Classroom Music

Winter Conference 2023
Rochester, NY  Nov 30-Dec 3, 2023

Headliner: Jennifer Wassemiller

Jennifer Wassemiller has extensive experience as a performer, an accompanist, and a teacher of all ages. Currently, she serves as an Adjunct Professor of Music Education at Friends University, in addition to teaching in the Wichita Public Schools. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Music in Education from Friends University, her Master of Music from Emporia State University, her Kodály certification from Wichita State University, and she is in the final stage of completing her Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Ms. Wassemiller taught studio lessons and K-12 music in Kansas schools for over 20 years, and she has presented at local, state, national, and international music educator conferences. In addition to being active within the Organization of American Kodály Educators and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, Ms. Wassemiller has held leadership positions within the Kansas Music Educators Association, Plains State Kodály Organization, and Mu Phi Epsilon.  She also served as a Music Education Ambassador to China with People to People in 2009. More recently, Ms. Wassemiller was on the faculty of the Kodály Summer Institute at the University of Central Missouri in 2017 and presented at the International Society for Music Education in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2018.

Her research interests are in fostering diverse and inclusive music experiences in the general music classroom in addition to the influence of undergraduate teacher preparation and mentoring on the self-efficacy on beginning music teachers.

Early Childhood/Elementary Classroom Music Sessions

Friday, Dec 1, 2023

1:15-2:15 PM We Got the Beat: Body Percussion Strategies to Address Creativity (Jennifer Wassemiller)

Music-induced emotion is a powerful tool that we can use to condition students to associate music instruction activities with enjoyment and emotional reward. Body percussion, one of the most ancient and universal musical practices, can be SO much more than well-rehearsed choreography. By encouraging full engagement of physical and cognitive skills, attendees will leave this session with another tool in their teaching toolbox and a new outlook on some of their standard teaching repertoire.

2:50 – 3:50PM With Voice & Heart: Strategies to Empower Multilingual Students (Jennifer Wassemiller)

The implementation of strategies for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learning within the Kodály curriculum allows English language learners to succeed while celebrating their own culture. In addition to facilitating academic language acquisition for CLD learners, music educators can continue to foster an environment of inclusivity that further embraces the diversity of ALL students while enhancing their creativity through intercultural understanding.

7:15-8:15 PM Making Cultural Connections through Song, Movement, and Listening! (Dr. Rene Boyer)

This session will explore folksongs, rhythms, movement and listening activities that can help students form connections to other cultures throughout our world.

Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

8:15-9:15 AM Moving beyond Multiculturalism: CReaTing a Culturally Relevant Kodaly (Jennifer Wassemiller)

Classroom Culture is SO much more than country of origin and ethnicity, so how can using the Kodály methodology foster an environment of inclusivity that further embraces the diversity of our students? This session will explore the nature of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT), how the implementation of CRT moves beyond the broad spectrum of multiculturalism, and the implications within the Kodály curriculum. In valuing the uniqueness that each student brings to the classroom, CRT further engages students in their learning in addition to providing enriching opportunities for student ownership and creation with the music classroom.

9:30-10:30 AM Improvisation in the Early Childhood Classroom (Gina Costanza)

This session is devoted to helping teachers develop a brave space for early elementary students to improvise in the music classroom. Come see how this teacher incorporates improvisation in an inclusive music classroom. Participants will leave with activities that can be incorporated into their curriculum when they return to school.

10:45-11:45 AM Be All That You Can Be: Cognitive Strategies to Promote Students’ Musical Growth  (Jennifer Wassemiller)

Our goal, as music educators, is to provide students with joyful and meaningful music experiences that lead to a lifetime of music-making. A better understanding of how the musical mind develops can prompt teachers to make learning activities more musically ‘real-world’ and intrinsically motivating for young people. Additionally, attention to various learning theories can ‘pave the way for direct intuition’ as specified by Kodály. This session will explore how the Kodály methodology can enrich musical skill development in literacy, in creativity, and in expressivity while fostering a growth mindset in our student musicians. Attendees will participate in sample experiences designed to engage students through the application of conditioning, motivation, and the culture of the classroom.

1:15 -2:15 PM  Illuminating the Schulwerk (Karin Puffer)

Let’s spotlight Orff pedagogy through playful exploration of characteristics of the Schulwerk. We’ll utilize picture books and folk dancing to shine a light on lesson ideas that are kid focused. This session will spark possibilities of what is possible for your students. Discover ways to brighten up your music room.

2:30-3:30 PM I See, I Move: Creative Movement in Early Childhood  (Sam Webber)

In this session, we will explore how to incorporate creative movement in PK-2 settings. Using art, poetry, and children’s literature, we will explore a variety of music and movement concepts include space, awareness of body, time, and force. Attendees are encouraged move in a way that is comfortable for them.

3:45 -4:45 PM Music Literacy in an Urban Setting (Dr. Rene Boyer)

The clinician will use the basic tenets of Kodàly to show how this approach can lead to musical literacy in an urban setting.


Secondary Classroom Music Sessions

Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

4:45-5:45 PM Drum Sets for Everyone! (John Beel)

With some extra chairs and a few things from the hardware store, you can have a classroom set of drum kits. Whether you are doing modern band, rock history, or looking for authentic rhythm activities, this workshop is for you. Join us for some drum set therapy.

4:45-5:45 PM Engaging All Learners: Tools and Techniques to Teach Different Types of Learners in the Music Classroom (Brian Wagner-Yeung)

In this session, we will explore how to incorporate creative movement in PK-2 settings. Using art, poetry, and children’s literature, we will explore a variety of music and movement concepts include space, awareness of body, time, and force. Attendees are encouraged move in a way that is comfortable for them.

7:15-8:15 PM Uke Can Jam: Fostering Student Voice and Choice With Ukulele (Kris Gilbert)

BRING A UKE! This session is for all levels of ukulele players. We will learn how to create connections with our students via popular music and ukulele. Through active participation you will learn how to utilize traditional and non-traditional scaffolding and differentiation techniques to engage all levels of learners.

Friday, Dec 1, 2023

8:15-9:15 AM Teaching Guitar Authentically to Promote Lifelong Learning (Steve Giddings)

Explore the unique educational properties of the guitar and learn authentic strategies and useful skills for promoting lifelong learning. Create an inclusive environment and inspire music learning in your students. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced, there’s something for everyone in this session. Join in and bring your own guitar!

9:30-10:30 AM Creating Affirming Spaces at Every Level, Part 1 (Ær Queen)

Affirming transgender students has been proven to save lives, so providing affirming and inclusive spaces is imperative; as well as advocating for our students through policies at the school, district, and even state levels. Learn from researched best practice and our own experiences as practicing transgender educators.

10:45-11:45 PM Winning Together: Using Games to Foster a Strong Classroom Community (John Beel)

You and your students will enjoy these games that build teamwork and communication skills while helping students make connections to their classmates. Get your students moving with activities to improve focus and teach resiliency. Learn how games can help your students be better musicians and better people.

1:15 -2:15 PM Creating Affirming Spaces at Every Level, Part 2 (Ær Queen)

Further examine affirming classroom practices, creating safe spaces, and advocating for students at the school, district, and even state level. Attendees will examine real-world situations, and work together to brainstorm ideas and solutions with the guidance of practicing transgender educators. Everyone, especially music teachers, can work together to create change.

Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

9:30-10:30 AM Project-Based Learning for Middle School General Music (Bryan Heaton)

Increase engagement in your middle school GM classes by incorporating cross-curricular long-term projects. Standards-based project ideas will be discussed and demonstrated, including performance through production. Participants will have an opportunity to view projects from the student perspective.

We welcome session proposal submissions for future conferences!  To download a proposal form, click the link below:

Call for Proposals revised 2020

The goals of the CMC are:

  • to promote the importance and value of classroom music in music programs and schools of New York State
  • to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas and the development of activities
  • to coordinate and support the efforts and activities of classroom music teachers and students
  • to improve the quality, scope and effectiveness of classroom music instruction.

The NYSSMA Classroom Music Committee continually seeks to develop ideas, programs, and activities which will help teachers of classroom music improve the quality, scope and effectiveness of their instruction. The committee continually promotes the importance and value of classroom music by encouraging and supporting educators to select materials and repertoire that provide the following for their students: a mirror of themselves and learning community, a window to see other perspectives and cultures, and a door to engage in experiences beyond their own classroom. The committee strives to provide membership with the tools and resources to evaluate current classroom music repertoire in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. (adopted as part of the NYSSMA BEDR position statement in March 2023)

We suggest the following resource “Songs With a Questionable Past” to help you evaluate your current classroom repertoire:


The CMC meets its goals through activities including…

Exemplary classroom music sessions for Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School, and High School music teachers at Winter Conference and Summer Conferences

Statewide series of Regional Workshops and other in-service opportunities for teachers on important classroom music topics;

Classroom Music PEAK Festivals and other opportunities for New York State students;

Collaborative work with the State Education Department on initiatives related to standards, assessment, and resources for classroom music instruction.

For further information and assistance, please contact the Chairperson, Kerry Mero, or a member of the Classroom Music Committee.

Classroom Music Committee

What Resources are Available from the CMC?

Remote Music Teaching/Learning Resources

In an effort to provide classroom music teachers with some useful resources for remote music teaching/learning during the COVID-19 crisis, the Classroom Music Committee is compiling a list of links.  Many of these links contain additional resource lists.  This document will be updated as new resources are found, so please check back for the most recent version.  If you have other links to recommend, please email them to

Please click the link below for the document  (updated 10/8/20)

Remote-Music-Teaching-Resources-updated Oct 2020



  • Assessment in Classroom Music
  • Classroom Music PEAK Festival Handbook
  • Conference Workshop Proposal Application Form
  • Consultant services- providing clinicians by area of expertise

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