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  • Writer's pictureJanis Aston

CD Nightmare!

What am I supposed to do with all that music?

  • HELP!! I'm on a cart.

  • No, I'm teaching online. I can't find anything!

  • Where do I start? How do I organize all of these songs, music, mp4s?

  • Hundreds of CDs, thousands of songs, activities, and listening selections!

  • Is there any way to organize all of my music in a way to maximize my efficiency?


Every new teacher and many veteran teachers are overwhelmed with the daunting task of organizing their music library. When I began teaching over 30 years ago, I remember using the old vinyl record sets! Try dropping the needle in the right place every time. And having the correct record ready? You can only imagine! Oh, yes. I am that old. Let's move along. Then the CD came out and then the boom boxes with 5 CD changers. And yes, I had to use my own money to upgrade each time.

Me learning the HARD WAY!!

Smart Phones, iPads, Laptops, iPods, & iTunes Oh, my stars! When I heard about the first iPod, I had to have one! Fast!! So I got one and started loading. I learned a lot the hard way but I usually do. After lots of frustration, trial and error, I developed a great system that worked for me through the updating of many different devices. Maybe you have guessed I am a Mac person. I barely tolerate PCs (more about that below). These are my steps to organizing your music into a logical and easily accessed library. It also works on PCs and whatever other devices you are using. I know because I have helped many teachers convert their music to this system both PC and Mac.

Disclaimer and Non-Apology I know some teachers use Media Play, Google Drive, or other apps but I am not familiar with the PC side of the world. Nor do I want to be. I have used PCs (not by choice) and never want to return. I am a MAC user, through and through! So this may not be helpful. Sorry!

Upload Everything to iTunes—Tedious Work Worth the Time Upload your series CDs to iTunes (once you get the hang of this, upload everything else). Yes, you have to do this one at a time and I highly recommend the following steps. This will be a huge help when sorting and searching. iTunes is a free app and can be downloaded here—

Steps for Organizing Your Music 1. Insert CD. Begin with your set of Kindergarten CDs. If you cannot do all CDs, then start with the ones you will be using for your first 6-9 weeks. That will be 1-2 CDs for each grade level. Then before the next grading period begins load the next 2-3 CDs. Not quite so overwhelming!  2. Import all Songs.

Depending on your Operating System (OS), a prompt should pop up asking if you would like to import the CD to your library. Click Yes. The songs immediately begin loading. 

If the names of the songs/selections do not show up in iTunes, go to the little gear icon on the righthand side. Click and select "Get track names." iTunes actually will pull the names off the internet and put them into your list.

3. SELECT ALL. At any point while songs are loading, click on the first song, scroll to the last selection, hold down the shift key and click on last selection to SELECT ALL. If at any point you click and de-select, you will have to repeat the Select All command. Otherwise the following steps will not work. You want to make the changes for all songs on the same CD.

4. EDIT - SONG INFO. Go to top right and click on "CD Info." OR Go to EDIT, select SONG INFO. The EDIT window has more options.

5. Rename the album. VERY IMPORTANT! Click in the "Album" field. What you enter will affect how songs appear on your iPod, phone, computer. Keep it short and simple. See Example 2. Remember the iPod/Smartphone screens are small, so keep it simple.

If you do not rename the songs and albums, the default sorting will organize your music into a nightmare. And you will not be able to find anything!

Example: SBK 04

  • Album Name. SB = Silver Burdett (Mac = MacMillan; RM = Rhythmically Moving; HP = Hap Palmer; JJ = John Jacobson, etc.) By being consistent, all CDs from any particular artist, series, composer, will appear together and in order on your iPod or phone.

  • Grade Level. K = Kindergarten

  • CD Number. 04 = CD number Be sure to put a "0" in front of single digits. When any list (whether music or Excel) is sorted in alphabetical order, characters appear first (*#), then numbers. 2-digit numbers will appear before single digits unless you put a zero in front. Crazy? Just sayin' . . . I learned the hard way, remember?

NOTE: I also added the Selection Number for each song. That takes a huge amount of time but I never wanted to take the chance of having the songs sorted alphabetically instead of by Selection Number. Then it would be a nightmare to try to find what I needed. This example does not have that number included.

Genre. Be sure Genre is set to Children's Music.

I know many teachers use Playlists and that seems ideal if you have the time to create one for every grade level and every lesson plan. Especially if you are teaching online or on a cart! I just didn't have the time to do that.

You can actually import all of your music while working in your room over the summer or at home watching TV. Once you get the rhythm of how to do it, it's easy. 

Or load everything you need for a grading period (6 or 9 weeks). You will be so glad you did . . . next year!! Sort your music by album before exporting to your iPod or phone or other device. And get good speakers or a bluetooth speaker and a remote. Do NOT be that teacher who keeps going to the desktop computer to make selections. That is such a time waster. I've seen teachers completely "lose" their class's momentum and attention doing that. You know how kids can fill those blank spaces in an instant. And is it ever with something good?! Not in my experience!

Bottom line? This is actually a post about Classroom Management!

Whatever you do and however you do it, take the time to organize and be prepared for your classes. Oh, my goodness, you'll be so glad you did!! You won't believe the difference!

Do you have another way? A better way? Please share! 

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