Friday, August 24, 2018


It's time for school again, and for fifth graders, there is a new opportunity in the music department - BAND! Students in fifth grade get the opportunity to start learning a band instrument, and I'd love for as many fifth graders as possible to give this a try!

As you may have already discovered, my goal as a music teacher is to give kids many different musical experiences so that they can find the aspect of music that connects with them. I think that learning instruments is something that is beneficial to ALL kids, and I highly encourage kids to learn several instruments as they get the opportunity. I have talked, and will continue to talk, in other blog posts about the many reasons why this is important, but for this one, I'd like to explain how things work here at WLM, and especially for fifth graders and their parents, how this will affect them.

In music class we've been singing and playing instruments since kindergarten. We've used many percussion instruments. In third grade we started using recorders as our first wind instrument. In fifth and sixth grade, we transition from "kids" instruments to "adult" instruments. 

I recommend that students choose one of 5 of the basic band instruments, and in fifth grade we start lessons on these - TROMBONE, TRUMPET, ALTO SAXOPHONE, FLUTE, and CLARINET. While there are other instruments in the band and orchestra available as students get older, these 5 instruments, while common in many types of music, are also a good starting place to move into other more advanced instruments such as oboe, french horn, tuba, euphonium, and many others.

Many students ask about percussion, guitar, and piano as instruments they are interested in, and I love all three of those instruments! We do what we can to encourage and teach all 3 of these instruments, but they are all very different from wind instruments, and the fundamentals of how to play them don't work to include them in beginning band. However, all students will be learning more advanced percussion technique in music class (building off of what we've done in younger grades), and getting to perform on different percussion instruments. Some of these students will have an opportunity to play some percussion in band (in addition to their wind instrument, if they choose). We offer a GUITAR CLUB to anyone who is interested and has a guitar - I'll be sending home more information in the next few weeks about this group starting up. Unfortunately, I don't have a piano lab, so I can't offer a piano club, but several students take piano lessons (there are several teachers in town, and I'd be glad to offer you some names if you are interested!), and we give these students opportunities to perform in our recital in March, as well as accompanying the chorus when they are able.

I know students who have started out playing trumpet, and sticking with that as a hobby and creative outlet their entire lives! I also know students who started on alto saxophone, and ended up playing percussion as their "band instrument" in high school, but were still able to utilize the musical skills they learned on saxophone to make them a better musician. This is why I recommend that all students TRY one of the basic 5 instruments (trombone, trumpet, alto saxophone, clarinet, flute). If you purchase a good quality (new or used) instrument, the instrument will last a lifetime, literally. Robert M. Sides has good quality instruments and several different payment options which they will explain to you when they are here, but there are other places to purchase instruments. Just be careful when purchasing online or from something other than a music store - sometimes when a deal seems too good to be true, it is! There are many "off-brand" instruments that are very cheap, but don't work properly, will be impossible to repair, and will result in student frustration. Getting a good instrument is worth it!

Finally, if a student really wants to play an instrument, but money inhibits an instrument purchase, please talk to me! There are occasionally instruments donated to the school, and we can sometimes help with scholarship instruments to use.

If you have any further questions about band at WLM, don't hesitate to ask! I hope to see you at the meeting on August 29th, but I'm also in the lobby every morning from 8-8:20, and you can reach me anytime via email at

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Chorus Fest Songs Spring 2018

Six Warren L. Miller students will be representing our school at the annual PMEA Chorus Fest on the last Friday in April at Athens HS! Here are the songs they'll be singing! (Students - use these links to practice!)

Laudamus Te

She Sings

Three Quotes By Mark Twain

The Crawdad Song

Joshua Fit The Battle

Sesere Eeye

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chorus-Fest Songs for Spring 2017

Warren L. Miller Students have been selected to represent our school at the PMEA Chorus-Fest on April 28, 2017! Here are recordings of the songs we are working on for students to listen to and practice with!

Click on the link to listen to the songs for Chorus-Fest 2017!

Listen to the Rain


Cantate Canticum

Pirate Story

Wink To The Little Baby

The Dream Keeper

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Jump Rope for Heart

For the 10th year in a row, Warren L. Miller Elementary School will be participating in Jump Rope for Heart. This year, physical education classes will be jumping in honor of Nicholas Ogden, a young man with a very special heart! Our Jump Rope for Heart event will take place on the week of February 6-10th. All donations and envelopes are due back by Friday, February 10th. Thank you for your participation and continued support of this program!

Image result for jump rope for heart zoo crew

Monday, January 23, 2017

The week of January 23rd-27th, we are all celebrating The Great Kindness Challenge. This is an entire week of showing random acts of kindness that are celebrated nation wide. The STSD is participating in this week as a way to create a culture of kindness in our schools. Acts of Kindness make the world go around!!!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Grades in Elementary Music!

Since report cards are coming, I wanted to re-post my information about grades in music class.

First off, music in elementary is very experiential. We don't take tests. We occasionally write, since writing is important in all aspects of life, but assessment on writing happens elsewhere in school. Ideally, we'd be able to provide a music assessment on how students are doing in each of the music standards. In class, we make a point to do each of the following...

LISTEN to music
MOVE to a steady beat
SING on pitch
PLAY instruments, in time and in tune

We explore music in various cultures and time periods throughout the year (Music Appreciation) but we always strive do those 4 experiential standards in every class.

Unfortunately, our grade system only allows a number (out of 100). Further, considering that many of the classes only meet once per 6 day cycle (barring interruption for a variety of reasons), doing an individual assessment for each student on each of these would be nearly impossible. We do both informal assessments all the time, but we try to keep the focus on making music in class, and it usually doesn't work to tie these to a number grade.

SO, I try to keep it simple. I always tell the students that the only rule I have in music class is one word: PARTICIPATE! As long as they are involved in what is happening, they are experiencing all of the standards and that is success. I've created a simple rubric I use for grades 3-6. Some of these students are in band also in grades 5 and 6, and I consider that, as well as music class and chorus, in the following. As students get older (into 5th and 6th grade), they have more of an opportunity to move into the "Advanced" category, through practicing at home and engagement in class activities, but in third and fourth grade, we haven't had enough time yet to achieve that. Students in "Basic" and "Emerging" are choosing to not participate in one or more areas of musical standards. Since all students must attend class and are all "participating" to some degree, the lowest grade number I give is 85 (B-) for emerging. I don't like reducing these experiential standards to a number, as it doesn't translate well to music, but this is the system in place. I don't like to give a GRADE below a C, because the letter grade doesn't translate well to compare with other classes. However, students with basic or below basic are missing out on an important music learning opportunity, and I do want parents to be aware of that, and hopefully talk with students about participating better in the future. The expectation is that students will participate (and thus achieve) to a "proficient" level, and a few students will excel (evidenced by practicing at home, participating in class discussions and performance, etc.) and achieve an "advanced" level.

Advanced (100) - Student shows exceptional participation and achievement.

Proficient (95) - Student participates in all class activities regarding musical standards, and regularly works hard to demonstrate achievement in each of the standard areas.

Basic (90) - Student participates sometimes in class activities, but does not participate enough to demonstrate competence in one or more standard area.

Emerging (85) - Student rarely participates, and is thus unable to demonstrate competence in most or all of the standard areas.

Again, as students get older (5th and 6th grade), we will occasionally have assignments that have rubrics specific to them, and those grades will be added in. But the short answer to all of this is - it's hard to GRADE music on a 1-100 scale, as you may imagine. I try to use the system in place to provide a little feedback on the level of participation (and thus achievement) each student shows in music class. Parent, as always, feel free to contact me at if you have any questions!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

WL Miller will be celebrating Red Ribbon Week from October 24th-October 30th. Red Ribbon Week brings millions of students together across the United States to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and bullying. It is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed in the United States.
Please help to support your child's awareness this week by having them participate in all of the fun and educational activities at school.
Monday-Red Ribbon Week Pencil Give Away
Tuesday-Wear RED Day
Wednesday-Information Day
Thursday-"Sock It To Drugs" crazy socks and sticker day
Friday- No Bullying Speech