Every December, music teacher Nicolas Jacques brings the bands he directs at Carson Middle School (CMS) to play at Carson City’s elementary schools. When they hear the familiar holiday tunes, the younger students clap, cheer and sing along, their eyes lighting up as they see the sixth, seventh and eighth graders playing their wind, brass and percussion instruments. The CMS bands perform often at school, in the community and at adjudicated festivals. The jazz band, which Jacques started in 2013, plays at “Jazz in the Commons” before classes begin and has performed at the Reno Jazz Festival and the Jazz in the Schools Clinic at University of Nevada Reno (UNR). The concert bands routinely earn “superior” ratings at the Washoe County and Northern Zone Band Festivals, and the groups have even performed at Disneyland. Jacques’ students make up 60% of the Carson City honor band, and six were selected to play in the All-State festival last year. Jacques’ students excel in academics as well, delivering the highest scores at the school on statewide assessments.
Jacques has made band an integral part of the CMS culture and a “family away from home” for the 264 CMS students who participate in the school’s concert, marching and jazz bands. He opens the band room for morning jazz band practice and after-school rehearsals and welcomes students at lunchtime. Jacques strives to create an environment of respect, hard work, camaraderie and integrity. He makes a point of getting to know students beyond the instruments they play. Jacques has skillfully created a positive feedback loop: When students work harder, he gives them more challenging music, inspiring them to practice and improve their musical skills. With up to 60 students in each class period, Jacques uses the school’s 1:1 devices with programs like Smart Music to help students learn their parts and practice sight-reading. After Jacques presented at the Nevada Ready 21 Summit on how he uses Flipgrid for video-based instrumental playing tests, several CMS teachers started using the technology in their own classrooms. Jacques keeps parents up to date through a newsletter and website. The band families pour countless hours into the program, managing uniforms, raising funds, chaperoning and driving students to rehearsals, concerts and festivals.
Jacques mentors new and aspiring educators and has coordinated districtwide music teacher curriculum training. He has guest conducted county honor bands and music camps, serves on the board for the Nevada Music Educators Association and coordinates the All-State music festival. Jacques hosts a summer jazz camp at CMS and directs the Capital City Community Band. Jacques’ middle school students develop skills and discipline beyond their years. Some of his young musicians have secured paid performance gigs while still in high school, and one is pursuing a college degree in music education.
Jacques earned a bachelor’s in 2008 and a master’s in 2011 in music education from UNR. He earned National Board Certification in 2018. In August 2020, Jacques became the new band director at Carson High School.
"I push my students hard. I see more potential in them than they see in themselves most of the time. Based on my upbringing at their..." (read more)
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National Board Certified Teacher
2020 Nevada Teacher of the Year Finalist
2019 Carson City School District Teacher of the Year