By Suzanne Weiss/Director of Public Relations
MANITOWOC, Wis. — When music teacher Jennifer Kater earned her bachelor’s degree, she had no intention of returning to school.
Instead, she followed her childhood dream of pursuing the teaching profession.
So how did Kater, who teaches music at a small Catholic elementary school in Decatur, Illinois, end up enrolled in the Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc?
“I started using Dr. John Feierabend’s teaching materials, specifically ‘First Steps in Music’ with my preschool class. The effect of those materials was dramatic,” Kater said.
Feierabend, considered one of the leading authorities on music and movement development in childhood, is chair of SLC’s Kodály Summer Music Program and teaches a number of its classes.
Kater noticed that using Dr. Feierabend’s teaching materials improved her students’ ability to sing, their behavior and their participation. “All those factors made the class more enjoyable for me and my students. It transformed me and it transformed my classroom,” she said.
The summer program focuses on the Kodály concept, an experience-based approach to teaching music developed in Hungary by Zoltán Kodály during the mid-20th century. Silver Lake College was the first to offer a master’s degree in Kodály education.
“I knew I couldn’t continue teaching without this. It’s a necessary next step to achieving my goals as a teacher and influencing my students in the most effective way. I’m learning far more than I ever imagined,” said Kater, one of 43 students enrolled in Silver Lake College’s summer music program, which runs through July 7. She is pursuing her Master of Music in music education with a Kodály emphasis.
Kater, who considers herself a flutist, not a singer, said the summer session has helped her find her singing voice. And when she picks up her flute, “it sounds better,” she said. “I’m a better musician as a result.”
PHOTO: Music teacher Jennifer Kater, front center, is one of 43 students taking part in Silver Lake College’s Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program. Photo by Suzanne Weiss