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Detail Mentor Profile: FLEURETTE SWEENEY

The Transformative Learning Foundation


Fleurette Sweeney

University of British Columbia, Ph.D. (Education), 2002

Fleurette started teaching in 1950 and has spent more than 45 years researching the connection between singing and speaking and the effects of social play on the educative process of children. She collaborated with Mary Helen Richards (1967 to 1985) developing Education Through Music and taught ETM at universities and school districts throughout the US, Canada and Japan. Upon retiring (1996) Fleurette began doctoral studies at UBC. She graduated in 2002. Her dissertation From Sound to Symbol: The Whole Song as Curriculum; The Whole Child as Pedagogue; Observation as Methodology is the basis for her continuing work with children of all abilities, families, and teachers. She founded the Living Language Institute Foundation (1987) under the auspices of which Fleurette and colleagues have developed such projects as: the Singing English Pilot Project (2002-04) to address the needs of teachers and children learning in the multi-lingual classrooms of Metro Vancouver; the Co-lingual Pilot Project (2005) an intergenerational, inter-cultural sharing of folk song-games among neighborhood families living in South Vancouver; and the LLIF Early Childhood Education Training Program (2012). She offers directed studies in Sound to Symbol Praxis at SelfDesign Graduate Institute.


  • SelfDesign Graduate Institute, M.A. (Honorary), 2015
  • College of the Holy Names, Oakland, CA, M.A. (Music Education and Psychology), 1970
  • University of British Columbia, B.A. (Music and English) 1968
  • Royal Conservatory of Toronto, Associate (Piano Teaching) 1959


Main Interest

Education and learning; the effect of social play and movement on learning; the connection between singing and speaking; economy of place as antidote to globalization; inter-cultural relations.

Vancouver, BC


SDGI Courses

SD 503 Living in a Learning Community (3 credits) Second Year Residency

Each learner in this course is given an opportunity to facilitate the learning of the cohort and faculty by engaging the community in topics and activities chosen by the learner. In this way each learner can share her/his learning from the first year of the program and have the opportunity to engage colleagues in the trajectory of his/her M.A. program. The faculty share their own learning edges in the same manner.


  • Sound to Symbol Praxis


Publications/Presentations/Professional Projects


  • 2005 Singing English: Common Expressions. Teacher’s manual and student text and CD’s for 16 weeks oral language program integrated into the Beilin International Academic Preparation (IAP) Certificate, China
  • 1994 90 Folk Songs Kidd & Company Graphics, Inc., Langley, BC. Symposium Proceedings: The First Asia Pacific Symposium on Music Education Research. Paper: Singing in the Education of Children
  • 1973 Experience Games for the Very Young. Co-authored with Margaret Wharram, Richards Institute Publishers, CA
  • 1970 Tracking the Learning Process. Masters project. Richards Institute Publishers, CA

Doctoral Dissertation


  • 1970-1971 Transcribed and codified unpublished folk songs collected by Dr. Helen Creighton, Dartmouth, NS
  • 2007-2008 Conducted a research project Singing English Pilot Study for the Living Language Institute Foundation in collaboration with the Linguistics Department of UBC. Collected and recorded the voices of 47 children, Kindergarten through Grade Six at Nestor Elementary School, Coquitlam, BC. The songs were chosen for the manner in which they hold the stress/unstress phrase patterning of oral English speech. The purpose of the study was to determine to what extent the rhythmic, tonal and phrase structure of the song replicates a) the patterning of full and reduced vowels, and b) the patterning of duration in the articulation of English utterances. These two characteristic of flow in oral English often prove to be problematic for children learning to speak English. Through the analysis of the physical properties of oral sound as these separate properties converge in the recorded samples I arrived at a deeper understanding of the nature of stress in English and the connection between prosodic properties of speech and singing.

Workshops and Conferences

  • 1973-1998 For all of these presentations the focus was on one, or other, aspect of Education Through Music and often included demonstration with children. Some workshops and/or conferences in the United States:

Omaha Public School District, Omaha, NE; Kearney Public School District, NE; La Puente-Hacienda School District, La Puente, CA; Oregon Music Teachers Association, Eugene, OR; Whisman School District, Mountain View, CA; Calipatria Unified District, CA; Salt Lake Public School District, UT; Albany Public School District, OR; Beaverton Public School District, OR; Corvallis Public School District, OR; Deer Lodge Public School District, MT; Missoula Public School District, MT; Kalispel Public School District, MT; Whitefish Public School District, MT; Billings Public School District, MT; Butte Public School District, MT; Montana Music Educators Association, Great Falls, MT; Burnsville Public School District; MN; Cottage Grove Public School District, MN; Eagan Public School District, MN; Boner County School District, Sandpoint, ID.

In British Columbia, Canada: Abbotsford; Coquitlam; Delta; North Vancouver; Vancouver; Salmon Arm; Courtenay; Campbell River; Gold River; Nanaimo; Dawson Creek; Fort St. John; Prince George; Quesnel; Nacusp; British Columbia Music Educators conference, Vancouver; British Columbia Primary Teachers Conference, Vancouver. In Alberta: Alberta Primary Teachers Conference, Edmonton; Edmonton Public School District. In Ontario: Ontario Music Educators Conference, Toronto; Kent County Separate Schools; Pembrook Public Schools; Orange County Public Schools; In Nova Scotia: Halifax County Public Schools; Pubnico County Public Schools.

  • 1980, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2008 Education Through Music and English EdVentures in Japan: Tokyo; Nagoya; Osaka; Yokohama; Tanuma; Shimudate City.
  • 1988 Education Through Music International Conference, Education Through Music the First Twenty Years, (Panel) University of British Columbia
  • 1997 The First Asia Pacific Symposium on Music Education Research. Workshop and paper: Singing in the Education of Children, Yangji, Korea
  • 1998 Music EdVentures International Conference. Paper: Patterns in Sound, Burnaby, BC
  • 1999 Sharing the Voices: The Phenomenon of Singing III, Festival 500. Paper: Singing in the Education of Children, St. John’s Newfoundland.
  • 2000 Learning Love: Articulating a Space for Love and Compassion in the Teaching and Healing Arts. Conference Workshop: Folk Songs, Social Play, and the Development of Empathy in School Children, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
  • 2001 Remaining Human in the Face of Our Growing Dependence on Technology. Conference, American Society of Cybernetics. Workshop: Singing in the Education of Children, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
  • 2002 Music EdVentures International Conference. Paper: Music EdVentures: An Historical Perspective, Richmond, BC
  • 2003 Music EdVentures International Conference. Workshop: Creating Relationships from Sound to Symbol, Eagan, MN
  • 2004 Music EdVentures International Conference. Workshop: Sing English, Seattle WA;  Pacific Immigrant Services. Workshop: Sing English, Vancouver, BC;  Provincial Primary Conference. Workshop: Sing English, Vancouver, BC
  • 2005 Music EdVentures International Conference. Workshop: From Sound to Symbol, Seattle, WA;  Coquitlam Primary Teachers Conference. Workshop: Sing English, Coquitlam, BC
  • 2005 BC Primary Teachers’Association and Coquitlam Primary Teachers’ Association. Workshop: From Sound to Symbol, Coquitlam, BC
  • 2006 Music EdVentures International Conference. Workshop: Creating Community Through Singing, Eagan, MN
  • 2006 Vancouver School Board. Workshop: Singing English, Vancouver, BC; Terrace School District. Workshop: Singing English,Terrace, BC; Living Language Institute Foundation. Workshops: Creating Community Through Singing, with focus on families of children within the autistic syndrome, Vancouver, BC
  • 2007, 08, 09, 10  Provincial ESL Conference. Workshop: Singing English, Vancouver, BC
  • 2009, 10  Professional development Coquitlam Elementary Teachers, Workshop: Singing English, Coquitlam, BC
  • 2009 Weekly classes in Singing English, Creative Minds Childcare Centre, Vancouver
  • 2010 Two sessions weekly in Singing English, SelfDesign Learning Centre, Vancouver, for children on the autistic spectrum, their parents and learning assistants

Other Professional Activities

  • 2012 Co-founded SelfDesign® Graduate Institute, Bellingham, Washington
  • 2012 C0-founded Living Language Early Childhood Program in collaboration with Creative Minds Early Learning Society
  • 2007-14  Chair of the Board of SelfDesign® Learning Foundation
  • 2005 Conceptualized and brought together representatives of Team Syntegrity Inc. Toronto and Vancouver, and a mixed representation of participants from the academy, professions, youth and society at large for a four-day syntegration The question addressed was, “How can we create New Dawn University as a self-renewing learning community of care? And what can I do to bring this about?” Harrison Hot Springs, BC
  • 2003 Coordinating a collaborative research project with teachers, K-3 students, parents, school administrator, and UBC Linguistic Department.
  • 2003 Collaborated to form the Teaching English from Sound to Symbol (TESS) Group, Vancouver, BC, an initiative of the Living Language Institute Foundation, for the purpose of developing curriculum and multi-media support technologies for teachers using the Sound to Symbol Methodology for teaching in English in multi-lingual classrooms.
  • 2002 Collaborated with the Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction, UBC to conceptualize and organize, Conversations Across Disciplines, a one time symposium of scholars, artists, musicians in conversation.
  • 2002 Conceptualized and helped coordinate Dis/Concerting in Concert, a collaborative venture with the Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction, UBC and the Living Language Institute Foundation, to bring together the internationally renowned Irsih/Swiss composer, John Wolf Brennan, on stage with our nationally acclaimed poet, Carl Leggo.
  • 2001 Conceptualized and brought together representatives of Team Syntegrity Inc. Toronto and Vancouver and a mixed representation of participants from the academy, professions, youth and society for a three-day syntegration entitled, The Earthkeepers Syntegration. The question addressed was, “What is the economic potential of not-for-profit organizations to use their assets as leverage for projects of social and ecological transformation?” Rosemary Heights, Surrey, BC
  • 1996-2000 Collaborated with Akiko Inagaki, Michiko Nitaira, Yuriko Ishikawa of Japan, Annette Coffin, Pitt Meadows to prepare audiotapes and instructional materials. This curriculum is based on using children’s folk songs-games as a primary means for establishing an oral experience of English and is intended for use by native Japanese teachers teaching English to native Japanese children.
  • 1988 Founding Member, President and Member of the Board of Directors of the Sweeney Family Charitable Foundation, Burnaby, BC
  • 1988 Coordinated the First International Conference in Education Through Music: Reaching People Through Music. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, in collaboration with the Vancouver Public School District, the Vancouver Youth Symphony, the Sweeney Family Charitable Foundation.
  • 1981-1982 Developed teaching materials and study techniques in collaboration with Dr. Mary Helen Richards for teaching English through Education Through Music to fifteen pre-literate Mien refugee women from the hill country of Laos who had been brought to San Jose, CA