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Music Education Major Guide for 2015-2016

What is Music Education?

Music Education is the field of study associated with the teaching of music to students in kindergarten through high school. As a teacher of music in grades K-12, you may teach general music courses; conduct band, orchestra, choir, and jazz band; or teach music theory or music appreciation courses.

You should consider pursuing a Bachelor of Music Education degree if you love teaching and music and want to convey your love of music to others. The Bachelor of Music Education degree’s primary emphasis is on developing the skills, concepts, and sensitivity essential to become a teacher of music. When you graduate, you will have a bachelor’s degree and your teacher certification.

Career Opportunities in Music Education

The Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in Music Education prepares students to teach music to K-12 students.  Duties include:

  • Teaching general music,
  • Directing the marching band,
  • Conducting band, orchestra, choir, or jazz band,
  • Teaching music theory or music appreciation classes,
  • Directing a middle school or high school musical.

Salary Trends in Music Education

Upon completion of a degree in music education, students will be certified to teach instrumental or vocal music in grades K-12 in the State of Tennessee. The salary level depends on the level of education and the amount of teaching experience.  Starting salaries in music education in East Tennessee approximately $33,900–$36,393 per year.

High School Preparation

To prepare for a degree in Music Education:

  • Perform as much as possible
  • Participate in the chorus, the band, and the orchestra
  • Take private music lessons to help prepare for your audition
  • Take any music theory, ear training, music history, or appreciation courses offered by your school
  • Listen to as much music and as many varied types of music as you can
  • Attend con­certs
  • Take piano lessons
  • Practice
  • Work with young people

How to Major in Music Education

All new students in music education (freshmen and transfer) must perform an audition on their major instrument and interview with a member of the music education faculty. The audition and interview can be completed on the day of your audition.  No student progresses to a major in music education until the audition and interview have been successfully completed.

Wind, brass and percussion students must also audition for the band area. For Music Education majors, the band audition will be part of your School of Music audition. There is no need for a separate audition.

Information on the audition process can be found on the School of Music web site (  Applicants are urged to register for an audition as early as possible.

Requirements for Music Education

You should begin your courses in music as soon as you become a music major. As a music major, you will take courses in the music core curriculum, including:

  • Music theory and ear training
  • Instrumentation or choral arranging
  • Music history and world music
  • Piano
  • Applied music
  • Recital attendance, as part of Solo Class
  • Ensembles

Music Education courses, including:

  • Conducting
  • Instrumental methods
  • Vocal pedagogy
  • Teaching music in elementary, middle and high school
  • Marching band techniques
  • Professional studies courses in education

In addition, you are required to present a 30 minute recital in your third or fourth year.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Students in music education will choose to either student teach or intern in their last year.  Student teachers will spend one semester in a co-operative teaching situation in elementary, middle or high school.  Students who choose a year-long internship spend one and one half semesters in a co-operative teaching situation.  Interns will also take graduate level classes in music education research and clinical studies in music education, earning 24 hours of graduate credit in addition to the BM degree and teaching certificate.

Highlights of Music Education

Most music education students state that their student teaching or internship is the highlight of their educational experience. As student teachers or interns, students use all the information they have learned in their music classes and gain real-world experience in teaching.

Ready for the World logo

The Music Education faculty members encourage their majors to acquire a wide range of experiences.  If students can afford and have an interest in studying abroad, the faculty will work with them to make this opportunity as easy as possible.  Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog for the Music Education Concentration – String Emphasis, Music Education Concentration – Vocal-General/Keyboards Emphasis, Music Education Concentration – Vocal-General/Vocal Emphasis, Music Education Concentration – Woodwind/Brass/Percussion Emphasis.

For More Information

See the Music Education area web site:
Or contact the Music Education area:
Dr. David Royse, Coordinator
School of Music
1741 Volunteer Blvd.
Haslam Music Center
(865) 974-3241


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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