How to Prepare for Your Music Education Degree – Guest Post

If you will be juggling full-time work plus earning an online music education degree, you’ll need to have a plan in place that could help streamline your life. In addition to taking college seriously, setting goals, managing expectations, and making the most of support systems like family and friends, you should understand how to best prep for your music education degree as a nontraditional student.

Knowing exactly how you will use your degree can help get you through the tough times ahead. While it may not be easy to balance current career demands with studying for finals or writing papers, if you remain focused on your goals, you should find earning a college degree a great way to jumpstart a new career.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your online music education degree:

Expectations. When you apply to a college to earn your online music education degree, there are certain things typically expected of you. You should have:

  • some type of background in vocal or musical performance, so experience with playing instruments or singing will be a plus.
  • basic music theory is often assumed and/or covered quickly when in college.

Also, be prepared to audition since some music programs require it as part of your application process.

Coursework. As an online music education student, you may take classes such as Basic Ear Training, Music Notation, Counterpoint, or Arranging:  Rhythm Section. It may also be a good idea to keep a portfolio of your accomplishments, as you earn your online music education degree, since you usually receive hands-on music education experience in the form of juries and recitals.

Careers. As an online music education major, you have already decided upon your college major or specialty. However, what careers could you have with a music education degree? Depending on your level of higher education and whether or not you earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD, you could be a Music Professor, an Early Childhood Music Educator, a Music Consultant, or a School Music Educator. Skills like teaching, leadership qualities, musical talent, and thorough music knowledge could help you jumpstart your career upon college graduation.

Accreditation and Certification. It is important that the online music degree you are earning is from an accredited college should you need to transfer credits or seek employment after graduation where a certain type of accreditation is desired. In addition to the importance of accreditation from a legit accrediting agency, most states require you to have a bachelor’s degree in music in order to be certified. If you want to teach music education in your state, you should check in advance to ensure the music education program you enroll in will grant teacher certification upon graduation. The National Association of Schools or Music (NASM) is a great resource to check out.

Social Media and the Internet. Make the most of tools such as the Internet and social media when you are researching colleges and music education programs. Setting up a LinkedIn profile may help you connect with other music education professionals and network. Use Pinterest to organize your college search by creating boards and pinning school info and college tips that you find helpful. Conduct regular Internet searches that may turn up links to sites which offer free sheet music or K-12 music education resources.

Earning your online music education degree, while working full-time in another career, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you follow the tips mentioned above, you should discover the process of going back-to-college and simultaneously having a career may be fulfilling as well as rewarding. Be sure to think about where you want to live after graduation in addition to frequently perusing job openings in those states.

Liisa Jaaskelainen works for where she manages the online community. In her free time she enjoys spending time outdoors and working out.

Saving Money on Expensive Music Software – Guest Post by Chad Criswell

When you think about the music technology software that we use on a regular basis in the classroom you start to realize just how expensive it can be to upgrade to the newest versions.  Worse yet is if you don’t own the software to begin with and have to purchase a new license for Finale or some other program at prices well above $300 per copy even with a teacher’s discount.  There are some other options though for people that simply want to get their music down on paper without having to spend the big bucks for the big name titles.  Here are some suggestions for ways to find low cost music software alternatives.

High Tech Low Budget
The first, and highly recommended place to find alternative options to high priced software is an article over at MusicEdMagic called, simply enough, High Tech, Low Budget.  I put this together to accompany a presentation I made at the 2012 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and I keep it updated with new products as they come onto the market.  It’s packed with dozens of ideas for music notation software, audio recording and editing software, video editing software, music theory software, and many more as well.
For any music software programs that you can’t find on the High Tech Low Budget list check out the website known as  I use this one all the time for finding alternative software recommendations, both paid and free, for almost every product under the sun including lots of music related programs.  The only problem I have with them is that they make it confusing to find the link you need to actually go visit the website of the product you are looking at.  They like to keep you on the site as long as possible.  Other than that though it is a great little site with plenty of great low cost alternatives.
Open Source Alternatives is another useful site for those that are seeking other software options for common everyday tasks.  It’s not as friendly to use as AlternativeTo is and is not categorized like the HTLB article but it has one of the largest lists of alternative software programs available.  Plus many of them are open source and quite often free.

Between the three suggestions given above you can find just about any piece of software you might ever need.  Remember, for every high priced piece of software there are almost always some low cost or free alternatives.  Before shelling out hundreds of dollars for a commercial music program check these lists to find a more budget friendly alternative.

Chad Criswell is a noted music educator living and teaching in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa.  His articles have appeared in dozens of publications both online and in print.  He currently serves as the national music technology writer for NAfME’s Teaching Music Magazine and webmaster of

The 4 Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument Online – A Guest Post

The internet has changed the way people do everything, and I mean, literally EVERYTHING. Musical instrument tutorials are constantly cropping up online, with some businesses actually coming together and earning a living from starting these businesses.

Below is a list of reasons as to why learning a musical instrument online may be the way forward:

1. Access: Those interested in learning musical instruments can often struggle to music teachers in the area that they are based, which can result in either long drives, or a sheer lack of lessons. Learning a musical instrument online via video cuts out these access issues, meaning that those interested in learning a musical instrument can, from the comfort of their own home, without having to travel miles. Additionally, there is the issue for those looking to learn exotic or uncommon musical instruments. Even if the would-be student can’t find a site which specialise in the online tutorial of the specific musical instrument that they are interested in learning, the chances are that there will be some form of instructional Youtube video to watch!

2. Affordability: Hiring music teachers can be incredibly costly, with many music teachers asking for hundreds of pounds for a one hour lesson. Online videos, which are often pre-recorded, meaning that they can duplicated, enabling the teacher to provide an already recorded video, which can be sent or downloaded by anyone which wants lessons in the specific instrument. This cuts costs, enabling online teachers to provide their services at an affordable price for students.

3. Pace: Learning an instrument with a music teacher can be stressful, with music teachers often pushing their students at a pace that they are uncomfortable with. Learning music online without a direct teacher means that students can download their video at any time, and can replay it at any time, meaning that they can learn as fast or as slowly as they desire.

4. Quality: It’s often the case that teachers of musical instruments aren’t competent enough at the instrument they teach, to teach it. This can lead to awkward situations where the student is looking to cancel, but feel awkward doing so. By purchasing online music lessons, if the student isn’t happy with the quality of the lessons they are receiving, they can simply cancel their lessons via cancelling their direct debit, leaving no hard feelings for the student, who can choose to take their lessons elsewhere with minimal fuss!

This post was written on behalf of The Online Academy of Irish Music, an established online tutorial service of traditional Irish musical instruments.

The Online Irish Academy of Music is our newest advertiser here on Music Matters Blog and we are grateful for their support of the online music education community! If you are interested in finding out more about how you can promote your company, event, or product, just send me an e-mail and I’ll let you know about our advertising packages.

What Music School Taught Me by Adele, Leona Lewis and Friends – Guest Post by Matthew Pink

Can creativity be taught? It’s a difficult one.

The pursuit of artistic practices across all disciplines must involve – out of sheer necessity – the dedication to practice and learning. Sometimes, it has to be said, at the expense of creative flair.

Similarly, if the process of learning involves restrictions and pre-existing straight-jackets unwittingly (or not) passed down from teacher to pupil, then doesn’t the end product (from both pupil and teacher) inevitably end up confined or reduced in some way?

Perhaps the key to great music teaching is better seen as facilitating – the offering of a route map with various options printed thereupon – signposts, helpful clues, pre-plotted pathways – but with the overall goal being that the wayfinder must carve their own route.

Here in the UK, the stock of music schooling has not just been in the ascendance over recent years but has undergone something of a starburst. Music teaching had been traditionally viewed as a little on the dour side, creatively speaking. Alex Kapranos of successful British guitar band Franz Ferdinand supports this theory, “None of us had particularly positive experiences of music in education as children. We were taught that music was written by an anonymous person from the past, to be regurgitated without feeling by you, the child.”

Self-schooled musicians, who have taught themselves by ear, learning the tracks from sheet music or from just sheer bloody-mindedness, have really been the dominant gene pool for a number of years. Creativity was never something that they were taught, it was more like something they learned how to make use of in whatever fashion they could find or that came naturally.

But a sea change in attitudes to music schooling in the UK could well be traced to back to the first words uttered by UK rap doyen Dizzee Rascal after he was announced as the winner of the prestigious Mercury Music Prize back in 2003: he thanked his music teacher Tim Smith for rescuing and inspiring him. This, it could be argued, changed the perception of music schooling for a new generation.

Since then to complement Dizzee’s non-street message, there has been a wave of talent to graduate from the now famous Brit School. The glamorous roll-call includes artists who have enjoyed huge success on both sides of the Atlantic; Leona Lewis, Adele and Katie Melua are just three.

Adele is hugely positive about her time at music school; “The Brit School was amazing; I still really miss it. I hate to think where I’d have ended up if I hadn’t gone to The Brit School. It’s quite inspiring to be around 700 kids who want to be something – rather than 700 kids who just wanna get pregnant so they get their own flat.

I didn’t have some rich daddy who built me a studio. But I loved The Brit School. It was a bit like Fame sometimes – you get people doing their ballet stretches and singers having sing-offs.”

By all accounts, the Brit School seems to be getting a lot of things right in terms of showing the way to creativity and not just imposing top-down, dry music learning. It’s even free to attend, if highly competitive.

Says Katie Melua, “They taught us that you are a person, so you are creative. You learnt that you can do anything you want to if you just go out and do it.” Kate Nash concurs, “I loved the place… I wouldn’t have been prepared for what’s happening to me now if I hadn’t been to The Brit School. Being there gave me the confidence I needed.”?

The other big advantage of learning in a music school environment like that of the Brit School is that you are constantly surrounded by others who eat, sleep and breathe music too. This can be very healthy for creativity. The peers have the same mind-set, the same passion and, if the school is doing their job correctly, complementary abilities which should just give alchemy that little nudge along helping duos, trios or groups form.

Moreover, and this is especially crucial nowadays, at a musical school you can have access to the smorgasbord of music-making, and music-recording technology; technology which has played such a big role in the democratisation of music production as well as the liberation of producers world-wide who have found their own direct distribution channels through social media and the web.

However, whether all of this is geared up to teach pupils how to become a musician or, rather, how to further sculpt the musician that is already in existence, is a debatable point.

Moreover, the music school as described by Adele, Katie Melua et al seems more to be about learning how to harness creativity, rather than how to become creative in the first place. In simple terms – benefiting from a musical education is not the same as being a musician.

But what do you think? Can creativity be taught? Engendered? Or just facilitated? What are your methods to make this happen for your students and your particular learning environment?

Matthew Pink is our newest guest poster here on Music Matters Blog and we are grateful for his support of the online music education community! If you are interested in finding out more about how you can promote your company, event, or product, just send me an e-mail and I’ll let you know about our advertising packages.

Music Education and Therapy – Guest Post by Marcela De Vivo

My oldest son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was a toddler, and ever since we’ve tried countless treatments and alternative therapies to help him live as rich a life as possible. Our most recent exploration was into the world of music therapy, and it was astonishing how well he responded to it.

Since the Mozart Effect was made popular in the 1950’s, parents everywhere have begun to expose their children to classical music. It is said to help improve brain performance and even raise a child’s IQ.

As time has passed, all types of music have been accepted as part of music therapy. Music therapy is used to help children in the classroom, at home and even in hospitals, regardless of whether or not they have special needs.

Music Therapy for Children with Disabilities

Music therapy has been shown to improve speech and language deficits and cognitive abilities. It can also help build your child’s social skills and sensory motor functioning – especially in children with Autism.

Music therapists are board certified trainers who have learned to facilitate specific music activities to help your child’s brain develop. Other advocates of music therapy say that it can also provide a huge boost to a child’s self-esteem.

Imagine a happy child smiling and bouncing around as you help them dance to the music created by the therapist. This will also help you foster a healthy non-verbal relationship with your child. So much love and adoration can be expressed as they experience the music around them with you.

My son’s physical limitations prevent him from learning an instrument, but the music therapist comes to play music for him and he loves every second of it. Being able to participate in this is only an added benefit. It’s almost as if the music therapy is for both of us. Seeing his smile is priceless.

Music can also be incorporated into all kinds of activities with your special needs child such as getting dressed, at bedtime, and when they are throwing a tantrum. It can help significantly calm them down and focus on something more positive than whatever is frustrating them.

Music Therapy for All Children

Research shows that music therapy has helped many a student achieve higher test scores in school. Even years later when children are taking the SAT and applying to colleges their test scores are slightly higher than their peers who did not participate in music therapy or education.

Some Charter schools in the United States are allowing children to wear their headphones during the day while they are doing class work because it helps them concentrate better. Music can be used to motivate your child in all kinds of situations – and this is definitely still considered therapy.

Young minds can be heavily shaped by music in many different ways. A large number of children find it easier to fall asleep at night time while listening to soothing music, like Mozart. This also helps their brains process their thoughts from throughout the day and has been shown to reduce nightmares and night terrors.

After seeing the benefits for my son, I would highly suggest anyone who is interested or considering music therapy to try it. The positive benefits to them are truly endless.

[Photo 1 courtesy of]
[Photo 2 courtesy of]
[Photo 3 courtesy of]

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and proud mom of three in the Los Angeles area. She specializes in health, tech, and marketing, and currently works with David Anderson Pianos, who first sparked her interest in music therapy.

[How to] Expand Your Teaching Practice Online – A Guest Post by Phil Amalong

It is now second nature to turn to search engines like Google and Bing to find just about anything. Guess what? Your potential students (and their parents) are searching for a music teacher online right this minute. There are over 1 million music-learning-related searches every month on Google alone!

There’s a growing wave of music teachers benefiting from this trend by moving their studios online: teaching students across the globe, filling slow hours with students from other time zones, building their rosters…and earning more income!

Is it for me? Can I actually do this?

You’re already a great teacher and that’s the most important thing! Here’s a checklist of considerations to begin teaching music online:

* Have you used your webcam for Skyping or other video chat applications?  This is your fundamental communication tool. Setup for live online music lessons is easy and generally just requires a laptop with a built in webcam. Here are some ideas on how to set up your online teaching studio.

* Do you have adequate high speed Internet? Great video quality needs at least 1 Mbps of ‘upload’ speed (test your connection speed here: If you consider that each online student spends at least $60 per month on lessons, upgrading your internet connection is well worth the investment.

* Are you active online?  Kudos to you if you’re already spending time building your online presence with a website, a blog, YouTube channel, or by participating in forums. Check out these 4 simple ways to build your online presence.

Does it really work?

Most emphatically, yes!  Many teachers report that students exhibit higher levels of concentration and faster progress when focused on a screen. Wayne Land, a saxophone teacher with 40+ years experience had this to say of online music instruction:

There’s no guarantee that any method of taking lessons will work unless the student is committed to practicing.  That commitment needs to come from a profound desire to learn.  When one has that kind of internal need to make music, the practice time is something the student looks forward to and enjoys.  Likewise, the lesson time should be something looked forward to and enjoyed.  With everything in music learning, lesson time and practice time, I strongly believe that if you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing you aren’t improving.  Conversely, if you are enjoying your effort you “are” improving.  It makes little difference whether the teacher is sitting in the room next to you or speaking to you via online video chat unless there is a difference in the level of enjoyment.  Considering the advantages of taking your lessons right in the comfort of your own home, the online experience may actually improve the level of enjoyment and that is a very good thing indeed.

Yes, it works.  In fact, if the student has a more enjoyable experience, is less apprehensive and more enthusiastic, it can and will work “better” than in person.

How do I get started?

So you’re ready to start building your online teaching studio. Now what? The web is a massive space and…chock full of great ways to waste your money and valuable time!

If you plan on going it alone on a platform like Skype, you’ll need to split your time between teaching and marketing. That’s a tall order when you consider that a website, blog, ads, and a Facebook page (among others) are essential to getting the word out about your service.

If that sounds like too much of a distraction from the teaching itself, consider joining an online music lessons platform like The ZOEN. Let the professionals make a daily habit of using their marketing tools to attract students so you can focus on what you makes you special and valuable: teaching music!

However you choose to slice it, online music lessons are a great opportunity for teachers, and the possibilities for online music instruction are endless.

Phil Amalong is a teacher, composer, performer, entrepreneur and VP of Community and Content at The ZOEN. For more insights into online music teaching and best practices, visit Phil’s Blog. To start teaching for The ZOEN, apply now.

The ZOEN is our newest advertiser here on Music Matters Blog and we are grateful for their support of the online music education community! If you are interested in finding out more about how you can promote your company, event, or product, just send me an e-mail and I’ll let you know about our advertising packages.

4 Reasons to Choose Music Courses in London – Guest Post by Jenny Pilley

“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.” ~Lao Tzu

Many of us choose a university based on a few factors; the course, the potential for job success and the location. If further education is something you are considering this year then start looking now at what is available and what can give you the best start in a career. If location plays a big factor for you then London may well be the ideal place for you to start looking at continuing your education. So, what has London got to offer that many other places don’t?

1. Location: London offers so much more than other major cities due to its infrastructure. With a social buzz at every corner, channeling this in the right way can open doors and provide you with a major advantage.

2. Music Scene: Without a doubt, London is one of the world’s music capitals. It’s the ideal place to start your music career, to network, play and get into the industry. London is also where many of the top labels, studios, and management companies are housed. As well as hosting all the major stars, London has an incredibly vibrant and diverse music scene. On any given night you can check out acts from the four corners of the globe in every style imaginable. Whether that be the newest grime act in East London, legendary Jazzers at Ronnie Scotts, cutting edge alternative bands in Camden or some delectable soul in a super cool club.

3. Population: London is known for being a bustling city with so much diversity in terms of culture, food and style, but this makes it all the more exciting to be part of. University is about meeting people and interacting with a whole range of groups and there is no better city to do this than London. Also, the more people there are the more chance you have of meeting someone who can help you get a head start in your career. Yes there is also more competition, but the endless opportunities to learn about the industry, network and perform, are the reasons why aspiring musicians choose the capital city.

4. Work Potential: We all know that people are still struggling to find work in the current climate, but whilst in education why not take advantage of the opportunity to undertake work experience if it becomes available. With the various places that may be willing to take on undergraduates for short spells, it may mean you get a taste of the music industry whilst still at university, helping you decide which area of the sector you want to work in when you graduate. There are so many different things to consider, but for this industry you need to be in the heart of the action and there you have it, 4 reasons to choose London as the place for learning about and becoming part of the music industry.

This post was written by Jenny Pilley on behalf of Tech Music School – an established music college ( based in the heart of London.

Tech Music School is our newest advertiser here on Music Matters Blog and we are grateful for their support of the online music education community! If you are interested in finding out more about how you can promote your company, event, or product, just send me an e-mail and I’ll let you know about our advertising packages.

The Ultimate Music Classroom: Must-Haves for Every Music Educator – Guest Post by Claire Hines

If you’re planning to spend some time this summer revamping your studio and looking for fresh and fun ideas for the fall, you should be able to find some inspiration and helpful resources from this guest post by Claire Hines, of the Fun Music Company.

What does the 21st music classroom need? From music posters and kid-sized instruments to fun music albums, find out how to create the ultimate music experience for students in your classroom.

The Primary Classroom

When you teach young children on a day-to-day basis, your classroom reflects the vibrancy, energy, and life of the young child with colorful music posters on the wall with simple diagrams of music notation to the fun music props and instruments that you use during music time. Classroom materials, from music flash cards to recorded music, need to reflect a fun educational atmosphere.

The primary music classroom centers on kinetic music activities. Line the walls with colorful trunks or bookshelves stocked with essentials like a large rainbow parachute, colorful beanbags, rainbow scarves, puppets, and small percussion instruments like Toca egg shakers. Depending on space available, you may want to invest in child size mats or bright colorful towels for musical movement activities involving dance or yoga.

Stickers, Posters, and More

Posters in every music classroom can change thematically throughout the year. For example, during a jazz unit, posters about jazz instruments like the saxophone or artists like Charlie Parker can help students learn about jazz history. Classical music timelines are helpful for older students learning Western classical music while simple colorful diagrams of the treble clef and basic music theory will help young ones learn their note values.

Stickers and rewards remain an important part of every music classroom. Check out our printable Music Practice Charts and Stickers, meant to inspire and motivate young students to practice. For fun music rewards and toys, check out sites like The Music Stand ( and the Oriental Trading Company ( or sites like Zazzle (, where you can purchase music stickers and posters and upload your own music designs.

Fun music games are instrumental in teaching students new concepts. Flashcards are excellent memory tools for young students and should be a part of any classroom. Fun interactive computer music games and printable music games employ tested techniques, fun graphics, and enjoyable play to help students learn valuable concepts.

Music, Books, and Media

Excellent music books and media abound for youngsters. Enjoy this short list of must-have music titles and recordings.


  • The Wee Sing Songbook Series
  • I make music by Eloise Greenfield
  • Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
  • Story of the Orchestra (Book/CD) by Robert Levine
  • Lives of the Musicians by Kathleen Krull
  • The Animal Boogie (Book/CD) by Debbie Harter
  • Creepy Crawly Calypso (Book/CD) by Tony Langham
  • Carnival of the Animals: Classical Music for Kids (Book/CD) from Henry Holt and Co.


  • Putumayo Kids Presents: Dreamland – World Lullabies (CD) by Putumayo
  • Putumayo Kids Presents: Kids World Party (CD) by Putumayo
  • Ella Jenkins “Songs Children Love to Sing” (CD) by Ella Jenkins
  • Ella Jenkins “This is Rhythm” (CD) by Ella Jenkins
  • Beethoven’s Wig: Sing Along Piano Classics (CD) by Richard Perlmutter
  • Raffi  “The Singable Songs Collection” (CD) by Raffi
  • Sweet Honey in the Rock “Experience 101″ (CD) by Sweet Honey in the Rock
  • Eebee’s Adventures “Music & Sound” (DVD) by Eebee’s Adventures

Musical Instruments

For the primary classroom, classic Orff instruments and fun kid-size drums from Remo and LP give your students a chance to practice simple rhythms, melody, and harmony. The Remo Kids Make Music Too Kit provides small percussion instruments like finger cymbals and a guiro.

Many music educators use the recorder to teach students basics about melody and performance. Finding the right type of recorder for the classroom depends on your use. For schools on a budget, you can find inexpensive (and easily replaced) recorders at an affordable price online like the Yamaha Yrs-20 soprano, or you can opt for more durable versions like the Yamaha YRN-302B.

Yamaha instruments remain an excellent instrument brand for beginning instrumentalists and includes a wide array of brass, woodwind, string, and percussion instruments at affordable prices for most music programs. Yamaha instruments can be purchased directly from Yamaha or from secondary companies worldwide.


Putting together your own music classroom involves some time, preparation, and resources. Create a fun musical zone full of colorful posters and exciting games, flashcards, and music activities.

This is a guest post by Claire Hines from The Fun Music Company. The Fun Music Company creates Music Lesson Plans for music teachers worldwide.

Review and Giveaway of 5 Piano Books from Red Leaf Piano Works! by Martha Duncan

Thanks to Martha Duncan for submitting the following guest post highlighting Red Leaf Piano Works:

Don’t miss your chance to win one of these exciting new piano books!

What do you get when a group of piano teachers who also double as award-­winning composers get together? The answer is Red Leaf Pianoworks -­an online composers’ collective designed to showcase an outrageous collection of over 300 titles from beginner to advanced covering all genres from solos to quartets. All of their music is available from their easy-­to-­use website where you can sort by level, genre and composer as well as see first pages of scores and listen to sound samples. Readers may remember another Red Leafer – Rebekah Maxner, composer of the timely Titanic piano books for elementary and late intermediate piano. A sampling of other Red Leaf elementary collections is highlighted below:

Creatures Great and Small – by Joanne Bender. Fresh and fun, silly and sweet, these pieces are dedicated to the early pianist with an imagination and a sense of adventure. Fairies and Gnomes, Spooky Spider and Wiggly Worms, Dancing Donkey and Crazy Monkeys are some of the attractive works playable by Introductory to Elementary students. Chromatic and octatonic scales along with swing rhythms are introduced to make this  tonal music interesting and appealing -­ and the front cover artwork is delightful!




Dances, Daydreams & Dinosaurs – by Janet Gieck. Seventeen piano solos to capture the imagination with a variety of styles from jazzy rhythms in Sixty Four Beats and Gameboy to gentle 7th chords in the lovely Outdoor Skating Rink. Find contemporary techniques such as cluster chords in Spring Day, foot stomps in T. S. T-Rex, and aleatoric choices in Tricky Tracks. Boys will be particularly drawn to the dinosaur pieces that allow them to bring out their high energy dramatizations of prehistoric times. This book will lead students to dance, dream and



If Dogs Could Talk – by Martha Hill Duncan. If you have 5 – 9 year olds who like lyrics and coloring with their music, this set of little dramatic solos will be perfect for them. The composer’s favorites include a talking dog, a cat lurking behind the couch and a little bird who’s fallen from its nest. Great recital gems for the beginning or early reader who’s exploring legato/staccato touches and contrasting dynamics. The companion book Flying Horses, Talking Fish is only slightly more advanced in its keys and features touches of pedal, tapping and clapping effects.




Imagination – by Teresa Richert. Take a ride on a unicorn or meet a frog prince as he charms a fairy princess in this fully illustrated collection of ten solos composed especially for young students. Set sail with fierce pirates aboard a ghost ship in search of sunken treasure or march in a parade of pixies and meet a jolly elf. Imagine yourself as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, taking control of a magic wand or being really adventurous and waltz with terrible, clumsy ogres. These pieces explore a wide variety of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic resources and include dynamics, articulations, and damper pedal appropriate for students at this level.



Little Hands, Big Pieces – by Susan Griesdale. Fun and imaginative music for little ones to sound big!  Fifteen pieces constructed of major triads that cover a wide variety of style and mood. Discover the delicate Faerie Dust, or the pounding drums of Tribal Dance.  Join the fun with Hero’s March and Space Adventure, or the playful Sneaky and Three Cornered Hats. Cast your own spell with the eerie Magic Spell, or enjoy the sweet harmonies of Tea & Sweets and Cotton Candy.  This collection works well for all ages at the elementary level – easy to learn, easy to teach, but sounds difficult.  What more could a teacher ask for!!




Rags to Riches – by Beverly Porter. Bev Porter’s most famous piece Chromatic Rag (move over Fur Elise) is in this collection. One young fan writes: “Dear Ms. Porter I like your music because of the starting of Chromatic  Rag. I also like the 2nd lines ending because it gets more louder in a fun place. Thats why it’s awsome.” Other  infectious solos featured in this elementary collection are the jazzy Jazzmatazz and Get a Move On along with the  lyrical Rainy Day Song and impressionistic Silently Falls the Snow. Great recital fare!



Each of the above five composers has generously offered to giveaway a copy of one of her books. That means there will be five books total given away! If you’d like to enter to win one of them, just leave a comment below. The drawing will be held using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Thursday, May 10.

Five Ways to Introduce Concert Music to Children By Robert Greenberg

Robert Greenberg, author of How to Listen to Great Music: A Guide to Its History, Culture, and Heart, has written a humorous and helpful article for those looking for ways to introduce children to concert music. I’m looking forward to reading his book and gleaning new ideas for myself and my students! Enjoy the following guest post: Five Ways to Introduce Concert Music to Children by Robert Greenberg:

“Concert Music” is music written by primarily dead Euro-males between roughly 1650 and 1900, music typically heard in the rather formal environs of a concert hall. Yes, this music is often referred to as “classical music”, which is as useless and misleading a phrase as “real imitation margarine!” When we call something “classic”, we are identifying it with the ideals and restraint of ancient Greek art, which immediately rules out the great bulk of concert music, which as often as not is filled with       schmerz und schmutz, sturm und drang, angst and exaltation. Even if we use the word “classic” in its loosest permutation — to indicate something exemplary — who’s to say there isn’t such a thing as “Classic Jazz”, “Classic Rock” — and even, painful though it may be to contemplate, “Classic Death Metal/Grindcore”. So: a pox on the phrase “classical music”. Concert music it is.

And why, pray tell, should we want to introduce our children to concert music? Because it constitutes some of the greatest art our species has ever cooked up, musical art that informs, educates, entertains, inspires, and ultimately packs a toy shop’s worth of joy that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

1. It is a truism that children will read if they are read to and if they see their parents read. It is incumbent upon parents to set an example by listening to concert music at home and in the car (the latter might require some negotiation, but it CAN BE DONE). Don’t be afraid of playing the same piece over and over again; familiarity breeds affection.

(Having said all this, don’t play one type of music to the exclusion of all others. The distinctions we have created between “concert music” and “rock ‘n’ roll”, and “jazz” and so forth are generally meaningless to children. They tend to just like music — all music — which is how it should be.)

2. Invest in some decent percussion toys and encourage your kids to “play along” with recordings and videos. Yes, I’m aware that this can drive an adult up a wall, which is why we should do it with them. This makes us active, not passive participants in the musical process, and it’s more fun than you might think. As for “insulting” Bach or Mozart or Beethoven by doing this; my friends, they’re dead and beyond insult. Besides, do you really think playing along with a recording is more insulting than the disco arrangement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that was featured in the movie Saturday Night Fever? I rest my case.

3. Rent/buy/download and play cool movies like “Beethoven Lives Upstairs”, “Mr. Bach Comes to Call”, Disney’s “Peter and the Wolf” and “Fantasia 2000″. Each episode of Disney Junior’s “Little Einsteins” series focuses on a different piece of concert music and teaches all sorts of musical terminology as well. My three year-old son and five year-old daughter love them.

4. Go to local orchestral concerts TOGETHER, in particular children’s/family concerts. Outdoor festival concerts are even better, because the kids can run around and move to the music. Try to listen to the pieces on the program before hand. Music literacy is akin to written literacy, and a little (even a tiny!) bit of preparation pays off big time in terms of intensifying the experience.

5. Get a piano. It doesn’t have to be a 8’11¾” Steinway “D” (list price around 130k); a little spinet will do. Put it in a place where the kids can bang on it without making the rest of the family crazy. When it’s time for piano lessons (at age 6 or 7; no need to rush) the piano will thus be an old friend and not a new torture device. (A “piano” is made out of wood, medal, leather and felt. It breathes. It is real. Its mechanism follows the will of the player’s body. An electric keyboard is made out of plastic and circuitry. It is not real. It does not breath. It has no place in your house or apartment. “But it makes so many different sounds!” So does a cat in a microwave: does sonic variety justify putting little Boots in the micro? “But we don’t have room for a piano.” Yes you do. “But my child can practice a keyboard wearing earphones, so we don’t have to listen”. Oh, that’s a GREAT message to send your child: go practice, but don’t make us listen to you.)

Recording starter kit. Here are some great works wonderfully performed to start out with.

  • Johann Sebastian Bach, Brandenburg Concertos; Trevor Pinnock conducting, on Archiv
  • Wolfgang Mozart, Symphonies Nos. 39, 40, & 41; Neville Marriner conducting, on EMI
  • Ludwig (“my friends call me Louis) van Beethoven, Nine Symphonies; John Eliot Gardiner conducting, on Archiv
  • Camille Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals; Charles Dutoit conducting, on London
  • Sergei Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf; Carlo Rossi conducting, narrated by Boris Karloff, Vanguard

© 2012 Robert Greenberg, author of How to Listen to Great Music: A Guide to Its History, Culture, and Heart

Author Bio
Robert Greenberg, 
author of How to Listen to Great Music: A Guide to Its History, Culture, and Heart, is a speaker, pianist, and music historian. He has served on the faculties of UC Berkeley, California State University East Bay, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he was chairman of the Department of Music History and Literature and director of the Adult Extension Division. He is currently music historian-in-residence with San Francisco Performances and also serves as the resident composer and music historian to NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered. Since 1993, he has recorded over 550 lectures for The Great Courses.

Founded in 1990, The Great Courses produces DVD and audio recordings of courses by top university professors in the country, which are sold through direct marketing. It is a nine-figure-a-year business and they distribute forty-eight million catalogs annually. They offer more than four hundred courses on topics including business and economics; fine arts and music; ancient, medieval, and modern history; literature and English language; philosophy and intellectual history; religion; social sciences; and science and mathematics.

For more information please visit and and follow the author on Facebook.