Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cloud Love

 I have always loved clouds. Fascinating things. I have memories of being a kid laying on a blanket on the grass in the summer, just watching and finding shapes, animals, faces, and things in the shapes of the ever-changing clouds. Hope you enjoy these and find some ways to use them with your students. 

And some wonderful books to add! These are my favorites! 


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Theme and Variations with 2 VERY FUN Websites!!

 I love teaching Theme and Variations!  My friend Kate introduced me to two very amazing sites - no login, no ads, and I knew I needed to figure out a way to use them beyond the "echo my rhythm" idea. So, Theme and Variations Reboot was invented! 

Get the complete Google Slide here - it will prompt you to make a copy. Theme and Variations



Thursday, March 11, 2021

All Are Welcome - Or All Are Assimilated

 Social Justice, Anti-Racist, Decolonization

Five words with power. Five words that confuse. Five words that need to be talked about right now. 

Most of us are hearing words and having conversations about needing to do the hard work, but what does that mean? Reading books like Waking Up White, How to Be an Anti-Racist, White Awake, Blind Spot, and the plethora of books on the subjects of helping all of us to understand the struggle, biases, and injustices is only a START. Acknowledging white privilege, acknowledging bias, helping our littles to see color and to call out injustice is also a part.

Here is my latest read- I will need to go back and re-read. SO good.

Having hard conversations with friends, family, and yes, students also needs to happen. Yes, even in the music room. 

Problematic Song Material

If you haven't been here before, or you have forgotten about some other posts on the subject - this post is about being sensitive (and inclusive, not exclusive or hurtful) with our song material. Songs are listed in alphabetical order and source information is included as is a short synopsis of why the material is problematic. 

Why I No Longer Use Seuss in the Music Classroom

This post delves into the research study conducted in 2019 that researches the CONTENT of Dr. Seuss books and the stereotypes, anti-Semitic, disproportionally male characters, and other content issue within Dr. Seuss books. 

Diverse and Inclusive Children's Literature

A few years ago I started taking a hard look at my curriculum, songs, and children's literature and went through ALL my song books and started making X's through songs and adding a note as to why a song was problematic. For future music teachers, I wanted there to be an immediate understanding (if they were not already aware) of why a particular song should not be used. I also wanted the reminder for myself.  I also threw away books - yes, really. It was hard to do that, but I will never use, nor do I want anyone else to use those books that mock, harm, and perpetuate stereotypes. That is what is meant by disrupting the system. That is part of being ant-racist. The songs, stories, and books we use should be mirrors that reflect our students, windows into another's story or culture or way of being and doing, sliding glass doors to let students walk (or sing/dance/play) into another culture or way of being and doing, and sometimes we need to close the curtains.

I recently heard this quote and had to make it into a quick post for instagram. 

If you haven't joined already, join the Diverse and Inclusive Children's Books for the Music Classroom page on facebook. There are wonderful books with lesson ideas posted. 

Are we Welcoming or Assimilaiting?

We also need to talk about teaching - how we teach is MORE important than what we teach. Examining our bias, the words, gestures, speech, etc. in our teaching- especially with students that are having a hard time in school for whatever reason- trauma. learning differences, ability, developmental maturation, family changes, home life, equity, etc. It is a LOT. But the littles in our life are EVERYTHING. Remember teaching is a marathon, not a sprint or a 5K. Yes, we will make a plethora of mistakes. We are, after all, human. 

 I recently saw a conversation on facebook that was an "Ouch" moment. When we say, "All are welcome" do we really mean all and do we really mean welcome or do we mean ASSIMILATED?  

Our school recently finished a 21-Week Racial Equity Challenge where we had small and large group conversations- REAL, hard, tough to hear conversations. It was amazing. We wondered what to do next. I am honored to serve on our YBG - You Belong Group - that focuses on issues of Social Justice and Equity. We are reading this book:

 Each week we will look at a word and one person will share about the word. I chose the word, "Assimilation" after some heavy conversations with friends. 

I hope this challenges you. It challenges me. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Trombone Shorty Hurricane STICKS

 One of my absolute favorites when I want to jam is listening and playing around with the music of New Orleans musician Troy Andrews, AKA "Trombone Shorty".  There are a couple of great children's books featuring his music and his story - check them out!

Today I have a rhythm stick arrangement I have been working on for the past couple of weeks to Hurricane Season - the music is here:

You can always decide to change up a section - the B Section will be challenging with the rhythm but if you say "Hurricane" to the rhythm as written it will help solidify it. The "Turn R" fits right in with the "Hey" spoken in the song. 

Want the pdf - click here:


Friday, February 5, 2021

Ella Fitzgerald

 This year at our school, in addition to dismantling some long-held traditions that were problematic, and engaging in a 21-week Racial Equity Challenge- which has been amazing, we are celebrating Black History Month in a way we have never done before. I am so incredibly proud of my school for embracing change and valuing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice work year round. If you celebrate Black History Month, I hope we all realize the importance of celebrating Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian People of Color (BBIAPOC) music and musicians throughout the year, not only during the nationally designated, recognized, and celebrated months. 

This year we are also having a door decoration contest, with each teacher celebrating one African American/Black person of influence and importance. Teachers are relating this to content within the classroom and students will have a socially-distanced gallery crawl as well as a time to hear about each person by the students via video announcements in classrooms. It is exciting, but we also need to work on our curricula, traditions, histories, and centering voices of BBIAPOC within our classrooms. 

I chose Ella Fitzgerald, and students will be listening to and learning about this barrier-breaker and glass-ceiling-shatterer throughout the month as well as learning about Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Duke Ellington,  Louis Armstrong, and Esperanza Spalding - here is one of my favorite videos of her! 

For the full slide set of the preview below, click here. 


Monday, February 1, 2021

My Heart is Like a Zoo

 My friend Ardith is a lovely music educator with a passion for children and music education.  Many thanks to her for giving me permission to share this oh-so-lovely lesson today!  Perfect for Valentines Day! 

Read the book and insert the pages after every three animals. This is SO adorable! 

The full google slide is here.


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Dim Sum For Everyone

 My daughter and I went to New York City for our first girls week during the summer of 2019. It was an amazing week and while we did not plan to arrive on the day of the largest PRIDE parade in Manhattan, it was a fabulous week!  My daughter is Chinese, and loves everything about her birth culture. We stayed in Midtown Manhattan but she wanted to spend every waking moment in Chinatown. One of my sweet music teacher blogger friends, Elizabeth from Organized Chaos lives in Connecticut and so we met up for lunch one day at the Golden Unicorn in Chinatown (HIGHLY recommend!).

Elizabeth grew up in Japan and has only lived in the US for a few years so we decided to meet up for Dim Sum, which Caiya had never experienced. Elizabeth and I were the only white faces in the restaurant, and very little English was spoken. I LOVE experiences where I am out of my element. It forces growth and a window into another culture in a unique and interesting way. The food comes around in little bamboo steamers or plates which are rolled on carts. You point to the ones you want and they write on a card the quantity and item chosen. Then the next cart comes and point and choose again. The process continues and you end up with lots of little steamers and plates on your table. My favorite were the cute piggy dumplings (shaped like pigs) and filled with a sweet potato filling. I also love Shu Mai and Sticky Rice which has dried shrimp and veggies along with the rice and are wrapped in leaves. YUM!  

Many thanks to my friend Marcia B for her inspiration! 

Hope you enjoy Dim Sum For Everyone and if you get a chance to enjoy Dim Sum, eat up! 

For the full google slide, click on the link and make a copy Dim Sum For Everyone

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Lunar New Year

This year for Lunar New Year I wanted to offer you not only some music, but also firsthand stories. 

If you are looking for some more music, please see these previous posts - there are MANY!  

My daughter's story began as an infant in China. We adopted her 12 years ago and about 6 years ago she joined a wonderful group of girls in a Chinese dance troupe called Little Lotus. The director's name is Xiao Song and she is the sweetest and most loving teacher. She is also an incredible dancer who loves Chinese dance and uses this medium to instill in the girls a love and respect for Chinese culture. I recently sat down for a phone interview to find out a little more about growing up in China and Chinese New Year. Enjoy the conversation. 

Aimee: Tell me about growing up in China.

Xiao Song: I grew up in Shanghai and was the youngest of three girls.

When the Cultural Revolution began in 1966 our parents, both doctors, became very busy.

There was a shortage of Doctors because of the Revolution and so they worked day and

night and were rarely home. It was best for us to not be with them so they took us to a safer

place for children during the week and would pick us up on Saturday morning and we would

go back there Monday. Life changed dramatically due to this although it was a short period

of time.  I remember being so excited to see my parents. All the children at the daycare

had this same situation because of the Cultural Revolution.

A: How did the Cultural Revolution change things in China and how did it change music?

XS: We don’t talk about that period of time because it is too painful. My mother liked to sing

and she would sing old, beautiful songs – no one sings them anymore. After the Cultural

Revolution 1970’s modern Chinese opera and ballet came along and everyone loved to sing

and hear them.  We would go to the movies to watch these – family outing – neighbors,

sometimes Indian, Russian (Soviet Union), WW1 or WW2 themed movies, Swan Lake

was my favorite!  Many of the Russian movies had traditional music and lots of dancing

in the movies.


A: Did you have music in school?

XS: Once a week we had music and as an older student schools offered choir but no band

or orchestra. No traditional instruments like pipa, guzheng, or erhu; (editor's note - probably

due to the erasure of these instruments due to the Cultural Revolution).

As the Soviet Union supported China there were many Soviet influences including musical

instruments; we were taught accordion.

Dance was offered after school in small groups and we were taught folk dances and current

modern dances. The Shanghai Ballet Company would come to scout for dancers in our classes.

I was chosen for Ballet School but eventually was not chosen for the program as I did not

have their strict body proportion requirements. I am so lucky I didn’t get into ballet eventually

– now I dance Chinese modern and Chinese folk and love it.

A: What was your favorite food growing up? 

XS: Junk food – street food on street corners – you tiao fried dough which was twisted.

My mother’s dumplings with pork and cabbage.

A: Chinese New Year- tell me about how your family celebrated.

XS: We stayed up late, watched TV and the entertainment on New Year's Eve. Every family

would do spring cleaning the week before to welcome in the new year to make the spring

goddess happy. We would make dumplings; my father would make the dough, mother

would make the filling and my sisters would make the dumplings. My job was to transfer

the dumplings to the plate to cook. Everyone had their roles.New Years Eve is the FEAST

– we would have a lot of food. Spring rolls with shrimp. My mother would cook for hours.

This year is the year of the ox. One of my sweet friends, Kathy, is an American who

has lived in Hong Kong for over 20 years. She shared this speech piece that could be

used as call/response, drumming, etc. and is perfect to use with younger students.

Hope you enjoy!
Xin Nian Kuai Le - Happy New Year! 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Seeds of Love MLK

 As I write this, our country is grieving and angry. Emotions are high, and lives have been lost. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is approaching and a change of leadership in our country is at hand. Impeachment proceedings are upcoming and our country has experienced a tumultuous moment of violence in the midst of a global pandemic. The times we are in are not, by anyones definition, NORMAL. I do not have answers. I do not have enough words. But I know music is a way for my students to process and acknowledge what they are hearing in their homes and classrooms. Music is a way to open conversation and empathy. I began singing a song I learned many moons ago - Seeds. I was also singing the song, "Give Light" and knew those two songs would help my students (and me) to further growth, courage, and strength during times of frustration, grief, and confusion. 

1.  Books

These are books I will be using in my classroom over the next many weeks. Some I will read, some will be sung (in our heads, hearts, and homes), and others will be used as jumping off points to create poetry, rhythms, melodies, and speech or body percussion work. 

2. Songs

We Shall Overcome The Story of a Song (this is also a book - I HIGHLY recommend this video and have used it many times with my students). 

Seeds by Gemini - One of my all-time FAVORITE songs to sing with students. It is just lovely. 

Movement for this song can be found here - as well as a lovely description about planting seeds of kindness. 

Sing About Martin  - Echo song PERFECT for the littles.

Martin Luther King

Give Light -
I have posted about this before numerous times and cannot say enough about this song in times of darkness- students and adults alike LOVE this song! 

Glory with new lyrics by Franklin Willis - The new lyrics Franklin wrote are SO perfect for right now!! Check out the instagram video here! 

3. Play Alongs and Body Percussion Activities

Martin Luther King Jr. Play Along

Martin Luther King Jr. Rhythm Match Up 

We All Sing with the Same Voice
- the book is above - here is a sing aloud: 

You can also add the following body percussion - these are the scaffolded slides:

Want all this in one place?  Click HERE to get all this as a Google Slide - you will be asked to make a copy and then can rearrange and edit to make it the most useful for your classes. 

Be safe, everyone.  Don't forget If you are not already, be sure to follow along at, on fb -@0 for tuna orff, and instagram -@Aimee_ofortunaorff
If you enjoy these resources, please consider treating me to a cup of coffee: 
With much love,