping hands and waving hats of the crowd.
You see by this time, Beethoven was completely deaf. Share "Ode to
Joy" from this symphony as a listening project with your students.
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered on May 22, 1967. This PBS
children's program was hosted by Fred Rogers and was filmed for
thirty-four years with almost 1,000 half-hour episodes being
aired. Celebrate the Mister Rogers' legacy with Welcome to Our
Neighborhood, by Fred Rogers and arranged by John Higgins, a
25-minute musical play for young singers grades K–2 available from
your local music store.
The number one hit pop song on June 1, 1963 was "It's My Party" by
Lesley Gore. When Lesley's producer Quincy Jones found out that
someone else was planning to record this song, he hurried! The
song was recorded on Monday, the records were made on Tuesday and
the song was on the air by Wednesday. It became a huge hit in less
than a month! Play this 1960s pop hit as your students leave your
America–A Big Hit In Appleton, Wisconsin
Destination: America, the final program comprised of Music Express
hits from issues throughout this past year was performed at
Sunrise Elementary School in Appleton, WI this past spring. The
concert was a big hit with over 200 music students participating.
Here are some students featured in their costumes. Congratulations
Sunrise Music Students for a great performance!
Sunrise Elementary School
|Good Advice for
the First Day of Class
Get them singing on the FIRST day and they will sing the entire
year. This advice always worked for me! Choose something patriotic
that they know and give them a "taste test" of a new, cool song or
show tune. They'll come in on day two wanting to learn more!
Donna M. Vojcsik
Palm City Elementary School
Palm City, FL
|Up for the
Have you ever had one of those "challenging" fifth or sixth grade
|I began the year by passing out an index card
to everyone and asking them, "If you could ask one question about
music, what would it be?" Obviously, it had to be "school
appropriate." Their questions that year led us to having a guest
speaker from a rock band, a sound technician to explain how CDs
work, and writing our own advertising jingles! It is amazing the
questions that sixth graders can have! I planned most of my year's
curriculum around their questions.
Thanks for the great ideas, Donna!
Donna M. Vojcsik
Palm City Elementary School
Palm City, FL
Enjoyed Music Express Workshop
Our district held a Music Express Workshop last November 2003.
Your materials and suggested lesson plans were so helpful. I am
totally sold on Music Express. Thanks so much to all the music
professionals who contribute wonderful lessons and music for
Whittier Elementary School
MENC is launching a 3-year campaign to renew national awareness of
the patriotic traditions of the United States. Launched September
2004, this project will include major singing celebrations
throughout our country. The program to get America singing will
culminate with the world's largest performance of "The Star
Spangled Banner" in the Baltimore/Washington Metro area. Support
the project by hosting a patriotic sing-along in your community
and make sure that each of your students knows the words to our
Teach your students the proper etiquette when singing our national
1. Stand. Remove your hat or cap if wearing one.
2. Face the flag. If one is not in the room, just stand tall.
3. Place hand over heart, or keep hands at your sides, or folded
in back or front.
4. Sing the words to "The Star Spangled Banner" loud and clear.
5. Keep poised, reverent and respectful throughout the song.
Visit the Music Express extension activities section on this
website to print out a reproducible lyric page of our national
anthem. In election years and every year, this is definitely a
song every child should know!
Join MusicFriends and support school music programs! Sponsored by
MENC, MusicFriends is a group of parents, community members, and
other music advocates that support music education in schools.
Their web site at www.musicfriends.org is full of involvement
ideas, fun activities and more!
You can even send a MusicFriends e-card to your friends, family,
colleagues or administrators to keep your music program in the
forefront of their daily schedules. By joining, you will receive a
number of benefits. Log on today and find out!
|Create Your Own
The band department has a marching band in the fall. Why not have
a marching choir? Have your class or classes learn a number of
patriotic songs with a upbeat, march tempo such as "You're a Grand
Old Flag," "The Caisson Song," "God Bless America," "This Is My
Country," and more. In march formation, learn the basics to
marching in sync, turning corners, starting and stopping together,
etc. Ask for help from your band colleagues or develop your own
choral marching style. You may want to recruit some drummers to
maintain a cadence while you march. Take your marching choir "on
the road" and rehearse in the street during your class time, or
better yet, on the football field or playground. In a large area,
you can work on formations, create words and build toward a more
elaborate show. Perform for a football half-time show or for the
local vet's association. Marching bands get a lot of press! Why
not get some of that exposure for your choir program?
|The Quest as a
Kudos to John and staff! Just when I thought Music Express was
perfect the way it was, I previewed the August/September 2004
issue and was blown away all over again! I know my elementary
students are going to be so excited about everything the new issue
has to offer – especially Jason and Boliver. To that end, I've
convinced our staff to make THE QUEST (for excellence) our school
theme this year. After introducing each installment of the story,
we will have an integrated project for students to complete. The
projects will be evaluated by a team of teachers. Those who
demonstrate a QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE will receive an "emerald"
inscribed with the word QUEST. (I found some clear, green stones
about the size of a half dollar and used permanent gold and silver
markers for the inscription. They turned out really well!) This
way, THE QUEST can enter each and EVERY room in our building this
Thanks to you ALL for everything you provide to keep kids jazzed
about music! We're so grateful.
H.C. Storm School
I help my fifth through seventh grade general music students stay
organized by having them keep a 1 inch three-ring binder that is
divided into the following sections with tab dividers:
theory/aural skills, songs to sing, instruments, musical theater,
The very first page of each section has a blank "contents" page
where the title, page and date can be recorded. I usually write
the title and appropriate section on each hand-out before
reproducing them for the students. This way, students can easily
fill out the contents page and place it in the correct section.
You would be amazed at how quickly students can locate items for
review. The kids enjoy being organized and this is a time-saver. I
also keep an identical binder for each grade level throughout the
semester. This helps me to know exactly what materials have been
given to each grade level and serves as a handy reference.
Students are also free to look through my binder to make sure
theirs is complete and up to date.
Stuart M. Townsend Middle School
Lake Luzerne, NY
|Snow Songs a Big
We ended our Pre-K and Kindergarten program in December with
"Dancing at the Snow Ball" from the December 2003 issue. Using the
choreography, the students had a great time and did a wonderful
job singing. We even had yarn "snowballs" that the Pre-K students
threw at the audience on the ending.
Our favorite song last year has to be "I Love the Snow" and the
paper snowball fights in the Hop 'Til You Drop section of the
January/February 2004 issue. I was a bit apprehensive going in,
but it was so much fun and was a very manageable chaos.
Ada Jean Hoffman
Low/Oakview Elementary Schools
West Middlesex, PA
We loved singing "I Love the Snow" at our local nursing home. They
were so vibrant with the instrumental part pretending to have a
snowball fight, I thought some of the residents were going to jump
out of their wheelchairs and participate! There were smiles all
Adair-Casey Community Schools
|Give the Gift of
Here are some great musical ideas for Christmas gifts or classroom
1. Children's Books
- The Happy Hedgehog Band by Martin Waddell and Jill Barton
- Classical Cats by David Chesky
- Zin!Zin!Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss and Marjorie Priceman
- Bravo! Brava! A Night at the Opera by Anne Siberell and Frederica
- The Bear Who Loved Puccini by Arnold Sundgaard and Dominic
2. Music Software for
- MiDisaurus – Kids love dinosaurs and this one uses and edutainment
approach to teach music to ages 4 through 10.
- Clifford's Music Memory Game – Everyone wants to play with the big
- Pianomouse Meets the Great Composers – An introduction to music
history for ages 8 and up
3. Music CDs for Children
- The Classical Child at the Opera, Metromusic
- Pavarotti's Opera Made Easy – My Favorite Opera for Children,
Georges Bizet (composer) et el.
- Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Classical Kids Series
- Classical Music for Children, Claude Debussy (composer) et al.
We used inflatable musical instruments in our choreography for
"Makin' Music All Day Long," from August/September 2003 issue.
This was very cheap, fun and visually exciting! I found the
instruments on the Internet at a party outlet for $27 for a pack
of 24. It included banjos, saxophones, trumpets, guitars, drums
and keyboards. The kids were allowed to keep their instruments
after the show closed as a present from me. We marked each with
their name in permanent marker at the first rehearsal, so kids
wouldn't claim someone else's if they were rough and popped it. In
the event of a tear, most small holes sealed quickly with a small
piece of duck tape. This made them all VERY careful since they
KNEW they had to use the same one every rehearsal and show. We
tied ribbons onto them and they did all choreography with them
behind their backs until the last chorus where they pulled them
around front and "jammed." Not only did they have a great time,
but it also helped them learn different instruments and how they
are held and classified (e.g. brass, woodwind, etc.)
Youth on Broadway Show Choir
Tape numbered large Valentine hearts on the floor in the shape of
a circle or a heart. The number of hearts should equal the number
of students in the class. Make an equal number of small hearts and
place in a bowl. Students must walk from heart to heart to the
beat of the music. When the music stops, everyone must find a
heart and stay on it! Draw a number from the bowl. Whoever is
standing on that number wins a prize.
Variation for the younger grades: Prepare a large heart from
construction paper or cardboard. Arrange students in a circle and
play a Valentine song ("Skinnamarink" or "The Valentine Boogie"
from Music Express January/February 2003 will do). The students
must pass the Valentine heart around the circle to the beat of the
music. When the music stops, the person holding the heart wins a
I have used "We Live the Dream" [Music Express October/November
2002] as the closing for our fourth grade concert the last couple
of years and in Martin Luther King celebrations. It always
finished an otherwise "high energy" concert with a quiet and
thoughtful moment of reflection.
On the other end of the spectrum, I use "Triple Play" [Music
Express March/April 2003] in the third grade show and invite the
audience to be the "C" section and sing "Take Me Out to the
Ballgame." It's better than any seventh inning stretch I've ever
Preparation: Collect a variety of candy wrappers and trim
the wrappers to feature only the name of the candy. Then glue them
all to colored tag board, laminate them and cut them out into
Activity: To begin, place the candy wrappers with tag board
side up (blank side) in a box. Have each student pick one card.
They flip it over to reveal their type of candy. Now, on their
own, they will say their candy's name and figure out its rhythm
pattern. Then they will choose a partner and create a candy
wrapper ostinato using both of their candy wrappers for the
rhythm. They say the names of the candy then tap the rhythm of the
candy. For example: "Tootsie Roll Snickers" would be interpreted
as: ti ti ta, ta ta. They can choose the order and then practice
their rhythm for one minute. Each team will repeat their candy
names and then play their rhythm. The class listens and evaluates
whether the rhythm played matches the actual names of the candies.
Then the class may use their unique candy rhythm to perform an
ostinato to a Halloween song such as "Take the Candy and Run" from
Music Express Volume 2 No. 2, October/November 2001.
This activity can be used for grades one through six because just
about everyone loves candy. This activity stresses listening,
analyzing, and performing. It also made the students more aware of
syllables in our words and how that relates to the rhythm in
music. The classes begged to do candy wrapper rhythms again.
As a follow up activity students may choose two or three candy
wrappers, figure out their rhythms, choose a pleasing rhythmic
order and then notate the rhythm on paper and perform the sound
composition for the class using a rhythm instrument of their
choice. Upper grades can be required to work within a prescribed
meter for the longer compositions. Happy Snacking!
Jacobsville Elementary School
|100th Day of
Use your own school calendar to compute this date for your
students. For most schools, it will fall around the first or
second week of February. Use Cheryl Lavender's "One Hundred Days
of School" in the K24U section of this issue to celebrate the day.
Other activities might include:
1. Draw 100 quarter notes.
2. Name 100 songs or 100 musicians.
3. Write lyrics to a song titled, "If I Had a Hundred Dollars" set
to a familiar folk tune.
4. Sing a song for 100 seconds, then be silent for 100 seconds.
Which seems longer?
5. Do 100 clap bursts.
On the third Monday of each February we celebrate the birthdays of
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Many use this day to honor
all former presidents of the US. Celebrate by playing a recording
of "Hail to the Chief," which is the tune used whenever the
president enters an event. Add classroom instruments and march
around the room in a presidential parade.
|Kimberly House –
Winner of the 2004 Music Express Survey Contest
Thank you so much for a marvelous experience in California. The
Joy of Singing workshop was wonderful and so was the music. It was
exciting meeting and working with such talented musicians. Music
Express Magazine is such a valuable resource and I enjoy every
minute of teaching from it.
Kimberly O. House
Spring Hope Elementary
Spring Hope, NC
The American Recorder Society has designated March as the official
Play-the-Recorder month. Celebrate the beauty and versatility of
this instrument by having a recorder ensemble perform in a public
place such as a library, bookstore, museum or shopping mall. If
you have a local chapter, invite them to your classroom for a
workshop or demonstration. For more information, log on to
at the PEAK Festival
On behalf of the Nassau Music Educators Association, we would like
to express our gratitude for your assistance with the 3rd Annual
PEAK Festival. This event called PEAK–Parents, Educators and Kids–
took place on October 23, 2004 at the New Visions School in
Freeport, New York. "Ain't We Got Fun" (from the August/September
2004 issue) provided a theme of excitement and an unforgettable,
musical experience for the parents, educators and kids from all
over Nassau County.
Thank you for your contribution and for supporting the celebration
of elementary classroom music programs.
V.P. Classroom Music
I have really enjoyed the Music Express magazine. I have used
several of the recorder lessons with third graders and we turned
some of them into ensemble selections as students became able to
read both melody and rhythm lines. They were able to translate to
keyboard, xylophones, guitars (some students really wanted to play
guitar and practiced a couple of chords at home). My special ed.
Kids were able to add assorted rhythms instruments, beginning and
stopping at certain points in the music. I was really proud of
Create your own rainstorm, complete with thunder, without getting
wet! First select a group of students to be the thunderclaps.
Place them in the back of the room with instructions to stomp
their feet loudly whenever you point to them. The rest of the
class will be the rain. Begin with a slow sprinkle by pointing to
a small section of the class to begin snapping their fingers in
any rhythm. As the rain gets closer, add more students as you move
your "pointer" across the room. As the rainstorm increases,
instruct the students to change the snaps to pats on thighs when
your pointer moves across them. Point to the thunderclaps in the
back of the room intermittently for a loud burst of thunder. When
you are ready for an all out cloudburst, instruct the students to
change to clapping when your pointer moves across them. You could
even add hail with some students "popping" their mouths. Don't
forget the thunder in the back of the room! Slowly ease off on the
rainstorm by going backwards through the instructions and ending
with the slow sprinkle again. Pull out a rainbow colored scarf,
windsock or poster when finished and sing "Rain, Rain, Go Away" or
some other rain or rainbow song.
|Music Express Ends
the Year on a High Note
At the end of the school year, the staff sang along with "Fun in
the Sun" (from Music Express May/June 2003, Volume 3, No. 6). The
kids did motions while the decked-out, vacation-ready staff threw
beach balls into the audience and skateboarded in their scuba
gear! The teachers then threw confetti at the surprised students.
Cleaning up was work, but it was so worth the positive end to a
long school year.
Valley View Elementary School
|Each May we have a school wide sing-along. We
sing six to eight Music Express songs with movements. We study the
songs in class all year (usually one a month) and then review them
all together at the sing-along. It's like a giant concert where
everyone gets to perform.
1. Contact your school librarian. They have funds that are
allocated to purchase periodicals for the school library. John
Jacobson's Music Express magazine qualifies for a periodical. Just
2. Meet with your principal and list all the songs, activities and
recordings you get with Music Express, PLUS an issue for every
student in your class. Then tell her how much a music textbook
would be! She'll jump at the chance to use the discretionary funds
at her disposal for this essential resource.
3. Present your case at the next parent/teacher (PTO/PTA) meeting,
again describing all the benefits of Music Express. They are
looking for ways to spend that money they made on the last bake
sale. Bring a group to perform at the next meeting as a token of
4. Local businesses in your area may be willing to support the
arts. Contact your city's merchants and business owners and each
may contribute a portion or you may get lucky and one will pay the
entire subscription price. Make sure to acknowledge them in the
newspaper or in the program of your next concert.
5. Parents are a great resource. Just ask! Many parents are asked
to contribute to the sports programs with participation fees,
equipment purchases, etc. They may not blink an eye if they are
asked to contribute to a music magazine the students can take
6. Ask a local philanthropist. $195 for them may be pocket change!
In exchange for a student performance at a civic event or
fund-raising gala, you may get your subscription paid for and get
your students performing in the community all in one!
7. Find a sponsor. Softball teams have sponsors, why shouldn't
you? Name your performing group Music Express and go on the road.
Your sponsor would pay for your subscription and maybe even travel
expenses and T-shirts. Of course everywhere you go the advertising
would read, "Music Express sponsored by Milt's Garage and Ice
|Foster School gets
M.E. Award for Best Costumes
Foster School's third and fourth grades classes of Ludington, MI
performed Go Fish last November. This fishy musical by John
Jacobson and John Higgins is about discovering how everyone's
differences make them special. Cathy Webster, the music teacher
for Ludington Area Schools sent in these wonderful photos of the
costumes and artwork created for the show. Great job, Cathy and
crew! Your work is sensational!
Ludington Area Schools
|Reviving the May
Many customs have been lost through the years. One such custom is
the May Pole. May Day, celebrated on May 1 is the festival
honoring spring and the coming of summer. Children may go from
house to house or classroom to classroom with baskets of spring
flowers or sweets. They may also dance around the May Pole. A May
Pole is easily made with an upright pole in a stand. This can be
made from PVC pipe or sturdy wooden pole available at most lumber
marts. Tack or nail multi-colored streamers or ribbons (preferred
for durability) to the top of the pole. The strips of ribbon
should be one and one-half times the length of the pole. Have each
child grasp a ribbon with his/her right hand and form a circle
around the pole. The children should walk or skip around the pole
and as they do, the ribbon will wrap closer to the pole, forming a
colorful striped circular design. The next time, have ever other
student hold the ribbon in a different hand and face a different
direction. As they move around the pole to the music, weave the
ribbon over one person and under the next. This will form a
different, almost braided design on the pole.
|Why Do We Teach Music?
Not because we expect you to major in music.
Not because we expect you to play or sing all your life.
Not so you can relax.
Not so you can have fun.
But – so you will be human,
So you will recognize beauty,
So you will be sensitive,
So you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world,
So you will have something to cling to,
So you will have more compassion, more gentleness, more goodness,
in short – more life.
Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living unless you
know how to live?