The Thing About Learning

I am by nature a very thoughtful person. People who know me well frequently accuse me of overthinking many things, and I have to admit that they are right--I do overthink often. As someone almost constantly in conscious thought about something, there are many thought that come and go, forgotten as quickly as they arrived, … Continue reading The Thing About Learning


What Does Music Mean?

One of the more perplexing questions of the ages concerning music is the question, what does music mean? Philosophers from Aristotle to Bernstein have tried to answer this question, but none have done so in a way that once and for all settles the matter. Bernstein devoted much of his lecturing life to tackling the … Continue reading What Does Music Mean?

Learning Objectives and Essential Questions

If you are a pubic school music educator, then you are accustomed to writing and posting instructional objectives for your students. In my district, student learning objectives must be posted on the front board at all times so that anyone observing the class can easily see what you are expecting the students to know and … Continue reading Learning Objectives and Essential Questions

Musical Literacy and Inclusion

On September 15-16, 2017 I attended "Tanglewood Conversation" at Boston University. It was a meeting of music educators from within the Boston University music education community to discuss issues of importance to music education in 2017 and to mark the 50th anniversary of the original Tanglewood Symposium held in 1967. What follows are a few … Continue reading Musical Literacy and Inclusion

Conversational Solfege and the National Core Arts Standards

Conversational solfege is a curriculum for teaching music literacy developed by Dr. John Feierabend. It is a literature based curriculum that is grounded in Music Learning Theory and the Kodaly philosophy for music education. It is not a method that one uses to the exclusion of all others, but rather an effective way of teaching … Continue reading Conversational Solfege and the National Core Arts Standards

What Does ‘Explain and Demonstrate’ Mean?

As teachers, we are all familiar with asking students to explain something. Explaining requires that students go beyond reciting a memorized answer, or randomly deciding on a response. Explaining involves giving reasons for why an answer was given, and the giving of evidence from a text. Demonstrating, on the other hand, is showing or doing … Continue reading What Does ‘Explain and Demonstrate’ Mean?

Using Student Feedback to Improve Instruction

In order to provide the best possible instruction for our students, we must be informed about what they are experiencing as they go through the learning activities we have planned for them. We must know what difficulties individual students are having, what progress each student is making, and what connections the student is making between … Continue reading Using Student Feedback to Improve Instruction

Why Teach Instruments in General Music?

From the outset, I want to assure all of you who are Orff teachers that I am not going to oppose children playing instruments in general music. My students play recorders, barred instruments, and non-pitched instruments, and I understand the value in teaching all of them, In fact, that is what I want to discuss … Continue reading Why Teach Instruments in General Music?

Selecting Music to Experience

One of the more challenging piece of the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) for music has been having students select music to experience. For years, I chose the music my students would rehearse, perform, and listen to. This was expedient, because I could select music based on what I wanted my students to learn and … Continue reading Selecting Music to Experience