By Suzanne Weiss/Silver Lake College of the Holy Family
MANITOWOC, Wis. — Music educator Bronwyn Lawson of Victoria, Australia, traveled more than 9,600 miles — that translates to some 20 hours in the air — so she could visit Manitowoc.
What’s the big draw? For her, it’s the two-week Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, traditionally held in early July.
The summer program is “giving me the skills to support my students to become artistic musicians and eventually learn to read and write music,” said Lawson, program manager of Bluebird Foundation, an advocacy arts organization that facilitates music programs for children.
Specifically, Lawson wanted to learn from Dr. John Feierabend, chair of the program, who is considered one of the leading authorities on music and movement development in childhood. He is celebrating his 40th anniversary with the Manitowoc program this year.
Dr. Feierabend is a professor of music education at The Hartt School of University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut, and a past president of the Organization of American Kodály Educators.
“John is such an inspiring teacher who gives you both the research — the why — as well as the practical pedagogy,” Lawson said. “I love that balance: the philosophy behind it and ‘this is how you do it.’”
Lawson completed the first level of accreditation in Australia and is completing her second and third levels at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family. “Dr. Feierabend said this is the place to come,” she said.
Kodály is an experience-based approach to teaching music developed in Hungary by Zoltán Kodály during the mid-20th century. Silver Lake College of the Holy Family was the first to offer a master’s degree in Kodály education and has since enjoyed a coveted reputation for excellence.
Music educators can earn a Master of Music in Music Education with a Kodály emphasis in just four summers. While earning a master’s degree, they also earn an Organization of American Kodály Educators-endorsed Kodály certification.
Graduate students also have the option of earning a Kodály certification in just three summers.
“My long-term goal and vision is that I could eventually become an accredited trainer of music teachers in Australia,” Lawson said.
Growing up in a musical home, her love of music began at an early age. Lawson and her mother, an infant music teacher, were always singing, whether they were doing dishes or taking a long car ride, she said.
Lawson, who took up violin and sang in choirs in school, knew as early as high school that music would be part of her work.
“I think that it’s really important that children have music in their early years because it establishes their potential in music,” she said. “It brings joy, builds connections and allows them to share the beauty of art.”
PHOTO: Bronwyn Lawson of Victoria, Australia, sings during a class at the Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family. Photo by Suzanne Weiss