Embracing Musical Freedom: A Book Review of "Feierabend Fundamentals" by Dr. John Feierabend

"Feierabend Fundamentals" by Dr. John Feierabend is a groundbreaking book that not only delves into the core principles of music education but also emphasizes child-centered learning in the realm of musical expression. As a self-employed music teacher, this is one of the foundational books on which I build my philosophy of teaching and basis for instruction. Dr. Feierabend, a distinguished figure in the field of music education, seamlessly intertwines his expertise with a refreshing perspective on fostering creativity, autonomy, and learner-centered expression.

One of the book's standout features is its comprehensive systems of teaching and learning fundamental musical concepts. Dr. Feierabend's approach is both scholarly and accessible, making it an ideal resource for educators, students, and anyone passionate about the art of music. Through engaging anecdotes and practical examples, he navigates readers through the essential building blocks of musical understanding, emphasizing creating a strong foundation for children by the age of 7 or 8.

However, what truly sets "Feierabend Fundamentals" apart is its emphasis on freedom in the musical journey. Dr. Feierabend passionately advocates for nurturing individual creativity and allowing learners, especially children, to find their unique voices within the framework of musical theory. He argues that true musical proficiency is not just about mastering notes and rhythms but also about cultivating a personal connection in creating with the art form, especially during the formative years of child development.

The book challenges traditional notions of musical education that may stifle creativity by promoting rigid structures and stifling conformity. Dr. Feierabend encourages readers to break free from these constraints through a structure that promotes individuality, fostering an environment where self-expression, particularly in a child-centered context, is not only welcomed but celebrated. In doing so, he empowers educators and parents to guide children in embracing their musical identities, fostering a sense of ownership over their artistic endeavors.

Dr. Feierabend's insights are not only informative but also inspiring, motivating readers to rethink their approach to teaching and learning music, particularly when working with young learners. The book is structured in a way that encourages reflection, providing thought-provoking prompts and exercises that prompt readers to apply the principles discussed, making it especially valuable for those involved in child-centered musical education. 

"Feierabend Fundamentals" is a must-read for educators, parents, and enthusiasts alike who seek to go beyond the confines of traditional music education, especially when working with children. Dr. Feierabend's advocacy for freedom, autonomy, and child-centered learning serves as a guiding light, encouraging readers to view music not just as a set of rules but as a boundless realm where individual creativity can flourish, particularly in the context of nurturing the next generation in what's known as his "30 year plan." As a result, this book stands as a comprehensive reference resource for those who need or want an all-in-one guide to Dr. Feierabend's philosophies and materials.

A Quick Tutorial on Teaching Sight Singing & Ear Training in as Little as 5 Minutes Per Day

A Quick Tutorial on Teaching Sight Singing & Ear Training in as Little as 5 Minutes Per Day
Sight Singing and Ear Training are fundamental skills in music education. Most colleges teach it over the course of a few different classes, and many people view it as skills you can't teach until middle school or later... but I love teaching these skills to students as young as 2nd grade (who are already tuneful, beatful, and artful!) in as little as 5 minutes per day. It can be done well and creatively so that students experience it in a joyful, fun way.

Sight singing is the ability to read and sing a piece of music at first sight without having heard it before. It involves translating the written musical notation into vocal sounds. This ideally is done AFTER having some foundational skills built first, namely ear training skills.

Skills Involved:
  1. Note Recognition: The ability to identify and sing the correct pitches indicated in the musical score.
  2. Rhythm Recognition: Being able to interpret and execute the rhythm of a piece accurately.
  3. Interval Recognition: Recognizing the distance between two pitches, which helps in accurately reproducing melodies.
  4. Key and Scale Recognition: Understanding the key signature and scale of a piece, which guides the performer on which notes to sing.
  5. Phrasing and Articulation: Interpreting the musical notation to convey musical expression, including dynamics, tempo, and articulation.

Ear training, also known as aural skills, involves developing the ability to identify and reproduce musical elements solely by hearing them. This includes melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. My goal is always to develop the musical ear before the musical eye.

Skills Involved:
  1. Pitch Recognition: Identifying individual pitches and intervals between them.
  2. Melodic Dictation: Hearing a melody and writing it down in musical notation.
  3. Harmonic Analysis: Recognizing and identifying chords and chord progressions in a musical piece.
  4. Rhythmic Dictation: Hearing a rhythm and notating it accurately.
  5. Chord Progression Recognition: Identifying the sequence of chords in a piece of music.
  6. Transcription: Listening to a piece of music and notating it in sheet music form.
Both ear training and sight singing are essential for any musician who wants to perform, compose, or arrange music. It enables musicians to effectively communicate and collaborate with others. Musicians with strong sight singing and ear training skills can adapt to various musical styles and genres. These skills empower musicians to improvise and create their own music. It hones the ability to critically analyze and appreciate music. Both sight singing and ear training are skills that can be developed and honed through consistent practice and training. They are vital components of a well-rounded musical education.

Conversational Solfege is a system of 12 steps that addresses these needs first by ear and then adding the eye and symbols to it to develop a person's musical mind and musical thinking in a playful, creative way!

To learn more about Conversational Solfege, check it out here. And here are the flash cards I use that go with the CS units. I'm happy to chat more about CS as well, it's a passion of mine to use this well-created resource to help develop young musicians.