NJMEA Convention

This past weekend I attended the NJ Music Educators convention in East Brunswick, NJ. There were sessions on many different musical topics, more than I remember from past conventions, but I tried to focus my professional development on curriculum, assessment, and technology.

Sessions I attended:

  • Teaching Creativity with Garage Band
  • Technology Resources for Music Education
  • Interdisciplinary Arts Education – 21st Century Skills
  • Assessments in the Instrumental Ensemble
  • Music Composition and Social Media
  • Music Education – The PLC and EE4NJ
  • Teaching Music through Composition


Teaching Music through Composition

My main reason for attending the convention was to meet Barbara Freedman, author of a new book that has just been published titled Teaching Music Through Composition, A Curriculum in Music Technology. Mrs. Freedman’s session focused mainly on her new book and its lessons – which cover basic musical ideas and concepts through composition using basic music technology like Garage Band or Mixcraft. In our school we have several classes that can benefit from this idea. I will be implementing some ideas from her book in my Electronic Music classes as well as Fundamentals of Music and Music Theory APH. Another class that sort of aligned with this idea of using technology to teach music was the Garage Band for Music Production and Creativity.

Both sessions had some great ideas for using Garage Band in various different music classes including instrumental and vocal ensembles, music theory, and music technology. Many of the resources from this session, and from the other technology sessions can be found here at njmeatech2013.pbworks.com – a wiki space set up for the technology sessions. I’ve already instituted some changes in my music theory couse and used Garage Band to introduce sixteenth note rhythms to my beginning level music fundamentals course. The graphic representation of the the rhythms really seemed to help many students conceptualize the “physical space” in time that music occupies.

Next year I’m hoping to combine our Fundamentals of Music course and Electronic Music into one class – where students will learn about the fundamentals of music – including basic music theory, and music appreciation – through our electronic music lab.


Interdisciplinary Arts Education – 21st Century Skills

This course was run by two teachers from Rumson, New Jersey – Bill Grillo and Kate Okeson. They have a website called PaperandTape.org, that is based on a project at Rumson-Fairlawn Regional High School where students create interdisciplinary artworks using video, audio, and fine art. This session really gave me some great ideas for Bayonne High School’s Arts Business & Technology course for the BHS Arts Academy. In the past our Arts Bizz & Tech class has completed some great student projects including student created CD’s and artist pages – such as this student who is now at William Patterson University – to published books like This is Ink – by BHS students Amanda Unger and Brielle Urciuoli. For next year’s class I have some great ideas for interdisciplinary projects.


 Technology Resources for Music Education

This was an amazing session held by NJ music technology guru – James Frankel. Dr. Frankel has started an amazing new company called Music Firstthat offers online cloud based music technology solutions at very affordable prices. There are several products I know I will be getting for my AP Theory class including Inside Music. With inside music – for $199 per year – you have access to Noteflight for music composition and the Inside Music curriculum which has online video lessons in music composition based on the world famous Vermont MIDI Project created by Sandi MacLeod. The Vermont MIDI Project is now called Music – COMP and it offers online coaching and tutoring in music composition for student composers as well as opportunities to have music performed by professional musicians. I will be signing up several of my students this month as they are working on a new composition project in Electronic Music – composing music for a dance piece based on Catcher in the Rye that will be choreographed and performed by our new dance classes at BHS. The Music Composition and Social Media session also dealt with Music-COMP and online mentoring – using other forms of social media including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.


Music Education – The PLC and EE4NJ

Finally – my last session Saturday afternoon was on PLC’s – or Professional Learning Communities. I’ve known about PLC’s for some time, even though Bayonne has been slow to adopt them, our district is adopting them on the elementary level. We do not, however, have an official PLC for music and art. I think this could be beneficial as our many music and art teachers throughout our district could benefit from communicating and collaborating with their peers. I myself have been developing my own PLN (Professional Learning Network) online through ETMOOC, Twitter, and Google Plus. PLC’s are also a required part of our new teacher evaluations under the Danielson model under domain 4d: Participating in a professional community. Assuming that EE4NJ and the new Danielson teacher evaluation doesn’t disappear this will become an important part of our daily lives as teachers.



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