Playing their way through college: The music educator

By: Carolyn VanBrocklin

The life of an Elon music education major is demanding, time-consuming and undeniably one of the most interesting and involved majors the university offers.

Senior music education major Casey Collins plays in the Fire of the Carolinas marching band (Image by Corey Groom)

“Each year music education students add on to a growing curriculum of musical and educational studies. We have the difficult task of balancing two focuses: that of a musician, and that of an educator,” said senior Casey Collins.

Students take 150 hours total.  This is possible because they are allowed to take up to 23 hours a semester.  In comparison, other majors take 18 hours a semester.

“The most difficult aspect of being a music education major is managing time and stress levels. We take about 20 credits per semester which is quite a bit more than the average Elon student, and have to balance performances, practice time, and educational observations in local Alamance classrooms on top of basic student life,” Collins said.  “It is very easy to get overwhelmed, but the work will be worth it when we get to teach music every day.”

The high number of semester hours comes from classes the sheer amount of ensembles in which most students are involved.  Senior Kaitlyn Fay is a member of the Jazz Ensemble, the Fire of the Carolinas marching band, among others.

“In a perfect world I’d be able to do all the ensembles I want and find time to practice my parts for them. Alas, this is not a perfect world, so what ends up being compromised is the practice time, unfortunately. The important thing is that I am in ensembles that I truly care about and want to be in, so I make the effort to be there and know the music,” Fay said.

Music education majors take both music classes and education classes, but these have been tailored towards the music side of the major.

However, students involved in the program say it is rewarding.

“This really is a major that is focused on where we will be in the next 5, 10, 15+ years of our lives.  We get to be creative as musicians and educators in writing fun and effective lessons and learning how to take our own music education to benefit and teach the many students we will encounter in the years to come,” Fay said.  The prospect of that rewarding notion of having changed a student’s life in some way is both motivating and the simple reason why anyone chooses to become a music education major.

For more information on Elon University’s music education major, please visit their website.

Listen to music education major Nathaniel Hodges discuss his experiences in the music education program (audio by Carolyn VanBrocklin):

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