Announcing! Teachers Pay Teachers for Schools!

Since 2006, when Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) was first founded, teachers have been paying teachers for their digital resources online.  

Fast forward to 2018, and Teachers Pay Teachers has made it easier for your schools and school districts for pay for those resources instead of you!

In 2009, I started writing a textbook for teachers to share ideas that had worked for me as I taught Sight Singing to my un-auditioned middle school singers.  I called it "S-Cubed: Successful Sight Singing".  I submitted my work to music company publishers, but my method didn't translate into a book.  It was never published in a textbook. 

In 2013, I heard about Teachers Pay Teachers for the first time...I was late to the party, but I digress.  

I sifted through some of the free offerings on the website.   Most of the offerings were printables at that time, and there was a focus on elementary teachers.  Most of the items were priced under $5.   

...As I downloaded the free items, I began to brainstorm about how I could finally share my Sight Singing program-S-Cubed.   I realized that TpT offered me a 21st century way to share my ideas.   I decided to present the curriculum via digitally downloadable PowerPoint presentations that not only included the lesson plans but also included video teaching tips for each lesson.  To help make the program even more useful to the teachers who bought it, I set up my I-Phone in the corner of my classroom and made video recordings of every lesson in the program so that teachers could actually see me teaching the program to my beginners.  

TpT offered me ways to present my ideas that far exceeded the capabilities of textbooks.   

Since that time, thousands of teachers have found my Sight Singing Curriculum.  It has been used and peer-reviewed hundreds of times and has helped teachers and their students all over the world.  The reach of S-Cubed has far surpassed any of my original expectations, and for that I am grateful. 

While TpT is still a site that filled with "teachers who are paying teachers" for their resources, over the last few years, more and more teachers like me began creating and sharing their entire Math Curriculum and Science Curriculum.   Over the couple of years, schools and school districts have seen the undeniable value of getting curricula that are created and used by real teachers in real classrooms.  

It has always been possible to use purchase orders to purchase my program on TpT, and that will continue to be the case.  

But now, the leaders at TpT are expanding their reach.  They have made it easier for teachers and administrators to purchase from TpT with their latest program called TpT for Schools so that you can use your school and district funds to get my program and any other TpT offering you and your colleagues would like.  

It is now easier to align the way Sight Singing is taught throughout your school district and to get the results that so many teachers have achieved with S-Cubed.  

Here are some ideas to guide you as you work toward getting your supervisors, colleagues, and administrators on board: 

What should I do to convince my administrator to purchase S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for me?

This spring, consider sitting down with your administrators and your colleagues and sharing the news about TpT for Schools.  Create a wish list of items that you'd love to have for your students.  Have a moment of "real talk" with your administrators about the amount of money you spend out of your own pocket to help your children learn.  Share the dollar amount that you've spent in a given year so your administrators will carefully consider helping you obtain TpT resources that you feel strongly will help you and your students.  

If you are considering asking them to purchase S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for you, share the reviews with them so they see that the program has been tested and used since 2013 by teachers all over the world.   Help your administrators understand the value of the collaborative work you can do with your peers when multiple teachers within the district are teaching music literacy using the same program.  Help them see the value of having the elementary feeder programs align their teaching of music literacy with yours by purchasing the Elementary S-Cubed starter program.  The bundle will take most elementary music teachers the entire year to teach (10-15 minutes each class) since most of them only see their students once per week.   It's an excellent value.

Here is how it works:

TpT has made it easy.

You can request resources to be purchased by your school. 
Search TpT for great resources you need for your students (just as you always do!).
But now when you find a resource you love, you can request to have it paid using school
funds. Simply submit a resource request to your administrator who can review it,
purchase it, and get it to you instantly. (It all happens right on TpT!)

Get inspiration from your teacher peers. Use the School Library feature to see what resources other teachers in your school are requesting. (Don’t worry: Your wish list and individual purchases stay private.)

For administrators:  Schools trust TpT resources.  Administrators across the country are embracing a new way to empower their teachers by signing up for TpT for Schools and providing them more access to the highest quality educator-created resources.

TpT resources are teacher-created and teacher-tested. More than two out of three teachers in the U.S. turn to TpT for instructional materials created by teachers, for teachers to find the most engaging, standards-aligned, and up-to-date choices possible.

TpT resources save valuable time and money. With TpT, teachers can get exactly what they need, when they need it. Of the 3 million resources, more than 2.2 million cost $10 or less and most of the full curricula like the S-Cubed Sight Singing MEGA Bundle cost far less than purchasing and re-purchasing textbooks and multiple subscriptions to sight reading websites.  Plus, it’s 100% free to sign up for TpT for Schools!

Empower teachers to meet the needs of all learners at any time. No matter the need, teachers can find the right content to address their unique classrooms — including differentiated content for any grade or subject — and align with school-wide goals.

Start the conversation NOW!  Many budgets for the following school year are set in March and April.

These are two reviews of the S-Cubed MEGA Bundle that came in last week.  

I am beyond grateful each time I get feedback like this, and I am so thankful to each and every teacher who has sacrificed and paid out of their own pockets to get the program over the last several years...and I will continue to feel the same way in the future, and I am sure many teachers will continue to pay out of their own pockets.

But now, you no longer have to pay out of your own pocket.

If you need anything else from me to help convince your administrators to purchase this program for you and your school and district colleagues, do not hesitate to email me at  District discounts are available and negotiable.  

Start the conversation now so you can get S-Cubed Sight Singing Program into your hands and into the hands of your district peers for next school year!

To register your school click here!

Minor Scale: La? Or Do?

I can't count how many times I've seen or heard this question:

"Minor Solfege:  DO based or LA based?  And why?"

I start with this:

There are so many ways to teach sight singing.  They can all work if we are consistent.

...But here is my experience based on my 26 years of teaching public school choral music beginners in 3 states.



I teach beginners.

Most of the teachers I encounter who teach choral music teach beginners.  Many of them leave the profession because they can't figure out how to teach beginners to read.

I'm still waiting for that awesome class of 40 classically trained pianists who started private lessons at age five, but alas, it hasn't happened.  ...Not for me.

So, I teach LA as "home base" when I teach my students about the minor scale.

My sixth graders don't understand music theory yet.  Teaching DO based minor would be like teaching grammar to first graders and leading with "This is an adverb" because they are able to speak the sentence "She walks slowly" when they are 6.

Just because they can speak it correctly doesn't mean it's time to teach all of them why the word "slow" needs an "ly" sometimes.

It's so odd to me why so many classically trained musicians think they have to tell a young musician aged 6-12 in the group setting the ins and outs of music theory using the terminology they used in their Yale School of Music training courses.

I'm classically trained too!  Um...Not at Yale...but it didn't take me long to figure out that talking to my beginners like they were in Freshman theory/sight reading classes wasn't working.

LA works because it makes sense to them right now.

DO, RE, ME?  What is that?

We are doing a disservice when we jump passed what they are ready to understand.

We lose them.  Programs shrink.  Small programs disappear. 

When we teach them the minor key with LA as the base, we are meeting them where they are.  

2 or 3 years from now, they'll start asking why.

Then, we will answer.

Data speaks

Do your admins ask you to quantify your work?

Here is some data that requires you to say little.  All you need to do is print it out and hand it to them.

I created S-Cubed to help teachers teach sight singing better to beginners.  

After I created it, I found Music Prodigy.

I created individual homework assignments to complement the work we do daily with S-Cubed, and I offer them only on Music Prodigy.  

One assignment for each example in S-Cubed.

Here are the results:

From day 1 when I started creating this program in 2013, I've believed it should be in every middle school classroom...and every 4/5 program and every program that includes beginners who start after age 14...and there are so many.  

This data supports my original thoughts about that.

Happy New Year!

Some fuel for the New Year.

It's January 1, 2018!

I can't believe it.

Tick Tock and all...

Each holiday season, I am overwhelmed when students and their parents think of me when they are planning gifts and cards.


This year, I got this hand-written note from a student:

No signature!

But that is classic middle school, right?

The photos are difficult to read, so here is what she wrote:

Mr. Duncan,

Thank you so much for providing a safe, fun classroom.  I have truly enjoyed the first half of this year, and both of your classes have been a big part of that.  I don't know if you remember this, but last year, the day after the election, after a morning I had spent crying uncontrollaby, you asked us how we were feeling and what we were thinking, as girls and as a diverse group of humans.  I don't think I have ever appreciated something that a teacher did more.  You have mastered the art of treating your students like humans who have complex feelings and thoughts.  So thank you for this semester and the past two years.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Even with 320 students walking through the doors to my classroom daily, I know in my heart who wrote it though.

And I am touched and grateful.

This one stuck because it's real and honest, and it cuts right to the heart of why I do what I do.

Teaching them to read music is challenging and important...but treating them as human beings has always been what is first in my heart and mind.

Do you hold onto letters like this?

I do.

They give me fuel.

Just like a car, airplane or rocket, we have to have it.

Wishing you the very happiest New Year.

Dale Duncan