Music Education and Technology

Introduction

This episode continues a conversation with Tyler Swick, a music educator who focuses on music technology from Nevada, USA. If you haven’t already, check out episode 1 of this series by clicking here or episode 2 by clicking here!

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes we would rather skim visually instead of listening to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too! The transcript to episode 019 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.


Episode 018 Transcript

Introduction from Debbie

Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast, episode 19. Here we go everyone, part three with Tyler Swick. So we’re starting off with a little bit of gratitude and then we get into his nuggets of fabulous, which are really fabulous. I feel so fortunate to have been able to have this time to have a chat with Tyler, and I’ve learnt so much from him.


For What Are You Most Grateful?

Debbie
For what are you most grateful, like gratitude, I’ve just Yeah, I just think it’s so important to be grateful, because we have so much to be grateful for.

Tyler
I do a great job as maybe both of us, where you can ask me what’s wrong with the system and we could talk for two or three more hours about what’s wrong with everything, but what I personally have to be excited for and grateful for is that there there was a system in place where people were acknowledging good things. As much as teachers feel unseen a lot, I was very grateful for a system that saw me do well and then rewarded that with a new opportunity.

And I think that’s maybe the biggest thing of, I started a school that was it, we have, I’m sure both of our school systems have the same helping hands, so they just have different titles for like, when the students need food, or when the students, you know, when the test scores are very low so the state is interested in the test scores. And so it had all those kind of red flags. But that’s why the position was open, because it was a school that had all of these flags and so it was easy to get the position because of that. And after about four years there and a big part of it there was I stuck it out, but what I’m grateful for is that sticking it out and doing what was difficult was seen.

And it was seen by my current administrator, the principal that I now happily work for, who saw ‘Wow, you stuck out a school, that would drive most people away,’ and not a point of pride but something I definitely take note of is that my replacements since I’ve left that school have all also left that school, which breaks my heart for those students, of course, but it just it puts into minds, my mindset of mentally, how mentally draining that position might be, is why my replacement quit the next year and their replacement quit the next year.

And now they’re on I think their third replacement and four years ago, okay, like, that’s, that’s tough, it’s clearly a sign of with the state of just getting through the day, that school is what I’m grateful for, and why I think I’m even in this position to get acknowledged, and maybe by even having this conversation is because my administrator saw the current, my current administrator saw an opportunity to take me out of that school and open a brand new school.

And I definitely have told her in previous conversations, that she kind of gave me permission to be extra here, you know, here’s, here’s the keys here in this is your room, go teach music, when there’s trust, yes, and when there’s a level of I hired you because you’re good, so go be good, if not great and I’ll see you, I know come evaluations. So she still does surprise evaluations, which I respect because if you tell me you’re gonna come in, it’s going to be a little bit more than what it normally is, I just appreciate the realism of I’m going to show up just the herd mentality of we have the same concepts of what looks good, and what feels good, and what’s valued.

And so a student, students that are willing to, let’s say, perform in front of the school, for a nice event. It’s a small effort to get those students out there, but it’s a huge return, when the community sees it and they go, Wow, we have like we have a drummer with a bucket drum line in our school. drilled holes, we drilled holes and buckets, and the students can wear a rope around their neck. And they can beat on their bucket while they walk.

Debbie
Oh, how fab what a great idea.

Buckets for a Bucket Drumline
Buckets for a Bucket Drumline

Tyler
It’s lightweight, they can be stacked, they store nicely, there’s a lot of positives, but it is that we then bought a couple of marching bass drums and the buckets paired with the bass drums really give this full sound of attack of the bucket in the form of a bass drum and they can kind of do some bouncing off each other. But I have an administrator that is grateful to see that and then in turn, pass that positivity back to me.

And it’s something that I just wouldn’t have attempted if I didn’t think it was seen. And I think that’s why being in the school is such a big part of it. What I’m grateful for the school is it purely changed my mental health even, my wife will attest that the first school I would come home angry and she would ask okay, what happened today?

And then I would go on a tangent about everything that made me angry. The injustices whether it’s the students injustice or the teacher injustice, the community injustice, but I will just go off about how it’s a broken system, and it just this opportunity of doing the hard work, now of course it has some people hear it as like, oh yeah, just don’t go to bad schools, but putting in your time and finding out why it is the way it is, and can things be fixed?

And can you make it better, and then you take that information onward and there’s a class of teacher that I’ve run into where their first school is a nice school and the things that upset them are slightly different than people who start a bad school. And then they go to I want to call it a nice school or a medium school or a great school. And you see the differences. You see the contrast? Yeah, you see people like, I’m angry because the coffee is cold. And it’s like, Yes, I’m happy because the walls are painted.

Debbie
Yes, yes.

Tyler
Gratefulness is definitely a combination of my principal and the ability to work for her, because she has a special way of making all of this worth it. I mean, this YouTube stuff, I could easily have an administrator that said, like, we don’t like how much time you spend on YouTube. That could easily happen. Yeah. or a said administer that banned YouTube from campus.

That that’s, that’s well in their rights or what they’re able of doing and so to have an administrator that says like, Okay, I see you, like there’s all kinds of microtransactions of I see you, Hello, good job with that and that’s been the most powerful thing. And I encourage people that feel stuck in a toxic relationship with their administrators that begin you’re leveraging, outperform, and then use that to move on?

Because underperforming is not the jab, it doesn’t help the students, it doesn’t help the administrator, it doesn’t help your portfolio, over-perform above and beyond and then you know, if you outshine, leverage, leverage that to get elsewhere.

Debbie
Yes and the children in those schools need you and you’ve got to tell yourself that, even when it’s really tough. I still now feel guilty that I am in a really lovely school with amazing administration, and I am valued and right, yeah, it just allows you to thrive. You just want to do more. I think it’s just, you know, you’re, you’re enabled.

But you’ve got to tell yourself, if you’re not in a good situation, workwise, you’ve got to remind yourself, you got to go back to something we were talking about right at the beginning, that you’ve got to rely on the fact that you know what you’re doing is really valuable and those kids at that school actually need you more than the kids at the good school, don’t they?

Collaboration between students and teachers.
Collaboration between students and teachers.

Tyler
Yeah, and it’s definitely becomes a balancing game for sure because that statement, I like that statement, I’ve used that statement, where the students the one set of students need me more than the other, and I then come to terms more recently with like, the problems are maybe equal, but some are harder to find. A student, its the same with the teacher who has always had a good school and you’ve had a bad school, and then a good school, they have different things to complain about but yet they’re both complaining, or they both have a problem, but they have different problems.

And so recently, and this is maybe stemming from my counselor at my school, she does the emotional side of things, and we’d go to lunch and the counselor would look tired, and you go what’s going on? And they go, I can’t tell you anything, but and then, you know, they would just kind of explain like, I’ve been on the phone, I’ve been dealing with this. And if you asked me without the counselor, having never seen the counselor, I would think oh, this is a perfect bubble. This is, everything is wonderful. Then the counselor, if you say hey, counselor, what goes on here? I imagine they would be just equally flabbergasted.

Another another fun word? They’d be overwhelmed to tell you here’s all of our problems? And I think, and so I do my best is just like that maybe some of the problems are invisible, hungry students, though it’s not visible. It can be fixed, right? We can find food. But it’s like you find the student where the opposite side mum and dad are so wealthy, they go on vacations a lot without the kids. Oh, okay. So we have a different kind of abandonment, we have rich abandonment.

Then it’s not as, we don’t pity it as much because we go, oh your parents are so rich, they left town without you. Yeah, exactly. Right. Or your parents made way more than me, you feel this like lack of pity. And I find that it’s a funny game to have to play of like, the problems are there just unlabeled as much, but I don’t Yeah, it’s not, it’s not to like be contrarian, but just to be like, I’m realising this now after four years of the school that like, oh, we still have sad kids.

Debbie
Yes

Tyler
Some kids. Some kids are having a hard time but anyway.

Debbie
And you know the other good thing about being in a better situation is it puts you in a better frame of mind to help other music teachers. You know, I think that you’re in a better mental place, so you can do things like your YouTube channel or write articles or like run webinars, do workshops, you know, you just feel a bit more energised to do that, because you’re in a better place mentally.

Tyler
I think you really taught me something just now. But yeah, I agree with that wholeheartedly. I’ve never thought of it that way but I really feel like you nailed it. Because I don’t feel like I’m drowning, I can offer my hand to those that feel like they are, because you’ll have joy.

Debbie
It’s our job is to lift up others and if you’re down there in the pits yourself, it’s pretty difficult to help support someone.

Tyler
Wow. That’s, that’s awesome. You just got me with that one. That’s wonderful. I want to, I want to share a clip on that same topic. Yeah, I have some co-workers where they have a very popular Instagram channel and Tik Tok, where they are like classroom re-designers and their teachers but they redesign classrooms and they will do like arts and crafts. Here’s how to like change your whole room, which is like colourful paper.

Debbie
Oh, really?

Tyler
It’s really, really wonderful stuff. Amazing stuff, and in the United States are they’re a bigger deal than I am. But whatever.

Debbie
Okay

Tyler
Well the punchline is

Debbie
I’ve never even heard of this, never even heard of it

Tyler
Their channels called Happily Ever After, and they’re on Instagram and Tiktok, and they have YouTube, I guess they’re everywhere. But what I noticed recently on TikTok is they would show a grand reveal of one of their grand projects, and they don’t do small projects, they do grandiose projects, where they will paint an entire mural, or they’ll transform an entire classroom. And they put their whole, I mean, just blood and sweat into it.

The comments pre COVID were always just like, wow, I want to do this, and they were inspirers, they were inspiring people, we can do this, you can too and people bought into that. And then post COVID there’s been this mentality change of like, where they see a grand thing done and because the viewer has no interest or energy in copying, that, instead of feeling this, like I can do that also energy, they get hit with this wave of like guilt of, but I can’t, you know what I mean?

I think as you brought up this is kind of parallel to everything you just said, where because the creators of the content are in a position where they feel like they’re able to, they do. And then some of their viewers are at a point where they absolutely feel like they can’t, they put their whole effort in to just staying afloat this year, they put their whole effort into not quitting teaching.

And then they see someone who’s feeling so good they painted a mural. Then just like, for some reason, urge them to be like, Oh, you’re telling me I have to do that also. There’s kind of an interesting dynamic of, I cautiously don’t want to become the same thing where I go, every teacher should make tutorials, every teacher should make videos, where it’s like, just I’ll make the videos and if you want to use them, use them. When it’s like there was a fear of like, I don’t want to become like a mascot of burn yourself out.

Debbie
Yes. Yes. You, don’t want to, no you don’t do that. You won’t. That won’t happen. But yes. Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. That’s yeah. All right, nuggets of fabulous.


Tyler Swick’s Nuggets of Fabulous

Tyler
Wow, that sounds fun.

Debbie
Yeah. Something I just invented that like, listening to other podcasts, you know, they’d say, Oh, what’s your little nugget of what and I thought? No, let’s make it nuggets of fabulous, where you can just pick some ideas, tips, tricks, resources, it could be a book, it could be a whatever that you’d like to share with people, that are listening. And I joke, it could be like three listeners. It could be 10 listeners, it could be 100. But whoever.

Now obviously, you’re not allowed to say your own website, or your own YouTube channel. Because yeah, we’ve already covered that. That is definitely a nugget of fabulous. So we want more on top of that. What would you recommend to other primary music teachers?

Tyler
Fine. Wow, I have some website tools that I love very much. And I think it all maybe only applies to people that are trying to copy music. Like when a student comes into your classroom, they go I want to learn a song or have you heard this song, like a movie comes out and they go I want to do something from that movie. Chordify.net is a website, and it’s chord as in like a guitar chord and then it’s i f y.net, chordify.net. You put in a YouTube video and it will tell you the chords to the song immediately.

Chordify.Net
Chordify.Net

Debbie
Oh, wow.

Tyler
Immediately

Debbie
Oh I like that

Tyler
I know. And it’s like the student will walk in the room and they’ll say have you heard and they’ll say the song from Turning Red, the last Pixar movie, and I’ll say No, I don’t know that song. And they go well, it’s a great song and I go okay, so then I pull up a YouTube video of said song.

I go to chordify.net, I throw it in and I click do it, like you know convert it, and it will show you all the chords. And when you press play on the video. It’ll track with a box what chord is about to be played and what chords are playing. So then I can go to my piano and play the chords or ukulele and play the chords and the students go, wow, you know that song?

And it’s like, yeah, I don’t really know the song, but then I’m playing along with it. And so part of my speed with creating these Boomwhackers videos is that chordify.net would tell me the chord progression to every song that people have requested. So they say, Oh, I really want Someone To You by the Banners. I’ve never heard that song before but if I go to chordify.net, and I type that in, it goes here’s the chord progression, and I go, easy peasy.

And I’d go to my keyboard, and hammer in the chords, and I’ve never had to hear the song before, and without even learning the song, I can make the video explaining how to play the song.

Debbie
Oh, my goodness, that yeah, gold. I love it.

Tyler
Good. So then, on a lesser scale tunebat, t u n e b a t, tunebat is a website where you can put in any song. And so again, if someone says, Do you know this song, and they’ll tell you key signature, it’ll tell you tempo, it’ll tell you basically all the metadata of a song, it will tell you who wrote it, who’s the producer. It will tell you what songs are like it, it gives them a grade on like danceability and groove and does it do this or do that.

And so anyway, those two websites have been kind of my go tos for if a student comes to me and blindsides you with, do you know this song? Those two websites will give me everything I need to know to essentially perform it almost immediately, and have them go wow, you do know that song, even though it’s just chords and a couple of lyrics, maybe, but those two are my favorite go tos.

Tunebat.com
Tunebat.com

Debbie
They are fabulous.

Tyler
And I just I hope that you know, it could work out for somebody else. So the cool part is chordify will transpose. So if a song is in C Sharp and you want it in C you click down and it just changes the whole song into C.

Debbie
Oh that makes it even better

Tyler
Insane. It’s insane. And so that’s part of my speed of like, I don’t know, probably a third of the songs I made Boomwhackers videos for. But chordify would go Oh, it’s a C chord, I’d go sweet I could play a C chord and then I’d play just the chord progression over top. And yeah, I only have to hear the song maybe three or four times before the video was done.

Debbie
Now that is, that is gold. That is gold.

Tyler
Yeah. Perfect. I’m glad I fit the bill.

Debbie
They’re certainly nuggets of fabulous. That’s amazing. Okay, now we talked about earlier, we’re having to sort of fight for our, for our existence and the value of our existence. You know, I like I’ve got my social media channels, I’m always putting out quotes and links to research and you know, but the problem is, I really think I’m preaching to the converted.

I have a fairly big network. I love my network, but most of them, they don’t need convincing. They’re my network, because they’re my peeps, you know.

Tyler
Right, 100%

Music Education Advocacy

Debbie
They feel me. So how do we advocate for our profession? Now, I think you’ve sort of answered it through this. And through your performances you were talking about your buckets. You know your bucket drum line and out, what you have to do is you outperform, you show what you’re doing in your classroom, and you get that on display, somehow, you show the joy of the children, etc. So have you got other advice around how we can sell the value of what we do to people that don’t believe in the value of what we do?

Tyler
Absolutely, and I think a big part of is we want to change the whole, and maybe both for our kids want to change the whole country, or you want to lift a large group of people up. And the reality is that the greatest impact you have is your immediate community. And I do mean like the streets in the neighborhood surrounding your school, the greatest impact I’ve had is our successful concerts. Because then the word of mouth becomes these conduits. They go, wow, that concert was cool. I want to make sure the next concert and so what I would do is change who I invite to my concerts, for instance, I, we’re, our school has gotten accustomed to inviting the mayor, to our school. Now, do they show up all the time? Absolutely not. But the three times they’ve showed up they go, this is cool. This is this nice. Yeah.

And then they go okay, well, don’t forget us the next time you know, someone’s saying we’re taking education money. Please remember how cool, what a great time you had here. I’m in a specific situation now where some parents are I use the word powerful. But with Las Vegas, a lot of its entertainment based so parents that work at casinos, parents that work for football teams or baseball teams or basketball teams, they, they’re in the neighborhood and so a lot of times just having a positive impact on them.

Then they want to do not brand deals but they’d say hey, casino wants to support you in a small monetary way. What would you, what do you need? What do you like? And I think always knowing what your next purchase is, is a huge sign of you know, what would make it better?

If I could tell a parallel story recently, I think was like the UN accused Elon Musk of not solving world hunger and his response was, if you tell me how to solve world hunger, with $6 billion, or something, I’ll do it, something like that. There’s along those lines. If you write down how I can end world hunger, I will pay for it today. And the UN did not have a response and it kind of showed their bluff. So there’s nothing worse than saying education needs money and then if someone, if anyone says, for what? You need to know what it’s for.

Debbie
Good point.

Tyler
For chairs, for chairs, and they go, oh, okay, because you know, if you go, let me get back to you, then it’s like, wow, hold on, how badly do you need this, you know, if your car’s broken down, you go, Oh, my tires broken, I know what to fix.

But if you go, I don’t know what’s wrong with my car, and then they go, well we’ll look around and we’ll see if we can find something here. But if you know, it tells everyone what they need to look at. And so for me, I’ve always had the next thing on my mind of.

Stages is my current obsession, where if you want my program to be any better, we need portable stages. If our goal is to perform in public or perform anywhere, give us the ability to perform anywhere, and we want portable staging, so that we’re like three or four feet taller than the people around us. And we’re dealing with a business of short people. So we need to be taller.

Debbie
Yeah. I love it.

Tyler
It’s a fun, quick fix, because I can’t raise my salary, I can’t change much about the school system. But if I say you know what would make my job easier, or better or happier, I have a very fun light on my wall in the classroom, and the light is sound reactive. And it was a maybe, I think was a $50 purchase. But it outweighs what I get out of the students. By far it was worth $50 of you know, money that could have gone to a xylophone or a drum or a bucket or sticks. And it went into a light where every time students walk in, they go (clap clap). And the thing, the light goes on and off and on and off and they go cool. And it’s like that positive impact event.

Okay, I knew I wanted cool lighting for my room and so I got sound reactive lighting, which can be, can be annoying, but when used appropriately and the students were doing a drum activity, and every time you hear whomp the wall changes from pink to green. And then we go whomp, whomp, whoomp and it goes blue, red, yellow, whomp, whomp, whomp and the lights change. And they get something very multisensory out of it, there’s more than just a reward for you sound great, but also you look cool at this moment.

And so at one point in my career, that was my goal, I need lights. What do you need? I need lights. Lights will make my room cooler and my room cooler and my kids happier, and happier kids make my job easier.

Debbie
That’s such a good idea.

Tyler
So once so you got to figure out what is what will make my job easier.

Debbie
Yes, I love it.

Tyler
Like my absolute latest before the staging was I had something like 28 ukuleles but my next, not the doubles, but the next biggest class was like 35. So like I need seven ukuleles and because I knew exactly what I needed, I got more than what I needed. What do you need? I need seven ukuleles. Okay, how about ten? Okay, ten is fine. Because I knew exactly what I needed.

Debbie
That is a really good point because I don’t think many of us could just say off the top of our head what we most want. Because we’re used to not having a huge bucket of money to play with. And we just go Okay, I’ll wait to hear how much money I’ve got. And then I’ll look around and go I could afford one xylophone? Or would I be better to get more more egg maracas so that there’s enough for one per kid or?

Tyler
Yes, yes, the or is going to hurt all day

Debbie
Yeah

Tyler
I can afford half of something cool. Or I can afford one thing that’s not so cool. And you go okay, I have to set my goals.

Debbie
Yeah, I love it and set some big goals. Right? You’re asked and if it happens to happen? Sure. I want this

Tyler
Right. Absolutely. The website Donors Choose is used fairly often in the United States. Is it? Is it in Australia also?

Debbie
No.

Tyler
Okay. Do you know what it is?

Debbie
Yes. Yes. From my a few American sites, colleagues that I follow. I know about it. And every now and then they’ll say, Oh, I’ve just got my Donors Choose and I think, it sounds so good. No, we don’t have that. We’ve got yeah, there’s a few like philanthropic things that if you know of a certain grant, you could apply for that. It’s just not as common.

Sharing the Love of Music Through Donation
Sharing the Love of Music Through Donation

Tyler
Yeah, grants are tough. Grants are like gatekeeping. If you can’t write an essay, you don’t get money. That’s not how you measure who’s deserving of something. You know what I mean? Whoever, whoever is the most literate in the English language gets money, it’s like hold on.

Debbie
Who has the time who’s most literate and has the time to find the grants, and then write the applications and do the follow through. Yeah.

Tyler
Completely agree everything you said. So yeah, I do my best to have a Donors Choose open when appropriate. You know, and it’s not, there’s something gets really annoying about someone that always need something and it becomes this kind of dangerous game. Always know what you need, but don’t ask for it every day.

Debbie
No, you would become annoying.

Tyler
Yeah, Absolutely and as you brought up about your social media is an echo chamber of music lovers, most likely, mine is absolutely the people I went to college for music with, other music teachers, all the people who know I’m a music mind, and I go, Hey, I need money for this and I try to not do that, because these are the people who love me, who will do it, but they won’t do it five times. And so you really have to protect them, and maybe find a different way to distribute this link.

And find a way for parents of your own school to say, hey, parents, for instance, on that website is particularly they run specials every now and then where it let’s say a Bill Gates type character will match money, if you can donate $1, Bill Gates will donate $1. So that I go to the parents will blatantly and say I made a package for $1,000. Thanks to Bill Gates, it costs 500, who wants to throw in. And when you teach at a school of 900, I really need half of you to give me $1. And this thing is over. And I know not every school is in that situation. But because of those philanthropic moments of Bill Gates or whatever other billionaires, you know, you can get what you need at a discounted rate, which is another fun thing to do, of course.

Debbie
Well that sounds great, wish we had that.

Tyler
For sure. For sure. Is it tradition to do teacher gifts for like the holidays and the end of the school year?

Debbie
Children to give the classroom teachers something?

Tyler
Ooh, oh, oh oh.

Debbie
And , yeah, if depending in the school you’re in, you may get because we have, you know, the PE specialists and the music specialist and that.

Tyler
Right, they think the kids has one teacher where they really have like seven.

Debbie
Yep, thats right but look generally I’m nicely looked after we get a box of chocolates or whatever we get a little gift from the kids, the nice ones who know me well give me a bottle of wine. But anyway.

Tyler
Now we’re talking, now we’re talking! You’re not wrong, I just.

Debbie
It depends where you’re at? I know some music teachers whose kids, they don’t give them anything. And because the parents have to obviously do that, or you get a lovely hand drawn card. So we don’t yeah, we get little bits. Yeah, chocolate a lot.

Tyler
So my school came up with a lovely concept as a school wide, where at the beginning of the year you put a wish list like a things I like list. And it’s like, if you want to buy me a soda, I like this soda. If you want to buy me a coffee, this is how I take it. You know, and it’s basically if a parent wanted to do something nice, they would get the flipbook out they’d find the teacher, and that way they don’t miss. The idea of a box of chocolates is cool, but after so many boxes of chocolate, you’re probably over it.

Debbie
Or if you’re diabetic.

Tyler
100% Absolutely. I know I have chocolate on the counter. So it was like display chocolate, which like I’d be afraid to eat it at this point. But you know, it’s leftover from the holidays.

Debbie
So where is this list kept?

Tyler
In the front office. So like there’s like there’s like the your late to school notebook. And then right next to it is like teacher’s favorite things. And mine says Dr. Pepper sure because I’m a sucker for that. But then it says amazon gift cards in every other category, you want to buy me a coffee, give me an Amazon gift card, you want to buy me, you know, food, Amazon gift card instead. And I don’t care if it’s $5 or $10, whatever. But at the end of the school year, I then sit down with my wife and we pop open all the Amazon gift cards and scan them into the account. And the idea is, it may be at the end of the year $40 or $50. But then that can sit there that doesn’t expire. And I can either say I’m gonna buy a $50 item for the classroom that I like, you know, it’s for me as much as the students you know, that might be a cool light and might be a better microphone that I enjoy using or something like that. Maybe it’s the cooler item that I just, I teach better because I’m happier. Yeah, but you can let it roll over, let it roll over the next year, the next year, the next year.

That it becomes like this teacher savings account where it’s like these are all the parents were like I don’t want as much, as easy as it for the parent to get the chocolate to get five boxes of chocolate at the store. Now more than ever, the Amazon gift cards are also at checkouts. So you know if they if they throw a $5 gift card in and the idea of a small percentage all throw in $5 over maybe two years, you could then purchase that $300 item. Maybe, maybe, maybe I’m being too wild, but you get enough of those amazon gift cards where you know, okay, now some people of course want to spend them on themselves, you absolutely can. So I like the idea of what would I like to see in my own classroom to make me teach better.

So for instance, I have like a switch classroom banner that kind of just reminds me like, it’s my YouTube logo in the classroom. And it kind of reminds me like, Yeah, this is my classroom. This is my, YouTube is my classroom, this is my classroom. It makes me smile. Every time I see it, it was worth the purchase of my own dollars. Or I mean my own dollars, really parent dollars that are gifted, you know, but it’s like, or I can have 50 boxes of chocolates, which would I rather have?

Would I have rather have thrown away a bunch of chocolate, or would I want a switch classroom banner in my classroom that makes me happy every time I see it. And then it becomes like a fun game of I don’t know if I think it’s cheating the system. But I think I think if parents understood like, I would rather spend your dollars on your students and their classrooms and the go to, then you spend it on me. And you know, in a kind of ritualistic way of like, here’s your chocolate or here’s your mug, if I get one more mug.

Debbie
The staff room at least has lots of mugs.

Tyler
Too many mugs.

Debbie
Too many mugs, thats it. Got ya. Yeah. So basically concerts and inviting people if we just loop back around to the advocacy.

Tyler
Inviting people, yeah.

Debbie
Inviting people and showing them how amazing.

Tyler
100% and you might not get the mayor but the next thing is that your local news outlet needs a positive story. People are shot on a daily basis in our, in my country. Yeah, there’s crime everywhere and they need a story that doesn’t end with and they all got shot. So I was, I know I’m just I’m just super real about it, guns are so hot. I know Australia’s history of guns. I think the whole world knows our problem with guns.

So the news needs a story that is like the bubble gum in between the sour and so I will just report, I’ll self report, mediocre things our kids are getting ready for the concert and then they might send the camera crew out to film the rehearsal. They know what they can and can’t do as far as you know, privacy laws, but they’ll get some footage of the classroom, they’ll get some footage of the back of their heads, and maybe you’re conducting. And for you it’s like I made it on the news, for your students to go that’s my teacher, that’s my school, that’s the back of my head and it becomes this confidence builder and then maybe it hits social media. My child was on the news today. Wow, your program made the news, holy cow that’s amazing.

But yeah, a very American story was we were supposed to do a live drumline performance at like 6.30 in the morning, so I had I asked kids that love music, come to school at 6.30 in the morning, which is like two hours ahead of normal. And our story got bumped because of gun violence in another part of town and so they said, sorry, we won’t be there. There was like a, like a triple homicide, we owe you one. I know the state of the United States. Those students were devastated and they were told, like, we’ll pay you back one day, and the payback was they showed up to our parade and they filmed us at the parade. And that was cool and dandy and go not only did you do a parade, but you made the news and then we can say we’re like a news worthy music program. Or you are the only students at the school to make the news.

And it just built this community and parents they see it. You know, the greatest compliment I could ever get were like, Oh, my children, watch your YouTube channel all the time, my children come home and they’re singing your songs and I just wish every music teacher had access to that kind of comment of could your content that you teach in class, be available online for those students that wish they had it? We figured out math homework, you know, 100 years ago, have we not figured out like, if you enjoyed our Ram, Sam, Sam, you can listen to it for free right here, you know, listen to a celebrity.

Debbie
Listen to it, play along on your ukulele, or whatever, love it. Good advice. I hadn’t thought about it in the context of homework. I mean, you get delighted, don’t you when like a random email. Hello, Mrs. O’Shea. They’re singing some song about Australian animals and they want it, they want me to play it on YouTube. They say you play it on YouTube. Can you send me the link? And then I go, yes, that’s winning, isn’t it?

Tyler
Yeah. Yes.

Debbie
Love it, and that is advocacy. That is now we need to round off after a very long, I’m just so delighted to have met you. Virtually.

Tyler
It’s been very pleasant.

Debbie
But before we finish, I want to let you get on your soapbox. I don’t know if you, do you refer to it as getting on your soapbox in America?

Tyler
Absolutely 100%. Yes.


Get on Your Soapbox

Debbie
So I figure this is your time to get on your soapbox, to finish things off and you just tell the world something you really want to say that you want everybody to hear.

Tyler
How exciting.

Debbie
What would that be?

Tyler
It would, it would be in my mindset right now, is that everyone should be creating content online and I know that’s a wild concept because it seems a little scary at first, but everyone has the home run lesson that they do when they know they need it. Right? Everyone has that Halloween lesson, the students never forgot. Everyone has that one holiday song, or maybe they have that one, wintery song or summer song. And it just every year, the room goes crazy for it. I wish every teacher had a way to bottle that and figure out how to share it with the world.

I think a big part of lesson planning is archaic, and that I have to write on pencil and paper on in six weeks, I plan to talk about TITI TA and with no consideration that, you know, anything on this planet could possibly happen between now and then. But the idea of I kind of envision a future where there is a library on YouTube of just the world’s best lessons. And the idea that you and I both have created a channel that has found thousands of subscribers, I think both of us would argue anyone can do this with just one good video.

And all of its homemade, my highest quality camera is a cell phone. I edit it with software that costs $40. You know, it was so homemade and I just I wish every teacher instead of seeing it and going like I will use this content and that’s it. I wish you would use it and then yes, and can I provide my best lesson. All these creators, they exploded and I’m one of them, exploded during the quarantine, were just regular teachers beforehand, and we still are regular teachers. There’s rarely teachers that wouldn’t start working after school. But I wish every teacher would find a way to canonise their lesson on the internet and of course, there’s a way to get paid for it. I think I think everyone deserves to get paid for the work they’re doing.

There’s websites like teacher pay teacher in the United States where you can basically you know, sell your items at a very low rate because the idea is you’re gonna sell a lot of them if it’s a good product, YouTube makes sense, because it’s free to the viewer if you can tolerate some ads, or if you get an ad blocker, but there’s there’s plenty of ability to get these items for free or free paid.

And I just wish that everyone, if everyone did this, imagine we have 183 school days in our school district, it would only take and because of that students only get what like 37 lessons a year or 38 lessons a year. To think I know my favorite five, okay, I only need 33 more amazing lessons and then I would theoretically be the greatest teacher on the planet, because I have 38 amazing lessons. And I feel like that future is so, it’s going to happen in my lifetime. It’s just who wants to be a part of it?

You know what I mean, I go on your channel and my favourite thing to do, this is what everyone should do. You go to any teacher YouTube channel, you click on the videos tab in the top right, it says sort by. and when I click sort by, I’m going to select most popular, and it changes the order of all the videos into highest views to lowest views, and you just look at what the highest viewed video is and that tells you this is what other people value about this teacher.

This is what they value about this person. And so I that’s the first thing I did to your channel, and what was your number one video, but primary rhythms over a drumset beat? Yeah. And it had plenty of views, plenty, to prove that this is a needed resource in your community and however far it reaches and this has been really exciting to see that kind of energy. If I do the same thing to myself. I see what videos and it’s Boomwhacker, Boomwhacker, Boomwhacker, Boomwhacker.

Debbie
Boomwhacker, Boomwhacker

Tyler
It’s all, yeah, exactly. It’s 10 Boomwhacker videos, and then like 2 soundtrack videos and then it goes back to Boomwhacker. But the idea is that’s what people want so that’s what I should be doing, as opposed to jumping back and forth to all the things I like to do. It’s going to tell me this is what the people, this what the people want. But if you have that lesson that is just amazing I wish you’d find a way to get it on the internet and share with the world because I think we’re all ready for it. I think we’re now more comfortable with YouTube and Zoom.

And we’re more comfortable with all of our, listing the websites are not important if I’m the, our district’s only one that has them, but all the all the technological side of things that you have to do to be an online educator these days, you know, who knows what will happen healthwise, or with Coronavirus wise. It doesn’t seem to be quite over yet.

But it just seems like we’re all capable now of creating this online presence and I just, to the person, to the teacher that’s afraid to do it. There’s nothing to be afraid of I, my channel existed from 2006 to today, and I did not get more than enough. I didn’t get enough views to even be like considered for monetisation for about 14 years after I created my YouTube channel.

Debbie
Wow. Yeah, mine was a bit like that too.

Tyler
14 years. So 14 years of not doing a good job and then one day it’s like, oh, you’re doing a good job now, by the way, good job. And it’s like, really, I thought I was doing the same quality of work, but YouTube just just has a way of like really helping people explode when it’s necessary.

But yeah, I just my call to action for everyone would be to make online content. I just see a world where and with with shortened teacher staffing I know we’re talking about if the doom and gloom of music education would be the short lived less teachers. but the idea being if in a world where technology is on our side, teaching a bunch of friends with video content, and Chromebooks, and interactive lessons and ooh everyone read off your screen this rhythm or everyone play your Boomwhacker off your string, all of it just becomes a little bit more approachable.

Because whatever is about to happen in the future is going to happen. How prepared we are for it is what we can control. So I hope that’s what I’m calling for, is that we create the content that will make our job easier. I got another 22 years of teaching before I can retire. So I I’m trying to prepare for what’s in the future still.

Debbie
I think that’s great and that is such a good call to action and I want to say let’s just remind everybody of something that you’ve actually said a couple of times during this. Yes, and. That seems to be one of your things. Yes, and. And the bottle your best lesson. I love it.

Tyler
Absolutely.

Debbie
I love it. Imagine if everybody leaves this podcast, or this part three, or whatever it is, of this podcast. Let’s imagine they all go and try and bottle their best lesson. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Tyler
Absolutely. Absolutely, and I just, and then they would, there would just be improvement all around. But I thought my greatest lesson and it doesn’t do well on YouTube at all. Maybe it’s not, you know, and then someone says something of Oh, what if you and I go ooh? Yes, and. Okay, cool, let’s do that. And, and then I’m a better teacher, because someone in another country, saw it on YouTube and says, Oh, but what if you did that? Oh, my goodness.

There was a lovely woman in Poland, who shows my content and she reaches out on Facebook constantly and says, I love what you did. Could you do this song? I go, Yes, I can. And then I did that song. And she goes wonderful, great. And then she’d send me a video of her class doing it. And then she’d say, like, I would see the students performing it before I can see my own and I go, Oh, you know what? Pink didn’t get to play a whole lot on that one. So I gotta do better for pink next time. Or you know, there’s just like.

Debbie
Pink, pink, I love it.

Tyler
Right, we were like, workshopping over Facebook with someone who doesn’t even live remotely close to me. And then you and I, of course, through one Facebook conversation have now had a lengthy conversation.

Debbie
Very lengthy.

Tyler
With Zoom, you know, with a drop of a hat and I think that’s that’s the magic of right now. Is like we can take advantage of this.

Debbie
I agree. 100% and I look forward to talking to you again.

Tyler
Absolutely. I imagine we will.

Debbie
Yes. Bye.

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

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

What do you call a fish with no eyes? A “fsh”. He he, that’s one my all time favorites. It’s a good one to write as well.
Anyway. A “fsh” (laughter)


Links Mentioned in Part 3 of Technology in Music Education:

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