Writing and composing have always brought me joy. While hopscotching through the extremely busy pace of teaching elementary music I have regularly found myself gleefully diving into seasons of writing or composing diligence. Its not at all surprising that these seasons of creativity have coincided with breaks from school. Indeed, my most creative days are generally at the tail end of any break when I am FINALLY rested and recovered enough from the “school rush” to put together meaningful thought. As a result, my attempts at writing advance in fits and starts. I find it very difficult to pick up the thread of creativity that had to be laid down in surrender to the exigencies of teaching. Nevertheless, I keep trying. There is an entire folder on the desktop of my computer dedicated to my attempts. The folder is entitled, “Things to Write”. In it you will find half baked children’s books, short stories, novels, memoirs and as of this last January, a non-fiction book. As you might expect the process for each of these attempts varies greatly and each are caught in a different stage of development.
I do believe however, that I have discovered a way forward in my writing. I simply need to write about what is on my mind most of the time. This means I need to write about things associated with teaching music. This realization is what prompted me to start a non-fiction book this last January. Though progress did slow down in the hustle of February and March, I can say with confidence that I have successfully made more disciplined progress on this book than any other previous attempt because I’m writing what is on my mind anyway.
I’m not sure how creative it feels to write a non-fiction text, but I hope that when I’m done my book will meet the following criteria that I have set for myself.
I want my book to be:
- Useful- I’ve been writing a significant amount of content for new music teachers on my blog. I have found that new music teachers are a niche audience that I enjoy writing for, so I am writing this book for them. However, this writing project is intended to be entirely practical. If everything comes together as I hope it will this is the sort of book that you write ALL OVER and maybe even tear out the pages you need. WHAT?
- Sharable – I plan on self publishing this book. I have done my research and I think this will work for me. I am choosing to self publish rather than relying on my blog as the primary platform for the information I will share in the book because I want the book to be a tangible item where all of the information is one place. Its difficult to highlight blog posts!
- Extendable – The book is coming together in a format that I believe will lend itself towards the development of a series of books.
- Universal: – There are so many streams within music education and yet so many of our experiences are universal. I want this book to be helpful to any music teacher regardless of their pedagogical preferences, experiences, education or community. Perhaps once I get this book finished, I’ll feel like getting into the philosophical weeds, (I do like a good stroll through the weeds), but for now, I’m focusing on the most common experiences within teaching music and how to navigate them.
The book I am working on is a handbook for managing all of the tasks associated with grade level performances. I have a strong start, and for accountability I intend to share excerpts periodically throughout the writing process. Currently I have written three chapters and produced a series of appendixes that can be used in conjunction with the book or as stand alone resources. Below is Appendix A
Appendix A – Who Do I Ask?
|Teammates (music, PE, Art, Tech, Library)
|Previous performances at the school
What worked, what did not work
Ask them to share their level of involvement in previous performances.
How to run the sound system.
Chances are good that someone on your team has run the sound system.
|Administration (Principal, Appraiser, Instructional Coach)
Schedules, facilities, budget and/or fundraising and/or sponsors
Student privacy policies for performances
|School Secretary / Secretaries
Calendar adjustments (with admin approval)
Access to appropriate forms to complete all tasks
Maintenance and repairs
Equipment exchange or rentals
|Elementary Music Teachers / Mentor Teachers / Vertical Team (Jr High & High School performing arts teachers)
Situational curve balls
Performance strategies and recommendations
|Fine Arts / Performing Arts Administrators
|District expectations and procedures
“Big asks” like new curtains for the stage
Program advocacy tools