New grad program designed for music teachers

For nearly two decades, music alumni and area teachers have been clamoring for a graduate program in music education. Beginning this summer, Heidelberg will offer just such a program, designed for practicing teachers who want to pursue a master’s degree in music education.

The university received final approval for the program in January from the National Association of Schools of Music, which followed approval from the Ohio Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

“We have been hearing from our alums for at least two decades, and the music faculty has been talking about a master’s in music education since the early ’90s,” said Dr. John E. Owen, who will direct the new graduate program.

Under a new state licensing requirement, all K-12 classroom teachers must earn a master’s degree within seven -10 years to maintain their teaching license. The convenience of Heidelberg’s new program makes it attractive for area teachers to fulfill this licensing requirement, Owen said.

To meet the needs of practicing teachers, the 30-semester-hour program can be completed in three summers. Courses meet in intensive two-week blocks; each two-week block offers a three-semester-hour core music education course and a two-semester-hour music content course. Students can choose from a wide range of electives during the summer sessions and others are available during the regular academic year.

“Our graduates will be experienced, knowledgeable teachers who display the highest values of music making and teaching in their classrooms, ensembles and studios,” John said, adding that current members of Heidelberg’s music faculty will be teaching the majority of the courses in the graduate program.

In addition to coursework for degree-seeking teachers and those who require graduate hours to meet licensing requirements, a series of workshops dealing with professional issues also will be available for those seeking professional development. John plans to ask alumni for suggestions for workshop topics that would be useful to students. Enrolled students also will have the option to work on a thesis, which will be encouraged.

“I don’t mind saying I’m really excited about this,” John said. “The program will be suitable for all levels of teachers, elementary to high school, band and choir.

“It will be a practice-based program with a curriculum designed to directly relate to what teachers are doing in schools to improve both their content knowledge and their teaching knowledge.”

On a broader scale, Dr. David Weininger sees the new graduate program as witness to Heidelberg’s recent shift from college to university. “When you look at our vision and mission statements, we pride ourselves on emphasizing the liberal arts and professional programs. This new program is one more way to tap into that,” he said. “We see ourselves serving the needs of the community, and we have this need in the professional music community.”

Dave added that the new program will highlight the talents of one of Heidelberg’s showcase departments. “This is a natural extension of a very long history of a very talented department. I see us building on our strong tradition of successful musicians. It’s just a good fit.”

Coursework begins in June. John envisions the potential for “cross-pollination” in the classroom environment. “The chance to work with graduate students is really exciting,” he said. “Bringing in experienced teachers who are able to share their perspective with us and others … we can definitely learn from one another.”

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Feb 19, 2009