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2021 Commencement Information
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A Personal Note from the Director of Music Education

Why Music Education?

Music education within the 21st Century public and private schools requires teachers to be both dynamic (ever-growing) and divergent thinkers. We would all like to perceive that our jobs in educating students through and about music are just about performing, teaching, and conducting. However, this perception is far from the truth. Technology, interpersonal relations, business, and arts advocacy are just a few of the "non-musical"  areas that have a tremendous impact on the preparation of the 21st Century music teacher and, thus, should be the ultimate responsibility of the institution that prepares those music teachers for their classrooms, regardless of the area of focus (general music, choral, and/or instrumental –  band/orchestra), in all grade levels.

Our Department of Music is unique in the fact that our vision and mission were generated to implement and support academic programs and performances that are  "musically inclusive."  This means that we design, implement, and support programs for student musicians and genres that most other institutions of higher learning do not undertake. Although our core music courses are typical of the accepted Western culture conservatory design, we include all musical styles (popular and classical), reflected in all of our curricula and ensembles.

Think of how the above aspects, so different from many of our sister institutions, can serve to benefit you as a prospective teacher!   The 21st Century music teacher needs experiences, competencies, and skills much different from teacher preparation even 5 years ago. Students are coming from increasingly diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and you are the one that brings them together in concert! 

As a result of our success with our students as they progress yearly and graduate to be become successful music teachers, we are able to boast a high retention rate from first to second year and up through graduation date. Many of our sister institutions, on the other hand, boast a weeding-out process rather than working with students that possess the abilities and passion for teaching, but need additional attention as they mature at different rates – sound educational philosophy!

The five areas that our music education concentration addresses as your paramount needs are:

  • Musical Performance, Listening, and Evaluation            
    This is where you learn to be a performer on your chosen instrument, as well as being a good music listener and evaluator of quality performances, regardless of style period and musical genre. These skills are necessary for you as you model for your future students and in progressing them to higher levels of achievement in performance.
  • Knowledge of Music Theory, History and Diverse Cultures    
    ou will attain competency levels in music theory, aural skills, and piano that will help you in understanding historical and cultural aspects of music to be applied in your classroom teachings.
  • Conducting and Arranging in Diverse Musical Styles and Genres
    You will be afforded opportunities in conducting and arranging music for a varied array of ensemble sizes and styles (choral – madrigals, concert choir, show choir, popular styles; instrumental – chamber, drumline, marching, pep-band, jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, symphonic band, theatre pit ensemble, orchestra), as well as preparing the above ensembles for public performances with direct supervision and feedback by the respective ensemble faculty conductors. One more thing – no one sits on the sideline! The above ensembles are open to all music education students. In many cases, new ensembles are created at Catawba College based upon student interests!
  • Practical and Technological Applications to Music Teaching     This is the area where you will put into practice the various concepts and skills that you learn over time, in order to prepare your music lessons and convey them to a classroom of students. You will gain many experiences in various settings (in the classroom, on the marching field, in a church chapel) throughout your time here at Catawba. You will also learn how to operate and apply the latest advents in technology for the music classroom, learning through your music methods courses.
  • Advocacy/Business Practices: Promoting/Managing Music Programs    
    This is where you will learn how to advocate for your music programs, as well as how to manage a program budget, various inventories (instruments, music library, and uniforms) and personnel.

Catawba's overall mission also helps you to develop your own artistic vision as a teacher.   Everyone has their own "sonorous ideal"  or how they want their ensembles to sound. At Catawba, we keep a watchful eye on this aspect of your development and help you grow those facets of your personal performance and teaching styles that are distinctive.

Here's an example of the process in action. As part of their Music and Materials in Middle and Secondary School Music course, enrolled students (mostly sophomores) are appointed as ""team-leaders" in planning and implementing the annual Lord Salisbury Classic Marching Contest. It was a real-world learning experience within an educational framework. Imagine the competitive advantage you enjoy with four years of such experience on your resume when you go out to enter the applicant pool!

Questions to Ask
To conclude this personal message, let me give you a list of things to ask a college or university about its program in music education. Feel free to use it as you "shop" for the right school to attend. A quick look through this website reveals Catawba's answers to these key questions.

Questions for students of MUSIC EDUCATION to ask:

  1. How does your curriculum meet the specific educational needs of preparing students for teaching in the 21st Century?

  2. What is your school's attitude concerning musical inclusiveness – experiences in performing and teaching in a variety of musical styles and ensemble settings? How readily available are these opportunities?

  3. Do you offer classes such as songwriting, audio recording and demo production, music technology, theory of popular music, and a rock-style popular music ensemble that music education students can be involved in and learn from?

  4. Do you offer music lessons with instructors having expertise in a variety of styles and genres in music, as needed to be an effective 21st Century music teacher?

  5. What courses do you offer to give students the "practical" business know-how they need to succeed professionally in music education?

  6. What is your student retention rate from first year to graduation?

  7. What recent successes (Jobs? Graduate studies?) have your music education graduates received? Can I have access to contact information to talk with them about their experiences in music teacher preparation?

I'd love to hear from you.
Let me know if you've found this personal message useful or if there are other questions you'd like me to answer about the music education concentration at Catawba College. My e-mail address is I hope to hear from you soon!