Sunday, August 14, 2011


My M.M.ed program is 3 years long...more specifically, 3 summers long. Last summer was the first.

Because of my son's recent birth, I took this summer "off" and will therefore be using next summer as my 2nd summer of my M.M.ed program.

But...this program offers "Workshop Week" where well-known music educators from around the country (and/or world) come to present about their specialties. This year, I decided to finally see and work with John Feierabend, who has become recognized as one of the leading authorities in music education of the last few decades. I have been using his approach in my classroom for years, and appreciate how straight-forward it all is. I enjoyed his workshop tremendously, and hope to hear him again sometime.

I took his workshop for credit toward my masters (so I was technically still working towards it). to receive full credit, I had to submit a paper of my thoughts on the workshop, its relevancy to my teaching, etc. Here's a snippet:

"Throughout the workshop, Dr. Feierabend emphasized the importance of sequencing the learning from aural to reading to writing. He taught that in previous decades, music education had focused either too much on the intellectual side of music, the “about” part of music such as notation and rhythm values, finger placement on instruments and theory, or on the intrinsic value of music - art for arts’ sake. He suggests that by focusing on hearing the music first, one can appreciate what goes on “below the surface”, and thereby teach the intrinsic values of music alongside the extrinsic. His is an approach focused on aural immersion, with reading and writing secondary, although still important. He suggested that by focusing on hearing the music well, the students would learn to make music well. As educators, it is our job to teach them using good music and teach them to make good music - and then teach them to read and write that music as means to remember it. Dr. Feierabend suggests that we teach notation as a means to remember good art, not as a means to itself."

I am not the best writer in the world, but it has been fun to review what I learned and figure out how I'm going to apply it to my teaching. I am trying to be a better teacher! I will not be defeated! :)

But seriously...if you are interested in music education at all (or even music), it would be worth your time to hear John Feierabend. If you ever have the chance, take it! He's pretty funny as well...kindof a dark, dry sense of humor. The kind that shocks some people who think that he's serious at first? Here's an example:

Background: Dr. Feierabend is describing a folk dance festival that is done at his house every year. He and whoever else would like to play jigs and reels by ear for the others to dance to. He is speaking to a woman who insists on reading music while playing her tuba.

(speaking to the woman): "Ok, but the rest of us are going to be playing by are certainly welcome to use notation, but that's not being very musical, you know."

(then speaking to us, the students)", what a loser, right?" then gives a subtle little half grin and feigns shock when a fellow workshop student looks at him cross-eyed.

I loved every minute. It was enjoyable and educational and inspiring.

And teaching begins August 29.

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