Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor
|PHOTO COURTESY OF BERRY COLLEGE CHOIRS FACEBOOK|
|Rachel Mayo conducts a rehearsal at Berry’s middle school choir festival.|
While every Berry student is required to complete 124 hours of coursework in order to graduate, students majoring in music education must complete 130 hours, according to Stefanie Cash, director of music education.
“With music education, it’s got to be a calling,” sophomore music education Wes Walker said. “It’s a huge commitment time-wise. It’s a constant rush, you never really slow down.”
Within the 130 required hours, music education majors must complete music classes, education classes and music education classes, along with the regular General Education or Foundations courses. Music education students take a specific Introduction to Music Education class. According to Cash, this specified course is helpful because music classes are run differently from regular academic classes.
The introductory class also teaches students to develop their philosophy of music education, which Cash believes is important because of the marginalization of arts programs at schools across the country.
“[Schools] are not going to cut math and science and English, they’re going to cut music,” Cash said. “Part of what we have to do in [Introduction to Music Education] is defend our position of why music is vital and why it should not be eliminated.”
Other classes for the music education major prepare students to teach children from preschool to high school in general music classes, instrumental classes and choral classes. Music education majors take instrumental and choral methods classes, as well as conducting, music literature, piano proficiency and education classes.
Students in the major choose an instrumental or a choral track and learn specific methods. According to Cash, instrumental music education students must become proficient enough in each instrument to be able to teach it in a band class, so they must take string methods, brass methods, woodwind methods, percussion methods and guitar methods.
“Being a music education major is a full time job,” senior Rachel Mayo said. “The challenge to being a music education major is not only that you have to do well academically, but that you have to perform well. We have to be able to have knowledge and skill in ourselves so that we can then demonstrate that for potential students.”
Because of the required class load, music education majors often take more than the maximum 18 hours that a student can take in a semester. Because most music ensemble classes are offered for zero credit, Mayo is taking 19 class hours this semester, Walker is taking 23 and freshman Daniel Holder is taking 22.
“We start out in education classes the first semester of our freshman year,” Holder said.
Beyond the classes students take, Cash wants to provide music education students with opportunities to teach and apply what they learn in the classroom. Students in her methods classes are required to teach within the classroom, and music education majors also have opportunities to teach in local schools.
“The way we learn to teach is through teaching, not by sitting and watching,” Cash said.
Holder believes that already having teaching opportunities as a freshman will help him to be more comfortable in the future. Twice a week, he helps teach choir classes at Armuchee High School.
“It’s a really good experience because I’m getting good tendencies and breaking bad habits,” Holder said.
Walker is involved in two teaching practicums this semester. He helps in the band and theory classrooms at Coosa High School. He also observes a kindergarten and a fourth grade music class at Alto Park Elementary School and plans to teach lessons there later in the semester.
Although the music education major is a lot of work for students, they believe that it is worth it. Holder chose music education because of the positive influence music educators had in his life, and he wants to continue that tradition.
“I want to be that good teacher that you remember later on,” Holder said. “I want to be a good educator, but I also want to be a good role model and a good mentor for the students.”
Mayo believes that music education is important because it combines aspects of other disciplines.
“Music a creative outlet that also crosses across every other type of curriculum,” Mayo said. “In music, there’s math, there’s English and literature, there’s history, there’s anatomy. The fact that you can be learning across the curriculum but also be developing a talent and sharing a gift and working in a team and creating something beautiful is important.”