16
Jan 14

Silvia’s Story

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We’ve just finished producing a new video about our friend and inspiration, Silvia Saga de Pineda who, in 2004, started a school in her garage to teach underprivileged children in her poor Guatemalan community. The school, Centro Educativo Amigos de Jesús, has since grown and moved out of her garage. But now, because of new government regulations, it is in danger of closing. Silvia and the children her school serves need your help.

To help Silvia’s school please contact:

silvisaga@gmail.com

10
Jan 14

Congratulations Sistema Toronto!

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Congratulations to Sistema Toronto, the intensive social development program which transforms the lives of children through the pursuit of musical excellence. Sistema Toronto was recently featured on the CBC. You can view it here: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Toronto/Our+Toronto/ID/2428179342/

sistema

13
Dec 13

Announcing Our Latest Draw Winner

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prize-winnerWe are offering super special deals on TeachersPayTeachers.com. If you already are a TPT member, you’ll know all about it. If not, please sign up and follow us. Every month we’ll be giving away a Choice Card from Giftcardmall.com. You could win! You just need to follow us!

1. Click here to follow us on TeachersPayTeachers.com

2. Click here to enter our monthly draw.

Last month’s winner was Betty from Arizona.

25
Oct 13

Thanksgiving Song and Activity Unit on TeachersPayTeachers.com

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thanksgivingGet ready for Thanksgiving with our Thanksgiving Song and Activity Unit, available on TeachersPayTeachers.com. This unit includes the song Thanksgiving by Sara Jordan with reproducible lyrics and activities. The song is in MP3 format, playable on almost any device. The lyrics and activities are included in the PDF file which can be easily printed for classroom use. A second instrumental version of the song, which is also included, is perfect for class performances. All this for only $2.99. Click here to buy it now!

04
Oct 13

We’re #1 on Amazon!

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I’m excited to announce that our album, Bilingual Songs: English-Spanish, vol. 1, is in the #1 spot in the Amazon Children’s Latin Music Category. Amazon only lists the top 100 of each category. But of all those listed, our album is #1.

Kudos to Shantall Young Oneto, Ricky Franco Velasco, Agustina Tocalli-Beller, and Mark Shannon who were all instrumental in making this album great.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-MP3-Downloads-Latin-Childrens/zgbs/dmusic/5758922011/ref=zg_bs_nav_dmusic_3_195385011

Click to enlarge photos


Ricky Franco [top left], Shantall Young [top right], Mark Shannon [bottom left] and Mark, Me and Shantall after a recording session [bottom right].

16
Sep 13

Happy Moon Festival

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Last month, while at the Beijing International Book Fair, the editors from FLTRP presented me with a beautiful box of moon cakes. We’ve produced over 70 songs and chants, over the last 5 months, for FLTRP, in Beijing, that are being incorporated into their ELL text books.

Happy Moon Festival everyone! These moon cakes taste great.

moon-festival-blog2

11
Sep 13

Welcome back to school everyone!

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sara-guatemalaThis past summer has been really exciting for me and included a visit to Guatemala (for the Guatemala Book Fair). While there I had a very emotional, surprise visit from Silvia Saga Pineda and her 60 students. Over the years, readers of our blog have helped to support Silvia, a missionary and teacher of 60 students at Centro Educativo Amigos de Jesus. Not only did I get to meet all of these students, each one  greeted me with a small gift and a kiss.  It made me all the more determined to help Silvia (who is struggling financially) to keep her school open. Silvia’s school serves children living in the poorest community of Guatemala. You can read more about Silvia’s school on her facebook page, www.facebook.com/CentroEducativoAmigosdeJesus.

In the past, students in extra-curricular Spanish Clubs across the USA have held used book sales and Pizza Days to raise money so that Silvia can purchase books for her classes. If you would like your school to be involved in an initiative like this, please contact me directly, or you can reach Silvia (in Spanish) at silvisaga@gmail.com.

25
Jul 13

Invitación a Feria del libro en Guatemala

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Del 25 de julio al 4 de agosto de 2013 se llevarà a cabo el evento màs importante en el mundo del libro en Guatemala. Como parte de las actividades, Editorial Piedra Santa y Editorial Avanti, se complacen en contar con la presencia de Sara Jordan como invitada especial.

Este año, el tema central de la Feria se refiere al papel de la mujer en la vida cultural. Sara Jordan es una conocida compositora y creadora de canciones para el àmbito educativo. Ella es parte del grupo de mujeres que recibirà un reconocimiento por su aporte al mundo de la educaciòn.

El viernes 26 de julio participarà en un conversatorio que serà la presentaciòn de la Serie Matemàtica Cantando, la cual estarà disponible en Guatemala y el resto de Centro Amèrica.

Si va a asistir a la Feria del Libro de Guatemala, visìtenos. Serà bienvenido en los stands 123, 124, 125, 126 y 127.

INVITACION_FILGUA_2013_CROP

18
Jun 13

El Sistema – Filling the Gap When the City Drops the Ball

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el-sistema-toronto

I read somewhere, recently, that when a young person studies music, he/she doesn’t learn what to think, but more importantly how to think. Clearly this could have been helpful in the case of Toronto District School Board’s Director, Chris Spence, forced to step down after multiple counts of plagiarism. Or how about Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, who is facing allegations of crack cocaine use? Clearly these two men, leaders in Toronto, could have/should have had the benefit of music education earlier in their lives.

But tomorrow, the trustees of the Toronto District School Board will vote to shut down the itinerant music program for young students in the GTA. As a former itinerant music teacher (in this program) I witnessed the positive benefits for many inner city kids who got a chance to learn to play a musical instrument and play in a band, something they might never otherwise have been able to do.

Ironically, El Sistema, a music program run on hope, dedication and private funding, will celebrate the success of another year with a finale concert.

El Sistema, was created 30 years ago in Venezuela by  Dr. Jose Antonia Abreu. Each year over a quarter of a million impoverished children in Venezuela are offered music instruction (and the chance to think creatively and be a part of something positive).

The Toronto chapter of El Sistema teaches music to children in Parkdale, four afternoons a week, after school. Participants are taught to play a string instrument and rehearse in a string orchestra. Next year, El Sistema (Toronto) will expand to include students in the Jane-Finch community.

Tonight, one day before school trustees make their decision on the very possible demise of the itinerant music program for children, the inspirational El Sistema, will hold its finale concert of the year at Parkdale Public School, 78 Seaforth Avenue in Toronto at 5 pm.

For more information, please visit sistema-toronto.ca.

13
May 13

Exceeding “Good Enough”

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As many of you know, when I’m not composing songs, I’m often recording them in a studio in Toronto. I’m as picky with the singers as I am initially about the songs. When someone’s performance is very close to being perfect, I label it as being “good enough”. It’s become a standing joke in the studio when I say that something is “good enough”, because everyone knows how close to perfection it really is.

I want you to meet Mark Steenhuis, my landscaper. Steenhuis’ work surpasses “good enough”.

For many years I have not taken care of my own lawn. I am allergic to grass. I’m really allergic to weeds. This is a job better done by someone else. Over the years I’ve met many landscapers, but I’ve never met someone with such pride in his work and such a regard for perfection as Mark Steenhuis.

This afternoon he even knocked on the door looking for me. He was wondering why I hadn’t been watering the area where he’d planted new grass seed. After all, he’d told me 2 hours earlier that it needed watering. It was at that time, after laughing, that I realized how lucky I was that Mark Steenhuis is doing my landscaping. When he’s not working as a landscaper, this St. Catharines resident is a member of the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team. He also represents Reebok.

Kudos to Mark Steenhuis for his great desire to always do a perfect job. The rest of St. Catharines should hire Mark.  After all, we are known officially as “The Garden City”.