Music education students take fourth-highest course load

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Music education students take the fourth-highest course load at BYU with 93 credit hours and graduating with expertise in both music and teaching.

The music education major gives students a license to teach music in classroom settings from kindergarten to 12th grade. There are four different emphases offered at BYU: choral, general music, string and band.

Victoria Dixon and Nathan Seamons celebrate at the end of BYU Wind Symphony’s Fall 2021 semester concert on Dec. 9th, 2021. Seamons is the conductor of the symphonic band and a faculty member under the music education instrumental ensemble. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Dixon)

“I think the most fundamental way to understand this is really that there are two majors involved in this major. You have to be an expert at music and you have to be an expert at teaching,” music education professor Paul Broomhead said. 

Broomhead said his class MUSIC 176: Careers in Music Education is designed to provide a clear picture of what a career in music education is really like. Students use this class to “assess their compatibility with the profession” and determine if they should apply. The class also helps students with the application process.

“Those who do decide to apply, I provide a little bit of coaching on how to succeed in the application process,” Broomhead said.

According to Broomhead, the music education application is a rigorous process. The application focuses on five areas: teaching personality, musicality, academics, teaching experience and leadership experience.

Students have to submit a 10-minute video of them teaching four people a musical concept and a video of them performing on their main instrument. They must also audition for their desired studio. The school then looks at GPA and has students write an 800–1,000 word essay about their motivation to be in the music education program. Finally, students must also have a faculty interview. 

“We really are serious about this,” Broomhead said. “We are willing to invest a lot of time in each applicant in order to get to know that person as well as possible before we make a decision whether they are admitted into our program or not.” 

The trumpet section of the symphonic band celebrates at their end-of-semester concert, “BYU Wind Symphony: Winter Celebration.” Music education students are required to audition and be a part of their desired studio. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Dixon)

Once admitted into the program, music education students share classes with both the music performance and education students. They are also required to learn all the instruments under their umbrella of teaching as well as some of the other emphases. 

“There is much I need to learn in order to gain this degree,”Victoria Dixon, a BYU junior with an instrumental emphasis, said. “If BYU took away a required class, they would take away skills as a teacher I would need. Although the credit counts are small, they are very rewarding and it’s very helpful to be in so many.”

Spencer Baldwin, a BYU sophomore in the choral emphasis, has known he wanted to be a choir teacher since he was a junior in high school where he participated in band, choir and theater. Although he already has one year under his belt, Baldwin said he will be at BYU for another four.  

“There is so much to do,” Baldwin said. He said the funny thing about being a music major is you will have a classical voice lesson with an expectation of nine hours of practice and a 45-minute lesson, but it only counts for a 1.5 credit course.

Many of the courses in the music education major are one-credit classes but require in-class and out-of-class practice time. Baldwin said that at times it can be difficult to manage all the homework and practice he must complete throughout the week, but he understands that it’s just the way it is. 

Dixon hopes people know how much music educators have to do, the time they spend and the dedication it takes. She understands that her major gets a bad rap for being a default for those “afraid of being a performer” or for those who “won’t make money.” To her, however, it’s not like that at all.

“Everyone I know in the music education program is there because they love it and because they want to help people and serve people,” Dixon said.

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