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Qualified or Able: A Music Ed Advocate’s Struggle

Just yesterday, I read an article on all state musicians’ attitudes toward majoring in music education.  It was a really great article and led me to some really interesting questions.

Henry, M. L. (2015). The Musical Experiences, Career Aspirations, and Attitudes Toward the Music Education Profession of All-State Musicians.Journal of Music Teacher Education, 24(2), 40–53.

The article mentions a shortage of qualified teachers within our field and cites like, 4 different sources.  I am curious what exactly Henry means by “qualified.”  Sometimes I fear that our qualifications may be too stringent to have enough music teachers.  The reality that most music educators are unwilling to face is that WE ARE NOT CONDUCTORS… Most music educators do not need a wealth of knowledge in 21st Century music theory, nor do they need to be on the same performance level as a professional violinist.

FMEC Logo 2015

What might other music teachers consider qualified?  Many rural communities would be willing to hire music teachers if only they would move out to the country.  There seems to be a cycle between the rural communities: not enough music teachers = not enough qualified musicians for music majors = not enough music teachers, etc, etc, etc… What a shame it is… I think when I am a professor, I will recruit directly from more rural communities, I will try to guide them through the music major so that they can return to their homes and provide a better education for these communities.  I truly believe that even a moderately “qualified” music teacher is better than nothing.

Okay, let me continue with the article:  There is a trend within the Music Education majors to decide early on their future.  Many decide as early as middle school or even elementary school.  This makes a lot of sense to me and makes me wonder, how many music teachers does it take on average to influence a student to major in music ed?  It seems that most of them are really great teachers too, which definitely helps.  What happens if the teachers aren’t so good but the student has immense talent and ability?  We probably never even see those students.

Additionally, in this study, only 28% of the students surveyed from this Texas All State were ever given any kind of teaching activities… This seems so crazy to me!  Especially since I am constantly throwing my students into teaching… Maybe I throw them in too far sometimes, but they at least get experience.  The findings within this article also suggest that choral ensembles present significantly more opportunities for rehearsal opportunities whereas instrumental ensembles seem to provide only opportunities to teach privately.  Do we fear a lack of control?

Finally, perhaps the most relevant piece of this article to my own situation included an unattractive attitude toward music education when the student observed behavior issues within the music classroom.  This is so interesting, because it suggests a fear of future struggle.  My husband keeps saying something or another about a standard economic theory which I will definitely be looking up.  Is the cost greater than the worth?

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