Nafme Sight Singing Webinar coming in January!

Link to connect to my January 23rd Nafme Webinar Presentation on Sight Singing

Click the above link to learn more.  I'll present several of the main principles of S-Cubed! during the one-hour webinar.  I will save time for questions and interaction as well!  Continuing Education credits available.

Please share the info with your Middle School and Upper Elementary choral music teacher friends!

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Understanding the Lyrics to Songs and SALE!

It's so true!  I remember singing songs as a child and having no idea what the words meant....Heck!  I didn't even realize what some of the words WERE!  I was just singing something that sounded like what the artist was saying!  Did any of you do that?!

Starting Sunday, December 1st through December 3rd, I am having a full store sale!  All of my Sight Singing program is on sale!  State adjudicated festivals are quickly approaching!  It's a great time to get started on your Sight Singing.  This program is basically a full workshop with teaching video's, lesson plans, Sight Singing examples, games and more!  Click to visit my store and see product descriptions!

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State Adjudicated Festivals: Sight Singing Component

In October, I got some feedback from a teacher who'd tried Lesson 1 with her students.  She said "I wish I could start the year all over again."

Well, January is a great time to hit re-set!

Are your students ready for the state adjudicated festivals?  Are you tired of having your middle school students walk into the Sight Singing room nervous but excited and come out completely embarrassed and disillusioned?

Click here to learn why January is a great time to start S-Cubed!

If the event were today, how would your students do?  Would they sit there in the room in front of the judge scared to death and uncertain about how to proceed?  Have you given them the tools they need for their tool box?

S-Cubed! Successful Sight Singing for Middle School teachers and their students will do it.  It's proven! It's like no other offering out there.  It isn't a book.  It's a day by day guide with teaching tips that includes everything a book has plus games and numerous video links to help you and your students be successful.

I watched my own students sit there in the Sight Singing room uncertain one to many times, so I created S-Cubed.  We want our students to be ready and excited to "beat the page"!  This method does it!

I am having a full program sale at my store on 12/1, 12/2 and 12/3.  It is a great time to join the program and get it at a discount!

Click below to....

Go to my Store and Click "Follow" to be notified about new lessons.

...and take advantage of the sale!

Do you ever want to say this to your Choir students?

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Teaching Preview of Lesson 16- SKIPS!
Click the preview link to see what you'll find in the latest lesson!  January is a great time to get started with S-Cubed!  By May, your students will be fluent 2-part readers!

S-Cubed! is like a 7 month long Sight Singing workshop for choral music teachers that includes lesson plans, teaching tips, teaching examples, rhythm exercises, games and, of course, PDF, reproducible files of everything including Sight Singing examples. It’s all about success and fun instead of dread, silence and moans. Developed by a real middle school teacher who is using the method successfully in his own classroom, S-Cubed! is not a Sight Singing book. There are tons of those on the market. It’s an all-inclusive 10/15 minutes-per-day system. It is tried and true and doesn’t skip any steps in the teaching process. The method meets the students where they are and gives them only the information they need to be successful and to stay excited about learning to sight sing. And at the end of the course, you have fluent, excited, literate sight singers who are reading difficult two part examples with success and ease! Stay connected with Mr D: Follow my blog: Follow me on Twitter: Like me on Facebook: Follow me on Teacher Pay Teachers: Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: Please rate my program and send feedback! Please Google+1 all of my items that you purchase! Contact me at if you have any questions, concerns or need guidance in any way! Check out my blog!

A Monday reminder.... Have a great week!

Sometimes Monday's can overwhelm us!  Just a reminder for us all!  Have a great day.
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Gender differences in the Chorus Classroom Boys vs. Girls

I teach over 300 middle school choral students who are in 6th, 7th and 8th grade.  In the sixth grade, I let anyone join the chorus, and the classes are mixed by gender. In 7th grade, I separate by gender. Doing so gives me a chance to help my 7th grade boys learn about and use their changing voices, and it
gives my girls a year to soar and extend what they've learned in sixth grade to improve their tone quality, etc.  In 8th grade, I place everyone back into the mixed chorus.

Boy was it eye opening the first year I tried this arrangement!

It quickly became clear to me that the atmosphere in the two 7th grade classrooms was going to be completely different...and at that time, I had already taught public school middle school students for more than 15 years.  I had very good classroom management skills and strategies in place that worked for years....but this was different!  The boys class was very difficult to manage.  I struggled to keep their attention.  I had to pull out every bag of tricks I had.  When they left, I was exhausted.

Over time, I got better at it, and I want to share some of my observations and strategies.  These observations are based on my real-life experience in a public school classroom.  Each child is an individual, we need to treat them as such, but it helps to be aware of some of the generalizations because they will help us be more effective as we teach our students.  I am not an academic, and you aren't going to see any jargon, percentages and academic lingo here.  Just real stuff based on real experience in my public school classroom.  :)

Here are the things I've experienced:

Boys have a harder time remaining still for the same duration as girls.  They need to move.  They are more physical.  I like to get them up during rehearsal and let them shake it out a bit.  They need to move.

In general, they like less mature humor, and they need the silliness to stay engaged.  They are less emotionally mature than the girls are.  So, I tend to roll with it, and giggle with them when it's appropriate.

They are more competitive.  Competition inspires them to reach for the highest heights.  I use competition in a solfege game that I play with my students.  I keep track of the score publicly in my classroom.  A day never goes by when they don't check the board to see if they are ahead of the girls class.  It creates awesome focus when they are trying to "win". They are never more focused than when the girls are beating them in the solfege game.  I also give points for successful sight singing examples.  Because they are aware that each sight singing example is assigned a set of points, both the boys and the girls are supremely focused on getting every rhythm and every pitch correctly when they sight sing....but the boys want it more.  They need to win.  Once the girls determine how much winning means to the boys, then, they too, get competitive.  It really helps in my Sight Singing teaching process, so I use it!

The boys need more structure and reward with their daily class rituals than the girls.  At the beginning of class, my daily classroom ritual for my students is for them to walk in, get their music folders, and to begin class with a quiet, 5 minute written warm up activity.   Occasionally, to encourage that behavior, I use stickers.  I place stickers on the paper of the quiet, working children.  When they get 3 stickers, they get a Starburst.   I do this with all of my classes, but I've noticed that the boys are more likely to enter the room in an out of control, rambunctious manner versus the girls, so I tend to get the stickers out more quickly and use them much more often for the boys than for the girls.  It's ironic because the 7th grade girls class that I currently teach has 84 girls in one class.  The boys only have 34, but the loudness they produce upon entry is much greater than the girls.  The boys respond to the stickers much better than the girls.  If I use the stickers with the boys two days in the row, by the third day, every single boy walks in quietly and starts the warm up without talking.  If I skip two days, they practically enter doing cartwheels.  The girls...not so much.  The girls like the stickers, but they generally will do the right thing either way.

During instructional time, boys are much more likely to talk across the room to each other than girls. They will talk about the song we are singing or some off pitch note that just occurred or the some part of the music they like or dislike, etc. They respond with each other to anything and everything.  It can sort of be like a little fraternity party over there.   ...And I don't think they are doing it to be rude.  I think it is just the nature of their beast.   If left unchecked, it can become a full fraternity part complete with the passing of gas at which the teacher is unnoticed.  That has never happened in one of my girls class.  .

..And you absolutely have to nip it.  I usually simply stand in front of them and watch for 30 seconds or so when that social activity begins.  Put the spotlight on them.  One of them will notice, and then slowly, they will all get quiet and wait.  Then, you can say something like, "That sort of behavior doesn't make us a better choir.  Let's not do it again."...or whatever works for you.   If you've set up a positive relationship with them, it will be just about all you need to do.

As with all of our students, we have to carefully guide and correct them while maintaining their dignity...remembering that they truly want to be successful.  It's our job to help them be just that.

Lastly, we have to be good at working with their changing voices.  If we can fix the problems in their voices, they are going to mentally check out.  So, it is critical that we know what we are doing with the vocal pedagogy of the changing voice.  They want to sound good.  We have to use our training to make sure that happens!

Recognizing the differences and learning to work with them instead of trying to make the boys something they aren't will serve you and your students well.

Hope that helps a bit!

Check out more classroom management ideas and Sight Singing tips on my YouTube. Channel

My Sight Singing Program for Middle and Upper Elementary Teachers and their students is available at the link below.  This link will take you directly to the freebie.  Check it out and get started on the program today!  I developed it for my inexperienced chorus students, and it truly works like a charm...and you'll have some fun while you teach it!
Check out my blog!

Lesson 15: The Secret Code REVEALED!

Latest lesson released!  Focuses on how to help our students notice and use key signatures to get information.

"My Middle School Children Won't Sing" and Lesson 15 is Released!

When I started teaching, I remember many days when my children simply wouldn't sing. They would just sit there and look at me. In hindsight, I realize that I had created this sort of "no fun" zone. It was rigid. I didn't listen to them. I hadn't taught them. They had no idea what those dots on the page meant because I was so bad at helping them understand. I was...well...mean...and not that good at teaching ...And who wants to sing when the teacher is mean?!? ....and inept? Kids were dropping out of chorus like flies. It was terrible. Now, I teach over 300 children who volunteer to be in chorus. It took me a long while to get there, though. I dug deep and realized that I needed to either figure it out or move on to a different career. First, we have to remember that our students WANT to do well. They really do. When they don't understand what we are teaching, this age group will either "act out" or "bail". It is our job to make sure we recognize when they don't understand what we are teaching, and then figure out ways to teach the material so that they understand...preferably in a FUN way. Be silly. They love it. They also love success. But, when we don't set them up for it, they...being middle school children, simply check out. We also have to remember that they want to be a part of something good. If we haven't figured out how to make them sound good, then forget it. This is a big one...Teach the type of music you are passionate about! Don't fall into the trap of thinking "I have to teach Level 5 music for festival" if you hate the music. Seriously...if YOU love it, you are more likely to infect them with your passion. It doesn't have to be pop music. If you love Broadway, then teach them Broadway. If you love gospel, then teach gospel. The passion starts with you. They feel it. They respond to it, and voila, your students start singing! Middle School Choirs are very special and unique places. These children aren't cute little people pleasers anymore. They make decisions on their own. Some of them are always going to do the right thing, but others, ....not so much. If they think you are incompetent, you lose them. If they think you are unfair..."check please". This age group is one of the toughest audiences out there! ...And the challenge of teaching them isn't for everyone. To be successful with this age group in choir, you have got to do a lot of difficult self-evaluation. Ask questions of yourself: Why did that lesson bomb? Which step did I skip in the teaching process? Am I setting them up for success? ...and so much more. Occasionally, we have to throw them a bone. For example, my students LOVE scary songs. So, I pull out my Teresa Jennings (K-8 Magazine) "Dweller of the Cave" every year. I add some choreography with flashlights and a fog machine and voila...they LOVE it. They can't wait for their parents to see them performing. I do a fun, novelty piece or two at every concert except the GMEA Large Group Performance Evaluation. Even then, I make sure to pick music that I love so I can help them love it, too. It's up to us to inspire. It's our job....and a rewarding one it is. Check out my blog!

Newest Sight Singing Product is below!  Share it with your music teacher friends!

Failure..VLOG link. Classroom Management for Middle School Teachers
How do we help to wake them up?  
They change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
Click the link to see the 4 minute video!  Have a great weekend!
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Freebie Sight Singing Example!

This is from Lesson 15. My 6th grade beginners read this successfully today! Lesson 15 will be ready for use soon! Check out my blog!

Sight Singing Teaching Tips Lesson 15 Day 3

Click the above link to get some Sight Singing tips for Middle School Choral Music Teachers regarding key signatures!

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Are they in Freshman Theory class? Or 6th grade? Sight Singing tips

Click the link!  Lots of people skip steps when teaching sight singing.  Our young beginners need to be carefully taught only what they need to know one step at a time in order for them to be successful!  The success keeps them excited and ready to conquer what is next!  That is part of what makes the S-Cubed Sight Singing system work.

Too many of us want to teach them like they are in Freshman Theory class.  Throwing out the circle of fifths to 6th grade chorus members along with other difficult theory concepts isn't the best approach in my experience.  Those concepts definitely should be taught, but they should be taught much later in the process of teaching sight singing.

They must feel and experience things first.

Check out my Sight Singing Lessons at:

Lesson 14 Released!

Just released my latest lesson in S-Cubed!  Successful Sight Singing for Middle School Teachers and their Students!

It is called "The Secret Code!"  It focuses on the first step in teaching our students how to identify DO using the key signature.  Also, we introduce Chromatics into the game!

If you are feeling a little weary...some inspiration for Friday...Classroom Management

So...I don't know about you, but I am glad it's almost Friday!  Sometimes, by the end of the week, I feel myself get a little less patient with my students.  The shortness doesn't help my classroom management!  So, I think this little gem by Marvin J. Ashton is just what the doctor ordered!
Y'all have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

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Be a Champion today for your students today!


Have a great Thursday!

Recognizing positive behaviors in our Middle School Students.

Click the video clip...Just a quick reminder for us all who teach middle school!  The reward is huge!
I first published the video several weeks ago!
I needed to be reminded too!  Have a great Tuesday!

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Monday's....well...they can be hard! :)

Y'all have great week!  Check your gratitude list!  We all need to do it!   Monday's are a great time to check it!  :) Check out my blog!