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After returning from a wonderful weekend at the MATCH Conference in Houston (October 9-11), I hugged my family, found out everything that happened over the weekend from my girls, did laundry, reduced a one-hour iPad session into 25 minutes, and jumped right back into another presentation. On Monday, October 12, was the New Jersey School of Music Association’s (NJSMA) Workshop featuring John Feierabend. This sold out workshop was fabulous. I came away with a rejuvenation of singing and movement ideas and assessments. In addition, it refreshed my memory of age-appropriate activities and gave me new ideas for my first-ever “Mommy and Me” classes being held at my school this year.
John had us moving and singing right from the start. He presented his research in a way that made everyone in the room comprehend everyone’s musical abilities from the infant stage. John showed how students can always sing in their head voices if we pitched our songs in the key of F or higher because children have the ability to sing in head voices with notes as low D above middle C. He showed amazing examples from his wife Lillie’s music classroom. One of the best items that I adored when watching Lillie’s classroom was that it was a “real” classroom with examples of some students singing perfectly on pitch and some students being too shy to sing at all. John was showing us how to assess singing voices, which was exemplary because many of us must show assessments throughout the school year.
Finally, John presented his First Steps in Music curriculum and showed us what it means to prepare children to be musical in three ways: Tuneful (thinks tunes), Beatful (feels beats and meters), and Artful (responds to expressive qualities of music). When we prepare children to be musical, it leads to children becoming adults who can sing “Happy Birthday”, rock their babies to the beat while singing lullabies, can clap their hands in time, and are moved by music. The First Steps curriculum is a musical workout that occurs in eight sections:
- Pitch Exploration (Vocal Warm-ups)
- Fragment Singing
Call and Response Songs
- Simple Songs
- Arioso (Child created tunes)
- Movement Exploration (Movement Warm-ups)
- Movement for Form and Expression
- Movement with the Beat
To find out more about Feirerabend’s First Steps in Music, please click here.
The workshop also included a beautiful performance by Sola Voce of the New Jersey Youth Chorus, directed by Tara Postigo, a folk dancing session by the amazing Missy Strong Smith (so wonderful to finally meet her in person), and an iPad session presented by me.
It was an amazing day that included over 160 music educators and was coordinated by the fabulous and newly revitalized Elementary Music Division of the NJSMA. Chairperson, Lisa Wichman (Kinnelon Public Schools) and Co-chair, Carol Richardi (Oradell School District) did a terrific job organizing the day so that it flowed smoothly.
Next Blog Post: Presenting STEM to STEAM with the science teacher at the NAfME Conference in Nashville, TN.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com