The Music Ed Mentor Podcast

A podcast for music educators

The Music Ed Mentor Podcast, hosted by Elisa Jones, is a podcast about the challenges -- and solutions -- that music teachers encounter in their every day lives. Episodes feature a variety of guest educators who offer tips to fellow teachers. The Music Ed Mentor Podcast is sponsored by SmartMusic.

All Episodes

In this interview with Steve Giddings, we address some of the most overlooked questions in music education like why are we insisting on continuing to teach one type of musical notation, when there are many other types available for students to use? Why are we teaching the great composers when they weren’t even the popular musicians of their time, rather the music of the socially elite? Why have we so often said that sight reading is the truest test of musical skill and downplayed the ability of students to play by ear? Which is truly the test of musicianship?

Oct 27

1 hr 1 min

My outstanding guests, Kat Reinhart and Sarah Gulish, talk about why songwriting isn’t always part of our core curriculum, how it aligns with the curriculum that we do have, how to fit it into our lives, and how to overcome our inhibitions and become the songwriters we always wanted to be.

Oct 21

44 min 28 sec

This episode talks about social justice—issues with race, repertoire challenges, and more. Some listeners may be uncomfortable, but I urge you to embrace discomfort as a symptom of change, and in this case, I believe it is positive change.

Aug 18

37 min 55 sec

Many of our educator friends have noticed how their students have fallen away—not connecting in the ways we’re used to. How can we reconnect with these students, and more importantly, help them connect with returning and new students, too?

Aug 12

51 min 44 sec

Remember how we did that long year of remote teaching, where we all used a bunch of online teaching tools and such? After all that, you still may not be sure which tools to keep, or if there’s one that does something better, or if there is still an undiscovered tool out there that will make your life easier. Wouldn't it be nice to have an educational technologist to just… tell you? That’s exactly what you get with this episode: a list of essential tools—not for creating music, but for helping you be a more efficient, focused, and happier educator yourself.

Aug 5

49 min 12 sec

Today we’re pulling another pre-pandemic recording out from the archives for you to enjoy. With in-person classes imminent, I want to share with you this discussion I had with my dear friend, Lori Schwartz Reichl. She is a master of classroom management, and in this episode we talk about how to set up your classroom for success and how to create a plan to manage student behaviors.

Jul 15

1 hr 11 min

I hope that you’re in a good place to sit, relax, and enjoy this episode because this discussion with Alex Shapiro is one that I will never forget!In this episode we talk about life, finding meaning, living with passion, the Creative Repertoire Initiative (which, if you haven’t heard of this, is going to make your whole year right now!), and how you can change your perspectives about this whole new digital realm that we’ve discovered.

Jul 6

48 min 44 sec

In this episode of Music Ed Mentor, host Elisa Janson Jones is joined by Dr. Scott Edgar to discuss the after-effects of this last pandemic year in teaching, and what we can do next to ensure that we come back strong when we get our students back in the classroom.

Jun 4

39 min 41 sec

I’m sure you’ve heard that there’s a lot of government funding out there for schools! In this episode, I bring in my friend Mike Kamphuis, Managing Director of the Division of Education at Conn Selmer, who has been working for more than a decade to help schools get more funding. We’ll take you through the steps you need to take to access these funds for your program—no fundraising or grant-writing needed.

May 27

31 min 53 sec

This episode fulfills a request from so many listeners—to bring on exemplary teachers who have been “boots on the ground” in the classroom over the past year, during the pandemic. So today I interview my friend Steve Graves, a composer and arranger with more than two decades of teaching in middle school band who has truly embraced what is possible teaching in the online space.

May 7

48 min 11 sec

In this episode, I spoke with Jeremy Ulrich, Senior Division Director of Bands at Milton Hershey School in PA, about creating a classroom culture—which we should be revisiting now! We talk through what we need to be doing to establish rapport, set up our classrooms for success, and to have standards for classroom management. These are all great things to start planning as we look forward to the next school year. We have an opportunity now to build back stronger and better than ever!

Apr 23

46 min 20 sec

Have you ever debated changing careers? I’m a prime example of someone who loved teaching, would happily go back to teaching, but took a great leap of faith to refocus my career on what I’ve viewed as a more impactful personal mission. You shouldn’t have to start back at the beginning of your bachelor’s degree to find a job to match your skill set—there are lots of ways to use your education and music background, and this episode will cover many of them.

Mar 24

41 min 45 sec

As music educators, so much of what we tend to focus on stems from ensemble performances, sometimes neglecting what music education can and should be for our students in the process. We’ve measured ourselves by concert performances and adjudicators scores instead of what we should be focused on: creating passionate musicians.

Feb 26

47 min 58 sec

How do we make students show up, do the work, and follow through? What’s the difference between being special and being significant? How can we get back to loving our work, when our work feels so different from what we wanted to get into? How can we be more resilient?

Jan 28

40 min 10 sec

Let’s talk about the elephant in the virtual classroom: student engagement. We’ve heard about students quitting music for a variety of reasons, but the truth is if they are still loving music then they will either not quit, or if they do, they will come back.

Jan 8

45 min 55 sec

Just as the times are so different right now, we have to flip things on their head and talk about the other side of things. In this episode, we’re going to talk about some counter-intuitive approaches to battling those feelings of anxiety, stress, and burnout that you may be experiencing.

Nov 2020

27 min

This episode is all about your students. As much as we, as teachers, need help and advice, I think we can agree our students need help too. How can we create a culture around our music program, no matter what the situation looks like?

Oct 2020

55 min 37 sec

In this episode, I am so pleased to bring on a district fine arts administrator with a long career in music education, arranging, and composition. Pete Hazzard is passionate about helping music teachers (and all teachers) really learn how to better collaborate and communicate. We're going to share some tips for how to work more effectively within your schools, how to build rapport with your co-workers, and all of the many rules you have to follow to keep students safe.

Sep 2020

37 min 8 sec

Today’s episode addresses performance—not just standing on a stage or playing for a camera, but the little performances we have to do all of the time, this ubiquitous visibility in the digital world that is far beyond what we experience in the in-person world.

Sep 2020

50 min 38 sec

Dr. Matthew Arau is the founder of Upbeat Global, an organization that aims to inspire positivity through leadership and music throughout the United States and around the world. He joins me in today’s discussion as we share what helps us weather our storms with a peaceful heart, and to find joy every day.

Aug 2020

39 min 56 sec

The secret to happiness can be hard to uncover amidst the uncertainty of this back to school season. So for this episode, I sat down for a candid, casual conversation with my good friend Michelle Rose to talk about just that.

Aug 2020

36 min 5 sec

Today I bring on Bob Morrison—one of the most influential people in music education—to join me for this conversation about the future. We’ll discuss the data being collected now that will help us make smart decisions for us and our students. If you want to know what the future of music education should be and will be, this is the episode for you.

Jul 2020

46 min 31 sec

I bring on the formidable and inspiring Christine Bass—one of the most prolific adjudicators and clinicians in the coral world (and for good reason). If you're looking for practical ways to improve yourself as a singer, and improve your students as singers, you won't find a more practical approach than what she will provide in this episode.

Jun 2020

46 min 8 sec

For today’s episode I brought in my friend Shawna Long, an award-winning music technology teacher who recently transitioned from teaching middle school music technology classes to teaching elementary music. A teacher of her caliber so celebrated for her successes could probably have chosen any position that she wanted. Today we'll explore why we might transition between jobs and how we can do it most successfully.

Jun 2020

42 min 18 sec

This week’s episode recaps a webinar I recently hosted that wasn't really a webinar at all! Not a lesson, not a lecture—it was a work session. I brought on my friend and colleague Jessica Peresta to help walk us through exactly how to plan for next school year—no matter what the situation will be.

May 2020

1 hr 48 min

In this episode I welcome my dear friend Mia Ibrahim to discuss how to know when to be transparent with your students about who you are outside of the music classroom, and how this can affect your relationships with your students, your colleagues, your administration, and the community.

May 2020

47 min 11 sec

My goal in this episode is to try offering a handful of answers and a whole lot of validation towards whatever you are feeling right now. Whether you’re feeling frustration, silliness, joy, gratitude, anger, or fear—whatever you’re feeling—it is validated.

Apr 2020

24 min 4 sec

In just a matter of a few weeks, the whole world has changed. It is with mixed feelings that I welcome our new reality. Change is never easy, and exponential change is hardest of all. Our teacher hearts ache for connection with our students.

Apr 2020

52 min 46 sec

As a member of the greater music education community, chances are you’ve come across the topic of programming for diversity in one way or another. Maybe you’re already programming with diversity in mind. Maybe you’re just getting started. Or maybe you’re asking, “What’s the big deal?”

Apr 2020

49 min

This week’s episode addresses the relationships we all have with administrators. As music educators, we have a responsibility to demonstrate the value of the arts and what music does for the greater school community. This can sometimes feel like an uphill battle when trying to gain admin support. What is it exactly that they want from us?

Feb 2020

50 min 32 sec

In this episode, I turn over the hosting reins to my friend John Mlynczak live from the exhibit hall at the Texas Music Educators Association annual conference. I’ll be honest, I much prefer being the host and instigator, asking the tough questions, and it was a big change to be in the spotlight. I hope you all enjoy this inside look into the Music Ed Mentor Podcast.

Feb 2020

30 min 20 sec

In this episode we’ll give you some very much needed clarity about copyright for music educators. We’ll share some horror stories in this episode, but don’t worry. Today’s guest is arranger, composer, conductor, publisher, and copyright expert Steve Martin. Steve is going to help us with decisions surrounding real-life situations: streaming our performances, copying our folios, arranging our own pop tunes, or burning CD’s. Not only will we cover what NOT to do, we’ll also learn how to get the permissions to do all that we want and more - legally.

Feb 2020

1 hr 4 min

Today’s episode is a story about a boy who had all of the advantages in life, but still had a hard path. Jake Douglass, today’s guest, was raised by affluent parents, and was introduced to music at a very young age. Jake’s story and transformation have lessons that apply to all of us. I’m excited to share his views on healthy passion, focus, self-awareness, and helping students to have transformative experiences. However, I also need to offer a COA. You should also know Jake’s story includes references to drug abuse, possibly sex, and incarceration. If that’s not your thing, or if you have little ones in the room, you may want to skip this episode or put in headphones.

Jan 2020

58 min 42 sec

One of the smartest things I did in my pre-music teaching life was to work at a music store. I cannot stress enough how important it is for educators to have knowledge of the industry, and to help you gain that knowledge, I have brought on one of my favorite friends, a mentor, educator, music publisher, entrepreneur, marketing guru, and outstanding conference presenter, John Mlynczak.

Jan 2020

54 min 34 sec

I know exactly how busy you are right now with the holiday season upon us. Which is why this episode is short, sweet, and to the point. We’re going to talk about some top tips for encouraging your students to practice over the holiday breaks. SmartMusic is one great tool, and to help me come up with even more ideas for how to encourage students to have fun practicing over the break, I turned to two resources: Lou Ann Pope, education specialist for Tonara, and some of our band director friends from Facebook.

Dec 2019

21 min 43 sec

This episode is about something that I feel, and I”m sure YOU feel, quite poignantly this time of year: inadequacy. For this episode I brought in the man trademarked the term “Comparanoia”, Davide DiGiorgio. Davide is fresh of a wildly popular TEDx talk where he shares how to be Unapologetic about just being YOU.

Dec 2019

56 min 50 sec

I recorded this episode while attending the National Association for Music Education conference in November, and the best part was getting to meet so many people! I met music educators from across the country. I met parents of all national honor ensemble students. I reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in months. I heard musical performances that made me cry. And I spoke to attendees about their conference experience.

Dec 2019

14 min 45 sec

Today I’ve brought on one of the world’s foremost experts in a truly relevant topic in music education today: Social Emotional Learning. Dr. Edgar presents internationally on music education and social emotional learning and literally wrote the book AND the workbook “Music Education and Social Learning.”

Nov 2019

1 hr 6 min

My guest this week is Gavin Tabone, an elementary music teacher who has created an after-school choir that has received world-wide acclaim. All of our groups, choir or otherwise, could benefit from a little bit of this kind of magic, right? As your group gets more attention, you are establishing your own advocacy platform. Everyone loves being on the winning team that gets all the love. And in this episode, Gavin is going to tell us how to get it.

Oct 2019

46 min 20 sec

Our guest this episode is Wendy Brentnall-Wood, author of the book "Music School Success." Whether you're running a music school or teaching a few lessons on the side, we have tips for you. We’ll share ideas for how to recruit ideal students, stay organized, get paid, stay on the good side of the IRS, and more.

Oct 2019

44 min 40 sec

Have you ever wished you could just wave a magic wand and have someone give you everything you’ve ever wanted for your music program? What would you ask for? What would you do? If resources weren’t an issue...what could you do? In this episode, we talk about how to make your dreams a reality. To help me cover the ground between advocacy, PR, and business management, I’ve brought in an expert on all of the above, Tiffany Kerns, executive director of the CMA Foundation.

Oct 2019

58 min 27 sec

Every music teacher I’ve ever met has had a horrible-day experience where they thought something like: I love my career but I hate my job. I love my students, but I hate teaching. I love music, but my administration is driving me crazy. Today my guest is Leslie Moffat, author of "I Love My Job But It’s Killing Me." We discuss how you can shift your life and your teaching to create a better experience for yourself, and for your students. Best of all, it’s simpler than you think.

Oct 2019

58 min 7 sec

Performing in an honor band is a wonderful adventure. While every student should experience the joy of collaborating with a new group of musicians in this way, several barriers, including travel, can prevent them from doing so. Until now. Learn how your students can participate in a virtual honor band, entirely free of charge!

Sep 2019

13 min 17 sec

Burnout is a popular online topic in music education today. In this episode, instead of offering suggestions on how to avoid burnout, I offer some solid tips on how to make sure you won’t want to come back to teaching next year.

Sep 2019

39 min 45 sec

Years ago I did some survey work to discover the biggest cause of stress in the lives of music educators. The answer? Funding. One way to get funding is to apply for awards. Joining us this week is my friend Juliana Lee, who actually designed the award application for Give a Note. Juliana shares ideas on what makes a winning application and describes common mistakes to avoid.

Sep 2019

35 min 40 sec

This week my guest is Jason Heath, host of Contrabass Conversations podcast. We touch on hobbies, failures, successes, how to keep energized in your career, and many other topics. For me, however, this episode all came down to one lesson: you get to create your own life.

Aug 2019

46 min 29 sec

This week Dale Duncan shares successful classroom management strategies he has discovered over more than 20 years of experience as a choral director. You may know Dale as “Mr. D” from “In the Middle with Mr. D.” He is also a 2018 Top 25 GRAMMY Music Educator Award finalist and the creator of the S-Cubed sight-singing program.

Aug 2019

1 hr 7 min

Can we practice some of the same concepts that minimalist gurus teach, both in our classrooms and in our lives? If we can, how could our practice as educators improve? What areas should look at first for minimizing? To help, I asked my friend Paige Bell (host of the Simple Music Teaching blog) to chat with me about becoming a minimalist music teacher, which is a passion we share.

Jul 2019

48 min 26 sec

Today we talk about something that can make or break your music classes: at-home practice. How do you get kids to stay engaged enough that they want to practice at home? How do you track or grade it when they do? To help me answer these questions, I’ve brought on Dr. Giovanna Cruz, the education services manager at MakeMusic and an experienced musician, private teacher, and public school orchestra director. She shares actionable advice from not only based on her own teaching experience, but also from the many teachers she’s met and worked with in her work at MakeMusic.

Jul 2019

38 min 40 sec

Barbara Freedman is here to help us navigate the tech that teaches music and creates composers and musicians and performers alike. This may just be the way you reach the other 80% of the students in your school, those students who aren’t in band, orchestra, or choir.

Jun 2019

52 min 35 sec