Teachers of all subjects and grade levels are facing unprecedented times, but music teachers have had to get especially creative with lessons. Because studies suggest that singing and playing wood instruments create respiratory droplets, they’ve scrapped lesson plans and tried to come up with new teaching methods on the fly.
That’s when Vicky Weber, a Lake Bluff music and STEAM teacher and children’s book author, came through in a time of need. Her interactive musical book, Lazlo Learns Recorder, became a staple in music classrooms everywhere to supplement teaching the recorder.
Lazlo Learns Recorder
“The book showcases what it is like to play the recorder,” says Weber, who created an animated version of the book that highlights each note when it is time to play them. “When kids are at home, they could use the book to self-teach.”
Weber, a resident of Gurnee who is due with her first child this month, realized she was on to something, and quickly churned out more books.
The Song Garden
The Song Garden, released in May 2020, was another book that music classrooms relied heavily upon. The book helps spark composition in young readers but served a dual purpose.
“The main character has a lot of anxiety about creating because she doesn’t want it to be wrong, but she realizes there is no wrong answer when you express yourself,” says Weber. “With COVID going on and students learning at home, anxieties were heightened. This book was one a lot of music teachers relied heavily on to help students cope with generalized anxiety.”
But Weber didn’t stop there.
In her bestselling story and most popular book, Rhythm Rescue, released in August 2020, the main character needs the reader’s help to save the day. The kids must clap the right rhythm to activate her superpowers and keep the story moving forward.
“If I needed these books for my classroom, it meant other music teachers needed them, too,” says Weber, who notes that many teachers successfully campaigned to administrators to use their existing instrument budgets to build their classroom libraries instead.
Weber’s fourth book and most current release (December 2020) – Tiger Tempo – helps the younger set get an introduction to music education in a fun and interactive way. Every page of the book says “Help the tiger win the race. Tap the beat to keep his pace” and young readers are encouraged to clap along to the indicated tempo while learning music vocabulary.
“My books have allowed flexibility for teachers because they can use them anywhere, and they are activities that don’t involve singing or playing,” Weber says. “Kids can clap along to my stories, have fun and not realize they’re learning.”
When it comes to playing a larger role in their children’s music education, Weber says the best thing to do is to expose children to music.
“It is important to encourage kids to create and expose them to different kinds of music. There are lots of great, free educational resources online, but the most important thing is just to let them experience music,” Weber says.
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