As the more avid readers here may know, I have recently been announced as one of Joe Pisano’s 100 ME Bloggers in the field of music education. as such, I’m making an effort to include more posts here related to the field of music education and teaching in general. This shouldn’t be extremely difficult, as I have recently become much more involved in the music education department here at Miami, as the President-Elect of Miami’s chapter of FCMENC (Florida Music Educator’s National Conference). When thinking about what an interesting topic would be for discussion about music education on this blog, I realized that many readers-either music educators or family and friends-don’t necessarily know what I do here on a day-to-day basis as a music education student. That is my purpose in this post.
The music education curriculum here at Miami can be broken down into a few different categories: music education classes, general music classes, general education classes, and general classes. Below I outline each of these sections and the courses that are required in each section in order to attain a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Miami.
Music Education Classes
The music education courses in the curriculum can be broken down into four main sections: tehniques classes, conducting classes, methods classes, and internship. In the techniques classes, students are given the opportunity to not only play all the instruments, but to learn how to teach these instruments. These classes include brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion, and vocal. There is also a functional techniques class that includes instruction in recorder, guitar, and autoharp. The classes are usually taken in the first three or four semesters of the 4-year program. Conducting classes begin in the third semester, and consist of two general conducting classes, one error detection class, and one wind literature class. As the student enters his/her 5th semester (junior year) in the music education program, they begin the methods courses, which teach strategies that can be used in the classroom. These classes include elementary general music, secondary choral music, elementary/secondary instrumental music, and secondary general music. There is also a class on methods for teaching jazz. Most of the methods courses include a field experience component, where the student is expected to visit a local school and observe (and possibly teach, along the line) the methods that are being taught in the class. After these courses are over, in the final semester of the program, the student takes part in a two-part internship (sometimes called student-teaching). The internship semester consists of 4 weeks of internship in an elementary setting, and 4 weeks in a secondary setting (either middle or high school).
General Music Classes
These courses are taken by all music majors, regardless of concentration. They include four semesters of music theory, four semesters of ear training, four semesters of class piano, and two semesters of music history. The theory classes span every aspect of music theory, from figured bass and part-writing to 12-tone rows and 20th-Century techniques. Ear training classes focus on improving the student’s aural skills, and each semester includes more difficult and complex examples. Piano classes are intended to give the student a basic foundation in playing piano, and-like ear training-operates on a gradual increase in difficulty by semesters. The two music history courses split the spectrum of music history in half, with the first course focusing on the Medieval, Rennaisance and Baroque periods, and the second course focusing on the Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods. In addition to these courses, the program includes a few other theory-based courses including a course based on formal analysis and an orchestration course. There also, of course, is a requirement to participate in a performing ensemble (two if the student is on a scholarship), and private lessons on the student’s principal instrument that are required for each semester the student is in the School of Music.
General Education Classes
There are some education-based courses that the student takes outside the school of music, through the University’s high-caliber School of Education. There are four of these courses in the program now. The first is a basic inroduction to Educational Psychology, intended to establish a background for the student to build upon as he/she learns more about the theory behind teaching. The second class focuses on teaching reading in the content areas, and is primarily intended to help future teachers be equipped to prepare their students for standardized testing and stimulate interest in a topic where initially there might not be interest. There is a course for teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), which helps students learn techniques for facilitating for the needs of English Language Learners that might be in the classroom. The fourth course discusses the theory and practice of classroom and behavior management. All of these classes except the first have a component of the curriculum centered around a 10 to 20-hour field experience requirement, where the student observes in local classrooms, and eventually employs some of the strategies that he/she has learned in these classes.
These are the obligatory “Gen-Ed” classes, which establish a firm basis in many different areas for the student. Requirements for these courses include taking classes in the fields of English, Natural World/Sciences, and other elective credits from any field. Many music education students will use these “elective” credits to take courses in philosophy or psychology, to help their teaching. One of my other interests (which I’m hoping to be able to integrate with my teaching) is technology and, moreso for the past few months, social media, so I may try to take a course or two in the School of Communications to help improve my prowess in this regard.
While this isn’t by any means a perfect representation of the curriculum for a future music educator at the University of Miami, hopefully it gives some insight as to what my friends and I are up to during the day, before all the extra curricular activities you’ve heard so much about!