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					   J   A     N     U     A     R     Y          2    0      0   9         E    D     I     T    I     O     N


                                              Rethinking General Music, Part 1
                                     Some of us K-12 teachers think about general music, and groan
                                     about having to follow boring music textbooks or teaching students
                                     about composers that they will forget next week. In this three-part
                                     series, gives you some ideas and tips of how to
                                     make general music more exciting and engaging for your students.
   Important Questions to Ponder                                Learn by playing, not by watching

   One of the challenges of general music is to                 One of our main philosophies is that students only
   develop a curriculum in which all students are               learn how to read music through playing an
   exciting and curious about the many facets of                instrument. Have them learn an instrument
   music. In our first part of this series, we should the        together that is fun and relevant - such as the
   question what is the purpose of general music?               keyboard, xylophone, tone chimes, djembes, or even
                                                                guitar. Also, don’t be a standard notation snob! Be
   Many music teachers agree that the purpose of                open to alternate forms of notation, such as the
   general music is to teach students to understand             popular guitar tab. Students will enjoy how quickly
   how to read standard music notation, sing on pitch           and easily than can read this form of notation and
   and perhaps play an instrument such as the                   will be playing in no time. Modern notation
   recorder. But practically speaking, how many                 software such as Sibelius will easily convert your
   students are exciting about the prospect of being a          standard notation into guitar tab (with or without
   professional ‘recorderist’ or being able to decipher a       rhythms).
   classical score written by Haydn. Ask your students
   this question, and you will probably get a lot of            Sounds scary, but try it
   blank stares. What is current, practical and useful
   for young music students to learn? Ask these                 Many of you may think this sounds out there, but
   questions when designing new programs and units              give it a shot, tell us how you are changing general
   along with surveying students regarding their                music, and we’ll include it in the next e-newsletter.
   interests.                                                   Let us know at

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                                     so!ware review:
                                  propresenter 3.5.1 (mac)
Do you work in a classroom or worship environment where you need presentation software that has a bit
more of a kick than Powerpoint? I discovered this software a few months ago when searching for a good
piece of software to manage the presentation of lyrics with moving backgrounds. After figuring out the
interface, I realized that ProPresenter not only achieves this remedial task, but also offers secondary
display / projector support, easily imports HD video, music tracks, DVD clips and offers remote control
via your ipod touch or iphone. Although this software is mainly made for a worship setting, I have listed
creative ways that you can use it in your music classroom and the gear you need to make this happen.

                               A Song / Lyric Database
                               One thing that use to occupy a lot of time was copying lyrics or making
                               transparencies of lyrics for the songs that we would sing in music class.
                               ProPresenter allows you to import a .txt file or paste from your clipboard
                               onto several slides. This is useful for building a library of song lyrics of
                               the songs that you would like to sing through out the year. Add cool
                               moving videos for the backgrounds of lyrics and control this remotely
                               from an Apple Remote or ipod touch and you could be completely mobile.

Develop Music Games / Presentations                            Necessary Gear to pull this off
 ProPresenter could be used in many ways, but one
 fun way for your music classroom would be for music            A Newer Mac (2007-present)
 games. An audio track can be set with a slide
 presentation and the slides can change as a specific          Projector or Secondary Display
 time in the music. This would be useful to have
 students guess lyrics, composers, etc...the possibilities             ProPresenter 3.5.1
 are endless!                                                        Optional ipod Touch
                  Interesting Music of the Month
                                               This month, for something different, check out
        this indie rock band from Brooklyn, NY. It’s a
                                          little bit Sufjan Stevens, a little bit Radiohead,
                                               and a little bit Modest Mouse. If any of those
                                               bands strike a chord with you, check out their
                                               music. In their own words:
                                               “Lo-fi, garage rock ala Neutral Milk Hotel (the E6 gang)
                                               mixed with the producing styles of Brian Wilson. This is
                                               another solo album created entirely by musical imagineer
                                               Justin Stivers. Throw Animal Collective, Smashing
                                               Pumpkins and bit of Modest Mouse (the older stuff of
                                               course) into the blender and you have yourself a “cheer
                                               up~its raining” smoothie. Sit back and enjoy.”

                                               Listen               Buy CD

        Four pieces of music gear to grab on the days after Christmas
                       with that check from Grandma...

	         	       	       M-Audio Pre-amp Interface
	         	       	       	       	       AT 3035 Condenser Mic


	         	       	       	       Epiphone Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar

	         	       	       	       Zoom H2 Portable Recorder
                       A Vision of the Future
As we finish off the year 2008, and look to the year 2009, we reflect on the past and look to the future of With the economic situation worsening worldwide, our philosophy of providing a free
music education to anyone with a computer becomes even more important to those who want to
experience the joy of music. Here is a fictional view of how could affect a small corner
of the world. If you want to see this become a reality, see how you could help at the bottom of this page.

                                         JOHNNY’S PIANO
Johnny Wilkins was a eleven year old boy who grew up in the rough streets of West Baltimore.     His
father, he was told was a fine baritone in the church choir at Central Baptist on Franklin Avenue before
he was born. Johnny never got to know his father as he was told he left after his birth to fight in the war.
Johnny never understood why his daddy didn’t come back from the war, but he now just accepted that
his daddy wasn’t ever coming home. Johnny told his mama every morning that he went to school, but he
really didn’t feel like worrying about a knife fight or the drug dealers that stalk the school parking lot.
Instead, Johnny spent most of his warmer days at Mt. Vernon Square absorbing the musical walls of
Peabody Conservatory. One window, in particular always played a familiar melody on the piano and
Johnny hummed the tune as he roamed the streets of Baltimore to find dropped change.

One day, Johnny was waiting outside Mt. Vernon Square as a young man passing by hummed the same
tune. Johnny said to the young man: “What’s the name of that tune?” The young man replied, “It’s Fur
Elise by Beethoven” as he hurried presumably to his next class. Johnny knew from his mama that the
library was the place to go when you have a question, so Johnny walked to the Pratt Library on
Cathedral. He sat down at the first computer he saw and typed in Fur Elise on the familiar Google
homepage. He ended up at and saw a video lesson on how to play Fur Elise taught by a
woman from India. It all looked a little confusing so Johnny browsed around and found Piano Lesson
1.0 on how to find the white keys of the piano. He memorized this information and walked down to his
father’s old church Central Baptist. Hearing the music of the choir practicing, he waited until the
rehearsal was over and asked the conductor if he could play on the piano...

Stay tuned for more of this fictional story in February 2009...

If Johnny’s story struck a chord with you think about giving back. Being part of
the community means adding your insights and original ideas to
our philosophy of a free music education available to all. Login to the free
members area of and submit something from a lesson plan, to
video, or just e-mail us your ideas to
                                                                  Happy New Year!