Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Statement

It is our sincere belief that children and music educators deserve only the very best materials. When new information about the racist histories and context of some of the folk songs in the First Steps curriculum was brought to our attention, the Feierabend Association for Music Education (FAME) in collaboration with GIA Music, formed a committee to develop a set of standards for determining whether repertoire may be used with young children without being harmful, derogatory, or disrespectful. The full text of the committee’s recommendations is available to download here. The recommendations were accepted into practice by the FAME Board of Directors in 2019.

DEI Committee Members: Emily Maurek, Chair of FAME DEI Committee. President-Elect of FAME. Elementary general music teacher based in Indiana. Loneka Battiste, Assistant Professor of Music Education, University of Tennessee. Fulbright Scholar (currently in Brazil). Co-Chair of the Education Section for the Society of Ethnomusicology. Member of the Advisory Council for Diversity and Inclusion for the College Music Society. Uzee Brown, Chair of the Division of Creative and Performing Arts, Morehouse College. Professor and Member of the Board of Trustees, Morehouse College. President of the National Association of Negro Musicians. Researcher. Author. Patricia Shehan Campbell, Donald E. Peterson Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology and Education), University of Washington, Affiliate and Board member, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Association of Cultural Equity (Lomax archives); Author of books for Oxford University Press and Routledge. Manju Durairaj, Orff-Certified Music Teacher. Adjunct Professor, VanderCook University. Past-President of the Greater Chicago Orff Chapter. Teaches general music in Chicago. Past member of the Diversity Subcommittee of the National American Orff-Schulwerk Association. Author. Betsy Greene, Past-President of FAME. FAME Teacher Trainer. Kodály and Orff Certified. K–5 general music teacher in Vermont. Rachel Grimsby, FAME Teacher Trainer. PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan. Kodály and Orff Certified. Research interests include music cognition and language acquisition in students with special needs. Karen Howard, Associate Professor of Music, University of St. Thomas. Author. Presenter. Owen Hughes, FAME Certified. Kodály Certified. FAME Member-at-Large. K–5 general music teacher and chorus director in New York. Cynthia Romo, FAME Certified. Spanish Inclusion School Teacher based in Los Angeles. William Russell, FAME and Kodály Certified. Teaches K–5 general music and band in New York City. Natasha Verhulst, Music educator based in Wisconsin. Native American/American Indian Music Presenter.

2020 Supplement to First Steps in Music

Guided by the committee’s recommendations, GIA Publications revised the curriculum. The revised resources are available at www.giamusic.com/firststepsrevision. We removed any material that was deemed to be harmful, derogatory, or disrespectful, and we also added a number of new songs and rhymes from a variety of world cultures. The link below details the specific revisions that were made to each component of the First Steps in Music curriculum, including the curriculum book and the supplemental folk song collections. Click here to download the 2020 Supplement to First Steps in Music.

Feierabend Repertoire Database by Chris Anne Powers

The Feierabend Repertoire Database, by Chris Anne Powers, is a curated collection of the newly revised First Steps in Music repertoire. Each song or rhyme has been thoroughly analyzed and classified using the following categories:

  • Title
  • Printed Source
  • Aural Source
  • Genres
  • Country/Language/Origin
  • Subject
  • Conversational Solfege Rhythm Unit (updated to reflect new Book 3 edition)
  • Time Signature
  • Conversational Solfege Tonal Unit (updated to reflect new Book 3 edition)
  • Scale
  • Tonal Center
  • Tone Set
  • Recommended Key
  • Additional Content Notes

Resources currently included in the Feierabend Repertoire Database are:

  • First Steps in Music for Preschool and Beyond
  • First Steps in Global Music
  • The Book of Pitch Exploration
  • The Book of Echo Songs
  • The Book of Call & Response
  • The Book of Children’s SongTales
  • The Book of Movement Exploration
  • The Book of Fingerplays & Action Songs
  • The Book of Beginning Circle Games
  • The Book of Songs & Rhymes with Beat Motions
  • CD: Had A Little Rooster
  • CD: Old Joe Clark
  • CD: There’s A Hole In The Bucket
  • CDs: Music For Creative Movement

Click here to download the database as an Excel file (this file is searchable). This file will be periodically updated as new information becomes available, so users may wish to occasionally return for updated versions of this file. Most recent version: October 27, 2020. It should be noted that at this time the Feierabend Repertoire Database is primarily an analysis of the musical content of the pieces contained therein. Note: This document does not include an historical analysis of each song or rhyme.


Scholars and educators are encouraged to provide relevant feedback about any song or rhyme in the curriculum.

CLICK HERE to access the feedback submission form at the bottom of the the GIA DEI webpage. Please fill out your name, email address, the title of the song or rhyme, and any comment, question, or information you wish to provide. 


2020-2021 DEIA Committee

In 2020-2021, the FAME Board of Directors formed an ad-hoc DEIA Committee. This committee provided significant work including the creation of the FAME DEIA Bite of the Month video episodes shared via the FAME “Feierabend Fundamentals” Facebook page.  Click HERE to access the episodes.

Jason Alexander Holmes, Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Boychoir, is a music educator and performer from Ridgeway, VA. Before coming to Cincinnati, Jason worked with the Boston Children’s Chorus, public schools in Rochester, NY, and community and professional opera and musical theatre companies. At the core of Jason’s teaching and performing is the belief that we are all expressive and musical beings who deserve to witness and create moments of truth and beauty. Jason is energized and excited about joining the FAME DEIA committee. We will work together to discover how we can move towards equitable access and inclusion for diverse groups of people. This requires recognizing the role of and then denouncing the furthering of white supremacy, classism, and ableism in our work with colleagues and young people. I am happy to discuss this work with members of the FAME community.

Joya Barnett has taught elementary music for three years in a small, military town in North Carolina. She is living her dream as her calling and career collide! Joya loves being able to impact the lives of those she teaches in ways many of them would not experience outside of the music classroom. To express love for those she teaches, using the vehicle of music, is her goal. Joya came across a First Steps in Music training two months before her first-year teaching. The training eliminated so many first-year jitters, as well as lots of the inevitable mistakes of a beginning music teacher. Joya will forever sing the praises of this curriculum and is honored to have the opportunity to help make it more socially just, less euro-centric, and more culturally responsible. Her students love the program itself and she cannot imagine how much more engaged they will be as this curriculum continues to evolve! In a time where our country seems more divided than ever, it thrills Joya that the Feierabend Association of Music Educators is wanting to build a bridge of diversity within its curriculums. For such a time as this, Joya wishes to encourage this community to better ourselves, as music educators and human beings.

Natasha Verhulst is an enrolled tribal member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a descendant of the Menominee Nation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education with triple certification from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin in 2015, and is currently working towards her master’s degree in Music Education with emphasis in Kodaly previously at Holy Family College and plans to finish the program at Lakeland University. Natasha has taught 9th-12th grade band and choir at Menasha High School in Menasha, WI and 5th-8th grade choir, band, and general music at Kiel Middle School in Kiel, WI. She is currently teaching 4K-5th grade general music at Keshena Primary School in Menominee Indian School District on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. 

Natasha’s career goal is to help bring native music and culture to the music classroom setting for children to experience and learn from. Natasha recently worked with PBS on their project “ReSound: Songs of Wisconsin,” creating a diverse curriculum of different cultural music for educators throughout the state. She presented at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association State conference in October 2019. Recently, Natasha was a part of the 2020 WSMA Summer Workshop series, where she taught a session to music educators on how to include Native American music in regular music lessons. The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) is featuring Natasha’s lesson plans on their website so that educators throughout the country may use them in their classrooms. Natasha enjoys spending time with her husband and relatives, performing, crocheting, and beading in her spare time.

Lindsay Jackson has taught general music and choir since 2005. She holds a B.M.Ed. from Westminster Choir College and a M.M.Ed from the Hartt School. Lindsay is a FAME endorsed Teacher Trainer in both First Steps and Conversational Solfege. In addition to teaching children and training teachers, Lindsay is a founding member of the Feierabend Association of Music Education and most recently served on the FAME board as Member at Large. Lindsay is featured in the DVD “First Steps in Music for Kindergarten and First Grade: In Action” and is a contributing author in Feierabend Fundamentals both by GIA Publications. Lindsay is honored to be a part of the FAME DEIA committee and looks forward to amplifying the voices and musics of marginalized people in order to make our classrooms more equitable and inclusive for all students and educators.

Dr. Rachel Grimsby is an Assistant Professor of Music Education at Illinois State University. Rachel has over fifteen years of experience teaching elementary general music. Her research interests include the professional development and collaborative needs of inservice teachers and paraprofessionals, course work for undergraduates and graduate students in teaching music to students with disabilities, and music and language acquisition in students with language delays. Rachel is the co-author of two publications; First Steps in Music with Orff Schulwerk, and Feierabend Fundamentals: History, Philosophy, and Practice, and also has been published in the Orff Echo and the Journal of Music Teacher Education. Rachel is fully certified in Feierabend, Kodály, Orff, and holds GIML Elementary I and II certificates. She also is a teacher trainer for both First Steps in Music and Conversational Solfege Level 1 and 2. Rachel is a member of AERA, AOSA, GIML, OAKE, NAfME, ECMMA and is a founding member of FAME. Rachel is honored to be a part of the FAME DEIA committee. She hopes to continue to evolve a pedagogy she loves through working with other committee members to amplify the musics of marginalized peoples. By questioning the white, Eurocentric norms of music education we can develop a space that is more equitable and inclusive. She lives with her husband and two children in Bloomington, Illinois.


Rev. Dr. Donna Cox Presents 2021 FAME Virtual Conference Keynote Address

The Power of Song In A Strange Time. 

Using African American music, culture, and history as the backdrop, Rev. Dr. Donna Cox discussed the power of music to transform lives and situations. She suggests ways teachers might use examples from the discussion as building blocks for students to use their distinctive voices and contexts as agents of social justice.


2021 Conversational Solfege Review

The FAME Board of Directors and GIA Music are dedicated to continuing the DEIA review of materials. In August of 2021, the FAME board voted to begin the next phase of review in collaboration with GIA.  A committee will be formed in the Fall of 2021 to begin review of the Conversational Solfege curricular content to provide assessment and recommendations in a similar manner to the recent First Steps in Music review.  While a revision of this nature will take several months to complete, this document, Conversational Solfege Supplement (13Sep2021) lists the songs that will be removed from the curriculum in future printings. We are providing this information now so that teachers may make informed decisions about the repertoire they use with their students. Fortunately, the majority of songs in the curriculum will remain, giving teachers plenty of musically rich and pedagogically appropriate songs from which to choose for each unit. We further recognize that our understanding of folk repertoire is constantly evolving, and we continue to research the histories and contexts of these songs to determine their appropriateness for inclusion in the curriculum. The contents of this document are subject to change as we learn more, and we will provide updates as necessary. 

Living Traditions: Songs and Singing Games from Guatemala and Nicaragua with Dr. Rachel Gibson

SEPTEMBER 2021 WEBINAR: Come sing, play, move, create, and experience joy with living musical traditions from Central America. Participants will engage in repertoire that the presenter learned while living in Guatemala and Nicaragua. The music was collected from playgrounds, classrooms, and families, and represents diverse practices that span from traditional songs and singing games to contemporary children’s music that utilizes recorded media. The activities allow for musical play and movement, encourage lyrical improvisation, and foster community. The Spanish texts are accessible to learn and field videos will be shown to demonstrate the songs’ authentic contexts. ¡Ven a cantar y jugar! Come sing and play!


FAME Commission Project: First Steps in Instrumental Music – Arrangements for Beginning Band by Quincy Hilliard

The CS Instrumental Committee, chaired by Carol Swinchoski, is thrilled to announce the October 2021 premier First Steps Instrumental Commission! Focusing on first and second year band instrumentalists, the committee chose three familiar First Steps and Conversational Solfege melodies: Shoheen Sho, Bells in the Steeple, and Sailor, Sailor.