Giving back and inspiring is important to me. I need meaning. I need to feel worth something. I need to feel like I'm contributing to the betterment of what's to come. My why is to effect the world in a positive way through music. You can see it in every move I make. When I first began teaching, my friend and colleague, Amy, began calling me Mr. G, so that's what students know me as.
In 2002, I told a UNT secretary my background and she said, "you'll never succeed in the College of Music." I enrolled immediately. After studying music at the University of North Texas with a concentration on classical voice, I graduated Cum Laude 3 years later. Since 2005, I've taught between 600 and 700 kids a week, Kindergarten through 5th grade, at the same elementary school. Regardless of how long I've been teaching, there are days I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Other days, I feel like a superhero that's contributing to progression. It makes me feel as bipolar as Texas weather at times, but teachers are patient and persistent fighters.
My Momma says music saved my life. Depression and darkness had a vice grip on me when I was growing up. Writing, recording, and performing gave me something to focus on, which worked as therapy. I'm a believer in the power of it. That's why I pass it on.
If you'd like to keep up with what I'm doing in the education world, you can find me here...
Last performance of the 2021-2022 school year with my Mission Musician students. This is 4th and 5th graders on xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels.
Beginning with a crossover pattern, then doing our versions of "Astronaut in the Ocean" and "Chicken Wing."
The year 2020's been a wild one. Since I began my teaching career in 2005, I haven't been away from my students for this long. The week that our kids came back for face-to-face instruction, I wanted to do a fun song that reminds them how important masks will be, but also how our intentions haven't changed.
This custom song was written during the COVID-19 shutdown of public schools. Educators were immediately expected to transform their entire way of teaching. Google Hangouts were a daily thing for students, teachers, and administrators. The purpose of this song was to help remind students (and teachers) of some basic rules for their hangouts in a goofy way.
After finishing the song, I reached out to my amazing elementary music colleagues to send me video clips to illustrate the content.
There's so much more to hip hop than what kids are typically exposed to, so I invited a few friends out to represent for the culture. Instead of having 5th graders perform this year, I wanted to give them an experience. We discussed several topics, including the positive effects that hip hop has had in each of their lives. Huge shout out to Ctrl-V, DJ Case, and Muenster for volunteering their time to come hang with our students and expose them to a layer below the surface.
Teachers are responsible for receiving a certain amount of professional development and training every year. For technology credit, our district used to offer something called the Zombie Project. It was named that because you had to film, edit, and submit an educational video within a 24 hour period. There were restrictions and limitations, but you ended up staying up the entire 24 hours. We received a 1st place award for this.
This is Mission Musician, my auditioned pitched percussion ensemble of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders from 2017. I wrote this original composition after my grandmother passed away, so it has a special place in my heart. Two sections, four parts, and these brave students performed in front of 650 people.
My 3rd graders performing "Find Your Pulse" during the 2014-2015 school year. Over the years, I've noticed several connections between the human body and musical terms - that's what inspired the song entirely. This chant can be used to help describe rondo form (ABACA) or to explain song structure (Chorus - Verse 1 - Chorus - Verse 2 - Chorus).
Another one of those Zombie Technology Projects. We filmed, edited, and submitted this educational video within a 24 hour period. Had a blast making fun of ourselves.