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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Music Teaching Jobs

The Southern Teachers Agency has quite a few music vacancy listings from schools for the 2013-14 school year and we anticipate many more in the coming months! The types of listings we receive range from elementary general music through high school choral and instrumental.

Requirements: A degree in music education is preferred. Candidates should have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Some positions may require prior teaching experience.

Application Process: Interested candidates should apply to Southern Teachers Agency by submitting a completed STA Application, along with a resume and cover letter to

A Capitol Campaign: STA is sponsoring a job fair for active, registered STA candidates in Washington, DC, on March 23.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Alumni Spotlight

Name: Michelle Fleischman, Class of 2011
Endorsement Area: Instrumental Music: Orchestra
Schools: Willow Springs Elementary School, Fairfax; and Centreville Elementary School, Centreville
School Population: 900 (Willow Springs ES)
Number of Students in Orchestra: 270

Secrets for attracting so many students into orchestra:  The strings programs at my schools have grown significantly in the last two years. There are a few main components that I believe have helped my program to grow. First and foremost, I made myself available at my schools as much as possible when I started my first year. I made sure to attend school welcome walks and supply drop offs to introduce myself to the parents and students. I also continue to be involved by attending PTA functions, which includes playing volleyball at our school spirit night –my player name is Stringcheese. Next year I am coaching our school jump rope team! I have created a fun and engaging recruitment demonstration that highlights the string program, and demonstrates some of the fun songs that you can play on string instruments. When students sign up for strings, we write their name outside our door (conveniently leading to the cafeteria) on a huge poster board so that everyone can see the students who have joined our orchestra family. Once the students are signed up, it is important to focus on retention. One of my colleagues told me that my programs are so successful because I have made orchestra part of the culture at my schools. My students enjoy coming to class, which helps them learn because they want to be there. I make it a priority to add orchestra news to the school news program whenever possible. For concerts, the students make invitations to personally invite their family, friends, and teachers. The students also make posters to advertise for concerts, which we hang around the building. We have a Note Reading Wall of Fame in the hallway outside of our classroom. Students in the younger grades see this and are excited to join strings even before they are in 4th grade. Yeah, we work hard to attract students into our program.

Biggest challenge so far: Currently, the biggest challenge I face is the limited amount of time that I have with my students each week. I only see each class for 45-minutes per week. For this age group, 20-30 students are large class sizes and this presents special challenges when students are learning the basics and need strong fundamentals that must be fostered with individual attention especially when learning performance fundamentals. Because of this, it is extremely important to be organized and to plan for each class with short-term and long-term goals in mind. Last year, my biggest challenge was balancing my career and personal life. My mentors reminded me of the importance of re-energizing at home. It was very easy last year to bring my work home with me at the end of the day and continue to work until the late hours of the night. Teaching is extremely demanding, and I have learned how important it is for me to take time to relax at home and get a good night sleep so that I can teach to my full potential the next day and every day.

The best thing to happen at work so far: There are so many positive memories from this past year that it is hard to pick just one. The spring concert last year garnered a huge sense of the small successes of each day, like when a student magically comes in and can play all of the string karate belts and then thanks me for it. One of the best moments in my teaching career was last year at my Holiday Concert. It was the first concert of my teaching career, and it also happened to be my birthday. I was nervous because it was in front of a lot of my colleagues and my principal. Not only did the students perform beautifully, but all 240 of my students sang Happy Birthday. It was the moment where I thought, “I cannot believe that I have achieved my goal of becoming a string teacher, and here I am with 240 amazing students who I could not be more proud of.”

Advice for undergraduates pursuing a career in music teaching: Stick together, and help each other. The music education students should act like a family. I know that my graduating class still talks to each other and helps each other on a daily basis, even if it is just providing a few words of encouragement.  Take advantage of the fact that Mason is literally in the heart of Fairfax County Public Schools. There are hundreds of fabulous music teachers within minutes of GMU. Although I participated in field experiences for my music education courses, I sometimes wish that I had spent every extra minute I had visiting schools, networking with teachers. You can talk about methods of teaching all you want, but there is no better lesson than seeing it work in an actual teaching situation. That being said, any GMU music student is always welcome in my classroom.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

VMEA 2013 Planning Begins

GMU NAfME officers Kyle Harrington and Hannah Tucker secure funding for eight student rooms at The Homestead for the VMEA conference in November. This translates to 30 students! President Kyle Harrington reports, “This is a huge vote of confidence from our school of music director Dr. Layendecker.” According to chapter secretary Hannah Tucker, “It was most definitely a team effort, which Kyle spearheaded and got the ball rolling. We're really excited about the possibilities that are opening up for us now that our whole group can stay together at the Homestead; lots of community building opportunities. If the trip turns out anything like last year, but with more people, this is going to do a lot to move our NAfME chapter forward and build it up again.”

Students who are interested in attending VMEA conference must be a member and begin setting aside money for travel expenses. According to faculty sponsor Dr. Billingham, “I am very pleased to see the initiative [the students] have taken with this. I would say we should start setting fundraising ideas so that we have the funding to drive and stay. Vans for 30 people - do the math!” Students interested in joining NAfME should click on the icon below.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Field Experience Opportunity

Kim Robinson, the band director at Bonnie Brae and Oak View Elementary Schools (very close to GMU) is looking for some assistance with her beginning brass students as follows:

            Oak View Elem. School – Tuesday from 12:25-1:10 pm
            Bonnie Brae Elem. School – Wednesday from 9:40-10:25 am

If you play a brass instrument, this would be a great opportunity to fulfill field experience requirements for your Instrumental Methods class or to dive in and figure out what this music teaching career is really like. If interested e-mail Dr. Wuttke at and he will put you in direct contact with the band director.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Student Spotlight

Name: Hannah Tucker, Class of 2014
Principal: Voice – Soprano   Secondary: Piano
Endorsement Area: Vocal General and Choral Music
G.P.A.  3.96

Impact of music education coursework so far: Two classes stand out as being important to my future career goals. The Music Administration and Management class (MUSI 393) helped build an awareness of all of the organizational aspects required for successful public school teaching. I am currently enrolled in MUSI 463: Secondary Choral Methods with Dr. Billingham. We are currently discussing the importance of making contact and connections with each individual student in our ensemble. Another aspect of this idea is the importance of assessing individual student progress as well as the group’s progress.

Benefit of Field Experience: I have been out to observe Jennifer Kaufmann at Broad Run High School in Ashburn and am impressed at how the students learn musical independence through daily solfege and sight-singing activities. The students are taught to function at a very sophisticated musical level. I have also been out to observe Tom Tutwiler at Hylton High School in Woodbridge and am impressed with his level of interaction with the students. I also like how he uses rhythm games and fast solfegge games in order to teach and reinforce musical concepts. He definitely makes learning fun.

Advice for new music education students: Get to know, and make it a point to talk to your endorsement area teachers and take advantage of all the opportunities to work with faculty members –pick their brains for advice and teaching tips. I take notes on what I like, so if I see a cool warm-up or a good gesture in choir rehearsal I write it down in a journal so that I can try to incorporate it into my teaching. Of course, focus on aural skills as much as possible.

Attending clinics and conferences: I attended the ACDA conference and that was a great experience, especially since the focus was entirely on choral music. I also attended VMEA in the fall and it was interesting because you get to interact with music teachers in all areas: band, chorus, orchestra, general music, and guitar. I also liked attending the clinics and seminars from teachers who are currently teaching, they have so many great ideas. I highly recommend that all students who are interested in teaching attend this conference.