5 Chord Progressions That Build Musical Momentum — The Essential Secrets of Songwriting

When I write songs with kids I often have to work as quickly as possible to keep things productive, interesting, and successful, for my budding lyricists.

To this end I often rely on mental banks of useful chord progressions to apply to the songs as they start to take shape. The techniques of building momentum from verse to chorus (or bridge) in this post from `The Essential Secrets of Songwriting’ are all methods I’ve used. Indeed, I have specifically used more than one of the examples he’s giving.

Of course with older groups  I’ll slow down and spend more time helping them develop their own ideas (particularly if I’m teaching in a full , ongoing classroom music’ setting rather than during a shorter -term or one-off workshop program). And even with younger groups I in know way consider the chords I first apply to be final, and alter the base of the songs as we work, taking melodic suggestions from the class.

Anyway, examples of chord progressions and why you’d use them are put pretty simple here, so check it out:

In music, momentum is anything that builds energy. Every possible element within a song has the potential to affect momentum, and songs are good if all of those elements partner well. You can hear energy and momentum growing in a song in any number of ways, including: if the music becomes louder; if the music becomes faster;…

via 5 Chord Progressions That Build Musical Momentum — The Essential Secrets of Songwriting

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Not Quite Anchor Charts

I love being a specialist teacher. It feels great being able to focus on being an `expert’ at one thing* and teaching that, rather than trying to think about all the different domains. I mean, sure my music lessons are filled with maths, English, history and science knowledge and skills, because those things are inseparable from music, but basically I teach Music.

The one drawback is that, as THE `performing arts’ teacher at two small Primary Schools I don’t explicitly have teammates to work with when planning lessons or finding and creating resources. Thankfully, one of my principals is an ex-Music teacher, and she’s been wonderful to talk with about my teaching practice. Plus, as an occasional subcontracted Teaching Artists for the Song Room, I do have access to some other great music teachers and their ideas.

And today I remembered about this wonderful thing called `the internet’ where heaps of other music teaching specialists sometimes hang out and post cool stuff. Including, in the past!

Here are a bunch of inspiring charts that this awesome teacher, Cara, made a while back. You should totally get on her `Teachers pay Teachers’ page and buy them.

* or in my case now, two things, since I’m also teaching drama as a distinct subject at one school this year. Although, I’ve always incorporated other performing arts skills (drama/dance) in my music lessons anyway.

So, I absolutely LOVE the anchor charts I’ve been seeing on blogs and on Pinterest.  Apparently, anchor charts are supposed to be minimalistic so as not to confuse the children with extra information and art.  Oops!  I guess I can’t call these anchor charts but I’m pretty proud of my work.

music anchor charts

music anchor charts

They are small because it only costs $1 each to print them at Office Max.  Plus, I wouldn’t have room for 11 enormous posters.

Form anchor chart


staff anchor chart

rhythm anchor chart

dyanamics anchor chart

pitch anchor chart

articulation anchor chart

tempo anchor chart

mood anchor chart

careers in music anchor charts

Texture anchor chart



Hey Guys!

Thank you everyone for your kind comments. Variations of these posters are now available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store

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A lesson about rhyme and meter, written in rhyme and meter…

It’s been a focus of my teaching practice to be certain that my lessons in Music are explicitly connected to my students learning in their general classes.

And rhyming picture books have been vital resources for achieving this goal.

But they only work because I’ve a good understanding of the rules of rhyme and metre and how they apply to poetry, and sometimes differ in song.

In this regard, I’ve learnt a lot from Jackie over the years, she is a master of not just rhyme but of explaining and giving good feedback to her `Pass It On’ followers and editing service clients.

This educational poem is a particularly great example of her work and skills.

Check it out!

Jackie Hosking


I amwritingthispoemtotryandexplain

But rather than bother with technical terms
Let’s look at the beats, on and off
The stressed beats, in red, are the on beats instead
And the off beats occur in the trough

The off beats I’ve coloured in pastel
I’ve chosen an orange and pink
You’ll see that I’ve put triple beats in each foot
It reads like a waltz don’t you think

da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

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I Think I Finally Get Grooming

For the first time in a long while, I have short hair and not much beard.


Who is that staring at my phone?

While I have a vague notion that beards are ‘in’ at the moment, I have worn mine for far too long to even try to claim trend-setter status. Except that I’ve had a beard since before it was not cool to do something before it was cool…


We are somewhere within the loop

Anyway, while people (myself included) have had long hair and beards for many reasons – including trying to look older, more manly, or similar to how particular members or particular bands look – my main reason was definitely to hide my face. Because I didn’t like being looked at.


Typical me: beard, long hair, scruffy shirt. Not typical: axe, strenuous manual labor.

This might seem odd for a person who’s been a singer – and indeed a ‘front man’ – for most of his life but I’ve always focused on the ‘playing pretend’ aspect of performing and have tended to want to get straight on stage and then to leave right after the gig. As part of this I have begrudgingly accepted that ‘looking the part’ is an important aspect of rock’n’roll, the blues and even children’s entertainment but it (grooming) has always felt like a chore and not something I’ve taken pride in.
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Back on the Blogging Horse

Half way through last year I’d up my first contract teaching primary classroom music. It had been great; I’d enjoyed sharing mysic skills and ideas with students on an ongoing, deeper level  (compared to the brief interactions of gigs and incursions).


I’m pretty sure this made sense at the time.

But I was still looking around for work – be that gigs, private instrumental music teaching, incursions or more classroom teaching – when I stopped blogging. I can’t remember why.


Stare into the eyes of my great great grandfather and wonder.

Stare into the eyes of my great great grandfather and wonder.

It might have been I felt I needed a mental break in preparing for yet more new things. I started working for an awesome non-profit organisation called The Songroom and running regular music and movement activities for a new playgroup soon after. Or maybe there was no reason, or at least not a clear one.


This photo represents that idea.

In anycase, it’s been a little over a year and I’ve worked at half a dozen new schools – in one capacity or another – teaching hundreds of kids dozens of musical games and songs. We’ve discussed concepts of music and written heaps of new songs together too, so I’ve a lot to share with you!


Because the internet makes teammates of us all.

For starters, check out the new video gallery via here or the menu (I’ll write a bit about each of these new songs and how they were written). And check out the song room and the great work they do:


Thanks folks,


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Grammatikus: The Elite Online Grammar Resource

It is good to see the Grammatikus game getting some good press! I was proud of my work, writing for them.

Grammatikus: The Elite Online Grammar Resource.

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Magnetic Whiteboard Grand Stave

This idea of aligning a grand stave with a keyboard is just perfect! It’s one of those great ideas that seams so natural it’s hard to fathom not having seen it somewhere before. Another great post from Rhythm Express and a tool I’ll definitely be making to use in my own classes.

Rhythm Express

Magnetic Grand StaveSometimes students have difficulty in working out how the musical stave applies to the piano. After all you travel from low to high on the piano by moving left to right but read it on the stave from bottom to top.  It’s not immediately apparent how the two link to each other.

I wanted to create a teaching aid that would connect the grand stave with the keys on the keyboard so I made this using a magnetic whiteboard and 3mm grid tape.  The clefs are laminated and have a strip of magnetic tape on the back so they can be removed and repositioned.

As you can see from the picture below the stave lines match up with the keys on the piano – using magnets the student can play a key then place the magnet on the corresponding line.  Return the stave to its upright position and this gives visual learners a real…

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Thanks heaps to those of you who braved the weather at Springfest last month to come and see the concert. I had a ball preparing and performing with the students from Urquhart Park PS, and they all seemed to enjoy themselves too! some of the new words they wrote and/or found for Humpty Dumpty were particularly amusing.

Importantly, the Uniting Way program picked up quite a few donations and subscribers to their program (which aims at providing free books to Ballarat’s young children).

The folks from the school included this photo and brief run down about our Springfest performance in their school newsletter:


“Urquhart Park Students from Grades Prep to Six performed at SpringFest to launch The Uniting Way’s Ballarat Reads with Earl Leonard. Congratulations to all our singers – you did a wonderful job!  A big thank you to the many parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and family friends who attended to lend support to our students.”

In other news, I’ve finished my teaching rounds! Thanks heaps to Creswick Ps for having me (and especially for letting me run the grade 3/4 assembly item for the term. We sung `We Will Rock You’. It was pretty awesome). I had a great time with a very considerate mentor teacher and a fun bunch of enthusiastic students. And my `Tell Stories’ literacy/numeracy role-playing game/activity worked really well (although I’ve since thought of ways I can improve it).

If you know of any schools in the district needing a music and/or generalist teacher, let me know (and let them know about me!)

Thanks again for reading, and see you soon 🙂


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From Primary School to University and Back (again and again)

I’ve just had my first observation day for my second lot of placement…It went well, I think I love the school (and especially the library, with stairs)!

All this `learning how to teach’ I’ve been doing this year has certainly kept my brain busy and it’s been interesting reflecting on my own primary school experiences and how they’ve influenced my life (such as how one of my early teachers sang and played guitar to us) and what approaches to teaching I’m now planning to use (many similar techniques to how I presently perform for, and interact with students, but many more besides).


Dressing as Bill Nye, or maybe The Doctor (non specific regeneration), helped me get in the mood to take a science class

Of course, I’ve also recently had a blast bring my `Super-hero Spectacular’ back to both the Creswick Library and the Run Ballarat charity event (support the Ballarat Bass Hospital children’s Ward), including playing my new `it Makes You Stronger’ gospel-style song about exercise.

But the biggest news is my next big public performance…

Springfest 12.00pm Nov 3rd at Lake Wendouree!

Volunteer students from Urquhart Park PS will be performing with me to put on a concert of popular and re-written (mostly by them) nursery rhymes and other classic hits,  to launch and support United Way Ballarat‘s imagination library program to supply free books to our local children! We’ve been rehearsing together for the last few weeks. It’s been a lot of fun, and a great `half-way’ point between my usual one-off incursions and potential on-going teaching roles.

The Imagination Library’s amazing `free books’ aim is part of a broader movement first started by Dolly Parton in her home-town, that has since successfully expanded across the USA. I join Uniting Way in hoping things will similarly take off in Australia!

So, I hope to see you at the Lake 🙂


PS While primarily meant for School Principals to look at, I’ve added a `Teaching Portfolio’ page to this site,  for those interested in seeing what I’ve been up to these last few months!

PPS Barney Saltzberg (writer/illustrator/performer of The Beautiful Oops and many other great books and songs) started following me on twitter!


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A Sample of Worthy things: Fundraisers and Booklaunches!

I’m playing at this, for this on Saturday!


And on Friday the week after I’ll be playing at the Kids Fund Day and Stalls fundraiser (that Kylie Emmerson is organising for Jasmine and her daughter Shania):


And then on the same Sunday (as well as birthday party in the morning) I’ll be playing at Learning That’s Fun Book launch party!



Come along to any one or all three and enjoy all sorts of great things while also helping out other folk! It’s win/win 🙂


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