Top 10 Most-Read Music Education Blogs of 2018

Top 10 #MusicEd Blogs of 2018

new year | Barcin

As we come to the end of 2018, we wish you and your students a very happy and safe holiday season and best wishes in the new year. To help celebrate this past year’s blogs from fellow music educators, we’re looking back and sharing the Top Ten Most-Accessed NAfME “Music in a Minuet” Blogs from the last year. Did your favorite blog make the list?

blogs | baona


10. “Quality over Quantity: A Message to Music Education Majors

By NAfME Member Nicholas Tyler

During my first year of teaching, I have learned that quality matters more than quantity. I am not writing this to boast about myself in any way, but to emphasize that smaller programs have great potential in the schools they serve. Never dismiss the small band programs.

When looking for your first job, do not overlook the small band programs as an option for employment. These small bands have a negative reputation simply for being small and hardly growing. People may presume that the director never did his/her job to recruit, but what if it is the culture of the area? What if the students are following what they are told to do? Read more.

trombone | herreid


9. “Five Must-Haves for a Successful School Year

By NAfME Member Audrey Carballo

It’s that time of year when teachers ask . . . Back to school? Already?!?! Although for most traditional school calendars educators get 8-10 weeks of summer, it never seems to be enough. If you’re like me, the week before we head back gets tainted as well. Every day I gently gripe that this is the last (insert day of the week here) I have off—to the point that by the time the big day rolls around, I am completely bonkers!

To make the transition even easier, here are five must-haves that are guaranteed to bring you a successful school year. Read more.

inspiration | Cn0ra


8. “Lighting a Fire in Middle School Kids

By NAfME Member Chris Gleason

When I was a young teacher, I didn’t think about student engagement. Survival was my primary goal. I was happy if I was able to get through my content while the kids sat quietly. After some time, I began to realize that engagement is more than kids just sitting quietly while words wash over them. Engagement is messy. Engagement at times can be rambunctious, exciting, and yes, loud. It’s not the message we give that is important; rather, it’s the message received that is vital. As educators we must consider the perspective of the learner and arm ourselves with the best research in order to engage our students. Read more.

This topic is also available as a NAfME Academy webinar.

Photo: Bob O’Lary


7. “Minimizing the Frustration of Learning the Horn

By NAfME Member Rachel Hockenberry

While the horn operates fundamentally the same as the other brass instruments, the qualities that make the instrument unique can be very frustrating for the young hornist. Use these tips to help your horn players experience success from the beginning and avoid having to correct bad habits in the future!

  1. The Ear Test. You don’t need to have perfect pitch to play the horn, but the potential to develop a good ear is of utmost importance. If a student is interested in playing the horn, see if she can sing or hum a simple, well-known tune (“Happy Birthday,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” etc.) and stay relatively on pitch. You can also sing the song together and see if the student is able to match pitch with you fairly well. If the student really struggles with these tests, horn is likely not a great choice of instrument at this time. Read more.
French horn
Photo: Victoria Chamberlin |


6. “Finger Exercises and Warm-Ups for Ukulele Players

By NAfME Associate Member Mark Woodburn

Regular practice is important for beginning ukulele players. Before you get fretting and strumming however, it would be good if your fingers are warmed and loosened up first so you avoid feeling like you have bear claws instead of hands when practicing ukulele chords.

Finger exercises and warm-up routines are also great for developing hand speed, dexterity, and finger strength, allowing you to play better with less effort. Here are some fun finger exercises for you to incorporate into your ukulele practice sessions. Read more.

ukulele | ronen


5. “Voice and Choice in Music Class

By NAfME Member Theresa Ducassoux

“Voice and Choice” is a term frequently used when discussing today’s classroom. To a music teacher, it might seem like a silly phrase; we hear student voices all the time! Why do we need to increase that? But when used in the general education setting, the term takes on a different meaning.

According to Holly Clark, an educational strategist, student voice relates to, “Hearing from all students in the class . . . Students’ ability to understand how they learn best . . . Students demonstrate what they learn in a way that interests them and taps into their strengths.” Student choice is what it sounds like: giving students choices in their educational experience. This has a lot of value in the music classroom, and I have seen many positive changes as a result of consciously increasing student voice and choice. Read more.

Photo courtesy of Theresa Ducassoux


4. “Teaching Lessons to Children with Special Needs

By NAfME Member Brian Wagner

Many teachers who work in private studios have a special benefit when teaching music lessons to students. Teachers often have the opportunity to work one-on-one with students, or in small groups, and have the opportunity to work on specific musical skills. Nevertheless, all students have the right to partake in private musical lessons—including special learners.

Special learners are students who: learn, process information, communicate, move, and experience life in alternative ways. Read more.

This topic is also available as a NAfME Academy webinar.

Photo courtesy of Brian Wagner


3. “Three Easy Steps to Classroom Discipline

By NAfME Member Audrey Carballo

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” This quote is attributed to Stephen Sondheim. Having never been a teacher, Stephen instinctively understood the meaning of the arts. Our classroom discipline plans strive to reflect bringing order to chaos—or, at the very least, controlling the chaos in order to achieve the desired result.

Much of the arts is a singular activity. Painting, sculpting, photography, and the like are usually solitary projects. Although a work of art can be a collaboration, more often than not it is individual contributions to a whole rather than a group of people working on the one photograph or painting. Much is the same for writing. Yes, there are collections, but in that case, several different authors will contribute their own completed works. There is the occasional mutual collaboration between two or more equal contributors, but that is not the norm.

Music allows the performer to experience three aspects—the solo artist, the small ensemble (duet, trio, etc.), and the large ensemble, such as a band, orchestra, or chorus. As educators, we should encourage all of these aspects. We see all three facets in our classrooms. Bringing a semblance of order to each medium requires a delicate dance of planning, consistency, and execution. Read more.

classroom management | Mlenny


2. “Four Cognitive Skills Supercharged by Music Education

By Dr. David V. Mastran, sponsored by QuaverMusic,
Title Sponsor of the 2018 NAfME National Conference

Music offers a path for transformative development for early childhood! You can see the growth happening in your students, but you may not know exactly what’s happening underneath the surface. In fact, the lessons learned in your music classroom can help promote four specific types of cognitive skills development:

  1. Attention Control. Music is defined by elements and measurements such as flow, melody, and rhythm. Students must learn to pay attention to measurements, cues from their teacher, as well as actions of their fellow classmates. Read more.
cognitive skills | Ratsanai


1. “7 Things They Don’t Teach Music Education Majors [That You’ll Wish They Had]

By NAfME Member Elisa Jones

It took me longer than the average music educator to get my degree. I took extra semesters of instrument pedagogy. I insisted on voice and conducting lessons, in addition to those I was taking on horn. I performed in every ensemble I was accepted into, and even took extra education courses, and worked at a music store, just to make sure I had everything that I would need to be a super-successful and ultra-prepared music educator.

I didn’t.

As much as I knew about teaching music, there was a lot I didn’t know about how to run a music program. Unfortunately, this is the same trial-by-fire that a lot of current music educators have to face upon graduation, and many much longer into the future than that. Read more.

This topic is also available as a NAfME Academy webinar.

education major
Photo: Matt Janson Photography,


Read “Top 10 Blogs” compilations from past years:


Thank you to all of our NAfME Members who contributed to this year’s blogs! Learn how you can submit a blog.


Did this blog spur new ideas for your music program? Share them on Amplify! Interested in reprinting this article? Please review the reprint guidelines.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

December 31, 2018. © National Association for Music Education (