Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

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Five Favorite Pins of December

Hard to pick only 5. I can get lost for hours in Pinterest (If I let myself!)
Here I go:

1. I have to start with funny ones. Humour helps me cope with my job - in fact with life in general. 

You can download this set for free on my web site: HERE
or on TpT: HERE

2. A pin that leads you to a board full of music education ideas.

3. Wishful thinking Pin. I wish I had time to make things like this - for now I content myself with pinning the picture and hoping one day I will have the time to make them, and things like them.

4. A lovely gift idea for parents of young ones!

5. And the final pick is one that reminds me of what I have always said about my own learning journey. The more I know, the more I realise that I don't know!

When I started this post, I thought it would all be about teaching ideas, but it became more philosophical. Nothing wrong with a bit of self reflection I say.
Happy Holidays everyone - and hopefully you can find a little time to relax and maybe even reflect upon what is important to you, personally and professionally.

Monday, December 7, 2015

High/Low Contour Flashcards

This is from a set downloadable for Crescendo members HERE . I have a copy printed in colour and laminated, but I also use them on the data projector. We can sing through them as a group, half class, individual, play them on two chime bars, on two boomwhackers…all part of the steps to teach reading writing and understanding high and low notes a minor third apart.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Win one years free membership with Crescendo Music Education (Current members receive 12 months extension on their membership). Membership gives you access to over 1000 files: Worksheets, teaching ideas, printables, posters..... Easy free entry - what have you got to lose? Competition closes on midnight December 16th 2015 - US Eastern Time.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Take a Song

Chicken in a Fence Post
The key to a good teaching is a solid core of a sequential list of elements and good pedagogical practices. For me that is definitely a teaching sequence based on hear, feel, see and write where concepts are prepared, named and then practiced. Here, I will focus on the practicing of elements through the use of just one song.
There is more than one way to skin a cat (or should I say pluck a chicken). This is a list that is by no means exhaustive - just a few ideas to get your ideas pinging!

1.      Sing
2.      Sing in Solfa
3.      Sing in Rhythm Names
4.      Sing with text, solfa and rhythm names (Switcheroo)
5.       Create New Words – keeping as close as possible to the rhythmic pattern.
Here are some ideas....

  • Music teacher stressing can’t sleep at all x3 Time to have a holiday!
  • Marsha, Jan and Cindy, Bobby , Peter   x3 Greg and Alice, Mum and Dad
6.     Missing bars
7.      Missing notes
8.      Find the mistakes
9.      Play on boomwhackers
10.      Play on tuned percussion
11.      Create rhythmic ostinati
12.      Create melodic ostinati
13.      Create arrangement
14.      Aural Analysis - questions like... 

What is the metre? How many beats in the song? how many phrases? How many different notes? What notes do you hear? What is the final note? what is the starting note?...

15.  Written Analysis - instructions and questions like...

Circle the time signature. How many bars? Find the double bar line? Circle two notes that are next to each other and a major second apart. Are there any bars that are the same?...

16.  Writing – the rhythm
17.  Writing – the solfa under the rhythm 
18.  Writing – the song on the staff  
19.  Writing – transposing from one position on the staff to another
20.  Writing – the stems onto the note heads on the staff 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Week 2015
This year Book Week runs from Saturday 22nd August to Friday 28th August. The theme this year is Books Light Up Our World.
Would you like a 'ready to use', 'cheap as chips' resource for all your classes? Would you something the kids will love that you can easily put into a celebration of Book Week, at the same time 'advertising' the great work you do in music? Just look HERE. Thank you Nathan Cahill!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Debbie's Quick Teaching Tip #22

From The May/June Crescendo Newsletter 

Paddle Pop Sticks are just fabulous in the music room! Some of my colleagues hate the coloured ones. They don't like the kids picking out certain colours, making patterns etc. Understandable - and if that is how you feel, use the plain ones, they do the same job. However, I love colour, so I use the the pretty ones! They are great for rhythmic dictation, quicker than writing once you get going, and much easier to assess the whole class at a glance! Have you thought of using match sticks? The older students, with better fine motor skills, really enjoy manipulating these.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Totally Treble - Choir Workshop

(Email Debbie for a flyer )
with Kate Albury, Debbie O’Shea and Katherine Ruhle

Session 1: Debbie O’Shea is an enthusiastic, experienced educator who wants to help conductors with repertoire choice and keeping students actively engaged in rehearsals. In this session, Debbie will delve into a bag of tricks, some learned on her recent visit to the UK and the USA, as well as some long standing favourites. You will also read through a new piece or two and learn some canons and warm ups.

Session 2: Katherine Ruhle is an incredibly talented Brisbane composer who is writing some fabulous pieces! In this session you will be introduced to some new warm-ups, canons and larger works, movement and intentional listening activities, all working towards forming well-rounded musicians who can sing beautifully. 

Session 3: Kate Albury and the Brisbane Grammar School Vocal Group and Chamber Choir. Kate Albury is Choral Director and Coordinator of Middle School Events at Brisbane Grammar School.  Her choral experience extends from conducting with the Queensland Conservatorium Chorus to co-conducting Gondwana Singers at the National Choral School.  She is excited to be bringing the Chamber Choir, an auditioned ensemble of 35 treble voices as well as the Vocal Group, a non-auditioned ensemble of over 75 voices!  During this session she will demonstrate some of the boys’ favourite warm ups and games as well as conduct an open rehearsal which will include techniques on sight reading a new piece and also polishing and choreographing well-known repertoire.

Saturday May 16th - 9.00am – 3.00pm

Cost: $220.00Crescendo Members $200
(Students $110) includes notes, morning tea and lunch

Venue: Arana Leagues Club 247 Dawson Parade, Keperra (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Debbie's Quick Teaching Tip #21

Let's make the most of your repertoire!

I have just picked the song, Goodnight, from my s m repertoire for this post. I know that I am often guilty of not making the most of the repertoire in my program, so maybe some of you out there are also guilty of this from time to time. To help out a bit, I will just create a bit of a list (by no means exhaustive!) of things you can do with this song, to give you some inspiration and variety in your practice activities.

  • Sing - with gentle, soft voices.
  • Sing while rocking soft toys to sleep. 
  • Sing with the whole class, half class, small group, pairs and individuals.
  • Sing in canon, two beats apart is very easy and not very interesting, one beat apart sound fabulous.
  • Play on two chime bars
  • Play on the black notes of a piano. Pick any two that have a big gap between them. (obviously we are not playing at the pitch written here)
  • Play on xylophones/glockenspiels.
Beat and Rhythm
  • Sing while pointing to beat icons 
  • Sing while walking the beat
  • Sing in rhythm names (if known)
  • Sing tas and inner hear the ti tis and visa versa
  • Derive the Rhythmic pattern on the board
  • Write the rhythmic pattern with paddle pop sticks
  • Write the rhythmic pattern with paddle pop sticks on paper plates representing the beat
  • Half class sing first beat of each bar, other half sing the second beat of each bar. Try to connect the sounds and make a lovely song.
  • Sing in solfa (if known)
  • Sing with the words 'high' and 'low' before s and m are made conscious
  • Sing with the high note and low note in different parts of your body. (Head and shoulders, shoulders and waist...)
  • Sing s and inner hear the m and visa versa
Expressive Elements and other concepts
  • Sing with dynamics. Discuss suitability of piano or pianissimo for this song.
  • Walk the beat in a circle and sing the song three times, the second time sing with inner-hearing. (out loud, inner-hearing, out loud)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Resource for Music Teachers from Ian Ross-Williams

Ian Ross Williams’ brand new Song Book & CD of 16 original songs for Primary School children.
The Song Book includes notation, tuned percussion arrangements and or guitar chords, dance moves and teacher’s notes. The CD includes backing tracks and lyrics booklet. $25 ea. or $45 together as a kit.
A gorgeous collection of original songs, including ‘Come On Down‘(pentatonic/percussion), ‘Happy Dog’(dance), ‘Tiptoe’ (pentatonic & actions), ‘Get Up’ (choral), plus the beautiful ‘So Many Stars – Yingarti Japalinga’, a round previously only available on a limited release EP. Also included are two little gems from Ian’s back catalogue – ‘Jimmy Jumper’ (a novelty waltz) and ‘The Sun Goes Up’, a lullaby suitable for young choirs, with philosophical, life-affirming lyrics. Plus full choral version of the new classic ‘AUSTRALIA – IT’LL AMAZE YA round, part-song.
Repertoire to deeply engage students. Repertoire to enhance your Music Program. Content directly in line with the National Curriculum. Invites student creativity: Compose ostinatos, improvise to the backings. Read notation and play in hocket (photocopy-able masters provided in the Song Book) and much, much more!
To purchase hard copy, email Ian: (with your delivery address and billing details).
Audio mp3 downloads also available, as two albums, Vocal &/or Backings album: iTunes, Amazon Mp3, Google, Rdio, eMUSIC, Spotify and Route Note Direct. Song Book and Collectable CD package

Monday, February 16, 2015

An Afternoon with Debussy

Rhonda Davidson-Irwin has organized on a recital by Gilbert De Greeve on March 15th. (Moggil, Brisbane) Gilbert was the Kodaly International President for 10 years. He is a world exponent of Debussy. Some funds raised go to the Katalin Forrai Early Childhood Society. Please phone Rhonda to purchase tickets.
0412 185 551

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Would you like a brand new ANZAC song?

The talented Stuart Gillard has released a new work and is offering it FREE!
In his own words: In commemoration of the ANZAC centenary I have composed a 2 part choral piece entitled "Four Hundred Seasons"
This piece is free to download and use as you require.
It can be found on my website .

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Savannah - USA Trip Diary #1

Day 1 - 25/1/15 - Travelling

Landing at LA was pretty spectacular. The city seemed to stretch forever in the glow of the distant sunrise. All I was was the inside of the airport. 
At the Dallas Airport, I spent my first few American Dollars, quite appropriately I think, on a large chips from MacDonalds. In fact, that is what I asked for, “A large chips please.” Young Macca’s employee looked very confused, I did immediately realise my mistake, and corrected the order to “fries”. He told me he didn't know the English word for that. So – off to a flying start in the USA!

Day 2 - 26/1/15
First day here. What to do when you are alone in Savannah? The helpful taxi driver told me that one of the big features of this city is that you can drink in the streets provided it is in a plastic cup or container. All the gift shops seem to sell plastic drinking vessels, go figure. He told me that Savannah is a party town. Huge New Years parties and Saint Patrick's Day parties.

So, after sleeping off my jet lag through most of the first day,I set off on a walk to the Markets. Just a quick browse, but did some fascinating things. I met Alex Batiste, read his story, saw him paint and had a chat. A lovely man, he seemed like a very religious fellow with a good heart, I would love to own one of his works. They have a particular 'light' and vibrant colours that naturally attract me. Continuing to browse art galleries (this is the time that I wish I actually had money), I...wait for it...found Pete the Cat. I really only know of Pete's shoes. Turns out James Dean, the artist, lives in Savannah. I want an original painting! Sort of strange since I am not a particular cat fanatic, but I love the paintings. I might content myself with a small print or the picture book to go with the song.

On my way back to the motel, I dropped in to the Moon River Brewing Company and had a Yoga Pants golden ale. Went down well I might way. I think my husband could like it here. Many beers here to try. Went on to try a Wild Wacky Wit, a spiced orangy beer - so different - while eating a 'Low country crab melt'.
Why Moon River? Because Johnny Mercer was born in Savannah, and grew up here.

And so the adventure began...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Finds #20

Check out this amazing device! Watch a young boy play the piano with his eyes, accompanying the singing of Joy to the World. HERE

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Debbie's Quick Teaching Tip #20

A Bag of Toy Animals

I love using cloth, draw string bags. My fabulous Mum has made me lots! At one stage in my career, other music teachers even referred to me as 'The Bag lady'. 
These bags are useful and colourful. The children get excited imagining what is hidden within. Today it is FARM ANIMALS.
This may be a small bag with small plastic animals (if not from your children's old toys, they can be purchased at a cheap shop for a dollar or two), or a larger bag with stuffed toys. Whatever you have will work.
Here are a few activity ideas.  

Children pick a toy from the bag and:
  • that toy decides the verse. For example, pick out a cow and that is what Old MacDonald has on his farm, pick out a horse, and that is what you see along the way when I Went to Visit a Farm One Day, maybe The Farmer in the Dell could have new verses about the animal chosen...
  • clap the animal's name and determine how many sounds. Chicken - clap and say 'chic-ken' - has two sounds. This syllable work is really important leading up to the teaching of rhythm.
  • sing a song about that toy. This improvisation activity is loads of fun, and teaches the children to take risks and have fun creating. No wrong responses! At first you might just ask the child to sing (any tune that comes into their head) a description of the animal "This duck is yellow and it has a bill". Another time, ask them to give the animal a name "My name is Desley Donkey" or "This spotted cow is called Daisy Bell" or "My name is Henry Horse". This can then be expanded to anything you or the children wish: What happened on the farm? Who is their friend? What are they doing next?
I hope these ideas have sparked loads of other ideas!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Big News! 

The New Web site is live!

May I ask a favour? Please pop in and have a look around, test links, download some things - quite a few freebies in the downloads - and if you are a member you should be able to access ALL the downloads, non-members just the files marked as FREE. Members should also be able to access the brand new FORUM section. (That won't be visible unless you are a member and logged in.)
Please be patient - if you find any issues at all private message me, or email to and I will get right onto them.
Thank you lovely Crescendo Community - I think this marks the beginning of a very exciting new chapter!

Monday, January 5, 2015


1 Day 'til the new web site is launched.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


2 Days 'til the new web site is launched.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


3 Days 'til the new web site is launched.

Friday, January 2, 2015


4 Days 'til the new web site is launched.

Thursday, January 1, 2015