The Together Music Teacher!

May 2, 2018

Deep in revisions for an upcoming 2nd edition of The Together Teacher (date TBA!), l find myself thinking lots about Specials Teachers. As the daughter of an art teacher, I know that materials management, mobile classrooms, and communication with colleagues matter a TON for music, art, PE, media, theatre teachers and many more.

Kate F., a music teacher in Oakland, was kind enough to share her tricks with us here. Pictures are worth 1,000 words, so let’s peek at what helps Kate and her students stay Together while making music!

First of all, here’s Kate!

And here are some of Kate’s students!

How on earth does Kate teach, conduct lessons, pull off performances, and run all of the other numerous events that go along with being a music teacher?

Here were my top SEVEN! Including my personal favorite involving painter’s tape!

#1: Managing Multiple Classes

Kate tells us, “With four different classes in one day, ranging from advanced orchestra to beginning strings, I have minimal time to erase my boards and write new agendas. I used electrical tape to create columns. The class signs on each heading are laminated and have magnetic tape strips on the back, in case I want to change the order. Below the board are crates organized by section, for students to put their music folders and shoulder rests into when we are done.”

#2 Managing Massive Amounts of Materials

“Our school site owns all of our violins and other string instruments. Each violin has a proper home and matching label on the rack.”

#3 Dedicated Work Station

“While we all wish we had unlimited resources to make instrumental repairs, I do a lot of smaller ones on my prep at this station.”

#4 Sort the Small Stuff

“There are expensive instrument organizational systems, but I bought these shelves and labeled them for the percussion section.”

This one reminds me of the semi-Together Lego system for my own children!

#5 Sort the Papers

“Just like my mentor teacher taught me, I have a filing cabinet system for my scores. They are currently alphabetical by title.”

Gotta love a good old-fashioned and organized file system!

#6 Set the Space

My personal favorite! “Music rooms can be very large, which means they’re often used in a multi-purpose way. With many people breaking down and setting up the room throughout the week, I laid down painter’s tape and other duct tape to show where the chairs need to go. To help students find their seats at concerts, I also labeled the chair itself to match the number on the tape line.” Be still, my heart!

#7 Student Supply Center

Last but not least, Kate’s Musician Supply Center! This includes a space to get replacement rosin, retrieve a sharpened pencil, put away “flat” pencils, discard trash, and sign out other materials via the binder. The set of drawers under the table is for both blank and completed worksheets. Students are free to access the Supply Center as needed.

There is SO much I love about Kate’s Togetherness, but a few pieces of awesomeness make her systems particularly appealing to me:

  • Using existing and inexpensive materials.Kate is not wasting time setting up Pinterest-perfect, color-coded systems. She is taking inexpensive materials she has on hand and setting up systems that WORK—efficiently and with little maintenance.
  • Promotion of Student Togetherness.I bet students in Kate’s classes know exactly where to go and what to do . . . which leaves more time for . . . music!
  • Codification and future planning.From the careful care of instruments to the thoughtful storage of musical scores, Kate is set for years to come.

Any PE, art, or other specials subjects want to go next? Send me your pictures!