I just came back from the NAFME convention in Grapevine, TX. It was fantastic! I enjoy going to conferences around the country because I learn so much. There are always so many cool presenters and materials that bring a whole new prospective to what is going on in the world of music education.

As I sat through sessions and walked around the exhibit hall, I was struck by all that is out there to help our children learn how to play, participate and enjoy music. Exhibit halls are a music educator’s playroom; so many neat things to see and touch!

There are those that think that many of these “new” tools or methodologies are in conflict with each other. Sometimes we see things in black and white and think that the many philosophies are mutually exclusive. I do not believe this to be the case. The comment that keeps running through my mind is what my colleague Brad Bonner once said to me “It is important to give children many musical experiences because you never know what will click with a kid.” I agree. We, of course, have our own starting point and general philosophy, but ultimately, we must let children explore music in several ways. It is through exploration that we learn.

Here are THE 2 best ways to do just that!

  1. MAKE IT MULTISENSORY: If you are showing rhythm cards and working through them with your students, why not pull out your Note Knacks and show them that those musical symbols represent length of sound…..along with the Rhythm Clock to show it in a pie chart!
  2. EXPLAIN IT IN AS MANY WAYS AS POSSIBLE : Regardless of what syllables you use to teach rhythm, why not mix it up? I will often create a measure and say it in colors, Ta’s and Ti’s, Du’s and Du-de’s, 1 and 2 ands, along with simple words such as pot and flower. I always tell the kids “It doesn’t matter how you say it, what is most important is that it sounds like this…”.

Multisensory opportunities and explaining content in many different ways only increase the chances of truly understanding the concept and remembering it tomorrow..and hopefully into the next year!!