Music Education Q&A


The following are commonly asked questions of future, current, and past music education majors. If you have a question regarding the music education degree at ETBU, you may submit it via e-mail to our music education faculty:

Q: What does it mean to be a music edcuation major?

A: A music education degree prepares you for teaching music to students in grades pre-k through 12. As such, you will receive extensive training in music as well as the art of teaching, as both will be required of you as a music educator. Although you will not receive a double-major, many perceive the music education degree as a dual-degree existing somewhere between the music department and the education department.

In addition, the state of Texas offers an all-level certification for music teachers. This means that even though you may plan to teach only elementary or secondary (band or choir), you will be trained and certified to do both. You must, therefore, complete the required coursework in both areas.

Q: What can I do in high school to help me be successful in college?

A: The music degree is unique in that from your first semester, you are involved in courses directly related to your major, in addition to the "basic" required courses. Therefore, it is essential to begin preparing for these freshman-level music courses such as ear-training and theory. Talk with your band / choir directors and other music teachers for assistance with these areas.

Q: In addition to the course work, what is required of music education majors?

A: Once you are admitted to the teacher-education program, you will begin a series of courses that will take you through all of the "extra" requirements. These include: multiple hours of observation in public school music rooms, a semester of internship, a semester of student-teaching, taking (and passing) a practice certification exam, and taking the necessary certification exams required by the state of Texas (the PPR and TExES exams).

Q: I have a friend who graduated in a shorter amount of time by getting a Bachelor of Arts rather than a Music Education Degree (Bachelor of Music with Teacher Certification). What do you recommend for people who want to teach and may be considering this option?

A: There are many BA graduates who are offered teaching positions and then are expected to acquire the necessary Teacher Certification within a given time-frame. The process is called “Alternative Certification” and is offered through many of the local Educational Service Centers (ESC). The process requires extensive hours (including Saturdays and summers), takes approximately two years of course work, test preparation and internship, and can be quite costly. Remember that you will be completing these requirements while also being expected to fulfill your full-time teaching responsibilities. Furthermore, you will be hired as a non-certified teacher. Educators in this position are typically hired as a teachers-aide and only receive about 40% of the income of a certified teacher, and do not receive benefits (insurance, retirement, etc..).

Our advice: Stay in school the extra semester or two and get the appropriate Music Education degree. As an employee, you will come much more highly qualified with the correct credentials.

Q: How and when will I be admitted to the teacher-education program?

A: If you take the courses in order as recommended on the music education degree plan, you will typically begin this process at the end of your sophomore year so that you will complete the teacher-education coursework during your junior and senior years. For a list of specific requirements to enroll in the teacher-education courses and/or program, click here.

Q: Who sets the requirements for a music degree?

A: Course requirements (including observation and student-teaching hours) are set by NASM (National Association of Schools of Music), and SBEC (State Board for Educator Certification).

Q: I sing and play instruments. Will I have to choose between the two, or can I do both?

A: The music department at ETBU is organized such that you can be as involved as you want to be. There are multiple vocal and instrumental ensembles in which you may participate. You will, however, be required to select a major instrument or voice-part on which you will audition. Your major area of study will concentrate on that instrument/voice and with faculty members from the corresponding areas. You may also choose to participate in any one or more of the chamber ensembles in your secondary area of interest.

Q: When I graduate, will I automatically become certified to teach?

A: ETBU can only provide a music education degree to those students who are eligible. The teacher-certification is regulated by the state of Texas (SBEC). To receive this certification, you must pass the necessary exams (PPR and TExES) offered by the SBEC. Only then will you be certified to teach.

Q: If I plan to live in another state, should I still consider studying music education in the state of Texas?

A: Yes. Some states will accept your Texas Teacher Certification. Many school systems in other states will offer you a job, but may also require you to take their own certification exam within a given time-frame. At the very least, you will have the credentials and completed coursework to be offered the job in the state where you will live.

Q: Can I graduate with a music education degree in four years?

A: Ideally, yes. ETBU recommends a four-year degree plan (semester-by-semester plan) for music education majors. Graduating in four years assumes that you will take the courses in the order in which they are suggested, and that you successfully complete each course on your first attempt.

Q: If I don't want to teach for a living, should I get a music education degree as a safety net?

A: A music education degree opens the doors to many opportunities in music. While we do not view teaching as a "fall-back" position, the options are there for those who seek them. In addition, we have found that many who seek other degrees in music (performers, composers, directors) often find themselves teaching at some point in their careers. It is best to be prepared.

Contact Information:
Marilyn Johnson, Administrative Secretary
School of Fine Arts
East Texas Baptist University
One Tiger Drive
Marshall, TX 75670

Departmental email address:
Music Department-

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