October Giveaway 2019

Why shouldn't YOU be the winner of the S-Cubed Sight Singing October Giveaway?!

Starting from October 4th at Noon Eastern until October 7th at 11:59 PM Eastern, you can enter to win Level ONE of the program.

I will announce the winner on Tuesday morning, and I will notify via email all who entered the giveaway about a special discount offering on my most popular bundles that will be available all day Tuesday and all day Wednesday until 6 PM Eastern.

You can't win if you don't enter!

Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Crowd Funding Now Available to purchase S-Cubed Sight Singing Program on TPT`

TeachersPayTeachers has just made it easier to afford to purchase the S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for Beginners.
The announcement was made in July, 2019 at the TPT conference in Austin, Texas.

At the conference, the leaders of TPT talked about the fact that educators tell them they need more of our resources than they’re able to buy  and they never want that to be the case.  They want educators to have access to all of the resources they need to truly teach at their best. As one solution for this problem, they announced TpT ClassFund™. TpT ClassFund will be a crowdfunding platform that allows every educator to raise funds for the TpT resources they need. This means more teachers will be able to access more of the S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for Beginners. You can read more about it in the Forum  and watch a video to hear from some fantastic Teacher-Authors and teachers about how an initiative like TpT ClassFund would impact them. 

So, please spread the word about TpT ClassFund so more teachers can get this resource into their classrooms for the new school year!  Start your TpT Crowd-funding now by clicking this link!

Multiple License Discounts for S-Cubed Sight Singing Program 2020

Many teachers around the world have heard of and are using the S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for Beginners with great success!  It has been reviewed and tested by teachers all over the world in middle, elementary and high school teachers who teach beginners as I have done for 27 years in public schools with class sizes as large as 84.   3/4 cup of fun with 1/4 cup of learning is part of what makes the program unique and effective.  The program has changed classrooms around the globe, and for that, I am very grateful!

I created the program in a middle school classroom, but all along, I've believed it should be used from grade 4 through grade 12 for any choral classroom that contains a majority of beginners.  The consistency you gain when all of the teachers across your district use S-Cubed Sight Singing Program results in the following:

1)  High levels of engagement in the learning process
2)  Growth in the choral programs due to the philosophical approach of 3/4 fun and 1/4 cup learning
3)  Incredibly high levels of music literacy 

When all schools use S-Cubed, a child moves from one school in the district to another and they enter the new classroom with the same approach to the first 10-15 minutes of class as they did in their previous chorus classroom.

So...to encourage more district purchases and multiple license purchases during this back to school season, I am making a special multiple license discount!  

This year, only through my TPT store, I have raised the multiple license discount from 10% to 30% to make it less expensive for teachers who teach in the same building or in the same district to buy multiple licenses of the program.  

This back to school season starting today, July 22, the multiple license discount in my TPT store is 30%.   The first license purchase is normal price, and all subsequent licenses of the program are 30% off when purchased at the same time.  

This discount includes the following of my most popular bundles:

MEGA Bundle- Contains the entire S-Cubed Program.  Best for middle and high school programs who see their beginners daily or at least 250 minutes weekly.

Level ONE contains the first 2/3 of the program.  This is best for teachers who see their beginners 250 minutes or less per week and perhaps only teach two grades levels in their schools.

The Elementary Bundle contains the first 5 units in the program, and it is intended for anyone who sees their students once or twice per week for 30-50 minutes each time.  It is called the Elementary Bundle only because most Elementary music teachers only see their students one or two times per week for a limited time.  

Level TWO contains the final 1/3 of the program and is intended ONLY for those who have already completed Level ONE of S-Cubed and haven't already purchased the MEGA Bundle.  I do not recommend that you purchase Level TWO simply because you believe you have advanced students.  This program is cumulative.  

While S-Cubed is available in other locations, the only place you'll get these discounts is here on TPT.

So, go out and share this information with your district supervisors and the colleagues in your district.  I don't advertise in a traditional way...it's all word of mouth and social media...because, from the start, I believed that if this program was really going to be effective outside of my own classroom, teachers who used it would tell the story.

...And I am grateful they have and that they are!

This offer will stay in place through August 31, 2019.

I teach middle school ...I got this!

Coffee Mugs!

If you teach middle school, you absolutely understand the meaning of this sentiment. When our friends and family members face a mountain that seems, to them, impossible to climb, but for us, is a simple task, this is the thought bubble in our heads. ...Because we solve problems for 11-14 year olds all day long. Unisex t-shirts, women's t-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, mugs and more in multiple colors and all sizes!   Here is the link!


Have one for Samsung also!

For the winter!

And to carry those papers you need to grade!

July S-Cubed Giveaway!

Do you know anyone who is going to teach middle school chorus next year for the first time?  Do you need to reinvigorate how you teach sight singing to your students?  Do you want to have fun while you teach this tricky subject?  Do you like a step by step methodical approach aimed at the true beginner?  Do you enjoy stoking competition between you and your students as well as between your chorus classes?

This is your program.  

S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for Beginners has been tried and tested by teachers all over the world.  The results are proven.  Read some of the reviews here from the last several years since I began sharing it. 

I'm giving it away to one lucky winner on the morning of July 7th.  It is a $369 value.  I'll notify everyone who enters and offer a special discount that will be available for 2 days following the announcement of the winner.  

Enter below.  You can enter once with a single option or you can choose all of the options I've included below.

Make sure to share the news about this program and this giveaway everywhere music teachers gather.  Tag me during this giveaway, and I'll send you a special gift!

Good luck!

My Coming Out Story

I was summoned.

When I walked into the room, I could feel the tension as the prepared statement was read by the two people who were there waiting for me.

"You're finishing your first semester of your freshman year of music school.  When you complete your degree in four years, you're either going to be a minister of music or a music teacher.

If you are gay, you'll be neither.

If you decide to be gay, I'm going to tell everyone in our family.  You'll be disowned by all of us.  I am not paying for your college education as I promised you I'd do if you choose to be gay.  I'm going to send you to twice weekly reparative therapy sessions for six months at Duke University so we can fix this.  Right now, we are going to call the known homosexual you've been dating, and we are going to tell him you won't see him anymore."

10 minutes later:

Me:  (With my father on the other line in the other room listening):

"Jeffrey...I am calling to tell you that I can no longer see you."


"What?!?  Where is this coming from?  What has changed all of the sudden?"

Before I could get any other words out, my father yells into the phone:

"You faggot...keep your hands off my son."

...And then my father hung up the phone.

Those were the words I heard from my father on December of 1982 when he realized I was gay as I was coming of age at the start of the AIDS crisis when young gay men just like me were dying of the "gay flu".

Merry Christmas!  :-)

I was completely devastated.  In this moment in time, my world had completely fallen apart.

I felt abandoned and alone.

Jeffrey was my first love.  I had never shared this sort of special connection with anyone in my life.  In my young naive mind, I really thought I'd met the person I'd spend the rest of my life with.

Just like that, my father's love for me appeared to have vanished.

So, after the "intervention" to stop me from being gay, I did what any self-respecting young college gay male did in 1982 on a Friday night...I went out and played Ms. Pac Man with my best girlfriend, Tracy, from high school...just like I did every Friday night during my freshman year of college.

I was quiet that night while we were at the arcade as I began processing what had just happened.

My parents were divorced, and I wondered how my Mom would react when she learned the news.  How would my sister and brother receive the information when Dad told them?  Would they still love me and accept me?   Was college over for me?

Tracy knew something was up that night.  She asked me..."Are you ok?"

I couldn't tell her. 

I couldn't even process it myself.

In those first few nights after the confrontation, my father would drag me out of the bed and into his office.  Slurring his words from the alcohol he was drinking to cope with the realization that he had a gay son, he held my hands across the desk, and he said, "He loves you Dale."

"What are you talking about Daddy?"

"He loves you Dale.  I saw what he wrote in those letters."

He'd gone through my stuff.

Sobbing, he would say, "My sons a homosexual."....over and over as he lowered his head and sobbed.

In my young and hopeful 18-year-old mind, I thought I could share my story with this man who had raised me...who provided for me...this man, who at age 18, lost his leg in a hunting accident 6 days after he'd married his high school sweetheart...

I thought I could help him understand...not realizing then as I do now, that our coming out usually becomes more about the person who is coping with this new information about their child than it is about the child himself.

In their minds, they think....What will the church people say?  We can't tell my side of the family...and on and on.

We...who've just spilled our hearts and who need the most support of the people we believe love us the most give rope to the people who've shown us that they don't deserve it.

...but, ever the optimist, I thought I'd give it a go...


"Dad...I've known about this since I was five."

I remember watching Elvis Presley movies with my sister.  When I told her that I thought he was cute, my sister, who was 11 years old at the time, said, "You're not supposed to think that Elvis Presley is cute.  You're a boy."

So, I shut that down.

But I knew that I thought boys were cuter than girls.

I also learned in that innocent moment that it was something I needed to keep from my family.

I'm sure that after the volume of alcohol he had consumed on those first few nights as he tried to cope with this challenging new reality, he has no recollection of those conversations.

My world had crashed down around this 18-year-old version of myself who'd been raised Southern Baptist during the 1960's and 1970's.

Many teens who experience this sort of rejection from their parents take their own lives.

I'm not sure why I didn't commit suicide.

By the grace of God, it didn't occur to me.

I am so grateful that somewhere within me, the strength arose to handle this and to go on with life. 

I am so sorry for the children who die senselessly because they aren't able to cope with the fact that the love of their friends and family they thought was unconditional actually isn't.

When you're born black in America, most often, you grow up with parents who share the same experience.  Your parents teach you about the subtle ways you'll experience racism and how to cope with it so you decrease your chances of getting shot and killed by the police or losing a job opportunity for which you are equally qualified.  When someone calls you a racist name when you are 8 years old for the first time, and it cuts you to the core of your soul, you can come home and tell your parents.  Your parents can comfort you and advise you on how to handle the situation.  Because you share a commonality with these two humans who have given you birth and raised you, it is possible for you to receive critical support and guidance during those very difficult times.

Growing up gay, most of us don't get that.

Instead, you hear homophobic slurs and jokes told by your relatives at Christmas with all the people you love the most laughing at the "humor."

As a young LGBTQ person, you don't get the support you need because, most often, no one in the family is like you.

And if they are, they aren't "out".

So, you just have to figure it out.

The psychiatrist my father sent me to, for me, was an angel.  With gay conversion therapy in vogue during that time period among many religious groups, and with homosexuality still not completely removed from the list of mental disorders by the American Psychiatry Association and the World Health Organization, the 6 months of therapy could have been a completely different scenario for me than it was.

My psychiatrist started each of our twice weekly sessions with this question:

"Do you want to be straight?"

It was like some sort of obligatory question he'd been taught in a Saturday morning three-hour  continuing education course.

My answer each time was:

"Who wouldn't want to be straight?  It would be so much easier than what I'm going through and what I've gone through alone in middle school and high school at the hands of my peers and the teachers who sat on the sidelines and let it happen.

...But I'm not straight."

After hearing my answer each week, he would then listen to me as I tried to cope with the loss of my first love, Jeffery, who was simply not equipped to deal with this kind of volatile family drama.  He, too, was closeted with his family.  Our relationship ended.

I was heart broken for the first time in my life.

My psychiatrist helped me cope as I faced the end of the six months together when Dad insisted on a "report card" to close out the therapy.

I would ask the therapist..."What am I going to tell my Dad in that final session when he walks in the door to hear that I'm 'straight'?"

The doctor would say, "We are going to tell him that we are not going to make any promises."

At home, my father had stopped looking me in the eye.

He was continuing to work through his own mourning process.

On Sunday mornings as he was getting ready for church, he would ask me how things were going with the doctor.   I would answer..."Everything is going well."

...And then he would exit the room, get in the car and drive to the church to spend time with the people he felt most comfortable.

Fast forward to 1998...Our relationship had been distant for 16 years.  I was competing at the World Aerobic Championships in Orlando, Florida.  I was retiring from competition after this event.

My father had expressed an interest in coming.

I was surprised and happy to hear it.  My spouse was going to be there too.

I wanted them both there, but how was I going to navigate it?  "Ok...I'll have lunch with Joe.  I'll have dinner with Dad.  Joe can sit over there.  Dad can sit over here."

As I was about to go on stage for the final competition of my career,  I thought to myself..."This is not what I should be focused on right now."

After training for hours and hours?  After paying for choreographers and coaches with my $18,000 a year teacher salary?


I'm not doing it anymore.

No more separate vacations.  No more holidays where I've got to do what is "comfortable" for people.

After the event, as a 34-year-old man who didn't need anything but love from anyone in my life, I sat down with my Dad, and I said, "Dad.  I'm gay.  I've always been gay.  I'm not going on anymore family trips without my spouse.  I'm not doing holidays without him either."

A long pause...and then my Dad says...

"Is it my fault?"

"Daddy...NO.  Is that what you've been carrying all these years?  No.  Absolutely not.  Since I was five years old, I've known I was gay.  It has nothing to do with you.  If it did, your two other children would probably be gay."

With that moment, he sighed with relief.  His entire face changed.

And, from that moment on, we proceeded with developing a beautiful, mutually respectful relationship that is one of the deepest of my life over the 21 years since that conversation.

It hasn't always been wine and roses, but it has been worth every ounce of energy the two of us have put into it.

I can't wait to fly to North Carolina so see him this weekend.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves.

I just completed my 27th year of teaching middle school chorus in the public school setting.

This is the profession my father told me I could never be a part of if I were gay.

I've had an incredible career touching the lives of the over 300 students who walk through my public school classroom door each school year.

...And some of my students are LGBTQ...some of them know that if they come out to their families, they will face what I faced and worse...some of whom face bullying each and everyday and are afraid and embarrassed to tell an adult.

If, by standing before them, as an out gay man, I can give them hope to live and fight and flourish another day...if I can provide them a safe space where they know that an adult in the room will not tolerate any sort of bullying... then my life has more meaning than I ever could have anticipated.

I feel sad for the parents who reject their gay children and whose children take their own lives.  The grief those parents live in for the rest of their lives after their children are gone is beyond anything anyone who hasn't lived it can possibly imagine.

Just last week, I had dinner with a 63-year-old colleague whose brother was diagnosed with HIV and who passed away before the drugs that have helped extend lives existed. 

I hurt for her and for all of the sisters and brothers of gays who were unable and unwilling to comfort their siblings who contracted HIV in the 1980's and 90's.  They can't get their siblings back, and now they sit in their grief.

My heart aches for the parents of adult gay children who've chosen never to truly know their children because it's easier just not to talk about it.

I feel mournful for the adult LGBTQ human beings who will never get to have a fully three-dimensional, mutually respectful relationship with their parents...the parents who love their children deeply but who aren't sure how or when to ask the question because they are respecting their child's decision to remain in the closet.

Nothing worth anything is ever easy.

I'm so thankful the world is changing...and I'm thankful that the psychiatrist didn't try to fix what wasn't broken because I am living a life I could never have imagined as a young, closeted gay boy from north Durham.

Here is a photo I took last week at the New York Public Library as they prepared to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the unofficial beginning of the LGBTQ civil rights movement:

Here is a photo of my husband and me when we got married on June 26, 2015 after nearly 25 years together on the day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Marriage Equality.  We ran to the court house!

The Ms. Pac Man machine that my spouse bought for me on my 40th birthday as a surprise because Ms. Pac Man probably saved my life on that dark, sad, scary night.  Thank you Ms.!  :-)

And here is a picture of my Dad and me from earlier this year.  I'm so grateful that the two of us did the work and that love won.

Classroom Management for the Middle School Classroom

This past week, I presented two seminars for the second annual International Music Educator's Summit (IMES) created and hosted by Elisa Janson Jones.   It is an online conference for music educator's from all over the world.  It's truly cutting edge.  You can watch the presentations from your home in your PJ's...watch them later if your schedule doesn't permit you to see them "live"...the options are awesome.  And as teachers who live our daily lives with incredible structure seeing our students for 47 minutes starting at 10:03 each day (or something similar...you get the point!), we deserve the flexibility in the summer!

At the conference, I presented my materials on Sight Singing and Classroom Management.  After hearing from teachers who'd seen the presentation and realizing the incredible demand for this type of presentation, Elisa Janson Jones decided to make the presentation available for FREE to anyone with a link!

So, here it is!

Enjoy...and I hope it helps lots of people!

Moving Toward Fluency in Solfege in Elementary School

If you, as an adult, moved to Japan right now, would you be able to speak with the non-English
speaking population?  Would you be able to read labels in the grocery store? Would you be
able to navigate the transit system if there were no English translations on the signs?

If not, what would you do?

Certainly, as survivors, we would figure it out, right?  Slowly, after many years through our
daily experiences, we would start to make associations and build our vocabulary.  

The writing though...wow.  

I’m guessing we would probably need lots of private tutoring to master that.   

That’s how many of the students in our choral classes who’ve never taken a private
lesson in their lives feel about taking the notes and symbols off the page and translating
the symbols into rhythmic pitched sounds that are accurately executed.

Yet, so often, we expect our beginners to be able to figure it out without supplying them
with the tools they need to be able to successfully read.

Learning to sight sing is, in my view, one of the most complex tasks the brain can master.  

For us, as music teachers, reading music is simple.  Many of us not only sing, but we have taken
private instrument lessons.  When we learn to read music using an instrument, we have the luxury
of learning in a tactile manner which really helps it makes sense for the learner.

Music is a language just like any other.  The learning curve is much the same as learning
Japanese or French or any other world language.  The skill sets required to become truly
fluent in any language take years and years to develop. Tenacity, persistence, and frequent
exposure to the language helps speed up the learning process.

The earlier we start, the easier it is to become comfortable speaking, reading and writing
the language.

I teach middle school beginners.  Most of my students come to me in 6th grade, but I get
some new students in 7th grade as well.  That single year of “aging” in the children,
in my experience, makes a big difference. While my 7th graders are still able to learn solfege,
the students who didn’t have me in 6th grade are far slower at mastering all of the skills required.

We have all seen many posts on social media pages about what is better for learning to
sight sing...numbers or solfege or random syllables.  It’s been debated for years. There is no
right answer. I have my own feelings about it, of course, but I think the most important piece of the
puzzle is to consistently work on sight singing and to be able to break down the skill sets required for
success.  If we are tenacious in our approach, regardless of whether we use numbers, random
syllables or solfege, we will succeed in helping our students become solid sight singers and that is
the goal.

When I received my public school education in North Carolina, I wasn’t given tools to read.  
I had taken piano lessons, so for me, reading music was easier than for most. In my choral music
education in K-12, we were either taught by “rote” or we sight sang new pieces on “loo”.  
I guessed as the pitches raised, lowered and skipped. Accidentals? Forget it.
Not happening...And most of my rhythms were quarter notes, half notes and whole notes.

With my background in private piano lessons, I was able to make educated guesses.

When I started school at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as a music major,
I watched as my peers dropped out of music school because they couldn’t pass sight singing.   
It was very difficult, and they hadn’t been given the tools they needed to succeed.

I had the “piano” advantage. Even with that advantage, I struggled with the sight singing tests.
They wanted us to use SOLFEGE.  


It felt so unnatural...And I didn’t feel like it helped me find the pitches.  Because I had no exposure
to solfege when I was younger, it just made it harder for me.

Determined to succeed, I went to the practice room and made piano recordings of each sight
singing example that would be on the test.  Then, I put my walkman on...yes...I’m a dinosaur…
If you’re under 40, “google” it...they were cute back in the day….don’t judge! :-)

As I walked across campus from class to class and back to my dorm, I listened to
the examples over and over again until I had them memorized.  Then, the night before the test,
with all of the melodies in my head, I would sit down and practice with the solfege slowly so that I
would be able to sing it the next day for the test.  

That's NOT sight singing...but I passed! 

From the first day of teaching public middle school, I was determined to figure out how to give my
students the tools they needed to successfully read music. 

I failed over and over, and I learned from each failure.

I decided that solfege with the hand signs and pulsing for rhythm was the best path for my students.

That’s a tall order.  I had never used the hand signs before.

And it’s an even taller order for the students.

It’s not like you can just walk into the classroom and say “go”.  The skills have to be taught slowly and deliberately one step at a time.

I decided on solfege because I like what it does for vowel production.  Singing “one” instead of
“do”...um...that’s a lot. Between the “W” sound that starts the word “one” and the “N”, all sorts
of issues arose with tone and vowel production that I wanted to avoid.  And “one sharp” when
singing chromatics...many more challenges with tone resulted.

But I’ve seen many people teach sight singing with numbers with great success.

I made my decision and moved forward to find ways to make the language of solfege easier
for my students.

I decided to find multiple ways to help them use this new language of solfege each day...through
games, scales, teaching melodic lines in new music and more.  I wanted the journey to be fun and
methodical and most of all, effective for the true beginner who has never played an instrument.

I suppose when teaching World Languages, they call this approach “immersion”.

At first, I didn’t use the hand signs when singing solfege.

I was nervous about doing the hands signs myself.  I’d never done them before.

There is something about the raising and lowering of the hands...showing the skips versus the
steps...that helped my students successfully locate the elusive pitches.  I found that the hand signs
gave them the kinesthetic piece that is missing for singers with no instrumental training so it was
important for me to get comfortable with using the hand signs too.

With use of solfege and the hand signs, my students got better at locating pitch, but they struggled
with successfully executing rhythm at the same time they located pitches.

So, I added pulsing.  

The coordination involved in executing all of these things at the same time is very challenging,
but less so when taught one careful, fun step at a time.

It makes sense that it would take time, right?  

How long would it take to become fluent in Japanese if you spoke it 10-15 minutes a day a few times
a week?

Once I figured out how to break the learning process down, I shared it
through S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for Beginners, and I did my best to share every secret
I’ve learned along my journey.

My sixth graders walk into my room mostly as true beginners.   They’ve had general
music once or twice weekly. Some have had exposure to solfege but most have not, and
after 27 years in the classroom, I am still waiting for that little Mozart to walk into my room!  
Even though they are beginners when they walk in, when they walk out in 8th grade, they are doing
things that I couldn’t do until my senior year in college...all a capella.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if a majority of our students came into our classrooms able to use the
Kodaly hand signs?  What if they could sing correct stepwise pitches simply by following your hand?
Even better...what if your new sixth graders were able to successfully sight sing stepwise quarter
notes off the page a capella?

I suppose we can compare it to having the desire and expectation that our students
will enter kindergarten knowing their A, B, C’s.  

When I created S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for Beginners, I envisioned that teachers who
taught music to grades 3-5 would use lessons 1-5 of the system in order to prepare their singers
for middle school chorus so I created a bundle with just those lessons included.  The first five
lessons of the program are just enough to start students on their journey toward becoming fluent
sight singers down the road. Elementary teachers who use the Elementary Bundle are laying the
foundation for their students.  

If you’d like your elementary feeders to come to your middle school chorus with a solid foundation
in solfege and hand sign usage, let them know about the Elementary Bundle for S-Cubed Sight
Singing Program.  It’s an entire years worth of sight singing lessons for most elementary teachers
if they spend 10 minutes per meeting with their students teaching the lessons, and they’ll have a
great time on the journey using the game, Forbidden Pattern.  The early exposure to the language
of solfege in a variety of ways will help them as they continue their journey toward becoming literate
readers of music.  The S-Cubed Sight Singing Elementary Bundle is normally $99, but for the whole
month of April 2019, it is $39.

S-Cubed large bundles are also available at JW Pepper.

Trey Jacobs S-Cubed Sight Singing Giveaway

I am giving away the MEGA Bundle of the S-Cubed System.  It is valued at $369 on JW Pepper and in my TpT Store, but someone is getting it for free because you attended Trey Jacobs workshop!  You can enter until midnight EST, July 21st.

Use the rafflecopter below to enter.  There are three ways to enter.  Use them all to increase the odds of winning.  I'll notify the winner on Monday morning, July 22.  I'll email everyone who enters to notify each of you about who won and how to get S-Cubed at a steep discount during a specific 12 hour window.  Details will be in the email, so make sure you read it first thing Monday morning!

Whether you are a middle school, high school or elementary teacher, this MEGA Bundle contains everything that is in the S-Cubed Sight Singing System.  It includes hundreds of hours of video links to teaching tips and all of the lesson plans to take your beginners from zero to three part sight singing skips as wide as an octave and syncopated rhythms as well as how to deal with chromatics.

...all a capella.

Get into the S-Cubed system now so you can experiment with the program and hit the ground running next year!  

This is a video link to my own students from March 12, 2019 using the system in the sight singing room at our annual assessment and adjudication.  

It's been tested now in classrooms all over the world for 5 years now.  Here are the reviews!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Note for Parents and Teachers of Middle School Students

I start with this:

I am not a parent of a middle school child.

I never have been.

I’m not a parent at all actually.

...well...just to my fur babies.

But I think that is a bit different. :-)

I have, however, taught middle school chorus in the public school setting in three states in different geographical regions of our great union for 27 years so I have got some understanding of what makes this very unique age group tick.

As some have said to me over the years, the middle school aged child is in my “wheelhouse”.

When I was in middle school, I never could have imagined that I would want to go back and teach this age group on purpose when I was an adult.

First of all, middle school is just awful.

When you are a middle school student, you’re still a child, but you think you aren’t.  Some middle school children look 25 years old. Some look 7 years old.

I’ve got both in my classroom right now.

Most haven’t figured out any of their true passions yet.  The children who have been blessed with a lot of material things sometimes think they are better than the ones who don’t have material things.

The parents of the children who have earned the way for themselves often think they should fight hard for their children who may or may not have the work ethic and gifts their parents have. The parents who aren’t as fortunate may often feel as though the voice they have for their children doesn’t matter or won’t be heard.

Some of those parents don’t even speak the same language we speak as their native one.

Whatever the situation…

...the child is what matters.

Rich.  Poor. White.  Black. Brown. Yellow.  Red. “Legal” or not. Straight, gay, or somewhere in between.

We…as teachers of children in the public school setting have to step up and share what we see in the individual young human who is before us.

Sometimes the parent wants to hear us and sometimes they aren’t able or ready.

When a parent emails me, calls me or asks for a meeting with me, I know I have to be prepared.

I teach over 300 children. I have classes as large as 84.

It does not matter.

It is critical that I am ready for that meeting...or to answer the email of the parent who is, for whatever reason, unable, unwilling or unaware of where their child is on their journey even when I have supplied lots of data and information to the parent.

The parent of this child will often look for every reason not to accept where their child is.  I’ve seen it time and time again both personally and professionally. This parent is going to look outside themselves for the solution for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps it is because the parent is overbooked or wants to solve the pain of their child as quickly as they know how to do.

Or perhaps they simply don't know how to solve the issues they are experiencing with their middle school child...That is where those of us who've taught this age group may be able to help. 

But you know what you see.  You know what you experience, and you deal with this age group daily.

And it is our job to tell the story about our experience with the middle school child who has lost his way.

We must tell it in a nonjudgmental way.  We must deliver information in the most diplomatic way we can muster.

And when we see that they don’t hear us, we sometimes have to really “go in”.

It’s not easy.  It isn’t something we want to do.  For myself personally, I always hope they won’t make me say the truth about their child out loud because I am so certain they already know and are in tremendous pain over it, but they aren’t able or ready to accept it.

But sometimes, we have to...for the parent...and more importantly, for the child.

Often, the parent will cry.

And we need to be ready to see and receive their humanity.

We are all there first and foremost to help the child.

I’ve seen so many parents who work so hard for their children.  They sacrifice so much.

So, when I’m sitting across from that parent...as I’ve done many countless times...who has copied several administrators above me....often times before they’ve spoken to me... in order to shake the chain in hopes of getting some instant result which likely will not serve their child, I just say to myself…

This parent is trying to advocate for their child.  It’s what they should do. It’s what they are supposed to do.

And what I am supposed to do is tell them about their child in the most honest and non-judgmental way I can manage.

So, it’s what I try my best to do each time.

It’s what I’ll keep doing.

In my career, I’ve seen parents ruin the careers of educators who’ve dedicated their entire lives to the profession of helping children in the interest of helping their own child not accept responsibility for their actions...news reporters and all.

But at the end of the day when I place my head on the pillow, I know that I have to be honest for the good of the children because they deserve it...even if the parent is unable or unwilling to hear it or receive it.

As I have said to so many parents..."I hope you will hear me.  My aim is to help, but ultimately, you are the person who has to live with your child for the rest of your life.  My time with your child is finished at the end of this school year."

So, we will get up Monday morning and help these children who are placed in our lives for a reason because, whether we’ve taught for 27 years, 27 months, 27 days, 27 hours or 27 minutes, in our hearts, we know what we see.

Have a great week!

In my TpT Store, The Middle School New Chorus Teacher Starter Pack contains lots of other links to posts and YouTube links I've created about classroom management along with the first three lessons of S-Cubed Sight Singing Program for Beginners, and it is, hands down, the best value in my store if you are a chorus teacher who wants to try S-Cubed.


New Year! Gleaning the Benefits of sticking with S-Cubed Sight Singing Program

We are about to enter the second full week of 2019!  Many resolutions have already been made and broken for sure.

We are only human, right?

But even if we've broken some of the resolutions, it doesn't mean we can't get up tomorrow and recommit and make the desired changes over time.  

I mean...look at these before and after photos.

That didn't happen overnight.  

As the saying goes...Rome wasn't built in a day.

I finished creating S-Cubed Sight Singing Program 3 years ago.  It took me three years to put it all together in a way that I thought might transfer for use into the classrooms of teachers around the globe.  And before that, I spent more than 10 years figuring it out how to use it in my own classroom with my own public school beginners.  

I failed repeatedly.  Each time the students weren't able to successfully sing a sight singing example, I dug dip within and asked myself what steps I'd missed as I taught the information to my beginners.  

Since that time, thousands of teachers who teach beginners have purchased and are using the program in their classrooms, and for that I am beyond grateful.   

It is a huge step for each teacher who makes the commitment to purchase and use S-Cubed with their students.  It means they are changing daily routines, and sometimes it won't go the way it did in the video links I include of myself teaching the program.  

Does it mean you are a bad teacher?  

Of course not!

Each time you hit a roadblock, know that I probably hit the same roadblock at least 10 times during my 27 years teaching.  I felt the same way you feel when it happens. 

Do not beat yourself up.

Stay on the path.

Go back and look at the videos of me teaching the material and watch the "teaching tip" videos.  I shared every possible thing I could think of to make sure you are successful as you teach S-Cubed.  Make notes in the power points for yourself so that next year, you'll remember what happened and you'll increase your chances of success.

Success breed more success.  The momentum your students feel when they are doing well and being recognized for it is so important to the philosophy of S-Cubed.  

During my career, I've started over three times in three states when I've moved when my spouse's job changed.  Each time, it took three years to get the results I truly hoped for in my program.  I had to rebuild each time.

Nothing worth anything is easy.

Results require process and vision.   

...Like the people who renovated this house...

Celebrate each success in S-Cubed.  Learn from the mistakes.  

Enjoy the fact that the ears of your students have improved...that they have tools in their toolbox to solve problems...that they realize that it won't always go perfectly but that they have to finish the example anyway and not take their eyes off the ball.  Enjoy the beautiful vowel production they are learning as they work through the program.  Revel in the fact that they are learning part independence.   Celebrate the growth of your program as your children and parents talk about the awesome experience your students are having in your room each day.

And all of these awesome new skill sets are transferring into your repertoire!  Their sound is improving.

And the ultimate result?   ...When you're able to give them "DO" and send them into the corner to learn their parts a capella.

Yes.   S-Cubed is a commitment...   ...A big one.

And the work is worth every moment of the 10-15 minutes per day you give it 3 to 4 times per week.

Stay on the path and remember...

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making the commitment, believing in the program and for all of your help sharing the news of the program with your peers.

Please continue to post videos of your work with S-Cubed on social media.  Tag me every time.  It makes my day.

Have an awesome week!