Elementary School Music

Professional Organizations

Posted in Prof. Organizations, Where-ever by P. Conrad on December 15, 2011

Most of the activity of national and state groups for music education seems to be focused on middle and upper school music — where the performances, competitions and budgets are concentrated. Annual membership fees for these groups can add up. However, all the organizations listed here offer valuable resources; in some cases non-members can have access as well, through the group’s website. See also the local and national professional groups listed under Kodály, Orff, and Dalcroze.

National Association for Music Education (formerly known as MENC) Memberships include subscription to several publications. A combination NAME/NYSSMA membership is $108 annually. The NAME website hosts a lively General Music discussion on-line.


New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA)

NAME and NYSSMA are a combined membership: when you join one, you belong to both.

Music Educators Association of New York City (MEANYC) $30 annually, 1st-year teachers free.

MEANYC hosts various workshops throughout the year, as well as sponsoring the adjudication of NYSSMA festival competitions around the city. Their latest newsletter, Crescendo, is available here.

Texas Music Educators Association TMEA is included here as an exemplary professional organization: see especially what’s available under the heading Resources.

The Children’s Music Network is organization of  “teachers, performers, songwriters, radio hosts, and parents who care about the quality and content of children’s music.”

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Professional Development

Posted in Prof. Development, Where-ever by P. Conrad on December 14, 2011

Organizations or schools in the NYC area which offer professional development: clinics, workshops, or certification training of relevance to elementary-level music teachers. Click the “Events” link to see what’s current.

Office of Arts and Special Projects (NYC-DOE) sometimes plans day-long clinics during the school year, focusing on the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts.

Music Educators Association of New York City (MEANYC) has short (2-hour) clinics on Saturdays at locations all over NYC.

UFT Music Teachers Committee was dormant for several years, but recently resumed offering a program of full-day Saturday clinics for music teachers, during the year.

Orff and Kodály chapters in NYC sponsor day-long Saturday events in Manhattan, with L.I. Orff workshops at Hofstra University.

Metropolitan Opera Guild

Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, offers some one-day-only music education courses on Saturdays.

NYU’s Kodály Summer Institute is an excellent intensive program for Kodály certification held each year around first two weeks of July.

New Jersey City University has Orff certification classes in July.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has a certification for early and middle childhood music teachers. NBPTS certification is a rigorous process through which accomplished teachers earn a distinction after completing a course of assessments and portfolio submission. Information about the Music Educators certification and the NBPTS standards for early and middle childhood music can be downloaded as a PDF file.

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A live music calendar for NYC students

Posted in Events, For Kids, Where-ever by P. Conrad on December 11, 2011

Music for a Sound Future is a site that helps students find free or low-cost performances of live music in all five city boroughs, with detailed descriptions of each event including a map to each respective venue.

The calendar is an initiative of the Council for Living Music in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians Local 802. It’s part of their effort to counter the trend among Broadway producers toward using canned music in place of pit orchestras for Broadway shows. The site uses GoogleCalendar and includes many Juilliard recitals and some drama as well as music.

NYC DOE Resources

Posted in NYC DOE Resources, Where-ever by P. Conrad on October 12, 2011

Teaching of music in NYC schools is supported and directed citywide by the The Office of the Arts and Special Projects, in the Department of Education’s headquarters in Tweed Courthouse on Chambers Street. Dr. Barbara Murray is the Director of Music Education.

The Office of the Arts and Special Projects is set up to support and enhance instructional programs in art, music, dance and theater, in grades preK-12. Each school receives a budget line for arts education based on pupil enrollment. How these funds are spent is determined by the school’s principal, in accordance with established guidelines. During the reorganization of the Department of Education, budgeting is a far more transparent process than it was in the past, and a great deal of information about how schools spend money is available publicly, on-line.

The OASP site is an on-line source for several critically-important documents:


the curriculum guide Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts (it’s a PDF file, heavy in color and graphics: not practical for downloading and printing). Note: The Blueprint “strands” on Music Education are also available in a more practical poster format (both are available for purchase; see below).

Getting the Blueprint:
Your school’s principal can order it through FAMIS: E-Catalog, search under the category “Internal Services” with the following item numbers:
TLAR10032- Music Blueprint Book- $7
TLAR10033- Music Blueprint Poster- $3
Include specific contact information on the purchase order for the delivery of materials. The necessary funds should be scheduled in Object Code 0998. For a free download of the Blueprint in a PDF file, click here.

The DOE’s brief Benchmarks for Music Learning can be examined online — a series of general statements that summarize expectations for children’s learning and abilities in grades 2, 5, 8 and 12.

In addition, the OASP page offers much valuable information on ArtsCount. This is the Department of Education’s program to ensure that arts education is not overlooked in the drive toward accountability in city schools (see post below). Components of this program include the Annual Arts in Schools Report, the Learning Environment Surveys, and Annual Compliance Review. Some of this information can be accessed on each school’s DOE-hosted website, if you click on the link to “Statistics” on the left column.

The OASP site offers links to many other valuable resources including grant sources and activities for students, including the Mr. Hollands’ Opus Foundation, and VH1’s Save the Music Foundation.

Learning Support Organizations

Each school is associated with one of the School Support Organizations (SSO). Music teachers should seek to contact the arts coordinator for their school’s SSO, and to be aware of any workshops or other SSO initiatives to promote arts education.

Books for Music Teachers

Posted in Books for Teachers, Where-ever by P. Conrad on February 13, 2011

The following lists are not at all complete. Most of the following titles are either song collections or texts written for teachers of music. In addition there are trade books that illustrate a traditional song.

Check the on-line catalogs of the NY Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library for availability of these books and others. Typical call numbers for Music Education begin with 372. or 780.

To purchase books, see the mail order companies listed at the bottom of the Purchasing for Schools page. In many cases, clean used copies of texts can be found at very low prices on-line by checking at amazon or another online bookseller.

Song Collections:

Bradford, Louise Larkins. Sing It Yourself: 220 Pentatonic American Folk Songs (Alfred Publ., 1978) ISBN: 0882840622.

Choksy, L. & Brummit, D. 120 Singing Games and Dances for Elementary Schools (Prentice-Hall, 1987) ISBN: 013635038001.

Locke, Eleanor G. Sail Away (Boosey & Hawkes, 1988).

Johnson, Richard. Folk Songs North America Sings (1984), dist. by Hal Leonard.

Jones, Bessie and Bess Lomax Hawes. Step it Down (Univ. of Georgia Press, 1987).

Rao, Doreen. We Will Sing (Boosey & Hawkes, 1993).

Kenney, Maureen. Circle Round the Zero (MMB, 1975) ISBN: 0918812089

Erdei, P. & Komlos, K. 150 American Folk Songs to Sing, Read, and Play (9th printing, (Boosey & Hawkes, 1989) ISBN: 0913932043.

Trinka, J. (1996). The Little Black Bull and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games, and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 4 (CD and book), Folk Music Works. ISBN: 1-888895-41-1.

_______. (1989). John, the Rabbit and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games, and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 3 (CD and book). Folk Music Works.

_______. (1988). Bought Me a Cat and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 2 (CD and Book). Folk Music Works.

_______. (1987). My Little Rooster and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games, and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 1 (CD and Book). Folk Music Works. (ISBN for the 4-volume set is 1-888895-04-7.)

Some Books About Music Teaching:

Choksy, Lois. The Kodály Method I and II (3rd edition, Prentice-Hall,1999).

_______. Teaching Music Effectively in the Elementary School (Prentice Hall, 1991). ISBN 0138927049

Choksy, Lois, Robert M. Abramson, Avon E. Gillespie, and David Woods, Teaching Music in the Twentieth Century (Prentice Hall, 1986). An overview of Orff, Kodály, and Dalcroze.

Eisen, Ann. & Robertson, Lamar. An American Methodology. (Sneaky Snake Pub.,1996) by two Louisiana-based Kodály master teachers.

Forrai, K. Music in Preschool, 2nd edition, translated and adapted by Jean Sinor. (Brisbane: James Ferguson,1998). ISBN: 0958629706.

Frazee, Jane. Discovering Orff (Schott, 1987)

Houlahan, Michael. & Tacka, Phillip. Sound Thinking: Developing Musical Literacy, Vol. I and II. (Boosey and Hawkes, 1995) ISBN: 0913932531, a teacher’s guide for Kodály-based instruction.

Phillips, Ken. Teaching Kids to Sing (Wadsworth, 1996). ISBN 0028717953. Indispensable.

Rozmajzl, Michon, and Boyer, Rene C. Music Fundamentals, Methods, and Materials for the Elementary Classroom Teacher (with audio CD), 4th edition, Allyn & Bacon, 2005) ISBN: 0205449646.

Rozmajzl, Michon, and Castleberry, Rosalie. Rhythm and Melody Concepts: A Sequential Approach for Children (Pencil Point Press, 1995) ISBN: 1881641139.

Shehan-Campbell, Patricia, Carol Scott-Kassner. Music In Childhood, 2nd (Schirmer, 2001).

Steen, Arvida, Exploring Orff, (Schott, 1992)

Swears, Linda. Teaching the Elementary School Chorus (Parker Publ., 1985) ISBN 0138925143

Valerio, Wendy, H., Alison M. Reynolds, Beth M. Bolton, Cynthia C. Taggart, and Edwin E. Gordon. Music Play. (GIA Publications, 1998) Provides a basic understanding of Edwin Gordon’s ideas.

Weikart, Phyllis. Teaching Movement and Dance: A Sequential Approach to Rhythmic Understanding. (5th ed., High Scope, 2003) ISBN 1573791326

Wiggins, Jackie. Teaching for Musical Understanding. (McGraw-Hill, 2001).

Trade Books:

Basal Series (textbooks):
Major textbook publishers have their own graded textbook series for music education, and some teachers find these very useful. Each of the following series has a publisher’s website packed with learning materials, and teachers resources that anyone can access. Click on the title of any of the series listed below, to visit those sites.

Spotlight on Music (Macmillan, 2005).

Share the Music (Macmillan, 2003).

Making Music (Silver Burdett Ginn) SBG’s website is especially rich in resources and links of value for music teachers.

Children’s Songs and Games from Ecuador, Mexico, and Puerto Rico

Posted in Repertoire, Where-ever by P. Conrad on November 8, 2009

childrens songs and gamesHere’s a 1970 Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage CD (or download) that collects field recordings of children in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Ecuador playing and singing various games and songs. Some of the material will be familiar.

The music was collected and annotated by the late ethnomusicologist Henrietta Yurchenko, a “song-catcher,” scholar, and author of the biography Woody Guthrie: A Mighty Hard Road.

The Folkways collection costs $17 on CD or cassette but just $9 as a download. Click on the cover art for more information.

Voice: a New York City K-8 charter school

Posted in Where-ever by P. Conrad on April 6, 2008

Voice is a new charter school being opened in September 2008 in District 30 in Queens, with the motto “Every child will learn, every child will sing.” The school day runs from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The first year will open with kindergarten and first grade, and then expand each year following.The website includes application instructions for students and for prospective teachers and lots of descriptive material. Click the link below.

Voice Charter School

About E.S.M.

Posted in Where-ever by P. Conrad on September 7, 2006

Elementary School Music: This site is just a means of compiling and sharing some information and web resources for the convenience of people who teach music in New York City’s elementary schools. Clicking on one of the “categories” listed on the right will take you to the links and information.

Technically-speaking, what you’re looking at is a “blog.” However, this isn’t someone’s personal diary about teaching. Elementary School Music is primarily a collection point for information and resources — which is open to inquiries and exchange of ideas by music teachers.

Some visitors may take a moment to submit material or seek advice by “posting” a comment on one of the pages or by sending an e-mail.

  • encounter dead links
  • see something that needs correcting
  • wish to submit content
  • you found something useful

please post a comment on the relevant page.


About the compiler: “Since 2000, I’ve taught general music pre-K to 5th grade, at a small school in Region 8 near the Gowanus Expressway in Park Slope. Students come to school with extensive experience as consumers of entertainment — music, video and digital games. In teaching I try to develop their abilities and awareness as producers of music, meaning the sounds should come from them. We don’t listen to CDs of Mozart or Ellington (or Ella Jenkins) as often as I think we should. But we have a lot of singing, playing, moving, and basic music literacy.”

— Pablo Conrad

Posted in Kodály, Orff, Dalcroze, Where-ever by P. Conrad on May 20, 2006

Zoltan Kodály (1882-1967) and Carl Orff (1895-1988) are two 20th-century European composers who developed approaches in music education that are especially valuable for teachers working in early childhood and elementary settings.

Both concepts are also valid choices for urban schools, whose students might have fewer opportunities for private instrumental lessons.

Listed below are the addresses for the national professional organizations for Orff and Kodály methods in the US and overseas, as well as for NY-area chapters which host valuable professional development events several times each year. Essential texts on the Kodály method are among the Books for Music Teachers.

Training for certification in either of these approaches can be pursued at various schools in the area, or at summer programs around the country.

The Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) is the umbrella organization for a host of state and regional chapters.

The Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia (KMEIA) has a lot of useful material, including well-written introductions to Kodály’s life and work and the methodology. The Teacher Resources page includes big flashcards for melodic solfege practice.

Holy Names University, in Oakland, has one of the top US schools for Kodály certification. The program’s website includes short introductory videos and an extensive, searchable database of folk songs and traditional music, including notation and audio files.

Kodály Organization of New York (KONY) is New York City’s active OAKE chapter.

New York University offers an intensive Summer Kodály Institute the first three weeks in July of each year. (For new teachers, the NYU School of Education credits can count towards your 30-above.)

The American Orff Schulwerk Association (AOSA) has a New York City chapter (NYCCAOSA) and a Long Island chapter (LIAOSA), both of which schedule clinics and workshops for teachers on weekends.

Trevor Day School in Manhattan offers training for Orff certification in NYC.

Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ offer both weekend and summer workshops as well as certification courses (Orff and Kodály).

Dalcroze Eurythmics


Jacques-Emile Dalcroze (1865-1950) believed that the core of all musical art is human emotion. He taught that it is not enough to train just the mind or the ear or the voice. Instead, the entire human body must be trained since the body contains all of the essentials for the development of sensibility and analysis of sound, music and feeling. Through participation in simple games, exercises, and improvisations, children learn to combine music and movement in order to develop rhythmic unity between the eye, ear, mind, and body.

One of the top U.S. teachers of the method (Dalcroze Eurythmics) is Anne Farber at the Lucy Moses School (see below). The Dalcroze Society of America is a good starting place for exploring this method.

In the New York City area, both the Lucy Moses School and The Diller Quaile School of Music in Manhattan offer programs in Dalcroze methodology.

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Music Technology

Posted in Where-ever by P. Conrad on May 20, 2006

Music technology applications in elementary school can include notation software, software for learning, and the hardware and software used to record and reproduce children’s musical performances.

Notation Software

Various companies make software for music composition and notation, that allow users to print and share professional-looking charts or song sheets.

f2k9logoFinale is the most-used by professional composers and arrangers.

PrintMusic! is a simplified version of the Finale program.

289Sibelius 5 is the name of another widely-used software with specific educational components.


Click for free Sibelius browser that displays music scores with an audio playback feature.


Recording children’s singing or musical performance can be a powerful teaching tool. There are basically three ways to do this:

  • use a cassette recorder that has a mike input or built-in microphone.
  • use a digital recorder such as a mini-disk or hard-drive audio recorder, with an external microphone or one that’s built in.
  • use a classroom computer or laptop with appropriate software, such as an i-Mac with Garageband.

guitar.jpg Garageband is Apple’s software that allows users to record and produce a song, using either live instruments and voices or by combining pre-recorded “loops” of various instrumental sounds in a layered composition. Quality is good, ease of use is not-so-good.

Garageband is part of the standard “i-Life” package of software on Mac computers found in many schools. Since these classroom desktops and laptops have built-in microphones, teachers willing to spend some time exploring and learning have the ability to record student performances and even burn a CD or post the performance on a school website. However, the basic functions require a little patient study. The Apple store in Manhattan offers free classes in using Garageband.

Software for Music Learning

The choices for software that supports music learning are extensive. There is some question whether time spent interacting with a computer is as valuable as time spent singing or playing music, or listening to recordings and live performances. One exception may be the Clearvue line of music appreciation DVDs, CDs and videos.

MusicAce by Harmonic Vision.

Juilliard Music Adventure (Rhythm & Melody) by Tom Snyder.

Essentials of Music Theory by Alfred Publishing.

Groovy Music is designed especially for 5-11 year olds, by Sibelius.

GNU Solfege is a free software program written to help people do ear training: it includes exercises to train chords, intervals, scales, rhythms and harmonic progressions.


Downloading audio files from the so-called “peer-to-peer” networks such as Limewire and similar sites is illegal and represents an infringement of the rights of the artist whose song is acquired. ASCAP, the professional body that protects the rights of composers and publishers, has a strong position on the issue.

With the Music Educators National Conference, ASCAP has developed a curriculum program (Creativity in the Classroom) to teach children about their own place in a creative community that includes creators, consumers and legal copyright. According to ASCAP’s definition of fair use, there is no allowance for a teacher to download a file of a copyrighted song or reproduce lyric sheets for use in a classroom setting.


Music Education Technology is a magazine that offers free resources and lesson plans.

Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME) has extensive web resources.

The NYC Department of Education does a lot of work to support instructional uses of technology. Contact your regional Office of Instructional Technology to learn about after-school technology training events and series (some with per-session).

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