Bill Henry Part 2


Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 35. And here is the second part of my talk with Bill Henry of Mr. Henry’s Music World. We talk about his nuggets of fabulous, there is a couple of great ideas in there. I think you’re going to love it. I find his thoughts on advocacy interesting as well. So here comes the second part of my chat with Mr. Henry.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too! The transcript of episode 035 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.

Episode 35 “Read the Episode” Transcript

Bill Henry’s Nuggets of Fabulous

All right, we’re up to my favourite question. All right, you ready? So you give us some nuggets of fabulous. And I sort of say three, but you know, it could be two, it could be five, it’s up to you. Your all time favorite resources, or activities, or songs or games or tricks or ideas, or anything that you use when you work with your students.

Bill Henry’s Nuggets of Fabulous: Mr. Henry Bucks

Bill Henry
Sure, sure. Yeah. So one, one that comes to mind. And this is really kind of just like a classroom management trick. So my class I use, I have Mr. Henry bucks. So it’s by a buck. I mean, money.

Oh, yes, bucks. Okay. I was just imagining you with a little kid on your back and you’re bucking them off.

Bill Henry
I had a feeling I might have to clear that up.

We don’t usually use the word bucks.

Bill Henry
So yeah, so Mr. Henry bucks. It’s a very simple, I mean, it’s just a reward for answering questions correctly or participating. But it is just super effective. So, I mean, the hands are up all the time. In terms of participation, even in fifth grade, when they might be a little too cool for school. They don’t ever seem to be too cool for Mr. Henry bucks. And I have taught in some, some tougher schools.

So yeah. So anytime I ask a music question, or would someone want to sing this by themself or whatever we’re doing? We usually say it’s for a Mr. Henry buck. Can someone answer this?

And what actually is a Mr. Henry’s buck?

Bill Henry
Yep. So it’s, it’s basically just like a cut out. It’s, there’s a picture of me in the middle, like the dollar signs around me. Yeah, it’s just, and then they have a place to put their name. And so if they get a Mr. Henry buck, usually at the end of class, they put their first and last name, they put it into a bucket. And at the end of each quarter, I pick two names from that bucket.

If your name is picked you win a music prize, so I have like recorders that I give away, I’ve ukuleles that I’ve purchased just give those give those away to the kids if they win the Mr. Henry buck, and I do that every quarter.

So it’s super simple.

There’s, there was a point in time when I was at a smaller school where I had like a Mr. Henry’s store. And so they would actually keep their bucks and then they could come in and they could buy but that just got too crazy. So that’s just kind of a super easy way to do it.

So you know, any teacher out there, if you you can just call it you know, your name, with the look at your face in the middle there. And it’s a lot of fun. So that’s one thing that, you know, if you want to get all those hands in the air, that’s one way you could do it.

Bill Henry’s Nuggets of Fabulous: Recorder Exercises with Ping Pong Balls

Bill Henry
So I love teaching the recorder, and I do have some recorder videos up on the YouTube channel as well, which the kids are really enjoying. But to help with kids with their air flow, something that I like to do is they use ping pong balls, and we put them on drums and they get a straw. And there’s kind of like a couple of different levels that kids go through. They’ll be in groups, and usually a group of three or four.

And one of the things we do first is just say, All right, you have to blow all of the balls off of the platform. It could be any platform, I just use the hand drums. So they just blow them all off, then the next challenge is Okay, let’s try and you’ll just have one ping pong ball. And let’s all right, let’s work as a group to keep the ping pong ball on the platform.

And whoever keeps that on there the longest, that group gets a Mr. Henry buck, right. So, so you do that then you get every kid’s ping pong ball on the platform and you say okay, now, all of the ping pong balls have to stay on the platform, but you also have to keep them moving.

So what they’re doing with this straw while they’re doing that is they’re really experiencing the type of air that they’re supposed to use when playing the recorder. And this is really, I don’t even talk to them about the recorder. This is just a game that we’re doing.

And then, of course, it’s linked back when we actually start performing the recorder, it really is a great way to not only have them understand how it’s supposed to feel, but then to always, like recall that when you’re teaching, so that’s a, that’s a fun way to get kids to experience the correct kind of airflow you need.

So that Bruce, the guy I do the podcast with, he always says that I can’t take this, this is what he always says he’s like, you know, the first time we do recorders, it’s kind of like a tea pot convention.

You know, but eventually we get them there, you know? So but this is a way to kind of like avoid that, you know, when they’re just trying and blowing and blowing. So yeah, so that’s, that’s a little nugget there.

Yeah, I love that nugget.

Bill Henry’s Nuggets of Fabulous: Turkey Lurkey Game

Bill Henry
You know, the kids have been, there’s a game that I recently made. It’s the Turkey Lurkey game. That’s been a lot of fun. That game is, there’s actually two versions of that game, on YouTube is the one version, it’s the dynamics version. And basically, someone’s the turkey, someone’s the farmer and the farmer has to find the turkey by listening to if they are close to the turkey or not close to the turkey and the way that it’s done is through dynamics.

So if it’s soft, they’re far away if they’re loud, it’s near. So that’s been a lot of fun. But there’s another version of the game that I have too where kids are listening. So the whole class is clapping a rhythm, but the farmer is not able to see the rhythm that’s clapped on the board. So it’s like a rhythm play along.

And then every kid has a card, and only one of those cards has the rhythm that was clapped. So the farmer is listening for the rhythm. And then they get about 30 seconds to scan through the 25 cards to figure out which rhythm was clapped. So that’s another like version of that game. And it’s tied in with that, that Turkey Lurkey song.

I like that. So say the one with the matching rhythm is the turkey. I am assuming Exactly, yes. Yeah. And then do they get to be the farmer?

Bill Henry
Yeah, well, then the farmer, the farmer ends up picking the next person. And if the farmer does it correctly, I usually give that student two Mr. Henry bucks for that. And then they pick the next. Now the video actually dictates who is the turkey it because it tells what rhythm is going to be given to next and every rhythm card has a number on it.

So it’s it’ll like it displays on the screen. You know, card seven will be next so that the person who was the turkey has to deliver the turkey to that card number seven, while the next farmer is closing their eyes, but the video kind of like brings you all through that.


Bill Henry
So those are a few.

They are great nuggets. I really like that. That’s great. I just, I think we could chat lots and lots more. But yeah, we are up our next part, this is about advocacy. And I have a few colleagues in the States I talk to, and I gather it varies a little depending where you are, like it does in Australia.

But we do seem these days to have to fight quite hard, in some cases just for the existence of music programs, because we all know how amazingly wonderful they are for our children, not just musically for everything, cognitive, social, emotional.

Bill Henry

It cannot be provided through any other subject. And I just think it’s essential. So how do you feel as music educators, we can help advocate for our subject?

Bill Henry’s Tips for Music Education Advocacy

Bill Henry
Sure, yeah. Well, you know, what’s interesting about that, I think, now more than ever, the arts and music are so super important. Because, and you know, I’m sure everyone says that, but this is why I think that, you know, there’s, this kind of ties it in with the whole YouTube thing.

You know, YouTube is what they call the Creator economy, right? In the national standards here in the US one of our standards in music is creating, like that’s, that’s a standard that we have. And so here you have a billion dollar industry called the Creator economy.

That’s done on social media, YouTube, and people are able to make a full time living as creators. And here we are with a curriculum that promotes creativity, and that’s in music. So I really think that this could be something that is discussed with administration.

You know, whoever, who’s trying to derail a music program, to say, hey, you need to keep this, because this is becoming an essential part of our society, where you have, we need people who are creative. And people who are creative can only get to that creativity by being tested through it. And music is the way that we can do that, the arts is the way that we can do that.

So there’s really, you know, I don’t ever really know what the excuse was, is it because people think that you can’t make a living as a musician? I don’t even know what’s the reasoning as to why you don’t want to have the program in there?

Like I think that’s probably what it is, so if that is the case, we have this fairly new economy called the Creator economy which you can’t deny is here, and it’s here to stay and it needs people and it needs kids. I mean if you ask a kid what they want to be when they grow up, a lot of them say they want to be a YouTuber.


Bill Henry
This is not going away, and it’s definitely something that you can make a living doing. So I think that’s why I say now more than ever, there’s no reason to not have it. And if that were the reason saying that, it’s well, it’s, you know, it’s because it’s not going to allow someone to have a good living, you know, and to be able to make money, and it’s just not true anymore.

You can and you can do it with something that you really love. And, and I’m definitely an example of that, like the having the platform YouTube has allowed me to create things and do things and it’s not a ton of income. But it’s not anything to like, it’s something that can be if you keep doing it. I mean, it’s not easy.

It’s not like it’s, you know, this easy ticket to fortune or anything like that. I mean, it takes work, and you have to be dedicated to it. But it definitely is something that allows kids to express themselves. And that’s why I think we’re more important than ever.

I love it. That’s definitely an excellent counter to the argument that yes, it’s really, I think the the other big argument that I think for the diminishing of the program’s, is that we just need to spend more time on literacy and numeracy, but not realising, of course, the ignorance of that statement, because things like music, we know for a fact actually helps with literacy.

Bill Henry
Well, it is literacy. Right?

It’s absolutely literacy.

Bill Henry
Yeah. Yeah, it’s using so many parts of the brain that other others do not. So, yeah, yeah, it’s just, there really is no reason to not have it there. There should be more reason to have it at this point.

I agree. I absolutely agree. Okay, I feel this connection. You know, it’s funny, when you meet someone, for the first time, even via zoom, I just have this immediate feeling of connection. It’s okay Bill, you don’t have to say that this is reciprocated, but for me, it’s someone who does my job, who works with children, and experiences creating music with children.

I was thinking about it this morning, before we got on the Zoom. I thought, I’m going to use the word connection, there is a connection that’s there for me automatically, because I know that this person I’m talking to on the other side of the world knows the same feelings and knows the importance of what we do. You know, so yeah.

Bill Henry

It’s coming right back at me. Love it.

Bill Henry

Now, one more question before we go. And we’ll have to do it again, some time, assuming my podcast goes on, which I hope it will. And I hope people are loving listening to all the great people I get to talk to, Yay. All right, you get to get on your soapbox. So I like to offer my guests a chance to tell the world something that is important for you to say.

Bill Henry’s Soapbox

Bill Henry
Sure, I really think that creating is to be able to create is the, it’s really, actually, it’s the thing, I feel like that kind of saved me a little bit. Yeah, I think creating was a thing that as I was teaching, I became more and more just kind of feeling burnt out. But then I started to create my own resources, and to see how that helped the kids in the classroom and to know that, like what I created, created, the spark for the kids, was really just like, oh, man, like, I just got so much more excited to teach.

So I think if teachers out there, if you’re starting to feel that kind of burnout, to try and just step back and spend even, it’s going to take a little more time, but to be able to create your own game or song that you can use in the classroom. It just becomes way more fun. So, you know, I just think, we’re all natural creators to begin with and performers. So don’t let that go away. And in fact, try and embrace it. And then now, you know, now you can even share it, you know, via YouTube or what have you. So create. That’s what I that’s that’s my soapbox.

Oh, that is amazing. And it is so true. It is an antidote for that burnout. I agree. Yeah.

Bill Henry
For sure.

I love that. That is a perfect note to finish on. It is absolutely delightful to meet you, Mr. Henry. And please, yeah, go on producing for us, please.

Bill Henry
You got it sounds great.

I appreciate you and all of my colleagues, and hope this episode has been enjoyable and useful. Don’t forget, you’ll find the show notes on I’d love a share rate or review to help other music educators find this podcast. All I can be as the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you until next time, bye.

Sign Off

This podcast is brought to you by Crescendo Music Education, connecting, supporting, and inspiring music educators. You’ll find links to Crescendo’s social media platforms in the show notes. Please connect with me and be part of the Crescendo community. You might consider becoming a Crescendo member. You can access hundreds of files, worksheets, printables workbooks, repeat workshops, and webinars for a low annual fee and receive great discounts on events. So come and connect with me, Debbie O’Shea. See you in the socials.

Just for Laughs

As we know, laughter relieves stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

I just saw a documentary about beavers. It was the best dam show I ever saw.

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Programs Bill uses to create YouTube videos:

Nuggets of Fabulous 

  • Mr Henry Bucks
  • Teaching correct air flow for recorder using straws and ping pong balls
  • Turkey Lurkey – dynamics version on YouTube (also can be done with rhythm matching)

Find Bill Henry on:

Where to find me:

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