COVID-19 Updates

TMEA music events and meetings scheduled from March 16th through 29th are to be suspended.
Decisions on the impact of COVID-19 on all future TMEA events and competitions will be communicated as they become available.

From 2007-2015, TMEA members asked and answered over 230 questions featured in a Southwestern Musician article series called "Tutti". Over 3,500 answers were submitted by TMEA members in response to practical questions ranging from pedagogy to fundraising. This bank of valuable knowledge and experience is available here and is searchable by topic and/or magazine issue.

Listed below are answers and questions published in the April 2015 issue of Southwestern Musician. If you would like to view another issue's questions and answers, select an issue from the drop down box and click "Go".

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What do you look for when evaluating resumes of candidates for a job?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: April 2015
We know new teachers won’t have a lot of practical teaching experience, so that portion being sparse is actually okay. What I like to see is what performance experience you’ve had, what honors and awards you’ve earned, and more. Remember, don’t stretch the truth. The teaching world is very small, and it’s easy (especially now that being connected is so simple) to double-check what you say is true.—Cathy Benford, Tascosa HS, Amarillo ISD


Submitted by: Cathy Benford
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Be careful to avoid fluff—it tends to jump right off the page. Less experienced candidates will naturally not have as much previous employment information, so don’t make it up. Your honesty will net you a position faster than your ability to be creative. Remember that previous non-teaching jobs can be valuable for a potential employer in education. Experienced applicants should be selective and able to thoroughly and concisely describe their responsibilities with key previous employment.—Norm Sands, Tabasco ES, La Joya ISD


Submitted by: Norm Sands
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The information must be clear, concise, and applicable to the job for which you are applying. Most of us have limited time to review resumes, and we will lose interest if the resume is too hard to read or understand. Two of the most important items are your education and previous work experiences. I want to know who your primary musical and humanistic influences were. I also want to see a list of references and not have to ask for them.—Peter J. Warshaw, Leander ISD


Submitted by: Peter J. Warshaw
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The first thing I look for is quality experience with a successful program under a successful, proven teacher/mentor. I also look to see how long an applicant has stayed with a program—I believe three years gives you enough time to make an educated decision about whether to stay. If you just graduated from college, I’ll look at where and with whom you did your student teaching. I’m also interested if you taught privately or did other applicable work with a public school program during your college career and the kind of summer teaching activities in which you were involved.—Roy Renzenbrink, McKinney ISD


Submitted by: Roy Renzenbrink
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I want to know who you learned from during your career. This is not to be confused with “It’s who you know.” I want to know where an applicant is coming from pedagogically and philosophically.—Todd Toney, North Garland HS, Garland ISD


Submitted by: Todd Toney
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The desire to teach should come through loud and clear. I really don’t want to know if you aspire to have a TMEA invited choir someday, although I can usually tell if an applicant has that potential. I want to know if you want to transfer the knowledge you have to students and inspire them to become the best musicians they can be.—Judy Lee Welch, Taft HS, Northside ISD


Submitted by: Judy Lee Welch
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Educational credentials are, of course, important. But more than that, we look for resumes to include succinct statements about their interest in teaching the students of our district, experiences they had while student teaching, why they chose to become a music teacher, and some of their goals as a music educator. We are looking for the “heart” of an applicant.—Bob Bryant, Katy ISD


Submitted by: Anonymous
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Your resume is the first step to receiving an interview, so it is important that it contain a sense of your personality. I want to know more than where you went to school and what bands you played in. This is the person who is going to share my vision and work with my students, so I want to know your likes and dislikes in and out of the band world. I want to know why band and music was your chosen profession and gain a sense of your passion for it. —Diana DD Flores, Plummer MS, Aldine ISD

Submitted by: Diana DD Flores
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Keep resume as honest, relevant, and brief as possible. Don’t embellish your duties, but do include information that will set you apart from the field. Your resume should include educational information, work experience, honors and awards, organization memberships and activity, and 3–5 professional references with contact information (with permission, of course).—Jay Lester, Abilene ISD


Submitted by: Jay Lester
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It’s always surprising to receive resumes with misspelled words or poorly constructed sentences. Remember that your resume reflects your attention to detail. Include information that sets you apart from other candidates, such as marching in a drum corps, serving as a music camp counselor, working in a music office, teaching private lessons. I also look at references—I’m especially interested in whether you included your ensemble conductors and applied faculty.—Steve Andre, Mesquite ISD


Submitted by: Steve Andre
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How can music teacher applicants best prepare for an interview? What do you expect applicants to know about your program?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: April 2015
I expect applicants to understand our traditions of success and have at least a basic understanding of the socioeconomic makeup of our school. Be prepared to be honest with me about how much time you plan on devoting to the students outside of school hours. Above all, just be honest.—Christina Marioneaux, Gentry JS, Goose Creek ISD


Submitted by: Christina Marioneaux
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In an interview, I try to get to know the candidate as a person. So pretending you are confident when you have no experience only misleads me, and I won’t see the real you. I look for a familiarity with both Orff and Kodaly methods, flexibility to follow what is established in the school, strong musicianship skills, and good classroom management skills working with kindergarten–fifth graders. Applicants should have pleasant disposition and be able to get along well with colleagues.—Pay-Sung Chew, Stephens ES, Katy ISD


Submitted by: Pay-Sung Chew
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Minimally, you should know the size of the school and what type it is (college prep, IB, magnet, etc.). Do your research, especially concerning statistics for the school, including college acceptance rate and size of the programs. Be willing to work with a program of that size and realize that size does not equal quality.—Katie James, Vanguard College Preparatory School, Waco


Submitted by: Katie James
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Answer the question that you are asked. Make eye contact and smile, relax. Take the time to visit the school’s/program’s website. Know what you want the interviewers to know, and if they don’t ask you about those critical aspects, share that information if offered the opportunity at the end. Be on time and remember that people are watching you from the time you pull in the parking lot until you leave. Dress nicely. Be a professional. Know your stuff.—Dean Muths, Educational Support Center, Clear Creek ISD


Submitted by: Dean Muths
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I expect you to have opinions regarding scope and sequence of curriculum delivery and a good feel for what students should know and be able to do at various stages. I am interested in a good communicator and a pleasant demeanor. It is not essential for you to know a lot about our program at the time of the interview.—Cody Myers, Amarillo ISD


Submitted by: Anonymous
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There are several sites available where you can learn more, including the district or school website, the music program’s website, UIL website, and more. I don’t like it when applicants ask me questions about information that’s readily available online. You should get an idea of the success and traditions of the program beforehand.—Amy Shuford, Iola HS, Iola ISD


Submitted by: Amy Shuford
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Do your homework. The best candidates know both the strengths and growth areas of a program, school, or district and can articulate methods for improvement. Be confident, but not arrogant. Be ready to answer questions about philosophy of education, discipline style, and organizational approach. Honest answers will help those conducting the interview see a glimpse of your personality. Practice answering scenario questions with a wise and respected mentor in your area. One last bit of advice would be to keep your responses student-centered.—Jay Lester, Abilene ISD


Submitted by: Jay Lester
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Know discipline techniques, be prepared to answer questions on physical set-up of beginning instrumentalists and on planning a class period from bell to bell, and be ready to describe yourself and tell how someone else would describe you.—Christy L. Myers, Turner HS, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD


Submitted by: Anonymous
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I expect an applicant to have some cursory knowledge of the district and community, including the overall quality of the programs at all schools in the district. You should be able to speak articulately about your educational and professional background, your philosophy of music education and education in general, and about establishing classroom procedures and managing behavior, motivating students through positive relationships, teaching fundamentals of tone production, technical facility, and musical literacy. You should also have thorough knowledge of your specific subject area. Finally, I expect applicants to present themselves with poise and confidence.—James Drew, Fort Bend ISD

Submitted by: James Drew
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I expect applicants to understand our traditions of success and have at least a basic understanding of the socioeconomic makeup of our school. Be prepared to be honest with me about how much time you plan on devoting to the students outside of school hours. Above all, just be honest.—Christina Marioneaux, Gentry JS, Goose Creek ISD


Submitted by: Christina Marioneaux
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What end-of-year lessons do you deliver to keep interest high and students engaged in learning?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: April 2015
I often use post-spring concert time to teach piano basics. Using a keyboard introduction (names of the keys), staff, and pitch letter-name reinforcement, and a beginner piano book, many can acquire a basic skill for playing their individual part. Fingering is covered, but most are satisfied with hunt-and-peck to reinforce any uncertain solfege pitches. This is a great boost to the individual’s confidence, serves well for helping learn UIL solos, and helps in student-led sectionals.


Submitted by: Tommy Corley
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Devin Turk, Leonard HS Band, Leonard ISD: At the high school band level, I begin shifting gears back to marching band. We begin sightreading new stands tunes and if we have our show music, we will begin reading through it as much as possible. With beginning and junior high bands, we play through pop tunes, movie music, and teach students basic composition. We even perform some of our 8- to 12-bar compositions in class. I teach my students to be as creative and imaginative as possible.


Submitted by: Devin Turk
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Megan Lied, Berkner HS Choir, Richardson ISD: Our high school choir does an a cappella arranging project. Students work in groups of 6–8 and create their own arrangement of a pop song. They must incorporate the melody, at least one harmony line, some kind of rhythm, and all students must perform. They spend the better part of a week working together and then perform for each other.


Submitted by: Anonymous
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Kathy Hollier, Groves MS Choir, Port Neches-Groves ISD: Instead of a typical spring concert, we join with our theatre arts department to perform a Broadway musical in the third week of May. Auditions are held before spring break, and we go into full rehearsal mode after UIL Concert & Sightreading Contest. This keeps the students highly motivated until the very end of the year. This is our 21st year to collaborate, and it’s definitely one of the highlights of the year for the kids!


Submitted by: Kathy Hollier
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Jeff Rudy, McCallum HS Band, Austin ISD: For AP Music Theory classes, we do a culminating project that allows the students to select a published piece of music (they get to choose) and arrange it for a small ensemble. As part of the project, they must provide a handwritten score of their arrangement (demonstrates their knowledge of notation), a full analysis of the original score (demonstrates concepts covered throughout the year), and computer generated parts (demonstrates their ability to use current technology). The last few days of class are devoted to live performances of these arrangements, using students from our band, orchestra, and choir programs. Often, the students record these performances, giving them a permanent copy of their work. I started this 10 years ago and it has become the look-forward-to project in theory.


Submitted by: Jeff Rudy
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Christina Ritter, Coyle MS Choir, Garland ISD: We play lots of music theory games at the end of the school year. We play key signature races, around the world, and music bingo to name a few. We’ll play on Fridays after four days of note taking over the topics that the game will cover. The kids love it, especially when I allow them to use their notes from time to time. It encourages them to really engage during note taking sessions!


Submitted by: Christina Ritter
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David Graeber, Johnson Sixth Grade Band, Everman ISD: Do a future goals worksheet or poster for students to visualize what they want to accomplish during the upcoming school year. Ask them what they can start doing on their own during the summer to help themselves prepare for success throughout the school year. Providing a rubric or expectations list will help them come up with specific skills to establish their steps to success.


Submitted by: Anonymous
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Elizabeth Shier, Academy at Carrie F. Thomas Elementary, Birdville ISD: In grades 3–4 we do a classroom talent day presentation with specific criteria: everyone must participate in some way, students may work alone or in groups, the music must be school-appropriate, and the presentation must be entirely student-created/directed. This allows students to be creative and practice problem-solving skills as they learn to make decisions with their team. This also provides students another opportunity to practice their audience etiquette TEKS and gives families another chance to see the students perform. Everyone gets applause and recognition, and it is a big deal in my class, especially since not everyone is selected to perform in the school talent show. Fifth graders do a music research project that may or may not involve performance—they can research an instrument, band, career, or musician of their choice (school-appropriate) and present their information to the class in whatever way they choose. I have had lots of Prezis, PowerPoints, posters, live performances, and it culminates with a “gallery walk” where everyone can look at each of the works, accomplishing several TEKS, including those regarding justifying personal preferences.


Submitted by: Elizabeth Shier
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Kristi Grimes, Johnston-McQueen Elementary, Longview ISD: I reserve current music for the end of year. I use YouTube to find songs that the students listen to outside of school. I try to incorporate rhythm lessons and use a variety of instruments for the students to enhance the music they like. I take suggestions for songs, prescreen for language, and find what I can on the Internet for an interactive lesson. By allowing the students this level of involvement, they own the lesson and look forward to seeing which songs are used the following week. I have also learned that many times what they see in music class, they try to find in the library in books.


Submitted by: Kristi Grimes
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Samantha Jones, Walton Elementary, Fort Worth ISD: I have some really great Orff arrangements that I use after spring break for each grade for a whole unit. I don’t have room to always keep xylophones out, but I will if every grade will be playing them. We also sing Texas music at the end of the year. The students love patriotic music, and I never seem to fit it all in earlier in the school year. I love doing this during the last two weeks of school when everyone has pretty much mentally checked out of school. Singing Texas songs and American songs puts a smile on their faces and keeps them engaged.


Submitted by: Anonymous
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Cary Vanarsdall, Petrolia Elementary, Petrolia ISD: I use the Quaver end-of-year lesson in the curriculum because it turns it into more of a game, and allows the students to use the mobile feature for instant results.


Submitted by: Cary Vanarsdall
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What are your traditions this time of year for honoring seniors, or other traditions at any grade level?
Submitted by: Anonymous, Answered in: April 2015
Leigh Ann McClain, Griffin MS Band, Lewisville ISD: Traditions give students something to look forward to and can sometimes help give them the reason to “finish the race.” Even though we are a middle school, we do have traditions for our eighth-grade students. We take a picture of the eighth-grade band and each student signs the mat. This picture is displayed at our end-of-year concert, the Griffin Grammys. It is then hung in the practice room hallway with the others from previous years. We also end the concert with the “Eighth Grade Send-Off” where the entire program plays our school song very slowly while the eighth graders’ names are read and the students line-up across the front of the stage. We then play our school song all together as a full program. At the very end our two big awards, The Golden Griffin and The Griffin Pride are awarded. Following the concert, we have a large reception in the foyer honoring the eighth-grade class.


Submitted by: Leigh Ann McClain
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Christina Ritter, Coyle MS Choir, Garland ISD: The officers from each of our classes meet with me to create an award for every person in their class, known as the Paper Plate Awards. After everyone has been assigned an award, the officers gather together for two days after school to make the awards. These are not meant to be serious awards, although they can be. They reflect the inside jokes, the camaraderie, and friendships that have developed throughout the school year. An example of a paper plate award might be “Best Moves during our Pep Rally Performance”, or “Most likely to break into song at any given moment.” We present the awards on one of the final school days. It is a wonderful way to recap our school year and embrace the many different people, cultures, and personalities that have come together to create a perfect unison.


Submitted by: Christina Ritter
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Katie Lewis, Maus MS Band, Frisco ISD: We have the eighth-grade graduating class paint a ceiling tile in the director’s office. The tile represents the major pieces of music they poured themselves into that year. The class also gets to sign the tile so they can have ownership. It’s a great way to remember each class and each year’s worth of music!


Submitted by: Katie Lewis
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Janwin Overstreet-Goode, Friendswood HS Choir, Friendswood ISD: We recognize our seniors at our final concert, calling names individually and having them line up across the front of the stage. We also share our seniors’ future plans at our end-of-year banquet and give them a small token of our appreciation. At the banquet we also recognize outstanding students by grade level, and present achievement awards (most improved) by ensemble.


Submitted by: Janwin Overstreet-Goode
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Samantha Jones, Walton Elementary, Fort Worth ISD: We do a fifth-grade promotion. We always sing our school song and then we choose a special song for them to sing to their parents. I’ve tried to select a different song for each class as they are promoted. I was very surprised my first year to realize that my students really enjoyed slow melodic songs and really connected with the meaning of the lyrics. We’ve never used popular songs they hear on the radio. They really have responded well to the songs we’ve selected—always songs about peace and love.


Submitted by: Anonymous
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Amy Shuford, Iola HS Band, Iola ISD: On one of our spring concert pieces, each senior is featured on a 4–8 measure solo. I usually rewrite the music to include these solos.
Also, the senior drum major conducts a piece.


Submitted by: Amy Shuford
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Bingiee Shiu, Memorial HS Orchestra, Spring Branch ISD: Just before they graduate, we invite the seniors to our house for dinner and have a final talk with them. To break the ice, I ask them to share something they got away with during their high school orchestra career. It’s usually pretty funny—but if you try this, be prepared to just let it go! Then we ask them to share one last time with their classmates. Some of them have been together for thirteen years, since they began Suzuki programs in kindergarten. To listen to them talk to each other has been quite touching. Some of them have gone so far as to prepare a tribute for each person in the room. I end the night by giving them a charge and I hand them notepads. Each notepad has the senior’s name and picture on it and at the bottom, Memorial Orchestra: Lifetime Member. It’s simple and cheap and the seniors love it. It’s exciting and sad to see them go, but we always look forward to catching up at our annual alumni reunion.


Submitted by: Bingiee Shiu
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Bob Bryant, Katy ISD: When I worked as a high school band director, we invited parents of graduating seniors to sit beside their child during the playing of the final selection on their last band concert. The selection was always “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Before playing the piece I would offer a personal message facing the band to tell the parents and students how much they had provided to the band program, how much we appreciated their support and participation, and how much we looked forward to hearing from them after their Katy HS Band days had concluded. Many parents stated that this was the first time they had ever sat in a band—emotions were overwhelming to all of us during the performance of the last song!


Submitted by: Anonymous
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Linda Gomez Richter, Raba Elementary, Northside ISD: At Raba Elementary School, the Fifth graders are “clapped out” on the last day of school. Younger students line the halls as the fifth graders take a last walk through the halls on their way to the bus, parent pick-up, and afterschool care stations. As the fifth graders pass, the other students, faculty, and visitors applaud and high-five them. It’s so wonderfully emotional—I think I’ll join them when I retire!


Submitted by: Linda Gomez Richter
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