Little Bird

Last weekend the school on Mackinac Island had what I’d call our Mid-Winter break, and had Friday through Sunday off ~ a very nice little 3-day weekend to travel off island. I hadn’t left the island in several weeks, so I felt the need to be away, and pay my parents a visit too. Thankfully, the roads happened to be dry and just fine for driving, which worked out great for me as I’ve grown accustomed to the lack of any need to drive up on Mackinac.
Some scenes from the boat. This is a LOT less ice filled than two days later, when the ice floated back in!

   
On Saturday, I drove downstate to a friend of a friend’s recording studio ~ my friend and neighbor on the island plays ukulele, and we’ve been jammin out and trying to write our own tunes… the process ended up leading us to his friend’s studio where we recorded one song, my first time ever in a recording studio!

In past years I’ve recorded many times, but they’ve always been for a recital or a concert that I was working towards. They’ve always been live, and recorded from start to finish with all the little mistakes and mishaps that you might hear in a live performance. I’ve grown accustomed to playing songs straight through, so to record something non-classical in a studio was a new experience for me, since all of what we recorded was editable – I could sing one line of music, and that line could be cut, copied, pasted, auto tuned, and filtered in an infinite amount of ways.

Singer/Songwriter Pete Badour laying down some harmonies ~ producer Jeff Gingrich working his musical magic

The end result is Weather the Storm, a song created for Little Bird, the first music project from Michigan Pins! The song is free for download at the Michigan Pins website, and I’m very proud of what we were able to create.

On my way back home from recording, I spent a little more time with family (and family cat), then headed back to Mackinac Island Monday morning, when Michigan just happened to get hit with a storm of snow! The boat almost didn’t make it out of the harbor, but with the pros over at Arnold Line Ferry, we got to the island just fine.

Rounding the north breakwall…

 

Me, hehe… it was pretty on Monday morning

 

The sunset over an icy lake

With all of this new snow I’m sure to get more snow pics here, and some of that awesome blue ice!

I don’t often ask this, but if you like what you see in this blogpost please feel free to like/ comment below ~ and I also invite you to hear the new song Weather the Storm, and I’d love to hear what you think of that as well!

Until next time,

Heather

Music Ed Ideas

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I have been teaching music at Mackinac Island Public Schools for the past four years, and I have to say that I am finally starting to get the hang of it! I really enjoy working with all of the students here, and I have also learned how to adapt a little better to those last-minute changes in my plans! The biggest hurdle that I’ve faced, however, is the fact that I don’t technically have my own classroom. I’m a traveling teacher who goes from class to class with a cart of materials and my lessons to teach music (and art!). I usually have to go through a “spring cleaning” process more than once throughout the year on my cart, and this time I thought I’d share with you the things that I use!

I have a pretty cool cart with three levels to it: the top shelf is where I put my every day supplies and supplies that I’m using for that day’s art lessons. The second shelf is for warm up art worksheets, student notebooks, cleaning supplies, and music supplies that I may use throughout the day. The bottom shelf is where I keep my classical guitar and ukulele.

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I always tell my middle and high school students to come prepared to class with a pencil, but if they don’t have one, I keep some on my cart. I saw this idea on pinterest and decided to create my own, using the old personal sized pringles cans, scrapbook paper, and a fancy oval punch to create the label:

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I then found some baskets with handles at the dollar store, and had to have one of each color for my cart. They’re not too big, and the handle comes in handy when I need to quickly change out materials for that day’s art lesson. If you have a lot of small props or other materials that you use for music lessons, I think these baskets would work great for that as well!

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Joann Fabrics was having a big sale one day and I was lucky enough to find this awesome hot pink plastic 3-drawer at a discount! I quickly snatched it up and labeled each drawer to keep my files and catalogs in order:

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The last thing that I keep close by is my song bank. I created this idea one day when I realized that, with all the different grade levels that I’m teaching, that I sometimes forget the lyrics to the songs that I’m teaching! I’m the same with music that I like on the radio – I remember the melody really well, but I can never seem to remember all the lyrics. Anyway, it helps to have a little cheat sheet nearby so that I don’t change one word for another, so I found a clear index card holder and some neon index cards (one color for each grade level), and printed a label for the top, which I taped on with the same scrapbook paper as my pencil holders:

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I used a 1″ circle punch to create the dividers in my song bank for each grade level. Since I teach 2 grades in one classroom I have sections for two grades, but of course you can do this for individual grades.

 

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In the corner I write the grade level(s), the title of the song at the top, the words under that, and on the back of the card I’ll write information about the song, such as where I found the song, what materials I should use with it, etc.

 

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As this year goes on, I hope to post even more on the things that I’m using in my music classes, including the lessons that I’ve used as well, so check back often, and thanks for reading!

Mackinac Island Spring Recital

This week was full of preparation and performance, as the Mackinac Island high school music class performed in their final recital of the school year.

The recital on Wednesday, May 2nd, turned out to be a wonderful performance. Something that I tried differently with them this year was to have them accompany each other instead of playing solos. It was a great experience for all of my students to work with a partner, and each one did an amazing job! We finished off the concert with 2 large ensemble pieces, one of which included the song, Mackinac, by George Fraser. It is a little known piece written for the island back in 1943, and is just a beautiful song.

An excerpt of the MIPS high school music class performing Mackinac:

I couldn’t be more proud of my students this year!

If anyone would like a copy of my arrangment of this song, just send me a message!

More to come later this week on our school’s next upcoming project, the K-12 art show….