Thoughts on a conference…


I just got back the OAKE conference in Phoenix. It was a wonderful conference, with lots of great, thought-provoking sessions. Some highlights:

  • Crystal Schlieker presented a session about creativity. She had some really useful ideas, such as having students create a dance to rhythmic form, rearranging a reading exercise such as a 333 to create a new form, and students creating movement for specific solfa. Other suggestions: including one element of student choice in each lesson, and giving students a choice of the next song in the lesson, then planning for either choice.
  • Tanya LeJeune presented a session about SMART board activities. Lots of wonderful ideas, and ways of using the SMART board. To download a few of these files, and see videos of her students in action, visit
  • Nyssa Brown presented a session about divergent thinking. Nyssa is amazing at getting attendees to think “out-of-the-box” about their own teaching and learning experiences. Like Crystal, Nyssa discussed offering students choices, and encouraged attendees to offer questions with more than one answer, to honor the student as a creative individual. Some specific ideas include using name games like “A my name is Alice” for students to share their individuality, doing arranging projects in which students rearrange a known song, and posting sentence starters such as “I notice..,” “I observed…,” “Why do you think…,” etc. to create a more collaborative environment. 
  • Susan Brumfield did a demo with some of her choir students. She took some great octavos (some of which she wrote/ arranged), and took the attendees step-by-step through the process of teaching an octavo. I’m excited to use some of the octavos with my choir next year…and now I have a specific plan on how to use them! Some of the octavos I’m really looking forward to using include: “Songs of a Summer Afternoon” arranged by Emily Crocker (including “Here comes a bluebird,” “Bow Wow Wow,” “I’ve been to Haarlem,” and “Sailing on the ocean”), “Sail Away” arranged by Susan Brumfield, and “Seagull, Seagull,” also arranged by Susan Brumfield.
  • Andrew Ellingsen presented “Sequencing Folk Dances in the Music Classroom.” The session was packed full of people, and we did many folk dances (although I had to sit some out…being pregnant makes folk dancing a bit hard!) Not only did he present some really fun, wonderful folk dances, but he presented them in a sequential way, starting with a simple circle dance all the way to a Sicilian circle dance. The session will make me think about how all the singing games I do could relate to folk dancing, and possibly present them in a different order…and it motivated me to put some new songs and dances into my curriculum!
  • Ginger Littleton presented a session about composition. She showed some simple activities to practice composition with younger students, and then progressed to some upper elementary ideas. I especially liked her template for composition, in which students write their composition in stick notation, and then transfer the composition to the staff. She had a section on top called “rules,” in which the teacher could post rules such as “The composition starts on C and ends on C,” or “All eighth notes should be the same note.” It was a very streamlined way to approach composition, and I’m excited to try it out!
  • Sarah Bartolome presented a session about multicultural music. She was obviously very well-educated on the subject, and had some great resources. She encouraged attendees to delve more into a culture through discussion and listening lessons, instead of just doing a song from a different culture and moving on. Many of her lessons and resources are posted at

I’ve already typed up a list of ideas I’d like to implement right away with each grade level, ideas I’d like to implement by the end of the year, and then ideas I’d like to implement next year. I’m also excited to share these ideas with my student teacher. The conference was a perfect example of how rejuvenating professional development can be! 


2 responses »

  1. What a great national conference! Aileen and I attended many of the same workshops so I only have a few to add.
    Musical Heritage in the High Tech Age by Dr. David Gadberry & Mrs. Kathy Kuddes. Free on line resources so check out their download at Their goal was to bring authentic culture bearers into our classroom through technology so we can infuse the true sense of folk melody styles.
    Sandy Knudson and Bev Garner presented The Care and Feeding of High Do. Awesome workshop showing exactly what needs to be prepared and what students need to be secure with before presenting high do.
    1. Can my students sing intervals for the do pentatone without my assistance? 2nds: dr, rm, sl 3rds: sm, md 4ths: rs, ml 5ths:lr, sd 6ths: dl
    2. Do my students read several do pentatone songs with ease on the staff?
    3. Can students write drmsl patterns on the staff in groups and alone?
    4. Have I played a few games using high do and begun to introduce repertoire and instrument parts with high do as preparation?

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