PODCAST

A Chat with Aileen Miracle | 003

TinyCrescendo Podcast ep 3 title picture (1)

Podcast Highlights

Highlights of your journey as Music Educator (9:01)

Most influential people in your life (10:50)

What are you the most grateful for as a Music Educator (14:58)

Nuggets of Fabulous (17:31) 

  • An American Methodology 
  • Chrome Music Lab
  • Kingsland
  • Loved as a friend
  • Google Slides

Music Education Advocacy (31:52)

The Most Important Advice to the Whole World (35:54)

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

An American Methodology
Chrome Music Lab

Aileen’s lesson plans with the agenda slide:

Aileen’s Blog Posts:

The pictures of me as promised in this episode. Oh goodness did we laugh!

Where to find me:

Crescendo Community Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/crescendocommunity
Official Crescendo Page: https://www.facebook.com/CrescendoMusicEd/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/CrescendoMusicEd
Twitter: https://twitter.com/crescendomusic
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debbie-o-shea-62a3741b/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/CrescendoDebbie/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/crescendodebbie/

Ep 3: A Chat with Aileen Miracle: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Ep 3: A Chat with Aileen Miracle: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Debbie O’Shea:
Here is the Crescendo Music Education podcast, Episode 3. Welcome to the first interview episode! Well, really I think of it more as like a ‘chat’ sort of episode. You’re going to hear me have a bit of a conversation with Aileen Miracle. Now a lot of you already know Aileen. I will introduce her officially once the little chat gets going but I just wanted to point out a few things before we started. First off, oh, it was fun. I had a fabulous time. We talk about her work and her professional journey. We talk about gratitude. I introduced something I’m going to be using in all of my little interview chats with people called “Nuggets of Fabulous”. You’ll hear about those and you’ll get lots of tips and advice. One of the songs that Aileen talks about is “Love Somebody”. Now I use a different version which I didn’t discuss on the podcast, but I thought I should mention it. Here is the version that I use. (Debbie sings her version of “Love Somebody”) I think it’s important to note when you’re using folk music that there’s going to be more than one version. It’s just a good idea to make sure that you do a bit of research around which one that you’re using but that’s the nature of folk songs, there’s going to be variations and versions. Now, sit back and enjoy my chat with Aileen Miracle.

Debbie O’Shea:
Hello and welcome to the Crescendo Music podcast. Today we have Aileen Miracle, it’s so exciting and I’m going to be, really I don’t know if this shows my age or my curiosity and excitement, but I think it’s amazing that I’m sitting here looking at Aileen and she’s on the other side of the world in yesterday. That’s amazing. I just I think that’s amazing. I’m still just thrilled by that every time it happens. I’m here in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and you’re over there in… Where are you precisely?

Aileen Miracle:
Near Columbus, Ohio. And yes, today it’s Thursday but it’s Friday for you, right?

Debbie O’Shea:
Yes, Friday morning here. Oh, it’s exciting. Those of you who do not know Aileen. All right, I’ll read you a little bit of her bio. AileenAileen Miracle teaches general music, band, and choir in the Olentangy Local School District in Ohio; this is her twenty-third year teaching. Aileen received her B.M.E. from Central Michigan University, and her M.M.E. from Capital University. In 2016, she was awarded Teacher of the Year at Cheshire Elementary. She has been active in local, regional, and national music education organizations, blogs at www.mrsmiraclesmusicroom.com, and presents music education workshops across the nation, and around the world. Welcome, Aileen.

Aileen Miracle:
Thank you for having me.

Debbie O’Shea:
We first met at one of these conferences in 2015.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes, that was really fun.

Debbie O’Shea:
That was in Minneapolis. Technically it was my second ever trip to the states. That year I was accepted at two conferences, so I had to accept both but I couldn’t stay over the whole time so I did Georgia State Conference, flew home, and then did Minneapolis and flew home. That’s a lot of flying.

Aileen Miracle:
That’s a big flight too.

Debbie O’Shea:
Huge. That was my first OAKE. Now you guys say OAKE don’t you?

Aileen Miracle:
I say OAKE but there are some people in the organization that still say “Oake”

Debbie O’Shea:
In Australia we tend to just say “Oake”. Then when I went to America and I saw, Oh, people are calling it OAKE, okay, I think it spells something. Let’s say Oake, it spells something. I think that’s good. Ever since meeting you and of course, I knew of you, Aileen, and then meeting you personally was fabulous. We’ve just kept a little bit in touch since then. Had a couple of little adventures in Australia.

Aileen Miracle:
And a lot of laughs involve you climbing through a window.

Debbie O’Shea:
I know. I know. Okay. Should we just quickly explain? I was laughing so much. I just in fact looking at that picture just sets me off again. We were staying at an Airbnb. Although I live in Brisbane and our very good, wonderful friend Deb Bryden (hello Deb) also lives in Brisbane. We decided that we should take an Airbnb with Aileen. The three of us would look after Aileen, make sure that she gets to and from the workshop she was working at and get the whole Brisbane experience. Unfortunately, I think it was something I did, I think I flicked a lock or something. We locked ourselves out of the Airbnb and basically I climbed through a window.

Aileen Miracle:
Yeah, it was hilarious.

Debbie O’Shea:
It was so funny!

Aileen Miracle:
I think what you did, it shouldn’t have locked us out, but it did. Oh my gosh, that was crazy. We were just laughing hysterically as you’re climbing through the window but then you got in.

Debbie O’Shea:
I did and it wasn’t that easy. All right, for everyone here listening to my new Crescendo Podcast, I’ll put the photo on the show notes page.

Aileen Miracle:
Oh my gosh, that would be so fun.

Debbie O’Shea:
I know it won’t make you laugh the same way it made us laugh but oh boy it was funny. I won’t even mention the fact that we were all dying to get to the bathroom. Oh my goodness. All right, so we actually do have a sort of a plan for our chat. If we go back to the bio that I just read out, so listening to that, what would you like to add to this summary of your work?

Aileen Miracle:
I would say over the course of my teaching career I’ve taught kindergarten through 7th grade general music, 5th grade band, and 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade choir. I also was able to finish my master’s degree at the Kodaly Institute in Hungary which was such an amazing experience. I didn’t get to spend a full year there or a semester there like some people do, it was three weeks but it was such a cool experience.

Debbie O’Shea:
That’s pretty amazing. I think that’s on every Kodaly inspired teachers wish list, isn’t it? Love to get there, have not done that.

Aileen Miracle:
I guess I should say too, I was a trumpet player in college. I say was because I’m not playing very much these days but you know, like a lot of music teachers, I can play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on a dozen different instruments. These days I’ve been kind of noodling around with ukulele and with dulcimer, and so I really like learning new instruments.

Debbie O’Shea:
It’s lovely. I do love the way that young children just think we’re awesome anyway. I can play four chords on the guitar and they think I’m just an amazing guitarist.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes! Wow, you’re so good.

Debbie O’Shea:
I know I feel like telling them, uh I’m really not THAT good.

Aileen Miracle:
We had a little assembly, a grade level assembly for winter holidays so we had like Christmas songs, Hanukkah songs, and Kwanzaa songs, and we just had one grade level at a time because of the pandemic so that everyone could be spread out. The PE/gym teacher saw me playing piano, the lights were off so he had to take his flashlight on his phone and put it over the piano so I could see the keys. I got done playing, it was very basic, and he was like, ‘Wow, you are so good’. I was laughing hysterically. That’s very nice, I’m not, but thank you.

Debbie O’Shea:
Thank you and then you feel awful when you say, ‘Yeah I’m not, but thanks’ because it makes us sounds like you’re trying to be humble.

Aileen Miracle:
Right. I’m not being humble. It was not good but thank you.

Debbie O’Shea:
I love it. I hear you. I reckon other music teachers out there are going, ‘Yep, yep, yep’. Okay so with all of those things that you’ve done, could you pick one highlight or a couple of highlights, maybe the Hungary trip which you’ve talked about, but your whole journey as a music educator?

Aileen Miracle:
I think that at the beginning of my career, I started teaching in 1999, it was before blogs, before podcast, before Pinterest, before Teachers pay Teachers, before all of that. The way that I learned about how to better at my craft was by going to conferences and by going to workshops. I just absolutely loved professional development and learning from other people. Then several years in, once I started presenting workshops and at conferences and that kind of thing. I loved that too because I felt like I could share what I have learned from other people but also share what I’ve created myself. I just get so excited to either be at professional development and learn from other people or be presenting professional development and be able to to teach other people. I just love that so much and I was able to come over to Australia and present for your organization. I absolutely love that, it really lights me up and gets me excited.

Debbie O’Shea:
It’s wonderful. Well, I think too because it’s connected to not just the music and the technical music education side but it’s the heart and the soul and the connection of people on top of that.

Aileen Miracle:
I think we as music teachers often feel like we’re on an island all by ourselves and other people don’t get what we do but when we’re able to get together at professional development, we realize these are my people, they get what you’re doing.

Debbie O’Shea:
Yes, yes. It’s like, here’s my tribe, these are my people.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes.

Debbie O’Shea:
Because you’ve already talked about people, that really leads us to the people who you think have been the most influential in your life. We can go personal here if you’d like to. I know for me when I look at my professional journey and personal to, obviously, it’s about the people that do that for you, that special spark, that direction, or that inspiration. It’s going to be hard. I don’t know if you can narrow it down to one, two…

Aileen Miracle:
I can’t. I will go with three. I have two for professional. When I was in college, I went to school at Central Michigan University and one of my professors was my dalcroz professor. I was really lucky that in my undergrad they actually had courses specifically for dalcroz, they had a dalcroz class, an orff class and they had a kodaly class. Kind of ironically, I ended up taking the orff class and the dalcroz class and not the kodaly class. I appreciated that and that we had that. Our dalcroz professor, his name is Timothy Caldwell, he’s retired now, but I took the class with him, was super excited about it. He saw promise in me so pulled me aside and said he wanted to give me free pedagogy lessons which like, when does that ever happen, you know? So he taught me how to teach one on one instead of in a class. I’m just so grateful for that and that he did that for me. He had me start teaching with him for a dalcroz class for the Suzuki program. I just learned so much from him, and I’m so thankful that he did that for me.

Aileen Miracle:
Another professional influential person, Bruce Swank. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Bruce Swank but he was my level 2 kodaly teacher. His wife, Julie is also amazing, she was my level 1 teacher, but Bruce I taught with and then several years later I started teaching at DePaul University’s Kodaly program, and Bruce was the level 2 teacher and I was the level 1 teacher and at some points was also the Level 3 teacher. Anyway, I learned so much from him, being his student and then when he was my colleague. That was just really cool to be able to hear his perspectives, a colleague kind of perspective instead of from a student. I have two dads, I have a father and I have a stepdad but Bruce was like my third dad, I appreciate the relationship that I built with him and how much I learned from him. He’s really a master teacher.

Aileen Miracle:
Then as far as personal, again this is very hard, but I’m going to have to go with my Aunt Lori who we affectionately called Gogi. She passed away several years ago from lung cancer but she’s was only 12 years older than me and was just always very much in my life. She was very much wild and crazy, would just be up for anything and pushed me to be a little bit more courageous. If I just go off of what I’m like naturally, I can be a little bit inhibited and I don’t necessarily want to take those risks but she really pushed me to take risks. We went mule riding my very first year of teaching. I went out and visited her in L.A. and we went on this trip to the Grand Canyon and we went mule riding. She was like, okay, we’re going to go mule riding in the Grand Canyon. I was like, sounds great. I didn’t realize until I was on the mule and I could see like a thousand feet down or whatever, like right there. Oh my gosh, what did I get myself into?? But I love her so much and admire her so much. I’m like, OK, sounds good and then I’m looking a thousand feet down going, Oh my gosh, what am I doing? She just was always pushing me to be a little bit more courageous and to try something new. I think about some of the adventures I’ve had where I’ve gone to different states and different countries and across the world for professional development. She was the first person who taught me how to hail a cab and, you know, she’s just pushing me like, you can do it so I’m definitely grateful for that.

Debbie O’Shea:
Oh, that sounds wonderful. It sounds like we all need someone like that. Beautiful. That is lovely. Do you think, with all of these lovely people and things you’ve done, could you narrow down, for what it is you are most grateful?

Aileen Miracle:
As we’re recording this, my mom actually just passed away earlier this week, which obviously has been heartbreaking and really hard. I think, you know, this week especially, I’ve come to appreciate my family and friends and how much they mean to me. Just being able to put aside any differences and just love each other for who we are and support each other through something like this. That’s kind of at the forefront of my mind right now.

Debbie O’Shea:
Oh, absolutely. I’m so sorry, Aileen.

Aileen Miracle:
Thank you. I think on a professional level, if I were to think about what I’m the most grateful for it would just be having a job that I really love. Not everybody has that. I think sometimes as music teachers we forget that there are a lot of people in the world who go to work because they have to and they do their job because they have to not because they want to. I’m not at all saying that teaching music is not hard. There are definitely moments that are very hard and very difficult, especially with the pandemic and things just changing so much. I just know for me and I know for you because I’ve seen you teach and you are so joyful when you were teaching that you just think, ‘Oh my gosh, I get paid for this?’.I am very grateful for those moments where we’re just having fun with our students.

Debbie O’Shea:
I can really understand too that sometimes I think it’s easy to almost overlook being grateful for our family and what we’ve got, especially if we’re very passionate in our job and our passion as music educators and what we do for the children and with the children overtakes everything and we take the other stuff a bit for granted because we’re so passionate about our job. I think that big reminder to be grateful for those other things. Yes.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes, we cannot let our love for what we do overrun our life and to keep that balance is also very important.

Debbie O’Shea:
It is very important. Thank you for that very timely, though very sad reminder, Aileen. All right. Well, let’s get back to what you do best, teach music. Okay, here we go, teach those kids. This is a little question that I wanted to insert and I thought about what I was going to call it. I wrote the first thing that came into my head and I’m going, No, no, I’m sticking with this. Alright, I’m going to call them “Nuggets of Fabulous”. All right. I want you to give us, and when I say ‘us’ I mean me and my listeners. I have no idea at this point since this is probably going to be episode 3 so it’s obviously very new. I could have me and one other person listening but whoever is listening, or maybe in the future when the podcast is better known and people are coming back to listen to episode 3 and they’ll think, Oh Aileen, we’ll have to listen to that because she’s great. You’re going to give all of the listeners some little Nuggets of Fabulous. I’m like opening this wide open. It could be anything, resources, activities, songs, games, hints, tricks, anything. Give us some Nuggets of Fabulous from your experience to our listeners.

Aileen Miracle:
Okay, I have so many to choose from. This was kind of hard but I am going to attempt. Is it okay if I have five?

Debbie O’Shea:
You can have five. Absolutely.

Aileen Miracle:
All right. I have a mix, I have a printed resource, a website, a tech tool and a couple of games that I love.

Debbie O’Shea:
Ok, that’s fabulous.

Aileen Miracle:
The first one I have is a printed resource called an American Methodology. Are you familiar with it, Debbie?

Debbie O’Shea:
No, I’m not. Is that okay?

Aileen Miracle:
No, that’s totally okay. I mean, it’s maybe more of an American thing since it’s called an American Methodology. It is a printed resource and it is a little bit pricey, a little bit over a $100 USD. It’s a huge spiral bound book of a bunch of folk songs and singing games. It’s got one section of it that’s all singing games. Then it has a section that’s all about teaching strategies like if you are preparing ‘do’ or if you’re practicing tika or whatever you’re preparing or practicing, here’s how to do it. It is so awesome. I always like if someone is new to the Kodaly philosophy, I always recommend that one because even though it’s kind of pricey, it is just like a treasure trove of good teaching materials and good songs. It’s awesome. That’s my number one. There are so many great printed resources out there, but I really love that one, especially if you are new but even if your experienced, it’s just a good reminder of “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea. Oh, I haven’t done that in a while”. Some games or activities or whatever for certain concepts.

Aileen Miracle:
All right. Number two is one of my all time favorite websites, which is Chrome Music Lab. Have you used Chrome Music Lab?

Debbie O’Shea:
I’ve actually got some Chrome Music Lab ready to try out this year.

Aileen Miracle:
All right, for those of you who aren’t familiar, Chrome Music Lab is a website that has a bunch of different games or activities where students can create their own music. They could create their own melody, their own rhythm, they can create art that ends up being played as musical composition, which is called Kandinsky. The kids absolutely love that. What I really love about it is that you could do it as a whole group, even if you don’t have a bunch of Chromebooks or iPads or whatever in your room, you could just put it up on your projector, from your computer, for students to see that, then they could see it, and you could have student volunteers come up and experiment or explore with it or whatever. Then if you do have some kind of devices like an iPad or Chromebooks or whatever, then you can also have students just get on to Chrome Music Lab and then they can explore on their own. It gives students a lot of agency because they get to choose which activities, even if you are specific with it and say, I want you to try this activity first, and here’s what I want you to do with it. I did that this week with ‘so, me, and la’ for my second graders. They just learn a lot because they’re a little bit behind because, you know, COVID. They had just learned about ‘la’, so I had them get on to Chrome Music Lab and create with ‘so, me, and la’, which is like the 3rd, 5th, and 6th rectangle in the game or on the website and then they could create with whatever notes they wanted to. Then they could just hit the back button in Melody Maker to go to any activity they want to do. There’s just a lot of choice there, so that one is super fun. I did that also with 1st grade this week where they got to play in Chrome Music Lab and I heard a 1st grade student just say “This is so fun!”. He was so excited and those moments are so awesome.

Debbie O’Shea:
Really, there’s absolutely no excuse for me not having used it, except that I haven’t yet. I could easily have done it at the front of the room.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes, you can still do your typical whole group lesson or whatever. You’re preparing this, you’re practicing this, but then you have 10 minutes or whatever on Chrome Music Lab, and it’s just so fun.

Debbie O’Shea:
I love it.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes. As you go back into school, Debbie, are you socially distance? What does it look like?

Debbie O’Shea:
It’s varying across Australia. At the recording, it’s the 4th of February in Australia and we’ve had a two week delay here in Queensland. They’ve put the live kids coming back two weeks so that they’ve got time to get the kids vaccinated. We actually start in a few days with kids back so it varies across states, but at this stage they’re back and we are just limiting large gatherings. I believe teachers still have to wear masks. If we are a metre and a half away from the students, we can take them off, thank goodness. The thing is, the instructions change almost daily so I’ll see what they tell us to do on Monday morning. But mainly we are back, face to face and relatively normal. I want to say that.

Aileen Miracle:
Okay, good. The reason I ask is because I have a game that can work for social distancing. In my district we are fully masked. We’re supposed to try to keep it a three feet distance so there are some games that I typically have played that I’m like, ‘I don’t think I can play that’. It’s been a lot of redesigning games or whatever so I wanted to do Kingsland and my colleague had been taking the students outside when it was nicer to play Kingsland. It’s the dead of winter right now in Ohio so I couldn’t do that. Are you familiar with the game four corners?

Debbie O’Shea:
Yes. Well, some version of it, yes.

Aileen Miracle:
Someone suggested that I have a Facebook group where I just asked, ‘Okay, everyone, how do you play Kingsland with social distancing?’ And someone recommended playing it four corners, and that’s been super fun. The idea is that you have one person, the king or queen who sits on a chair and they close their eyes. Then everyone else is singing Kingsland and going to one of the four corners in the room. Then at the end of the song, without opening their eyes, they just say a number 1, 2, 3, or 4. Whoever is standing in the corner is out and you just keep going until there’s one person out. At the end, I do the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 hula hoop game. I play it like that. There are four people left and whoever gets called at the end is actually the winner. For those people who are social distancing, that’s been a fun way to play Kingsland with just a little twist.

Debbie O’Shea:
I love it. I think that sounds amazing, and I hope this podcast does more than just reveal my complete ignorance but could you sing Kingsland? Because, I don’t know it.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes, I don’t have a tuning fork on me, so here we go. Just pick a note. (singing) I’m on the Kingsland, the king is not at home. He’s gone to Boston to buy his wife a comb. Typically the game is the king or queen is standing and closing their eyes and turning around. Everyone else is marching towards the king or queen. Then the teacher will ring a bell or ring a triangle or whatever, and the king or queen turns around and chases all the students back to their land. That doesn’t totally work with social distancing so that’s how I changed the game and it’s been really fun.

Debbie O’Shea:
Oh, I love them. I want to try both ways.

Aileen Miracle:
I know you could probably do outside pretty well because the weather in Brisbane is nicer than it is in Ohio.

Debbie O’Shea:
Quite magnificent. It’s very, very rainy at the moment but yeah, it’s magnificent because we’re in the middle of summer.

Aileen Miracle:
Yeah there’s so many games that I absolutely love, but this one I just love because I think it just builds students up, do you know the song “Love Somebody?”

Debbie O’Shea:
Yes.

Aileen Miracle:
The game that I played with “Love Somebody” is that one student, again, is chosen to come up to the front of the room and they choose someone that they love as a friend. Then we sing through the song and then they get to call on three different people to guess who they’re thinking of that they love as a friend. When a student is chosen, they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m loved as a friend. That’s so nice.’ They really enjoy that and it doesn’t have any chasing or anything. It’s just kind of a nice way to build those connections.

Debbie O’Shea:
Oh, that’s lovely. I do a version with eight cards. Now, I really should check this but I think it was a game to the song developed by our beautiful Judy Crane, who lived in Queensland. She passed away some time ago, and gee, I hope I get this right. You have eight cards and when I say cards, just little pieces of folded cardboard. Inside four cards there are hearts and four are blank. You have a person who delivers the mail and they walk around the outside. Oh, I guess you could do the inside with kids hands behind their back and eyes and they deliver the eight envelopes. They do that first off, the first person and then the people with the four hearts have the love letters. They’re up next, the four of them and they get the blank card from one of the other children so they’ve got two to deliver and they deliver one love note and one other note that’s not a love note. Does that make sense?

Aileen Miracle:
Yeah, sounds really fun.

Debbie O’Shea:
I might find those instructions and put them in the show notes so that people listening can actually work it out. Now, for people who don’t know the song, do you mind singing that one?

Aileen Miracle:
Yeah, sure. Again, I have no tuning fork, but we’ll try it. (singing) “Love somebody, yes, I do. Love somebody, yes I do. Love somebody, yes, I do. Love somebody but I won’t say who.” It’s great for tika tika and it’s just great to do it for Valentine’s Day or whenever, you know, it’s really fun.

Debbie O’Shea:
Beautiful.

Aileen Miracle:
I have one last nugget of fabulous. I had used Google Slides before distance learning, but I really became to appreciate it more through distance learning. Just as a general tech tool through distance learning, Google Slides is just such a great tool. You can create choice words with it. You can create materials to project with it. You can easily share materials with other music teachers with it. One way that I absolutely love, that’s really helped me be organized, is to create agenda slides with it. I teach kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th every day and I have an agenda slide which is a list of everything we’re doing in the lesson projected onto an interactive whiteboard. I also have ‘I can’ statements, I don’t know if that’s something that’s done in Australia, but it’s just like ‘I can keep the beat’, ‘I can sing a solo’ or whatever. It’s just some kind of statement about what the students are doing. If you don’t have to do that, you don’t have to put those on there. What I really love about the agenda slides is it helps me keep organized but also, before I started using these, I used to spend probably 20 to 30 minutes every morning opening up all of my files, opening up all the smart notebook files, opening up all the PowerPoints, opening up all the PDFs and just making sure they’re ready. The great thing about the agenda slides is you can link to anything. For example, let’s say you have it in Google Slides and you have some Google slides that you’re opening up as part of the lesson, then you just link to it and then all you have to do is tap it and it opens up.

Debbie O’Shea:
Yes, that’s really exciting.

Aileen Miracle:
Yes, I absolutely love that. I can send you some links, Debbie. I do have some free lesson plans that people can submit your email address for it and then you get these free lesson plans. The lesson plans include the agenda slides so you can see what I’m talking about. You can just project it, link to anything you want and then you just click it. It’s just such a time saver. It’s also helpful, some students really like know ‘what are we doing in music today?’ You know, often you’ll have students ask, what are we doing in music today? I don’t typically have students ask me that anymore because they can just look up at the agenda and they can see what we’re doing. It calms those students down that really need to know ‘what are we doing, what are we doing?’ and they just look at the screen. They can get an idea and you don’t have to put every single song title. Let’s say you’re playing something on the recorder or you’re humming it for them to identify, you could just put like mystery song or singing game. You can still be a little bit mysterious about it if you don’t want to tell them everything, but it helps keep me more organized. Like I said, it saves so much time because you can just click a link and boom, it opens.

Debbie O’Shea:
Oh, I love it. Yes, there are some students, you know, if you’re looking at your ASD students and the ones that just have to know what’s coming next or they’re too agitated, that’s brilliant. I love it. Those live links, I think that’s awesome. I’m assuming it’s sort of the same all over the world, but I shouldn’t assume. We seem to be fighting this battle in Australia and I’ll call it a fight because that’s the way I think about it, to even have the existence of our profession. Music is just seen as not important enough by people who are in positions of power at various times, if I can say that without getting too political. I just think it seems to me to be a time in history where music education advocacy is essential. We really need to convince people that it’s essential for our children to have music education, just to create well-rounded human beings, not to necessarily create professional musicians, although that’s fine if that happens, fabulous. I just don’t think we should have to fight for our jobs, but we actually are. So I thought while I had another fabulous music educator trapped to talk to you for a little while, I wondered if you had any advice for us and our listeners around advocacy and how we can help convince people of the importance of our job. We know, obviously. What’s your advice around advocacy?

Aileen Miracle:
Yeah, we definitely struggle with that in the states too. I think often, here, our struggle is that some classroom teachers might look at us like we’re just babysitting their students while they get their planning. Yep, you understand that. Yes. So or like that our job is not as hard or, you know, or that, yes, from a parent point of view, like especially when we started doing distance learning in March of 2020, a lot of parents, which I understand, they felt so stressed out, rightfully so. Some parents were like, ‘Well, it’s just music, I’m not going to have them do that’. So you as a music teacher are spending hours and hours trying to come up with something for students to do, only to be told that you’re not important. I think something that has helped me is to just try to let my work speak for itself. Instead of trying to convince someone that music is important, I try to show them through their child coming home and talking about how much they love music class. Their child, coming home and singing a song from music or that kind of thing, just letting my work speak for itself. Also informances have been helpful. Prior to COVID I did that every year where I would invite parents into my music room. There would be like one week during the year where they could come in during their child’s music class. It’s not necessarily for every grade level, I typically would do 1st grade informances and the other grade levels would have some kind of performance throughout the year. But then at least one time during their child’s elementary education, the parent would be able to see the parent or parents would be able to see what their child’s music class actually look like. What I found is that, especially when I first started doing it, I had a lot of people who were shocked because they just expected that their child’s music class was like their music class used to be. So I had a lot of people that were like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s what you’re doing in music class. That’s really cool. I didn’t do that when I was a kid’. Just doing something like that. Yes, there are working parents who might not be able to make it but if you could do something like that to somehow educate your parents so that they can see what’s actually happening in the music classroom. I do have a blog post about that that I can send you a link to if you want that in the show notes, all about informants and how I set them up. Like I said, you can adapt it if my exact scenario doesn’t work for your school, but just to have something the parents at your school can experience that they understand what their students are actually doing in music class. I think it’s very helpful and I have had classroom teachers actually come to those too, even though they’re doing their planning, which is just very sweet of them. Then they even have more respect because they’re able to see what their students are actually learning in music class.

Debbie O’Shea:
Yes, fabulous suggestions. We have just one more thing to finish off. All right, I’m just going to call it ‘Get on your soapbox’. To finish off this chat that we’re having, if you got to tell the world something, the most important thing you want to say to the whole world. Are you ready? You’re going to get on your soapbox. No pressure, no pressure. Everybody in the whole world is tuned in and they’re going to listen to this important message from Aileen Miracle. Okay. Ready. Set. Go.

Aileen Miracle:
I would say there’s a lot for me to choose. Again, it’s hard to choose, but I would say something that I feel really passionate about is that often as teachers, as music educators, we feel like we don’t want to do something that might fail. Especially in these times with Instagram, where everybody’s classroom looks so curated and perfect, right? Because that’s the way it always is, right? Even 23 years in, I often will be like, okay, I’m going to try A, B, or C. It might flop, but that’s okay. Obviously, you don’t want your administrator walking in when you’re trying something new but even if they do, you could say, “You know what? I’m trying something new and this part of it, I’m realizing I should do this instead or maybe I should have done that instead”. Even if it’s a failure, you will learn from it. We’re on like a ABCD rotation in my district. Instead of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, like A day might be on a Tuesday, and that would be the new lesson. Then if we have a snow day, which we had a snow day today and we have another snow day tomorrow because we got so much snow and ice. Today, we’re supposed to be in A day and tomorrow was supposed to be a B day but because we had a snow day today and tomorrow, Monday will not be the A day. I still get to see those students, it was just bumped. I always laugh about the A day students because they get the short end of the stick because I’m trying things out with them, but I will apologize to them like, you know what, I’m going to try something new. I haven’t done this before, and it might flop a little bit, but thank you so much for your patience. I think it’s good for students to see you’re trying something new. I’ll give you an example. I was trying See-Saw, which is a tech platform or tech tool and I had done See-Saw a lot when I was teaching virtually 100% last year. I used it all the time but I didn’t really have to worry about getting kids into See-Saw because they were at home and their parents were helping with that or their classroom teacher already got them into See-Saw, so they already knew how to do it. But this year, because I was in person and I’m trying to get them into See-Saw, I really had to think through all the steps of how to get them to point A or point B so that they could actually do what I was asking of them. So, yeah, I had a few flops, but then I figured it out and I even had some students who were like, ‘Oh, I’ve used this up before, and you need to do this or you need to do that’. They’re teaching me, I’m learning, and then B day is so much better. So, I do feel passionately about that. We often as educators feel like everything has to be perfect and that we don’t want to try something new because it might flop. I think it’s really important that we do try something new. Another good example of this is centers. I’ve talked to so many music educators about centers who are really intrigued by the idea. They’re excited by it, but they’re just worried it’s going to flop. They’re worried about failing with it. I think it’s important that you try it out and you experiment and see what works, because yeah, in one classroom, it might be a little bit of failure, a little bit of things not working exactly the way that you think they should. Then the next time you do it, it is going to be so much better, you’ve learned from it, and you’re trying something new. I do have a blog post about centers that I could also send you the link to. That’s how to get started with centers. But yeah, I just think it’s important to try to be courageous and try something new.

Debbie O’Shea:
Yes, it’s really essential that we’re brave and that we take risks. Don’t we tell the children to do that? Yes, we should take our own advice and children are very forgiving. It’s important that they see we are, you know, walking the walk, walking the talk, talking the walk. Yeah, what’s it? Yeah, putting our money where your mouth is. Can I just say, do you ever giggle when you say B day, do you ever think of bidet?

Aileen Miracle:
(laughs) Bidet?? That’s not super common in this states but now that you say that, “B day”, yeah.

Debbie O’Shea:
Maybe it’s the way we say it in Australia, we don’t have them very much here either. Anyway, sorry, popped into my head. Oh my heavens. All right, well, on that very pleasant note, I’m going to let you go, Aileen. It’s lovely to have a chat with you and see you on the other side of the world. You have given music teachers so many great ideas and inspiration today and I thank you very much.

Aileen Miracle:
Thank you so much for having me on, Debbie. It was a pleasure.

Debbie O’Shea:
See ya! Bye. As we know, laughter relieve stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life. Thought of telling you a joke about paper, but I’m not going to, because it’s just terrible.

Debbie O’Shea:
This podcast was brought to you by Crescendo Music Education. Connecting, supporting and inspiring music educators. In the show notes, you’ll find links to Crescendos 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, webinars, and receive great discounts on events. Come and connect with me, Debbie. Okay, see you in the socials.

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