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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! If anyone has any tips for a high school student who plans to major in music education, feel free to share! It's definitely my biggest dream, and I want to do everything I can to ensure I'm successful. For example: how much do you recommend I practice, taking lessons, applying to schools, etc. Thank you!
 

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Couple things come to mind-
get experience playing in all different ensembles (jazz, orchestra, band, pit...)
Join the choir at your school - you never know what your first gig will be
Piano is key to your success (pun intended)
When the time comes to learn the other instruments, find one (outside of woodwinds) and go further than just the basics.
Pick a notation software and get comfortable with it as soon as possible ( Finale or Sibelius would be my advice- both have good student deals)
Good Luck! It is a wonderful career.
 

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Choose a university that's known for its music education chops, rather than a performance-oriented school where everything hinges on your ability to excel on your instrument. You'll become a generalist rather than a specialist. As a woodwinds principal, I learned more conducting from the vocal ensemble I spent two years in. And housesax is right -- you'll need piano skills. Also, if you can learn some basic theory before you arrive at college, you'll be a step ahead.
 

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I doubt anyone is brave/stupid enough to say this but.... Teaching jobs are hard to come by these days.
Make sure you have a MARKETABLE minor so you can support yourself until you find that dream teaching job.
Student loans, housing, food, utilities/phone, transportation costs.... You won't be able to meet your financial needs working at McDonalds. :)
 

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Learn Music theory and History. Know how to read Treble and Bass clef, understand Major and Minor scales, learn Major, Minor, dominant 7th, and diminished chords in all 12 keys. Get familiar with Baroque, Classical, and Romantic composers and their music. Learn to recognize intervals (major/minor 2nd, major/minor 3rd, perfect/Augmented 4th, etc).
 

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Piano.......piano........piano........piano.........Get private lessons and really practice

Major instrument or voice.......same thing here.

Don't really worry about Advance Placement Courses or Honors Courses in high school so much.

A music theory course will help too.

Get real good at music. That is what you will be doing with your life.

This is coming from a former high school principal and current music educator with over 30 years experience.

Work your butt off on the music stuff.

A failure to comitt will generally result in failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I realize teaching jobs are very hard to get, especially in the arts. Believe me, if I could see myself in any other job (with much better prospects), I would. I've been teaching myself some music theory, so I'm pretty ready in that area. I have hardly any playing experience with piano though, which I realize I will definitely need. Where should I start with that? Lessons are really expensive, and I'm already taking lessons on my saxophone. Thank you for the tips so far!
 

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Also think about where you want to be working/living, and learn about the music community there. You may want to go to school there, as you will make connections in that area. Or look at where the other teachers there went to school. A big name school may make you more attractive in a lot of places, but in some areas they will still prefer to hire someone with a local connection/contacts. Oh, and be friendly, network a lot, and avoid making enemies.
 

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The other thing, that everyone's avoided talking about but interrupted me from pursuing a M.Ed degree is patience.

You really need a lot of patience and tolerance for the absurd to do this. If you are not a patient, exuberant (meaning able to generate excitement), and tolerant person by nature, I do not recommend pursuing this path. Many people (myself included), lack the patience needed to do this.
 

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I'm currently a high school senior and I'm applying as a music major for colleges (not as a music educator though); however, I have spent a lot of time talking to my music teachers and college professors about their career choices.

The most important questions I think are; who do you want to teach, what do you want to teach, and what can you currently work on that will help you in your future?
Are you looking to be a private music instructor, or a teacher at an elementary school, middle school, high school, or college?

If you are looking to be a private teacher (assuming you are a woodwind player) becoming proficient on your instrument and common doubles is important. If you know how to play the saxophone, learn how to play the flute and clarinet. This will open you up to more performance and teaching opportunities if you're interested.

For whatever you intend to go in for in college, piano proficiency is a requirement. Becoming familiar with the piano as early as you can will save you time and money later on down the road. Take a theory course if there is one available and start developing your ear. There are plenty of apps and website devoted to helping with the recognition of intervals, progressions, chords, and so forth. Being able to recognize good intonation is a necessity.

If you are looking to be a grade school music teacher, familiarize yourself with the different programs that schools teach that are music related and familiarize yourself with the different instruments that are used in the courses. At my school, there is a full orchestra, chamber orchestra, three different choirs, an AP Music Theory class, two concert bands, a marching band, jazz band, and a color guard class. The director of music at my school is personally involved in most of these programs in some way. I'm pretty sure student teaching is a requirement for a music education major, which will require you to work under a music teacher at a school. Be prepared to teach and work in classes you may not have initially wanted to work in. Flexibility goes a long way.

As for applying to colleges, it straight up sucks. It is time consuming and application fees can get hefty depending on the amount of schools you apply to and whether or not your financial situation allows for you to have the fees waives. If you apply to a school that is not strictly or primarily music orientated, you will be required to fill out the regular school application as well as the music supplements. All of the schools I've seen have required an audition in addition to other stuff that varies depending on your major. I agree with finding a school that focuses on education rather than performance. Do your research on schools and find an environment that you think you will work best with. Smaller universities or programs will offer you better communication and relationships with your professors. Larger schools may have small music programs which will offer the same type of relationship with your teachers. Talk to music educators that you know and ask them about their experiences and connections. If you are interested in a specific school, email some of the professors. Many of them are very good at answering questions you may have and responding to emails. There are plenty of websites like collegeprowler that will give you reviews on the social aspects of a school. Don't get caught up in heresay or hype. Determine what will work best for YOU.
 

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It may be your dream, but do you know the reality of it?

I have always thought it was absolutely absurd to wait until a MusEd student was a Jr. or Sr. before they have practice teaching. Just stupid. Why invest all that time, energy and money only to feel overwhelmed, underwhelmed or just plain incompetent at the last moment? I urge you to find a band teacher whom you can shadow and work with at his school (or maybe after hours at some extra-curricular musical activities) as soon as you can. Make sure this is what you want ~before~ you are waist deep in your program.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I appreciate the tips and advice very much! Since it is my dream, I have done some research on it, and I know what I'm getting myself into is not going to be easy by any standards. I plan to teach in a grade school instead of private teaching, but if I can't find a job I will probably end up subbing and giving lessons while waiting for an opening. Caymen brought up an interesting point on the big vs. small school issue, does anyone else have any opinions on that?
 

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I thought Caymen has a bunch of good points, and has clearly done his/her homework. I didn't do a music program, but in general small schools (or small departments) will give you more personalized attention from the faculty, while large schools (or large departments) will have more choices and more people to work with. If you like the faculty you are working with, a small school/program is great; if you don't, you have no one else to go to. Big schools will generally be more bureaucratic (which can be okay if you know how to deal with it). At small schools you need to make sure you get along with the folks who really run the place (I made sure I was always very nice to Verna in the Records Office...).
 

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You've received some very good advice. Here are a couple more things to consider.

Where would you like to teach? What are you willing to teach? Are you willing to move to another part of the country?
Would you like to teach in a larger or smaller school? Both have their blessings and curses.
What will it take to obtain a teaching license or certificate there?

I looked at the community, real estate market, taxes, fees, pension system, cultural amenities, music performing opportunities, etc. when I had interviews for teaching positions in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, etc. Now, as an adjunct professor in a smaller, private university, I advise and encourage my college students to consider these things. Take a good look around.

Also keep in mind that earning a degree does not guarantee that you'll find a job in the field. I didn't right away.

I will be retiring in a couple of months. I've been the band director for a small, rural school system where I had all of the bands, 5th grade beginners through high school. I did that for 14 years. I'm currently a middle school (7th an 8th grade) band director and I assist with the 5th and 6th grade bands and teach 4th grade general music in a school system that's in a suburban setting.

After 35 years I can honestly say that I would not have wanted to do anything else.

Best wishes and Happy New Year!
 

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What grade are you in? How long has this been your dream? How long have you been playing? Give us more info, we can come back with more advice. And more questions.
 

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There is a lot of good advice here. What Gary said above is important. A lot of people realize in their final year of undergrad that they don't like teaching once they begin the practice teaching. Another thing to be aware of is teacher certifications. Every state is different and require different tests and/or degrees. Some states will accept a certification from another state while others do not. Most states now require a Bachelors and Masters degree in education to be fully certified. Some schools will offer some sort of Bachelors/Masters combined program but I don't know if I would recommend that path. Best of luck and listen to all of this great advice! Piano, Piano, Piano!! Also, work on your doubles. I was a saxophone major who learned his woodwind doubles but becoming proficient on brass doubles has made me a better teacher and more employable. There are jobs out there but you need to look good on a resume. My school system advertised an opening and we received almost 100 resumes for one job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What grade are you in? How long has this been your dream? How long have you been playing? Give us more info, we can come back with more advice. And more questions.
Sorry for the lack of info, I wasn't expecting so much advice. I'm only a sophomore, and that means I have time to get better at piano skills, ear training, theory, etc. Applying to colleges is not quite as relevant to me now as it will be later, but I welcome any info on that as well. I've been playing since fifth grade, which is the earliest my school starts band. I realize I'm a bit young to even be thinking about this that much, and I probably am compared to others asking these questions. It's been my dream for almost as long as I can remember, I can recall myself watching the marching band in elementary school wishing I was the drum major. A few specifics on questions I have: Tips for learning brass if you play woodwind? How do I know if this would be a good career choice for me? Advice on getting scholarships? Any other tips that I could use while in high school to just get a head start on this would help also. Thanks again! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You've received some very good advice. Here are a couple more things to consider.

Where would you like to teach? What are you willing to teach? Are you willing to move to another part of the country?
Would you like to teach in a larger or smaller school? Both have their blessings and curses.
What will it take to obtain a teaching license or certificate there?
I would be willing to teach wherever there is a band program in need of a teacher. As for now, I'm planning to teach in a high school, but I would be willing to change that as well. In other words, I'm willing to stay flexible, as I know that there is potential in every opportunity. Thanks for raising some interesting questions!
 

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I have no advice for you as far as the path you desire to choose, but as a current music major get your ear training stuff down now. I have never gotten a B on anything I ever tried any kind of hard
at, and for the first time I got a B this semester and it was in Ear Training I, 15 weeks is just too short if you have never had that stuff before, and all the singers have a huge advantage. My advice
go to musictheory.net and get all the intervals down, join the choir and learn how to sing, really sing, like in key and to pitch and a certain interval above a given pitch, learn what fixed do and
moveable do is and all of that stuff. Because for me Music Theory I was easy, I and 1 other student got a perfect paper on our final which involved secondary dominants and some stuff that I had
to work at but nothing like the bear ear training was and is for me, just my 2 cents.
 
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