Teacher Feature: 192 Deskbells Make Landfall in Cape Town

I just got off a call with an absolutely amazing teacher in Cape Town, South Africa and I had to share this story with you.

You may or may not know me specifically — I’m Aaron Poole, one of the earliest Prodigies team members, and I helped Mr. Rob write tunes like Sweet Beets, Za Time & Meteor Man.

These days, I mostly work with teachers to help them get setup for large classrooms and, like I was saying, I just had to share this epic story from Jessica van der Merwe.

Like many teachers, Jessica first came across Prodigies Music by watching Sweet Beets on Youtube! Seeing how fun & effective the format was for her students, she started looking at our full-fledged music curriculum and wondering if she could work it into her budget.

And like many music & arts teachers, Jessica didn’t have a ton of budget to spend on her program, and when she asked her principal about Prodigies Lifetime, his response was simple… “I hope you know this is your budget for the whole year!”

Jessica responded, “If you want a brilliant music program, this will revolutionize what we’re doing.”

Jessica knew that she’d be able to use her budget this year to lock down Prodigies Lifetime & enough Deskbells to set her up for years of success. With Prodigies Lifetime, she gets Mr. Rob as a teaching assistant forever, and her budget is wide open next year for any matter of other material &, instruments.

Well, as you can see below, they went ALL IN!

For one, we love the lapdesks — what a great idea! And during this crazy year of COVID, it’s great to see a music class meeting in real life (and taking appropriate measures while doing so).

Shipping 24 sets of Deskbells to South Africa was a whole other story that involved two huge boxes, a lot of duct tape, and one very confused customs agent. But as you can see above, the bells found a home in Jessica’s class some 6 weeks later to much celebration (check out the epic bell/Boomwhacker armory in the back corner)!!

To help keep those bells looking sharp, Jessica might’ve embellished a student’s idea about Mr. Rob keeping an eye on them in an almost–Santa-Claus kind of way 🙂

Since the bells arrived this past summer, the Wynberg Junior School started using the program in earnest in September. Jessica loves how accessible each lesson is, and it’s helping her do more with less time, which is important because she only gets 30 minutes a week with each group.

Still, even just with 30 minutes of Prodigies a week, Jessica’s students are on a clear path toward learning basic musicianship and real music theory.

Whether we’re playing the deskbells, singing about Solfege or practicing rhythm, the activities inside Prodigies are REAL music theory lessons focused on teaching kids the language of music.

As Jessica put it:

Prodigies is like having another teacher in the room. I am able to walk around and it’s made our lessons so easy. I kind of felt like I was cheating (*insert Jessica’s bold and wonderful laugh here*)

We’ve heard a similar sentiment from hundreds of music teachers at this point — “so I’m just going to hit play on a video?!?”

At first, that idea kind of feels like cheating. After all, it’s the music teacher’s job to lead the ensemble through the song.

But when you pop on a lesson or a performance track for the first time, you’ll see that you can do so much more as a music teacher. 

Instead of being trapped in the front of the room shouting note names and cues, you’ll have the freedom to assist kids one-on-one. You’ll also be able to observe your students and decide when it makes sense to pause, explain and repeat difficult sections.

And of course, you can continue to conduct & model and sing your kids through the song — all of the songs have Mr. Rob free versions as well! 

For more of a challenge, you can use mixed instrument performance tracks to mix and match percussion, melody and chords in a very Off friendly format, whether that’s on bells or Boomwhackers or piano! As another teacher put it…

This program has revitalized my 30 year teaching career! Bravo! My students are engaged and learning at a rapid rate. I use this program with my xylophones & Boomwhackers with much success!

Video lessons allow me to float around the room to correct students hand positions and provide one on one instruction where needed. I am able to provide better feed back & it is saving my voice. I ❤️ this program!

Music class with Jessica van der Merwe

We’ve got another call with Jessica scheduled for this winter and we’re excited to hear more about her students musical journey from budding bell jammers to accomplished jazz musicians!

Now, it’s true that Jessica has a pretty amazing setup here, and she’s fortunate to be in a school and a community that values the arts enough to invest the way they did.

On one hand, she spent her whole years budget on going all in on Prodigies, which is AWESOME!! But as a result, she’ll be able to use Prodigies FOR LIFE, and her budget will be totally freed up for future years!!

Understandably, not everyone has the budget for Lifetime and an arsenal of Deskbells. I’ve personally spoken to schools where their music budget is less than $1 per student per year.

But no matter what your budget is, Prodigies can help.

If you have ZERO budget, like literally ZERO, there’s 2 hours of amazing free content on our YouTube channel here! These are some of our best lessons and songs in one easy to navigate video (thank you YouTube) and your kids will develop some core musical skills just here alone!

If you have a bit of budget (i.e. $13 a month)… you should absolutely check out our full library of over 500 videos with our 30 Day Free Trial at ProdigiesMusic.com (which continues into a $13/mo subscription that you can cancel anytime).

And if you’re in the market to revolutionize your music program, then you should seriously consider checking out Prodigies Lifetime!

Prodigies Lifetime contains ALL of our past, present & future content as well as MP4 video downloads for offline use.

Plus, you have all of November to Save 55% on Prodigies Lifetime (with Cyber Savings ending Nov. 30th and midnight).

And as an added bonus, from now through Monday night, you can save an additional 10% off with the coupon EARLYBIRD (enter it in your cart or at checkout)!

The full price of the Prodigies Lifetime Membership is $1697 (~$3 per video lesson), which is a great deal and huge value, but it’s also a big investment up front.

With 55% off Cyber Savings, it’s currently down to $747 until the end of the month!

Plus, if you use the coupon EARLYBIRD, you can save another 10% bringing Prodigies Lifetime (the digital membership) down to $672.30.

Additionally, we have Lifetime Kits that include bells and books if you’re looking to go full-Jessica and invest in instruments alongside your Lifetime Membership.

If you’d like to learn more about our Ultimate Curriculum Membership, visit…


and revolutionize your music classes today!!


4 thoughts on “Teacher Feature: 192 Deskbells Make Landfall in Cape Town”

  1. I am Jessica Sax,Jess van der Merwe s father, nothing can make me prouder than an international accolade like this. I have always called her Pookie and she had four amazing teachers Lucia Caine Allen Caine, Kerryn Torrance ,Marina Louwand Miss le Grange who were not scared to transpose music way above the level of a six year old to enable her to play it. This is what teaching is about, Education, Inspiration and a freedom to express your self. Pookie I am so proud of you, you took the best of the best, and learned to leave the awfully draconian teaching methods behind and allow this generation to get fulfilment and pleasure in creating and performing. You are my inspiration, you are their inspiration, and they will become the next generations inspiration and leaders. Pookie, you have one very, very proud Mom and Dad. Louise Van der Merwe

  2. Did I really say that about the budget? Amazing stuff and I’m happy Jessica an Gene twisted my arm.

  3. Wow Jess. You make us proud. We’ll done on putting our name out there and for taking our growing music department to new amazing heights. Excited to see what the future holds.

  4. Congrats, Jess. We are so lucky to have you. Your energy, expertise, enthusiasm and love for music is evident in how much the boys enjoy their music lessons, especially now they are developing into awesome bell jammers and confident readers of music. I am excited to see and hear what the future holds for music at WBJS

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