The First Steps in Music curriculum is design to prepare children to become musical in three ways:
1) Tuneful– to have tunes in their heads and learn to coordinate their voices to sing those tunes.
2) Beatful– to feel the pulse of music and how that pulse is grouped in either twos or threes.
3) Artful– to be moved by music in the many ways music can elicit an emotional response.
John Feierabend, a music philosopher, teacher, and creator of “First Steps in Music” and “Conversational Solfege” two curriculums that we’ll be using at Folsom in grades K-6 writes this about First Steps:
All adults should be tuneful, beatful, and artful so they can participate in the music that is interwoven throughout their lives. Adults who are tuneful can sing lullabies to their babies, sing “Happy Birthday” to their children and friends, sing in worship services, and join others in singing ceremonial songs like alma maters or heritage favorites. Adults who are beatful can rock on the beat while singing that lullaby, dance at their weddings or at their friends’ weddings, and can clap their hands in time with others at a sporting event. Adults who are artful are moved by music and seek out venues to share artful experiences with others in concert halls, and in community bands and choirs or by listening to National Public Radio. Artful adults enjoy being moved by music.
When I first heard this I felt relieved. Finally I had found the words to express why I teach music. As you can see, preparing children to become professional musicians has very little to do with this philosophy. I think that is a misconception among some people that perhaps don’t see the value of music education in the public school. I am not teaching to the students who may continue to play in college and beyond, (though I am giving the necessary music foundation,) I am teaching to ALL students skills and practices that will enrich their lives no matter what their passions are.
Feierabend goes on to write:
- Adults who are tuneful, beatful, and artful are also better able to participate in a community and are able to enjoy opportunities to sing together with others, dance together with others, and share listening to beautiful music together with others.
- Children who learn to be tuneful, beatful, and artful before they leave elementary school will grow to be adults who benefit from what music can offer. Those who go on to sing in choirs or play an instrument will do so in a more musical manner. Those who choose not to sing in choirs or play an instrument later will still be enriched by being able to share music in their daily lives.
I wanted to share these words with my Folsom families because I think it is important for you to know the why behind a Music Education. This is my Why. I might say I’ve adopted Feierabend’s philosophy, but I feel more comfortable saying that I’ve finally found the words to express my own philosophy.
While this “First Steps in Music” Curriculum is aimed at Preschool through Second Grade, these same ideas of tuneful, beatful, and artful absolutely apply in grades 3-8. In grades 3-6 we’ll be using the second part of Feierabend’s curriculum called “Conversational Solfege.” Look for a blog post on this soon!