Singing from the Heart

When my daughter was in second grade, in the ‘80s, the second-grade teachers started the morning with a piano, a teacher who played, and children sitting on the floor around, singing. The interactive song, The Cat Came Back, by Fred Penner, was much requested. Where are the routines that involve singing for the pure joy […]

Where Has All the Singing Gone?

If I were to believe my early childhood students, singing with children is passe. Being a small sample (this class has thirty students), perhaps I am being overly harsh. But then again, prior classes had also moved into the dizzying array of YouTube videos for preschoolers. Blingy, fast-moving, cartoonish music videos have become the go-to […]

Music Penetrates the Undefended Heart

Teachers, do you know the Mozart Rondo in A minor? Bach’s Cello Suite no. 1? Perhaps you, like many Americans, prefer to stick with what you know when you play music for children. It is certainly understandable. When I started teaching, I mostly played this music in my classroom because my undergraduate degree was in […]

Some Dreams Are Not Deferred


What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like syrupy sweet? Maybe it sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes In this […]

Music Makes It Better

children playing music

Music makes everything better. I recently gave a presentation about this topic to caregivers and teachers in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I emphasized the tremendous importance of music experiences for young children, talked about using music and movement for behavior management, and gave examples. The attendees were enthusiastic. Many have used clean-up songs and hand-washing songs for […]

Only a Moment Ago

children singing

My elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Erdle, encouraged us all to join the school choir. I loved music (and still do), so I jumped at the chance to have an extra hour of singing at the end of the day every Friday. I was the only boy in the entire sixth grade who signed up. […]

The Sound of Synergy


Encouragement Comes in All Forms. I was thinking this as my wife was sharing with me the highlights of her Body Attack Exercise Class as we were both leaving the YMCA. She shared with me how the instructor was a motivating force for each participant. Although the instructor was earnest and firm in her encouragement, […]

About a song: What does it “mean”?

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As a middle school principal, I make it a point to do informal walkthroughs for at least 40-60 minutes each day (well, that’s the plan anyway). It is the best part of my job to learn alongside teachers and kids throughout the school. I stopped by one of my teacher’s (@bess_murphy) classrooms this week. I’m […]

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