“Summertime and the living is easy…” While this has always been one of my favorite Gershwin songs, I don’t think the lyrics are particularly applicable to music educators. Don’t you love hearing, “But you have summers off”? One of the things we all do during the summer is to re-tool, re-train, and re-fuel to meet the needs of our students. Some states also require us to commit to several hours of continuing education. The good news is that in this day of streaming, Skype, and online classes we can access many learning opportunities from the comforts of home. Here are a few ideas along these lines that might help make the living easy.
I have taken many on-line classes and webinars from both major universities and software manufacturers. These offerings have enabled me to up my game in the classroom and meet state standards for continuing education hours. Over the years, the Berklee School of Music has been one of my go-to online experiences. They offer a great depth of subject matter that is applicable to the classroom, taught by great instructors, and provided through a well-designed interface. You might check out Berklee Online as well as research other institutions that may provide similar offerings.
Local Colleges and Universities
I have also taken (and taught) week-long summer workshops that offer the intense submersion approach, with like-minded people in a classroom setting. There is a lot to be said for this kind of experience, however you are limited by location, time and money. Look at your local colleges and universities and see if they offer something you need. Sometimes local schools sponsor workshops as well.
NAFME and Local MEAs
It also pays to look at NAFME as they have a professional development link that offers some online training and webinars. In addition they offer links to other programs and guidelines as to what to look for in professional development coursework. You may also have luck with your local, county, or state Music Education Association offering professional development opportunities in a variety of forms.
One new offering I can recommend is SmartMusic training through MakeMusic University. This self-paced online class can be done anywhere you have a portable device and an internet connection. Several topics regarding SmartMusic are covered in a clear and concise manner, with the ability to repeat and review as you wish. At the end of each level you are required to take a quiz, where 90% is required to pass. If you do not pass you can go back and review and subsequently re-take the quiz. Upon successful completion you receive a certificate to print to share with your administration documenting your Continuing Education Credit. There are three levels so you could complete 3 CEU’s from the comfort of wherever! At $25 a CEU or $60 if you take all three this is an amazing value.
If you are about to use SmartMusic in your classroom for the first (or even second time) this is a great way to get your skills to that next level and start the year with confidence, wowing your students with your techno savvy and a new found passion for making their musical lives so much better.
Need more ideas? Do a web search for “continuing education for music educators” to get a broader sense of what is available.
I wish you all a rejuvenating Summer and many rewards in the coming fall and beyond.
Ted Scalzo is a veteran teacher of 36 years, including 29 years as the band director at Bay Shore High School in Long Island, NY. His wind and jazz ensembles have received numerous awards. Ted has used Finale to arrange for marching band since version 1.0, and taught music composition/theory and a multimedia class that he designed for Bay Shore students. A fervent advocate of technology in the classroom, Ted was honored as an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2005, was twice appointed to the NYSSMA Music Technology Committee, and teaches a course on music education technology at Hofstra University.