Lots of places offer music education degrees. But in each region of the country, there are usually an established few schools known to be music education powerhouses. Many of these schools combine their established reputation with a reasonable price tag and scholarship opportunities.
If you’re looking to teach, you can’t beat looking into these schools.
A common experience at mid-to-large schools is for music education students to be assigned to a graduate assistant rather than the primary professor. This may turn out to be a positive experience. After all, many graduate assistants go on to become great teachers. Results may vary depending on the specific circumstances, however.
One of the key components of any instrumental education is studio class.
Here’s an example of Chicago Symphony principal bassist Alex Hanna teaching a studio class:
Working as a peer group on common goals is one of the most beneficial reasons to attend college as an instrumental major.
Life as a music major can be quite busy. Here’s a glimpse into what life as a music education undergraduate student is like:
Why future music teachers should have the best possible instrumental training
At the risk of stating the obvious, we owe it to our future music teachers to provide an absolutely first-class instrumental education. I firmly believe that music education students should leave school playing at the same ability level as performance students.
Here’s my rationale:
- Instrumental music teachers are, for the majority of primary and secondary students, the prime musical conduit
- Your level of musicianship and technical proficiency directly relates to the level which you can take an ensemble
Having spent many years in the public school music education world, I can tell you with certainty that I’ve never seen an outstanding program with a director that wasn’t a good player.
The concept that one can develop the ability to teach instrumental performance without rising to an extremely high level of proficiency themselves.. well, the evidence just doesn’t reflect that.
Here’s a video from the admissions department at the University of Iowa about life as a music education student. Pam (the student featured) is in the band world, but there’s a lot of overlap between her experiences and those of a double bass student.
Check out these interviews for examples of people combining stellar performing abilities with a public school teaching job:
In fact, players with high levels of technical and musical proficiency consistently rise to the top of their profession.
The effect that one music teacher can have on hundreds of student is tremendous. That teacher can bring a love of music into the lives of hundreds of people who will go out and remain amateur musicians, attend concerts, and start their own children on instruments in the future.
The goal of good music education is not to create hordes of music performance majors.
Students may be inspired to go into that profession in greater numbers due to an inspiring teacher, but this is a byproduct rather than a goal.
- Advice for Aspiring Music Performance Majors
- You can’t teach professionally and perform professionally – misperceptions on both sides of the divide
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