News - Playful Music Education Hits All the Right Notes For Alumna Klauzer

Playful Music Education Hits All the Right Notes For Alumna Klauzer

By Carla Morris

A four-year-old holds his hands to his chest, imagines four scoops of ice cream and says, “Mmmmmm.” He feels vibrations and discovers his “chest voice.” 

A kindergartener traces the ups and downs of a bent pipe cleaner with her eyes and “sings” the rise and fall of each curve. She punctuates the final note with a broad smile. 

kids music“I don’t really recall the very first time I encountered the works of Dr. John Feierabend,” says Liz (Lock ’10) Klauzer, a veteran music teacher who currently works with students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in Illinois’ A-C Central Community Unit School District #262.

“As I started really studying the material and hearing from other music educators via a Facebook group, Feierabend Fundamentals, I was inspired to start using the materials as they were meant to be used.”

The approach begins with First Steps in Music, the introductory segment of a journey that helps students be “tuneful, beatful and artful” in their music-making. The process incorporates singing, playing, dancing, moving and all manner of expression. 

Liz has implemented some of the concepts and hopes to implement more in just a few weeks when school begins. She has already seen benefits. 

“I find that my youngest students are more tuneful in their singing and are willing to sing by themselves.”

Enduring Pleasure: Lessons With A 30+ Year Span

While very young children seem the obvious audience for experiencing music in this way, Feierabend engages older learners, too. At a music conference in Manitoba, he guided a packed auditorium of attendees in ballet-like hand motions to symphonic strings. The beauty of the crowd expressing the music in impeccable unison moved Feierabend to exclaim from his vantage point on the stage: “I wish you could see what I can see!”

Music, expression, motion—Liz knows she has much to learn, but she’s excited and willing. 


“This district is supportive of its music program,” she says. “The community takes pride in their school, while the teachers are supportive of each other.”

First Steps in Music integrates folk songs that help children find their roots and also introduces students to games, songs and activities they can share with loved ones and their own children 30 years from now. 

The intended longevity of the lessons echoes a theme of life-long learning that Liz values: music is for everyone at all times, not just in music class and not just for “top tier” performers.

Ongoing Conversations, Always More To Learn

Life-long learning for Liz meant earning a master’s in music and keeping up conversations with her undergraduate instructors long after graduation.

Prof [Louise] Weiss continues to be a trusted adviser who is always encouraging of my pursuits in music education,” says Liz.

She names other influential professors, too—Jeff Wilson, Deb Marsch, Chris Woods and Tom Stampfli. She recalls her voice teacher particularly: “Prof Joe Noble instilled in me how important faith is in music.”

Managing Obstacles: Don’t Go It Alone

With the start of a new school year on the horizon, Liz has this advice for incoming GU freshmen: 

“It is important for them to know that college is challenging, but they can do it. Their minds are capable of great things . . . community is so important. Whether your community is small or large, if the people in it are supportive of you and love you, any obstacle will be easier.”

Learn More

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When you help fund a scholarship, you connect a student to GU’s community today. Thank you for giving.  

This story was published on August 19, 2019

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