FAME Teacher Spotlight – Connie Greenwood
Name: Connie Greenwood
School System: Independent Music Contractor
Town/City: West Hartford/Simsbury
Education: Bachelor of Music from The Hartt School, University of Hartford; Master of Music Education from The Hartt School, University of Hartford
FAME member since: July 2012 – Founding Member.
Endorsed Teacher Trainer for First Steps in Music.
How has FS/CS changed your teaching?
I have always wanted to teach preschool music. I remember, in the early 80’s, asking the more seasoned Kodaly teachers, “What do you do with a three-year-old?” I was never satisfied with the answer. So, I went to Hungary and watched Katalin Forrai teach in her classroom. I knew I wanted to do what she did, but in 1983, early childhood music was just emerging in America. Through a series of fortunate events, I stumbled upon Dr. John Feierabend’s first book and started doing the activities with my baby. To make a long story short, that was the year Dr. Feierabend came to Hartt and he was my children’s first music teacher. Many years have passed. First Steps in Music has changed my teaching because I have found tremendous freedom to sing songs to children that have a wide range of tonality, meter, modes, and rhythm. Through joyful, interactive, music-making experiences, I know I am laying down a solid foundation for children to reach their true musical potential.
Most powerful aspect of FS/CS
I have been teaching First Steps in Music at the Hartt Community Division for many years. I see it, as my mission to subtly teach the parents as well as the children. So many times parents thank me because their singing has improved or they are finally able to keep a steady beat. First Steps as a quality curriculum, which brings families together in a joyful music-making environment. Zoltan Kodaly said, “What a child has heard in his first six years of life cannot be eradicated….his fate, as far as music is concerned has been sealed for a lifetime.” (Children’s Day 1951) First Steps in Music provides quality literature, which grew out of parents naturally sharing musical activities with their children. Each time I teach, I feel as if I am an ambassador, passing on a musical heritage from past generations. By teaching parents these activities, I am giving them the tools to help their infants, toddlers, nursery and preschoolers develop healthy neural networks which are needed to become tuneful, beatful and artful adults.
How has FS/CS changed your students?
In preschool, students learn through doing and interacting with their peers. As I teach the 8-part lesson plan out in community preschools, I know my students are becoming more comfortable singing, moving and responding sensitively to music. As I watch my parents sing and dance with their babies, I know they are all receiving quality children’s literature and developing musicality.
Folk music is music for the people and by the people and children gravitate to the wonder of it all. With so many cheap imitations, I know I am giving future generations a healthy and balanced musical meal and they hunger for it. Although I may not see the effects of my teaching immediately, I have had piano and guitar teachers tell me they can see a difference in the kids who come through my classes. My job is to give students an appetite for quality music. I am incredibly thankful for Dr. John Feierabend and I count it a privilege to teach the First Steps in Music curriculum.
With over 30 years of teaching in Public, Private and Home schools, Connie Greenwood has a passion for teaching children music. She has been teaching First Steps in Music at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School Community Division since 2007. She has a B.Mus from the Hartt School, and has taught in the West Hartford Public Schools. In May 2015, Connie graduated from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School with a Masters in Music Education degree. Connie also completed her Kodaly levels, Conversational solfege levels, and received her First Steps in Music certification. She is an officially certified teacher trainer in the First Steps in Music method and is a founding member of the FAME organization. Connie teaches First Steps in Music in several preschools in the area.
Connie is featured in the documentary Music and Early Childhood, produced by Connecticut Public Television and has been conducting a children’s choir in South Windsor since the fall of 2001. She also served as the University of Hartford’s program director for The Lullaby Project, an outreach to young parents in the community, in conjunction with Carnegie Hall.
Connie has a gift for unleashing creativity and curiosity in children in a playful, musical manner. Her energetic teaching enables children to want to learn. She loves teaching the First Steps in Music, not only because of its educational benefits, but also because of its authenticity and how it connects generations.
Connie enjoys singing and playing folk instruments with her dear, guitar-playing husband of 33 years and visiting her four musical daughters who have grown up and live far away. (Well, at least three of them live far away.) Her newest joy is singing lullabies to her first grandson and knowing that her daughter has graduated from the “Thirty -Year- Plan!”