Music Room Podcast

Mark Leehy

Help us keep the music going! Welcome to The Music Room, the podcast dedicated to keeping music alive in primary and elementary schools throughout the world. I’m Mark Leehy and I’m passionate about ensuring that schools provide an environment where children are given an opportunity to foster a love for music and a chance to express it.Together with my guests, we’re here to help teachers and parents by sharing information, tips and techniques from music education experts and practicing music teachers. So, let’s get into it...The Music Room Podcast is proudly sponsored by Bushfire Press. Contact me at

All Episodes

Tips for music teachers on covid-19 and remote learningWith Mark Leehy, Publisher, Bushfire this episode, Mark previews our free remote learning lessons and plays a sample from the Listening Room remote learning podcast for children and parents. www.TheListeningRoom.netKevin O’Mara then joins him in an improvisation of hand-washing songs and an elbow-coughing game. This episode is rounded off with some useful websites and resources for remote learning.Episode HighlightsRemote learningBushfire Press ‘Music Room’ and ‘Listening Room’ lessonsHand washing songsElbow cough gameKatie Wardrobe from Midnight MusicMrs B music roomInsert LearningLinksFind all the links, lyrics and support material mentioned in this podcast on the special web page for this discussions and info, visit the podcast facebook address us directly with questions, suggestions or hints &

Apr 2020

13 min 34 sec

In this episode, I chat with Tamara O'Brien about the Orff Approach to music education. Tamara explains the approach and we include links to videos which show Tamara using the Approach with children. She demonstrates in these videos how to put together units of work for lower, middle and upper primary/elementary students.Episode Highlights·      Tamara’s Orff journey with Christoph Maubach, Richard Gill, Stephen Callantropio in the USA and the Orff Institute in Salzburg.·      Orff’s books – elemental music.·      Learning through exploring and creation.·      Inclusivity – Orff in the multi-ability classroom.·      Developing a unit of work.·      The portability of Orff into any culture.·      The pentatonic scale·      The flexibility of the Orff approach.About TamaraTamara O’Brien is an award-winning composer for the screen, an engaging educator and workshop presenter. She has published 4 books (Bushfire Press), and taught in institutions across Sydney and the UK, including the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Open Academy and University of Exeter. Her work focuses on the Orff Schulwerk Approach.TakeawaysVideos of Tamara using the Orff approach with children.Verdi's recipe for ham shoulder.For all this and discussions, contacts, questions and info go

Feb 2020

15 min 51 sec

In this episode I chat with Katie Wardrobe from Midnight Music. Katie shares her 3 favourite apps for music teachers and explains how they can be used in the classroom. She also provides free lesson plans.Episode HighlightsThe website, Groove Pizza (online drum sequencer)The app, FlipgridThe app, WakeletMozart’s recipe for Liver DumplingsFor discussions and info, visit address us directly with questions, suggestions or hints & tips: mark@bushfirepress.comKatie Wardrobe is a music technology trainer, consultant, blogger and podcaster who is passionate about helping music teachers through her business Midnight Music ( She runs hands-on workshops, presents regularly at conferences in Australia and overseas and she offers online training and support to music teachers all over the world through her music technology professional development online community - the Midnight Music Community. Her workshops and courses focus on incorporating technology into the music curriculum through a range of creative projects.  Katie has been Keynote speaker at the Australian Society for Music Education National Conference and the Music Education New Zealand National Conference.Katie is the author of the keyboard and technology program for middle school students titled Studio Sessions (published by MusicEDU).  She is known as an expert in the practical integration of iPads in music education and in 2014 published iPad Projects for the Music Classroom - a collection of step-by-step creative projects for primary and middle-school students.  In the Midnight Music Community - an online professional development learning space especially for music teachers using technology - was launched in 2016 and has more than 500 members from around the world.  Katie is also the host of the Music Tech Teacher podcast which was launched in early 2017

Feb 2020

25 min

In this episode I chat with Peter Combe (who has just been awarded the OAM) about his beginnings as a primary classroom teacher, his advice on what makes a great children's song, his work over his 38 year career as composer and performer of songs for both children and adults and his views on primary music and singing.Episode highlights include:Peter’s primary classroom and music teacher origins.Hosting Music Time in the UK.Why we still need such a program.What makes a successful children’s song and why Peter’s songs have achieved longevity.The origin of Spaghetti Bolognaise.Peter’s 18+ concerts (Big Kids Night Out).Peter’s Adelaide Fringe shows.Using elemental musical cocepts in children’s songs.Children’s singing keys.The importance of singing for children.About PeterPeter Combe started as a primary school classroom teacher in 1969, moving shortly after into music teaching. By the late 70s he was writing and performing songs for both children and adults and decided to move the family to England to see where his career might take him.In England he presented the classic BBC school music program Music Time which was aired also in Australia by the ABC. Returning to Australia, Peter pioneered the recording of albums for children that consisted of new songs (rather than nursery rhymes and old favourites). He also pioneered the making of video clips for children – the first being Toffee Apple. His Radio National radio show Ticklepot was voted best children’s radio program in the world in New York 1991.Peter has performed in schools, pubs, clubs, concert halls, has sold out the Sydney Opera House (twice) and the Melbourne Concert Hall, has appeared at Carols in the Domain and other capital city Carols nights … and regularly performs his children’s songs in pubs full of adoring adults who turn up to sing along with the soundtrack of their childhood. Yet another first for children’s songs.Peter’s albums have won 3 ARIA awards, plus 7 gold and 3 platinum awards.And on Australia Day 2020, Peter was awarded the OAM. And deservedly so. He has elevated the status, not only of children’s songs, but also the importance of music in children’s lives and the importance of those who provide the music education.Peter made time in late 2019 to share his insights into children’s songs and music education. You’re going to enjoy listening to the man who gave us Mr Clicketty Cane, Toffee Apple, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Newspaper Mama, Christmas albums and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie the musical.Also in this episode:A recipe from film composer Ennio MorriconiA teaching tip video on storing music teaching resources from Alison Lunnon.

Feb 2020

21 min 31 sec

In this episode I chat with Lynne Bartlett about putting on a show with primary/elementary schools. Lynne has been involved in the writing of no fewer than 16 primary school shows and assorted plays and mini-musicals, as well as touring curriculum-based educational performances to schools. Lynne has  is a founder partner in Bushfire Press.  She holds an Associate Diploma in Speech & drama from Trinity College in the UK. Lynne has been working in primary schools since the Eighties and is still passionate and active, mentoring and team teaching with performing arts teachers, writing and, of course, helping schools put on concerts and shows.In this interview, Lynne walks us through the steps from deciding to do a school production to pulling up the curtain on opening night.Episode highlights: Why put on a show?Choosing a production.Forming a production team.Organising a venue.Auditions.Choreography.Rehearsals schedule.Working with grade teachers.Large schools.Number of performances.Student esteem through performance.HINTS & TIPSAlison Lunnon from Maryborough QLD shows some uses for bluetooth speakers in the music room:

Dec 2019

19 min 16 sec

In this episode I chat with Allison Cameron, who is completing a PhD at the University of Wollongong. Her research has looked at the effects of a children's music education program upon the language development of 4 and 5 year-olds. The music program is called Tuning In - it's part of the Shoalhaven Youth Orchestra, based in Nowra on the NSW south coast.Although Allison’s research focuses on preschool-aged children, there's so much relevance in it to music teaching in the early primary years. She would love to be able to communicate about her research and the wider benefits of well-structured and implemented music programs. Episode highlights: Allison’s research into the effects of a children’s music education program on language development  4 & 5 year olds.The ‘Tuning-In’ program in the shoalhaven area - to increase pool of students playing instruments (to join orchestra)Seeing language development problems in pre-school.Developing a way to research the effects of a music program on preschool children.4 preschools - two of which became ‘Tuning in’ schools.Testing for phonological awareness.Improvements in communication.Music making is a social practice and provides a framework for building relationships.Playing music in a group is the ultimate team sport and builds self-esteem.Telling stories with instruments.Babies, language and singing.HINTS & TIPS VIDEO:

Dec 2019

20 min 33 sec

Show Notes: In this episode I chat with Christoph Maubach, international lecturer, presenter and trainer in the Orff Schulwerk approach to music education. Christoph is also a freelance musician and composer and an author of several music and dance publications for children and teachers.Speaking to me from his home in New Zealand, he discussed his passion for ‘words and music’ - the way words can lead to music and composition, even for very young children.Our podcast home page is highlights: The main reason Christoph is attracted to the Orff Schulwerk approach to music education.How the Orff approach helps other areas of curriculum.What if there were a music education opportunity that would involve the combination of words, language/literacy, getting to know how words sound, playing with words, and at the same time learning aspects of music education?Creating a performance piece, through language, in 20-30 minutes.Using a small piece of poetry and developing it with percussion and voice.Giving the children permission to participate.Example: a poem about rain.Developing the text through student participation, with body percussion.Keep the text short.The printed word comes later.Exploring the feel and musicality of words.Some texts/poems already have an underlying beat/pulse and rhythmic qualities.Using phrases from a poem as a loop.Student writing - the haiku and its musical possibilities.Words can easily be made into music.Poem: ‘The wind makes lots of noises …’How many ways can we say the words?How can we graphically notate what we do with symbols?The teacher can provide a graphic score.The use of words in contemporary arts.Recipe: Tournedos Rossini A French steak dish, created for 19th century composer Gioachino Rossini.The dish comprises a beef tournedos (filet mignon), pan-fried in butter, served on a crouton, and topped with a hot slice of fresh whole foie gras briefly pan-fried at the last minute. The dish is garnished with slices of black truffle and finished with a Madeira demi-glace sauce. A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. Leopold StokowskiChristoph’s Orff resources with Music Room - published by Bushfire PressLook for the free activities! (Orff Beats)

Nov 2019

18 min 31 sec

In this episode, I chat to Tamara O’Brien, an award-winning composer, creative educator and teacher trainer for early childhood and primary music, dance and drama. She provides engaging and practical workshops for teachers and childhood carers through her company, Music For Children. Speaking to me from Frenchs Forest just north of Sydney, NSW, Tamara tells me how she uses puppets and props in the music room to help children emerge from their shell and grow with confidence, while learning at the same time. Episode highlights: How Tamara started her puppet journey - two former students inspired her use of puppetsHow ‘Sylvester the Sock’ was bornAudiation explained - the process of inner hearingHow Tamara uses audiation in her teachingTamara’s use of Magic Lips - something she picked up in one of her pre-schoolsOther daily items that can be used for teaching rhythmsHow Tamara uses buttons to teachHow Tamara uses ribbons to teachOther types of props Tamara makes out of everyday itemsBuilding her puppet collection - a 15+ years processAn example of Tamara’s dragon songWhy making eye contact with the child’s puppet, not the child, is important when interacting and teachingHow puppets can help inspire creativity and boost confidence in childrenShyness vs confidence - how Tamara deals with different characters and personalities in childrenTeaching in the UK and how children’s responses to puppets differWhy Tamara enjoys teaching with puppetsRecipe: James Morrison: Chermoula Chicken on a bed of cous cous with chilli JamQuote “If I were not a physicist I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” Albert EinsteinUseful Links:Tamara puppet activity video (free)-’s Orff resources (with free activities)  -’s downloadable Orff resources - O’Brien on LinkedIn - Music For Children Website - Mark@Bushfirepress.comBushfire Press website - Leehy LinkedIn - Press Facebook - Press Youtube - Press Twitter -

Nov 2019

18 min 5 sec

Cheryl’s biggest passion as a teacher is ‘Brain-based’ learning, actively engaging the whole child and bringing technology to the primary music classroom, in a meaningful and fun way. We talked a little about tech for music teachers and how to get the most out of readily available computer software in your music room on The Music Room Podcast...Cheryl was a classroom teacher first, then a music teacherAs well as being a school music teacher she has been working in Australia and NZ with EdNet (link below)The easiest place to start with tech in music classes is recording students to give them feedback or feedforwardUse the recordings, audio or video, to provide ‘evidence’ as recordings are more reliable than notesRecording allows you to be more present to the student’s work rather than assessing it as you goRecordings are also more meaningful for the students than notesAudacity (see link and tips below) or Quicktime on your computer can also be used to recordiPads or tablets are also suitable for recordingLabel recording files in a meaningful wayDrag or drop recordings into PowerPoint or Keynote to create a digital portfolio for students, maybe with a photo of the students work inserted or a rhythm pattern displayed of what they performedYou can also record directly into PowerPointPowerpoint is becoming the most commonly used toolTeachers Pay Teachers is a good resource for PowerPoint and other resources (see link below)Google Classroom (see link below), best used on Chrome browsers, is an education focussed version of GSuite (similar to Microsoft Office products but online)It houses and stores student work, allowing for easy marking on your laptopStudents can work on shared Google Slides documents (similar to PowerPoint)Google Classroom also integrates with Bandlab (see link below) Recipe Beer Soup (Leoš Janáček)Beer soup, you say? Though the dish may seem strange, it was favourite of Leoš Janáček from childhood. He recounted his preparation for beer soup in a letter to his fiancée, Zdenka Schulzova: “I did make a beer soup for myself the other day. Cooked the beer, beat one egg very foamy, threw in eight sugar cubes, and as the beer was cooking, poured in this egg batter. My God! From the first swallow I had a flashback of my mother and her beer soup.”Quote “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” - PlatoUseful Links:Chery’s website Mrs B Music Room - https://mrsbmusicroom.comCheryl Burgemeister on LinkedIn - Music EdNet - Audacity - Google Classroom - Teachers Pay Teachers - BandLab - Press - Bushfire Press Facebook Community (for discussions and info) - Mark Leehy Email - 

Nov 2019

17 min 4 sec

Music teachers thrive most when they network with other music teacher and share their challenges, experiences, tips and stories. One teacher who knows this better than most is Debbie O’Shea, a self-professed ‘Networking Queen’.Debbie is a Brisbane-based music teacher and the founder of Crescendo Music Education. After almost 40 years in the profession, Debbie says you can never stop learning. She doesn’t pretend to have all the answers and loves being a resource to help others find out what they need to know on their music teaching journey.Debbie shared why networking among music teachers is a great way to share, support and inspire each other. She also shared some of her favourite networking tips and ideas. Debbie had five reasons for becoming the Networking Queen but has since developed two more…Reason # 1 - Meeting the need to be sociable and to connect. This reduces feelings of isolation and creates opportunities to: find work (professional and voluntary); advance your career; find performance opportunities for yourself and/or your students; make contact with composers and/or conductors. You never know where connections might lead.Reason #2 -  Create a sense of belonging or ‘tribe’. This creates and builds relationships, both professional and personal.Reason #3 - Support. Networking allows you to find mentors and peers to help find solutions to specific problems.Reason #4 - Teaching ideas can be found and learned through networking with others.Reason #5 - Being in the company of others leads to increased motivation and inspirationThen she added a couple of extra reasons …Reason #6 - Personal development benefits arising from being with others include: Improved communications skills; discovery of relevant research; discovery of new areas to study; tolerance and patience; and vulnerability.Reason #7 - Networking provides opportunities to give through sharing and ‘paying forward’ which in turn can lead to collaboration opportunities.Debbie also shared her top ten tips for networking.Which you can listen to on the podcast. Useful LinksCrescendo Music - on YouTube - O’Shea on LinkedIn - Facebook Page on Twitter - Professional AssociationsKMEIA ASME ORFF Dalcroze ANCA Groups and PagesCrescendo Community: KMEIA QLD Page QLD  Discussion Group Music Teachers Group (over 30,000 members)

Oct 2019

38 min 2 sec

Welcome to the first episode of The Music Room Podcast where each week I, Mark Leehy, will be interviewing music education experts, practising teachers, and pretty much anyone who has something to tell us, or teach us, about the many facets of this amazing space.The purpose of The Music Room PodcastABC’s documentary series Don't Stop The MusicThe impact of Don’t Stop The Music, including 5,000 instruments donated for use in underprivileged schoolsBushfire Press’ Music Room programme. Twinkle Twinkle Rock Guitar (by Rob Fairbairn) and Guy Sebastian team upThe Music Room Podcast is born to help keep the music goingMusic is more than songs and instrumentsIt's also teaching approaches and techniques, goals and strategies, curriculum and cross curriculum possibilities and tips and tricksThe Music Room Community facebook page is a forum for the exchange of ideas and discussionBushfire Press has an open community Facebook page (see link below) and also some closed specialty groups. These are ideal places to ask questions, express and discuss opinions, and share information and tips and tricks. This podcast will cover a diverse set of topics including approaches and techniques such as ORFF and Kodály, vocal and choral and instrumental techniques, including the recorder and ukulele, boomwhackers and xylophones, and all manner of percussion, to name a fewWe'll also be addressing technology in the music room and following tertiary training, networking, and research We want your tips and tricks, and your suggestions for guests to interview, including you! Email me at might like to record your thoughts, your tips or your tricks on your phone or even film them. If so, simply send the files to the same email address please help us keep the music going by subscribing and sharing the podcast with your network.With each episode, we'll also give you a free recipe from a famous musician or composer for your dining pleasure We'll be kicking things off in episode two with Debbie O’Shea from Crescendo Music Education about music teacher networks.Useful Links: Bushfire Press website - Mark Leehy LinkedIn - Press Facebook - Press Youtube - Bushfire Press Twitter -

Oct 2019

5 min 48 sec