Name: John Crever
School District: FAME Endorsed Teacher Trainer
“After almost 3 decades teaching music I had to leave the classroom because my immune system had become significantly damaged, causing me to spend many days of each school year out sick. Before leaving though, I taught in 16 different schools ranging from Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), where I started the K-12 music program at American Community School (where they are still using Dr. Feierabend’s programs!), then on to 22 years in NJ/NY working in Cherry Hill, Rutgers Preparatory School, and Newark Public Schools, with a few 1- and 2-year posts interspersed here and there. Since 2012 I’ve been living in Portland, Oregon where I taught at the Ivy Charter School for a couple years.
Currently, I regularly teach pre-school through adults each week as the West Coast FAME Committee representative and a FAME Endorsed Teacher Trainer for First Steps in Music and Conversational Solfege. Much of my days are now spent seeking ways to bring the Feierabend philosophy to teachers who want it and providing professional training to teachers and school districts across the Western United States.
Grades Taught & Specialty Area (previously and currently):
- Pre-K-8 General Vocal Music
- MS/HS Choir
- AP Music Theory and Composition
- Pit Orchestra and Musical Direction of Theater and Variety Shows
- Bachelor of Music (Music Education, Choral, Voice and Piano) Westminster Choir College (1993)
- Master of Music (Music Education and Conducting) Westminster Choir College (1997)
- Additional private studies in counterpoint and orchestration with Lee Hoiby and composition at the Julliard School, and with John Feierabend.
Primary instrument in college: Voice and Conducting
How you came upon Dr. Feierabend’s materials & philosophy.
I attended Westminster Choir College, and to say that there was a strong Kodály influence in the education department is an understatement. Being a dedicated singer, I was enthusiastic about adopting a vocal approach to classroom music education. The perspective the Kodály lens gave me led me to a couple inspired mentors with whom I had the opportunity work under for several years. One particularly relevant to John Feierabend was Mary Szeles at Rutgers Prep School in Central New Jersey. Mary hired me to do middle school and high school choir because of our closely aligned philosophies. She would regularly attend many Kodály conferences and would bring me back books and videos. I would come in on Monday morning and find a new Feierabend book on my desk, which meant that I would possibly be asked for my feedback on it in the near future. She encouraged me to reconcile my differences with the Kodály approach by not spending time revisiting where I’d failed before, but by finding a new approach that I felt worked for me. She felt strongly that Feierabend (who was at the time President of OAKE) was the future of the Kodály approach in America.
After college I began following Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory, trying to understand his tome Learning Sequences in Music and using the Gordon inspired curriculums Jump Right In. For several years I’d been modifying the Jump Right In materials to work with HS/MS choirs to teach musicianship skills. At the time I felt like Dr. Gordon had a more concrete idea of how to teach musical listening and responding through improvisation than what was offered in other popular music reading textbooks or in various Kodály programs.
Around the same time, I found myself moving away from high school choirs in search of what experiences a high school student needed before arriving at high school to sing in a competitive choir. I found myself traveling in the afternoons to teach 8th Grade choir, then 7th grade, then 6th grade until one day I arrived at school years later where I was handed a new schedule that contained four sections of Pre-K and four of Kindergarten music. Clueless, I took the plunge and quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing with lower elementary.
I expressed this to a good friend, Jennifer Elliott, who took me along to a local Kodály New Jersey talk given by Dr. Feierabend on his 8-part Musical Workout for Pre-schoolers and Beyond. It was an easy sell! Within 10 minutes Dr. Feierabend led a Move-it! and I was sold. To me, doing this beautiful activity was a new way of sharing and experiencing great music together, and that made all the sense in the world to me. I got First Steps in Music and Beyond and after that did the training in FSM and CS and the rest, as they say, is history.
What do you find to be the most powerful aspect of Dr. Feierabend’s philosophy for your teaching?
I think the most powerful aspect of Dr. Feierabend’s philosophy in my own teaching was realizing that all people are musical and it’s our job as a music specialist to help every child find that musicality in themselves. For many years as a high school choral director, I combed the student population for who would be my next performer. Recruitment of students was key to survival in the high school choral world. My attention as a music specialist in the school focused only on a small part of the school population. John Feierabend gave me a vision that included everyone in my musical community. To satisfy my desire to do this, I dedicated my teaching solely to elementary music and worked to connect musically with each student everyday as they came through my music room. …”
John Crever is a FAME teacher trainer, musician, educator and parent based in Portland, Oregon where he plots his Tuneful, Beautiful, Artful takeover of the western states.