Category Archives: For Teachers

March for Science, Earth Day, April 22

what-do-we-want-evidence-based-science-when-do-we-want-it-after-peer-review-1485129964Just in case you haven’t heard, there’s a global March for Science going on the same day as Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. I’ll be going to the one in Tokyo, but there’s also one going on in Ibaraki. There will probably be many more in Japan. I’ve started making signs.


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Filed under Earth Day, For Teachers, Grade 9, Politics

Snarky Puppy is your next favourite band

A friend just introduced the amazing band Snarky Puppy to me. The first time I heard the name I was reminded of another band and didn’t pay attention.

You will not make the same mistake [hand wave in front of your face].



Filed under For Teachers, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 9, jazz

The 6 most insane pieces of classical music in existence

Hello students and parents,

I thought I’d share this article with you. The 6 most insane pieces of classical music in existence.

Happy listening – or not.

Mr Kozak

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Filed under For Teachers, Grade 9

Teaching meter the easy way

Fellow Teachers,

My very first trial lesson for a music teaching job, the administration wanted me to teach meter. Nothing could have been easier.

Meter is one of the elements of music, and students can grasp this concept at a very early age. It can be mastered by grade seven without problem. Here’s how.

Play a sample of music with different meters and have students clap the beat. This prep exercise has nothing to do with meter, but warms up their ears by listening to the pulse of the music (which is the exact definition of beat, by the way).

My song list includes:
– 15 Step (Radiohead)
– Take Five (Dave Brubeck Quartet)
– The Blue Danube (Strauss)
– any pop song (let’s say “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles) or my begrudgingly favourite non-song to trot out and whip once in a while (for so many reasons-remind me to do a whole plog post on it), which is unfair, but a lot of fun – “Friday” by Jessica Black
– a polka
– and the grandaddy, The Rite of Spring

I usually leave the last one out until a few classes later. The idea is to build confidence, not confusion.

After the listening activity, we move to the clapping.

Pat your lap with your left hand (weak beat) with a constant tempo. Stress the downbeat (strong beat) with your right hand. Demonstrate 4/4 meter first and tell them.

Now the fun begins.

Call each student out of the room and tell them to demonstrate a meter of your choice. That new “conductor” sits in a chair at the front and taps out the meter while students count and figure out the meter. All students get a chance to be the conductor.

As they grasp the concept of strong/weak beats, eventually you can have someone do mixed meter. For example, a bar of 4/4 and a bar of 3/4.

That’s a simplified lesson plan for you. The next lesson, they write basic quarter note rhythms with mixed meter and melodies on manuscript paper.

Mr. Kozak

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Filed under conducting, For Teachers, Grade 6, meter

Singing to a Greener Tune – UNEP Environment & Music Initiative Report


This report is four years old already, so the lists must be much longer by now of green companies, festivals, and bands that want to make a festival green and sustainable.

Mr. Kozak

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United Nations Environment Program & Music Initiative

Some simpletons have excluded this possibility.

Don’t be one of them.
If you think music education and the environment are separate issues, then read the report and comment bellow.

Be the positive change instead of the danger.

Mr. Kozak

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Creativity again

Great article about creativity.

In my experience, it is undervalued, if even mentioned.

Mr. Kozak

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The consequences of location and reverb when recording music

This video is an amazing demonstration of how the environment affects reverb. Fantastic editing.

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Filed under For Teachers, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 9

The invisibility of teachers

Another article about education reform talking about how teachers are not part of the process. An excerpt:

In effect, then, for a century, teachers have been invisible in their own field, except as both compliant workers implementing political and bureaucratic mandates and asoften-silent scapegoats as that bureaucracy fails. However, even that teachers have primarily been those who implement education policy instead of those creating it is more complicated than it seems.

Mr. Kozak

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The 7 Superpowers every teacher should have

Here you go, teachers.

Mr. Kozak

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Filed under For Teachers