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Old 11-08-2004, 11:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Masters in Music Education

Hello everyone!
This is my first ever TFP thread, do I am excited to read what you all have to say...

Here is my question/situation.
I am in my first semester in college, and I will be entering the music ed. degree program next semester. To the extent that it is possible, I really believe that this is what I want to do, and I am quite commited to doing my best.

Due to my basic lack of organization, things always seemed rushed and unplanned, so I sat down and decided I needed to formulate a 5 year plan for myself. I expect be out of the uni in 4 or 4 1/2 years, dependant upon how much extra time the 2 minors I want to pursue take up (Computer Information Systems, and Writing... Both of them are more for my enjoyment and furthering my education than anything, but I would really like to finish them) and how much starting the music program a semester later than everyone else will affect things.

The next step is a bit up in the air. I don't know what the pro's/con's of going straight into a Masters program are, versus getting 3 or 4 years teaching expierience under my belt.

I know someone had a Masters thread in this board, but it was in relation to an MBA, and in my expiereince the music ed/mba thing would be quite different...

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give me!

Mr. Pink
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Old 11-10-2004, 05:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It sounds like you intend to teach after you graduate. If this is true it would be better to get a job teaching before getting your masters. Here are a couple of reasons. Most schools pay you based on your education level. A masters will get you more money, but also make you more expensive to hire. Most school districts don't put their money into music programs so they will hire someone cheaper. Second you probably will be required to take classes to maintain your teaching credentials. Why not work on your Masters then? Besides if you find that teaching music isn't for you then you won't have spent the time and money to obtain a Masters in a field you no longer intend to pursue.
Here is another suggestion, Don't waste time taking a lot of classes just because you are interested in them. Besides being able to taking them later for accreditation purposes that I mentioned above. You can do what I did. After I graduated I went back and audited classes that I liked, but didn't want to pay for.
My wife taught music in public school for over 20 years, She really enjoyed it, but teaching isn't for everybody and what she has seen volunteering after her retirement has led here to believe she would not want to teach in today's environment.
Good Luck
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Old 11-10-2004, 07:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Here in Oregon music classes are the first to go in a budget crunch, so start making connections now about a job when you graduate.
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Old 11-11-2004, 05:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Your guardian angel has arrived, Mr. Pink. I have a bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree in music education and I'll give you all the help I can.

First, are you going to focus on elementary or secondary music education? Second, are you going to focus on vocal, instrumental, or general music education? Here are all the possible areas of focus:
1) Elementary General - this was my area, and it means you will be certified to teach basic general music classes at the elementary school level (typically K-6). If I knew what state you're in, I could be more specific.
2) Secondary General - not very common as most states are cutting this program out of the public schools. This certification applies to people who teach general music appreciation classes at the junior high or high school level (certification 7-12).
3) Secondary Vocal - junior high and senior high choral programs, certified 7-12.
4) Secondary Instrumental - junior high and senior high band programs, certified 7-12.

You'll notice there's not an elementary vocal or instrumental concentration, and it's for a practical reason; the elementary general teacher usually is responsible for any choral or band groups at the elementary level (and most elementary schools don't have a band anyway).

Since your degree will be a teaching degree, there can be no better experience than teaching. However, don't limit your thinking to organized schools; volunteer or apply at churches, day care centers, nursery schools, YMCA's, shelter homes, etc. They probably won't pay you much (if at all), but the experience you gain will be invaluable. At the very least, you'll get a critical opportunity to find out of teaching is really the thing for you. I've supervised some extremely brilliant students who were miserable teachers and they had no business in the classroom. It's important to find this out BEFORE you get a job teaching somewhere.

As for the question about starting graduate school or getting a job, why not both? Get a teaching job and start your masters program simultaneously; that's what I did. First of all, Frowning Budah is exactly correct about the pay; if you complete your masters program in three years, then you'll get your degree right at the same time you'll be granted tenure at your teaching job, and you'll get one monster mofo of a pay raise all at once. Second, there is no way to describe how deep and broad an entire school year can seem for a first-year teacher, and if you're in a masters program it will give you even more ideas of what to do. When I took my first job as an elementary music teacher, I used up every single lesson and trick I'd learned in college before we'd even hit the Thanksgiving break; thank God for graduate school! Third, since you'll be working full time in the day, your graduate courses will be in the late afternoon and evening and full time in the summer. I continued to follow that same schedule all the way through my doctoral program, working full time at an elementary school all the way through graduate school. By the way, any teaching job you get will require you to complete "inservice activities" in order to keep your teaching certificate updated, and graduate school covers those requirements beautifully.

I can tell you so much more, but I'll wait to hear for more specific questions. Good luck, and start learning about Edwin Gordon's Music Learning Theory as quickly as possible!
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Old 11-11-2004, 07:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Damn - I can't carry a tune in a bucket. You guys have my respect!
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