Career/Major Change

November 16, 2021, 9:16 AM · Hi,
So I completed my undergraduate for a music performance degree in Violin but now I am more interested in doing a Master's degree in Music Education.

However, I am fairly new to this field and I don't know what schools are looking for in my application, because for a performance degree, almost everything is about the audition and I know that is different for a music education degree.

Also, most graduate programs for the Master of Music in Music Education degree require a Bachelor in Music Education or a teaching certificate for public school (k-12th grade).

I found a couple schools offering the Certificate of Music Education or something similar to that, but it would have to be 1.5-2 more years of school for a non-degree program, which requires more time and money.

There are also schools that don't require the BME or a certificate but I couldn't find many.

Is there a best way to go about going into this field? Also if there is a list I could turn to with names of schools that offers certification or don't have the requirements I listed? I'm completely in the dark for this field, because I thought I would be performing violin for my whole life, and never dreamed I would go into music education.

Any and all information would be helpful.

Replies (16)

November 16, 2021, 10:53 AM · You're interested in becoming a public school music educator? If you know the state you'd like to live in, you should take a look at their licensing requirements and figure out what educational programs would allow you to fulfill those requirements through an MM in music ed. (Every state is different in this regard.)
November 16, 2021, 10:54 AM · So my first question:

Are you SURE you want to go into music education? Are you passionate about it? Or is it just a "path of least resistance" thing? Have you taught large groups of kids before? At different age and talent levels?

November 16, 2021, 12:17 PM · Not to pile on, but..
Teaching is a calling, just as hard to do well as a life in performance.
(I am coming from a visual arts perspective). Too many people teach for the security and a paycheck-
if you can't do it with equal passion, save your students from your future self.
You and those students are better off if you find another day job, do your art around that job.
But if you love it, that's a rare gift. A vocation, not an occupation.
November 16, 2021, 1:14 PM · I know a very capable, not to say outstanding, concert pianist here in Britain, who prefers to play as an amateur, happily travelling all over the country giving recitals and playing concertos.

His day job? A high-speed train driver, working for British Rail and fulfilling his childhood dream.

November 16, 2021, 1:38 PM · The little bit I know is that public school music teacher is more of a teaching job than a music job. If you really want to do that you will need to do the undergraduate level certificate program. It is probably one year full-time.
November 16, 2021, 2:02 PM · Yes, I am more passionate about teaching than performing. That's why I decided to switch majors. I also had some hearing problems (tinnitus) and physical problems that have made me less passionate about performing. I haven't taught at a public school but I have observed it. I haven't taught groups of kids at once but I have taught privately at music academies with varying age groups.

Joel - Can I still do the undergraduate level certificate program after I already graduated from my undergraduate?

November 16, 2021, 3:13 PM · What you need to look at is the State Teaching Credential and the related program for it, which is usually another year beyond the undergraduate degree. In the US, in every state, you have to complete the program to earn a credential to be eligible to teach any subject in public schools.

A master's degree is not required for successful placement in a public school music program, however there are some benefits, including a higher salary scale, that are well worth it. A number of schools offer a MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) degree that is combined together with the state certification that you might find attractive, having already completed an undergraduate degree.

November 17, 2021, 3:56 AM · The above advice is all good. I would contact your alma mater's education program and/or career placement. You might also look to classmates or local music teachers who could share their experience. I know sometimes there are masters that are more or less for those who did not do an education undergraduate, and they include necessary courses and student teaching, but it may be easier/cheaper to take a certain sequence of undergrad courses at a school with an education program. It's good to ask around, because, for instance, I have heard of schools practically requiring a masters, and others where they don't want to hire masters grads because they are higher on the pay scale. Best wishes on the change! Teaching can be very rewarding.
November 17, 2021, 6:30 AM · I think private schools can hire without certification.
November 17, 2021, 9:41 AM · "The little bit I know is that public school music teacher is more of a teaching job than a music job..."

No, it's a crowd-management job. The first thing I had to learn, for example (I didn't spend a career as a school teacher but I have done it at various levels), was establishing a traffic pattern for getting all the instruments tuned within a reasonable time.

I can't remember if it was clockwise or counter clockwise...

November 17, 2021, 10:39 AM · @Scott--correct. Class-room discipline is tough. I never learned that skill. jq
November 17, 2021, 2:32 PM · Nowadays can't students just tune themselves on their phones?
Edited: November 17, 2021, 3:12 PM · Not when there are 30 other students in the same room tuning to their phones at the same time.
November 17, 2021, 7:10 PM · Private schools may be able to hire without certification but I would strongly recommend against trying to take an orchestra teaching job without having taken the music education courses. Teaching strings, or school orchestra, requires an entirely different skill set from teaching privately or performing the violin.
November 18, 2021, 9:20 AM · I don’t know what age group OP intends to teach, but at least at the elementary level, it can be really difficult. Classroom management aside, for a lot of kids (depending on school, even most) kids get no strings education beyond the one thirty minute to an hour class a week. They often don’t know how to hold a violin, much less tune it, and at least in my daughter’s school, the path of least resistance is to tune the violin for them (and recruit kids that do know, to help). It’s a tough, tough job, mostly involving lots of non- music. And what they do end up producing never goes beyond Essentials. Things are probably better in middle school and up; at the one my daughter will be attending, there are five orchestra levels, so some hope for playing actual music.
Edited: November 18, 2021, 5:03 PM · Our arts/AG magnet school orchestra teachers, elementary through high school, are among the most universally beloved teachers at these schools. The high school teacher just retired after 30 years, and the person who took over grew up in the same programs, and played in the same youth orchestras my kids have played in. It is a calling, for sure. But they have all left a lasting impression on thousands of children.

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