How to use MS for

Many questions have come in regarding how to effectively use Let's take it from general to specific:

1. Network colleagues together for faster communication and collaboration. Local groups, as well as State groups, are forming and communication is fast. Very fast. Invite your district chair to join and start a group for you district. They can send messages to the entire group, use RSS feeds and even put your district calendar right on your group page. Communication is private and effective as well as off the main radar of some "micromanaging" districts.
2. Once you are "colleagues" with other directors, you have access to their videos, sound files and pictures. The program will "shuffle" the pictures that you see of your colleagues. This is nice on your desktop.
3. Having private access to videos means that you can use them to teach with as they are "Teacher Generated."
4. Use the "inbox" for private communication amongst colleagues that is not as scrutinized as inter-office email.
5. Upload sound files that you teach with for quicker access and all in one place.
6. Keep track of directors, not schools. Directors moving from school to school have access to all the materials stored on their page where ever they set up their next program. No more carrying around disks, jump drives, etc.
7. Used as your default browser homepage, MS serves to give you the quickest access to daily routine band director tasks. Hopefully you have made suggestions for content on the main page to make your job more efficient.
8. Saves time in searching the internet. Directors who find useful things all upload them here to MS so that all of us can use the materials in our programs. Searching google is great for some things, however all of us working to narrow down the best of the best works for everyone in our profession.
9. You get out of it what you put into it. Uploading and collaborating helps everyone stay in touch with the latest trends and discussions amongst band directors.
10. Remember, the links on the main page are not just links. When you go to print say "emergency lesson plans" you are not just getting one set of emergency lesson plans, but rather ALL of the submitted emergency lesson plans submitted by ALL of the middle school band directors. These are tested and you get to pick through them and print the ones that suit your program. Don't forget to load up yours in the forums and it will be transferred to the main page PDF stack.
11. Fastest free music references on the web. All on your main page. Bookmark it! Music dictionary that talks to you and plays examples. Free music theory software. (This has been part of the curriculum at my school for 6 years now, never bought a book!)
12. Look at curriculum from other Nations! This can be an eye-opener for those American teachers teaching British music or Asian music. Directors from these areas are members and willing to help, not to mention main page links to purely educational sites with international offerings.

1. Send students to video labs to watch instructional videos. Directors have even included worksheets for additional educational reinforcement. Students come back with worksheets finished as they can watch the videos (most under 5 minutes) several times for content. Videos are not blocked because they do not necessarily come from YouTube.
2. Directors can play examples of pieces from composers who have uploaded their favorite versions of their works. This is cool!
3. Directors can look for new literature by clicking on the collaborative music lists. This is the only place on the web that directors can analyze a piece while listening to it and comparing it with other pieces in the same grade level. Not only that, but the list is collaborative, meaning that only member submissions appear in these lists. The more votes a piece gets, the higher it's ranking in that grade level. No commercial involvement here, just raw data from the professionals on the front lines!
4. Free literature. If you need free quality literature, it is here. If you find free quality literature then let us know via the forums and it will be added immediately to the free area and an announcement will appear in the "Latest Activity" section of MS. This way, if one member finds it, everyone has immediate access to it for quick downloads.
5. Great new ideas show up in the sponsored links area. Supporting the sponsors insures that this site will go on in perpetuity. No major University needed!
6. Directors save money for their programs by networking together and communicating regarding guest artists and conductors. If a program in Florida is bringing in a conductor from Maryland, other schools can see this and get in on the deal, thus defraying travel and hotel costs for ALL schools wishing to benefit. See the Blog on guest artists.
7. Educational signage for your band room. Directors visit other band rooms and think, "Man, I wish I had that poster or that sign." Here, directors upload everything that deals with band and everyone has access to this. This is the very spirit of collaboration. No sifting through junk on search engines, just pure band director stuff.
8. Tune your band files on the main page. Pure tuning -vs- tempered tuning sound files to have your students sing, play and tune to by ear. Major keyboard manufacturers want upwards of $800 for a keyboard that does this for you, we offer it for free!
9. Discuss everything in the forums. Every band director is used to being a "solo act" and feeling that the world is on their shoulders, carving out a program by themselves on a day in day out basis. Collaboration changes this in that you can bounce ideas off of other professionals in both private (by "colleaguing" them) or on their walls.
10. Start All-District or All-County programs in your area by using the materials provided by Building programs is easier than ever and less work for directors. Be more efficient and productive while offering music students a chance to really shine at the district or State level.
11. Send students to either free music theory site for practice or testing on most any theory consideration at any level.
12. Meet and get to know composers here. Listen to their music here. See what they are working on here. Ask questions here. Get thoughtful program notes for their pieces... from them! Here.

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Comment by Russ Weaver on April 19, 2009 at 8:38pm


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