2013 in review

Dear Friends,

Below you will find WordPress’ annual review of Tuesday Music.  I need to thank you all, because the blog has continued to grow in spite of the fact that I only published 3 times the entire year.  I promise to try to  do better in 2014, but in the meantime, I want to express my appreciation to those of you who have returned time and again, and my welcome to new subscribers.

I have some things to tell you, since I began my k-12 position in September, and I find it interesting that, after a year of retirement, I’ve become my own reader, refreshing my memory on lesson plans from the past, and looking for links to sites that I no longer have in my favorites.

So, look for me in 2014, and have a blessed, happy and healthy new year!

Many, many thanks!

Jane. :0)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 98,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Well THAT Didn’t Last Very Long……

Retirement, that is.  I’ve had a lovely year off.  I taught voice and helped out with rehearsals at the High School in the district I retired from.  Little did I know I was being prepared……


On Monday I will begin a new school year, in a new school with a new room…..and students, K-12.  Now, anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows that there are no 7-12 lesson plans on it.  That’s because I’VE NEVER TAUGHT 7-12!  AHHHHHHHHH!  So, Tuesday Music is about to become very interesting….lesson plans from a rookie.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I will greet my new, older students.  I don’t know anything about them, except that the 11th and 12th graders haven’t had music since 5th grade.  Actually…that’s a little bit comforting.  It makes me feel a little less “in over my head.”

I’ve started 2 notebooks…one for the k-5 students, which I’m not nearly as nervous about, and one for the 6-12 students.  I think it will help me stay organized if I can keep the two separate.

So here’s what I’m planning for class number one, for all of my non-elementary students.  I would love comments and suggestions.  Help me!

I am all about relationship in the classroom.  I want to get to know these kids, and I’d like them to get to know me as well.  I think that rapport goes a long way in being able to get your lessons across.  Students who know that you like them and want them to do well, and are not going to jump down their throats if they don’t understand will try hard and ask questions.  I guess I’m trying to create a safe environment.  So, the first thing I’m going to do is tell them a little bit about myself:  I taught music in public school for 30+ years, I’m married to a man that some of them know, since he teaches guitar at the same school, I have 3 sons, all grown and gone, and 2 wonderful Golden Retrievers.  Reading is my favorite hobby.  Since I’ll be teaching at a small Christian School, I’m also free to tell them that I’ve been a follower of Christ since the age of 17. Hopefully, there will be something in there that each one can relate to.  I plan to ask if anyone has any questions for me, just in case.

Then, I’ll need to start getting to know who they are of course.  I’m going to ask each one to tell me their name, and somethings they would like me to know about them.  It’s not music, but in this situation, I think it’s time well spent.

As I do with the elementary students, I have a folder for each of them for papers, music and student work.  The first thing that will go into the folder…which will stay in my classroom, so that I can look at them….is a questionnaire.  I’m hoping that it will give me some idea where to start.  So, here it is…my very first non-elementary activity.


Name_____________________________________   Grade_______

1.  What is your favorite style of music?  *Pop  *Rock  *classical  *Jazz  *Broadway       *Hip Hop  *Christian Contemporary  *Country  *Bluegrass  *Celtic  *Other

2.  To what radio station do you most often listen?

3.  What was your last purchase on iTunes?

4.  Do you play any instruments?  If so, please list them.

5.  Do you enjoy singing?  If so, at what level?  *In the shower.  *In church.  (As part of the congregation).  *On a praise/worship team.  *In a choir.  *  I’ve had voice lessons. *I know my voice type: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass.  (Circle the one that best fits your voice, if you know.)

6.  Circle one:

*I can read music.

*I can read music to some degree.

*I cannot read music.

7.  In your opinion, why is it important to study music?

8.  Name something besides a musical instrument that can keep a steady beat.

9.  What is the difference between beat and rhythm?

10.  List as many musical vocabulary terms as you can think of.  (Example: treble clef, staff, tempo….)

11.  List all of your musical experience:  (Example: Praise Team, Cherub Choir, Band…)


That’s as far as I’ve gotten.  As you can see it progresses from personal information, to  an assessment of what they do or do not know.  After I’ve given them some time to fill it out, we’ll discuss it.  I get to know them better, and there are a few good conversation starters in there.

But what else should be on here?  What else do I need to know?

Thanks in advance for your help!



Jane Rivera  

All Rights Reserved

August 2013

<a href="
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate for Schools.” title=”John Williams and Friends”>John Williams and Friends

John Williams brings some of his movie character friends to class.


This is a reblog of an article which will become more and more relevant the longer you teach. Enjoy! :0)

Facetious Firecracker

There are some stereotypes about music teachers in this country and for some reason, they’ve been getting to me lately. Generally, I avoid discussing my career on here because honestly, I have a great job. I get to play games, teach kids how to create music, and I get most of the summers off. You won’t hear me complaining about the pay (except in jest) and frankly, there aren’t many music jobs out there. My district has brand new, state of the art buildings with SMART boards in every room. I am NOT intending to write this post about my specific job, just the general problems that any music teacher can appreciate. Now, with that being said, here I go….

1. We get really tired of people thinking that our job is nothing but fun and games.

I was once asked, “Are you a real teacher or just a music teacher?” Questions…

View original post 819 more words

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 60,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

How do you, step by step, go about assembling a performing group, decide on music, schedule rehearsal time and mount a performance?

Hello Friends!

Just a reminder…submissions for this month’s guest blogging contest should be submitted by November 1.  Read on for Mallory Martin’s submission, followed by one from Emily Quezada.  Thanks for sharing ladies!  The idea is to get lots of ideas out there!  You can email your submissions to me at doremi9642@aol.com or doremi9642@gmail.com, or you can type your submission right into the comment box.

The prize this month is…..(drum roll)…..

Favorite Folk Songs by Peter Yarrow

From Mallory:

You asked for step-by-step, so you got it!

Assembling my performance group is pretty straightforward.  My performance group is a 4th and 5th grade extra-curricular choir.  I write an invitation letter every fall and distribute it to all 4th and 5th grade students.  Children must return the permission slip before the first day of rehearsal.  The permission slip contains the child’s name, grade, and home room; the parent or guardian’s name and signature, phone number, and email; and a check box for how they will get home after rehearsals.

There are no auditions; I accept every student who wants to join.  At this age, I think turning students away causes a lot more harm than allowing a weak singer into the group.  I have heard too many horror stories of people who gave up singing or music for life because of one music teacher who told them they were bad.  Plus, I am a music TEACHER!  It’s my job to TEACH them to sing well!  I usually get about 50% of the students to sign up for choir.  This number increases when there is a performance scheduled at a major venue such as a Twins game or the Mall of America.

Choir rehearsals are after school, once per week.  The two grade levels rehearse separately because my classroom is too small to house all of them and there are no other available rooms in my building at that time.  Last year, rehearsals were 45 minutes.  I found that was not enough time to really go into the music, so I extended it to 60 minutes this year.  I feel like we can learn a lot more.  And, although it’s a high-energy group, I can take a minute to wait for them to be quiet without feeling like I’m wasting precious time.

Since our performances are in the gymnasium (we have a stage with curtains, lights, and sound system in our gym), we do rehearse on stage the week of the concert.  I set up the stage myself (big big job!) on Tuesday, then we start at the beginning of the concert and get as far as we can.  The next day, we pick up where we left off and go back and work transitions, solo parts, wordy songs, or anything else that needs special attention.  On Thursday morning, I pull kids from class for 60 minutes (thanks to the classroom teachers’ flexibility!) for our final rehearsal.  We eat lunch together then perform for the entire school (and whichever parents show up) at 1:30.  We do not rehearse after school that day, but meet back in the music room at 6:30 P.M. to warm up, go to the bathroom, and line up for the 7:00 performance.

Setting up and striking the stage is technically my job, but luckily I have helpful custodians and students and parents.  And, I try to plan ahead so the job is as small as possible.

I select repertoire as far in advance as possible.  Due to my predecessor’s panache, my school community is used to big, dance-y, costume-y, showy, themed programs.  My principal supports my desire to showcase quality music in a manner that is engaging, educational, and entertaining (which means I am trying to tone it down a bit!).  So, I often select music with a theme, and plan on doing a “big” show once every other year, so each student gets to do a “big” show.  I love dancing and choreographing, so I will often create simple dance moves that are riser-friendly and musically appropriate.  I also think that simple costumes are fun.  Read on to see two of my ideas for simple yet effective costuming.

This December’s theme is seasons.  This way, I get to select quality music and let the students perform some holiday music without making a full-out holiday concert.

Song List

Spring: Shadowphobia, Emerald Isle, and Piney Mountain Home (all Music K – 8)

Summer: Red Dragonflies (Japanese); Love the Summer, and We Go for the Gold (Music K – 8)

Fall: I Like the Colors of the Fall, Do You Recall September (Music K – 8); Skin and Bones (Traditional: I use the arrangement from Share the Music Grade 1.  The fifth graders love it and have no idea it’s from a first grade textbook.)

Winter: Winter Holiday (partner song with “Jingle Bells”) and Holiday Sing-Along (from Share The Music Grade 6)

For decorations, the art teacher is giving me the 3rd graders’ leaves after she takes them down.  In addition, I am going to cut out a huge snowflake, flower, and sun and pin them to the back curtains.  Décor: check!

For flair, we have some simple choreography to “Shadowphobia” and “Love the Summer,” as well as sign language for “Do You Recall September.”  We will add rain, cricket, bird, and frog sounds to “Red Dragonflies.”  I will have students who participate in sports wear their uniforms for “We Go for the Gold.”  I will print off words for the Holiday sing-along and have the audience join us on some of the songs.

My concert next April will be the revue “My Planet, Your Planet” published by Music K – 8.  I have written my own dialogue about some aliens who come to Earth because their planet was overtaken by garbage.  They want our help and end up teaching us about being “green.”  The choir will get T-shirts (paid for on their own unless there is a financial hardship, when the PTO will cover their cost) that are green with alien eyes on the front and the Earth on the back.  Students portraying aliens will wear the shirts normally with sunglasses and students portraying “Earthlings” will wear the shirts reversed with some sort of “Earthly” headgear such as a baseball cap or cowboy hat.

I hate spending money on props and costumes!  So, I try to: 1. Use items students already own.  2. Use items students will be purchasing anyway.  3. Buy items that are versatile and can be used over and over.

My gymnasium has a sound system and I have two fifth graders somewhat trained in how to use it.  Basically, they stand backstage to adjust the gain (volume) and start and stop the CD player.

I have an accompanist for any songs that will not be performed with CD.  She is paid from district funds at a standard, stinky district rate.

I am free to schedule my own concerts, but I make sure not to conflict with any concerts of our “feeder” schools (the middle and high schools that we feed into).

I have not had any negative comments from parents about my performances.  I am very sensitive to the inclusion of sacred music.  I am careful to find a balance between sacred and secular music and always choose sacred music for its educational value.  I am ready with a list of educational merits of each sacred song in case a parent or administrator wonders about the appropriateness of my song choice.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this essay contest!  I look forward to the opportunity to read other teachers’ submissions and glean many new ideas from them.

Mallory Martin

From Emily

My classroom teachers take on grade level performances (this began after we participated in an arts integration grant), so I am only responsible for giving performances with my after school groups. I have chorus (3-5) and Orff (4-5) who meet separately once a week to rehearse. The only requirement to join these groups is to have a signed contract and pay the activity fee. Auditions have their place but for these groups, I don’t feel it is necessary. We usually have 10-13 rehearsals before a performance.

In addition to my after school groups, I like to feature a class from another grade. Last year it was a 2nd grade class who performed Giddy-up My Burro.

My basic plan starts with knowing that my winter concert will always be something holiday/winter themed and my spring is always a musical. From there I narrow it down. When I am planning a winter concert I like to come up with some sort of theme to help narrow my song selection.

For example, last year’s winter concert was “A Passport Through the Holidays”. We performed music from around the world and the kids read a script describing where the piece came from and the celebration it is from. Here’s what we performed:

Giddy-up My Burro
La Pinata
Lo Yisa Goi
Kwanzaa Celebration
African Noel
Sleigh Ride (Recorder)
Christmas Comin’
Jingle Bells (Recorder)
Lion Dance

Once I have my theme I select songs that will highlight each group separately and then a few that feature both. I also like to find a way to incorporate recorder and movement; whether that be dance, sign language, etc. Some of the songs that we performed were simple but I made some tweaks to the arrangement to up it to where my performing groups were.

Emily Quezada

Questions and Answers

Hello Friends,Retirement is every bit as busy as teaching was, hence the long delay between posts recently.  I’ve received several comments that contained questions or requests, so “Question and Answer” seemed to be the best way to format a new post.

Question 1 is easy: “Are you ok?”  Yep….I’m fine.  My schedule was frustratingly full during August and the beginning of September – so much so that I was beginning to ask “When do I get to start my retirement?”  Things are starting to slow down now, so I’m ready to get back to one of my top priorities: blogging.  Thanks so much, Judy, for your concern!

Question 2 was a request for weeks 4 and 5 of lesson plans.  One of my goals is to  write some of the activities that I’ve used in other years, but for now here are the links to the lessons that I did last year.

Primaries, week 4    https://tuesdaymusic.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-week-in-a-nutshell-friday-september-16-primaries/

Intermediates, week 4  https://tuesdaymusic.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/the-week-in-a-nutshell-friday-september-16-2011-intermediates/

Primaries and intermediates, week 5  https://tuesdaymusic.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/the-week-in-a-nutshell-friday-sept-23-2011/

An easy way to access these lessons is to use the “Search by Month” drop down.  There is still one more lesson in September, so you would choose September 2011 from the drop down menu, and it will take you to all of the lessons that were posted last September.

Question 3 was actually a series of questions from Theresa Ogan.

“How do you decide “when” and “what kind” of music program (theme, topic, musical, instrumental, vocal, or combination) each grade level will perform?2) Suggestions for how to schedule rehearsals. (The past few years, our school has been over-loaded which has dramatically affected the quality and what type of program we can do.)3) What Musicals have been your favorites and of course including your students, staff and family favorites?”

I could keep on inquiring, but want to respect your precious time and everyone else that reads your  blog!!”

First of all, ask away!  Questions really help me know what to write about.  I’d love to know what you’d like to read about!

The “when” of music programs in our district is, in many ways, a limited decision.  Our district has become large enough that the programs in an elementary building could easily interfere with a middle or high school program for families that have children at 2 or more levels.  Therefore, we decide upon our calendar of events together in a department meeting, to avoid conflicts as much as possible.  When a conflict is unavoidable we schedule the elementary concert early, (6:30), and the middle or high school program later, (7:30 or 8:00), so that parents will be able to get to both performances.

At the elementary level, all second graders participate in a performance.  We alternate between the holidays and early spring so that those of us with more than one building won’t have to do 2 programs within a week of each other.  e.g., in my building A there is a program in December, while building B does theirs in March.  The following year we switch, so that no one always has a holiday program while another always has a spring program.

Our 4th and 5th graders have the option of performing during both of those years by joining chorus and/or band.  That performance is always near the end of the year.  In addition, they sing at a local craft fair in December, as well as the school wide holiday sing along.   Rehearsing with 4th and 5th grades is a challenge, because, although they rehearse during recess, they do not have the same recess time.  4th grade is having lunch while 5th grade is having chorus.  We worked this out by alternating chorus weeks by grade,,,4th grade would meet on week A, 5th on week B.  They learn their parts separately.

As we got closer to program time I asked the cafeteria monitors to  please allow chorus members to get in line first, and then let them come to the music room as soon as they were finished eating.  In that way, I received some time with both groups together.  I was only allowed 45 minutes of rehearsal with both groups on stage the day before the dress rehearsal, because they had to be pulled from instructional time in order to attend.  Not ideal, but we made it work.

Themes of the programs were up to me.  During the holidays we did multicultural programs like “December in Our Town”, or added additional songs to “An All American Christmas”.    In the spring it was a bit more difficult to decide.  For the last 2 years I had to make do with whatever I already had on hand because of budget restrictions.  Last year I used my Music Express magazines to put together a program of jazz pieces that included “Route 66”, “Birdland”, and “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Aint Got That Swing”.  The year before I used a different volume of Music Express for a program of Broadway songs including “Put on a Happy Face” from “Bye Bye Birdie”, “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” and “For Good” from “Wicked”.  One year I downloaded karaoke tracks from iTunes and made my own arrangements.

I can see I may have to do an entire post of favorite pieces…..

Question 4 is from me to you:

How do you, step by step, go about assembling a performing group, decide on music, schedule rehearsal time and mount a performance?

This will be our second contest!  You may give general steps, or use an actual program that ou are working on.  (That would give us multiple repertoire ideas….!)  Once again I will submit all responses to a panel of music teachers for selection.  the prize will be:

Favorite Folk Songs, The peter Yarrow Songbook.  12 songs with cd.

Submission time begins now and will close November 1.  This gives lots of time for busy teachers to get their thoughts together.  Ready?  Go!


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