Tuesday, January 3, 2012


One of my MANY New Years Resolutions is to be a better blogger. 

So, I thought I'd start by telling you about a project I've been working on for a couple of months. 

A few years ago, I started podcasting with two other music teachers, Carol Broos and Brenda Muench.  I had met both of these ladies online, first on Plurk, and then I followed them on Twitter.  We talked virtually for about six months before we met in person at the IMEA Conference in 2009.  We began a podcast show called "Musically and Technically Speaking" (MATS), which we did for about 2 years before life and internet connections got in the way.

Carol approached both of us regarding a new show for the website EdReach.  This new podcast is called the aRTs Roundtable, and we discuss issues in arts education, including technology, PLNs, and creativity in the classroom.  It has been an awesome experience so far, and I've enjoyed recording each week.

You can actually subscribe to our podcast through iTunes (iTunes - Podcasts - EdReach » aRTs Roundtable by EdReach- The Education Media Network).  You can also visit our page on EdReach here: ARTs Roundtable | EdReach

It has been a wonderful experience to discuss issues in arts education with such talented educators.  I've already learned a lot from them and hope to learn even more! 

Monday, August 15, 2011


My music classroom has a new addition this year:

Yup, that's my brand new SMARTboard!  Our district is in the midst of a 2-year rollout for SMARTboards in almost every classroom.  I was lucky enough to be chosen for the first-year rollout.  I was also selected as a SMARTboard Trainer...once we are trained, we are expected to help and train our colleagues/coworkers/team members, even those who don't have a board.  It's an exciting time, but also a bit of a stressful time.  I JUST finished my curriculum for the middle school, and am now trying to create lessons using the SMARTboard.  I'm hoping to find lessons online that others have created as well.

It's scary to believe that the summer is already over and we're gearing up for another year of teaching/learning.  I've had an excellent summer and am glad that I was able to have a little bit of downtime between grad school and the start of the school year!  There are lots of opportunities ahead to be excited about!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our fearless Instructional Design leader...

Bill Miller (the Instructional Design teacher) was also one of my high school band directors.  I couldn't resist (not that I tried very hard) putting a picture up of him from the good ol' days!

Week 6

Week 6 is always an interesting experience.  Final projects and exams are being completed.  Presentations are being done in front of classes.  Rehearsals are frantically being held in order to get the ensembles ready for the Graduation Concert.  Project and work examples are being turned in.  It's a mad dash to get everything ready and finished by Saturday.

At the same time, it's also a time where everyone gets rather silly.  Everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Graduating students are positively giddy with excitement over the fact that they are mere days away from graduation and that coveted diploma.  Professors are trying (in vain) to keep everyone in line and focused.  It's an exciting time, and a fun, entertaining time.

We are 2 days away until graduation!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The light at the end of the tunnel

I've been in grad school for 4 years now, taking classes during the summer months and on weekends during the school year.  I've spent hours in front of the computer typing up lesson plans, thesis papers, assessments, curriculum maps, strategies for reaching all learners, and arrangements of my own music.  I've spent many sleepless nights working on homework, trying to get my computer to cooperate when it decided to eat a paper, and working on projects.

And, it all ends on Saturday.

It's been quite an adventure, and these past three years (while I've been in "residency") have been particularly enlightening.  I've learned a lot about myself over the pat 3 years, including just how much I can handle, that my breaking point is a lot farther away from what it used to be, and that I can do pretty much anything I can put my mind into.  I've discovered that I really should be singing soprano, not alto.  I've discovered that I, as a former band director, do understand vocal and general music, and that I've build a pretty amazing program at my school.  I've learned about vocal health, choosing choral repertoire, incorporating technology in my classroom, APA style formatting, curriculum development, engaging students, etc. etc. etc.  I know WAY too much about APA formatting.  ;)

It's been a great four years.  I've met a lot of truly amazing musicians and people from literally all over the world, from Australia to China to the Bahamas, not to mention people all over the USA.  Thanks to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Plurk, I'll be able to stay connected to many of these new friends for years to come.

But it still all ends Saturday.  And while I'm excited to finally be able to put the student cap to rest (at least for a little while), I know I'm going to miss it terribly.

So now what am I going to do to fill up my summer months?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 5

Hello, week 5!  This is traditionally the week where everyone shuts down due to the stress and strain of being in an incredibly intense 6-week graduate program.  There's much weeping and gnashing of teeth involved.  Just kidding...mostly!

It's been a crazy few days.  Last Saturday, I had to be downtown bright and early for the comprehensive exam (I chose to take a 3 hour essay test instead of making a portfolio).  Of course, as luck would have it, this was the morning (like several others) where my CAR WOULDN'T START!  Yup.  My car decided to have a hissy fit that morning.  Luckily, I was leaving early, and had enough time to call my parents and have them bring over my mom's car (since mine was blocking my husband's and I was quickly running out of time).  Of course, 5 minutes after I left, my car started.  Sigh.

The actual test went really well.  50 minutes goes by VERY fast when you're frantically trying to answer 2 essay questions.  It was a little hairy for the first test, but once I realized how much I needed to keep an eye on time, the second and third section went much better.  It was entertaining watching everyone in the room shaking their writing hands furiously throughout and after each section of the test.  I'm feeling very good overall about the test.  If, for some reason, I royally messed up one or more sections, I just have to meet with the grader of that portion of the test and discuss it, and if necessary, retake it. 

Week 5 is where everyone has to buckle down.  For those of us lucky enough to be graduating this year, it also marked Poster Night!  I'll be writing more about that one later, as I have lots of pics to share with it!  It was a great night, and I really feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted...my Master's Project is officially done.  Everything has been turned in, and I'm one step closer to graduating! 

If I can just get my homework done, I am good to go for graduation next Saturday!  Over the next 10 days, I have to make a semester-long assessment for beginning and advanced middle school choir, finish my blog for Gower, finish my repertoire list for Choral methods, and make a power point showing form.  Any takers?   Anyone?   Anyone at all?  No?  Fine, I'll do my own homework. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

VCM Graduate Ensembles Concert Tonight!

Tonight, the VanderCook Graduate Ensembles will be performing in a concert at Herman Hall on the IIT campus in Chicago.  For those who cannot attend, the concert will be streamed live via the website http://www.banddirector.com at 7pm CST.  It'll be a great night of music and VERY talented musicians.  Combined Choir (all majors) starts the evening off, followed by Orchestra and the VCM Jazz Band.  After a brief intermission, the Concert Chorale and the Band will end the evening.

Hope you can watch!