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Music Educators Toolbox: Inside the Classroom with Katie Traxler

Katie Traxler teaches elementary music at PS 51 Elias Howe in Manhattan. Trained in Orff-Schulwerk, Kodály, and Dalcroze teaching methods, her music program for grades Pre-K–5 includes general music; group performance opportunities such as recorder ensemble, Orff ensemble, and chorus; and instrumental training for ukulele, guitar, violin and cello. She has just begun her fourth year as president of the New York City Chapter of the American Orff Schulwerk Association and is also finishing her third term as director of professional development and education grants for SAI Philanthropies Inc. She recently shared what the impact of Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Toolbox has been on her teaching.

What Toolbox resources do you find particularly useful for planning your lessons?

Katie Traxler: I love using the Scope of Musical Concept maps for each grade to create my own plan for the year. I also love the videos. Sometimes I will just let the Vimeo channel play in the background as I do work on my computer to get ideas for future lessons or ways to improve what I am already teaching. I also really like the record sheets. I have created similar tracking sheets for my students based on all the assessments that I give throughout the year. It is a great model. I also like the multicultural rhythm lessons and listening samples in the fifth-grade section, and the links to the Smithsonian Folkways, a great bridge to that resource.

How do you incorporate the Toolbox into your yearlong curriculum?

KT: I love using the Toolbox to brainstorm. There is something for just about every musical concept! I make my own variations of the activities and assessments and use them throughout the year with different grade levels. I incorporate the materials into my existing curriculum to support and strengthen what I already do.

How do you think these resources will affect your teaching long-term?

KT: They have saved me time in creating my own assessments for several concepts and have helped me organize my yearlong planning maps for my program.

Learn more about Katie’s work in the classroom.