Music Education Research

August 30, 2009

Choosing to Teach Music

Filed under: Teacher Education — Rick Dammers @ 8:31 am

Thornton, L. & Bergee, M. (2008). Career choice influences among music education students at majors schools of music. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education (177) 7-17.

Linda Thornton and Martin Bergee conducted an interesting survey exploring why students choose to major in music education. Their sample included 242 undergraduate students from music schools at 12 large research universities in the United States.

Participants were asked to indicate the  influences that led them to choose music education.  The results for the top influences were: influence of ‘important others’ 24%; love of music 20%; love of teaching 11%; and  participation in a musical organization 10%. These results mirrors what I see in my interviews of prospective music education students at Rowan University. While music is a central component in their decisions, the social factors play a critical role as well.

Another interesting aspect of the study explored the students’ post-college plans. The respondents’ plans included:  70%  teaching, 13% graduate school, 5% leave music, and 4% music (non-teaching). When asked how to best recruit future music teachers, the respondents’ top two suggestions were: providing opportunities to teach (18%), and demonstrations of job satisfaction (15%).

Recruiting future music teachers has been a topic of concern across the country. It is certainly an ongoing priority of NJMEA here in New Jersey.  This study points to the important role that music teachers play as our best resource for recruiting future music teachers.  As ‘important others’ and professional role models who have daily contact with potential music majors, they have a great deal of influence. Ethically, teachers need to provide counsel that is in their students’ best interest, of course. However, by accurately reflecting their job satisfaction to their students and by working to provide opportunities for peer and cadet teaching, teachers can share their excitement for music teaching and help their students make a more informed career choice.


August 20, 2009

Teacher Retention

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rick Dammers @ 1:46 pm

Hancock, C. B. (2009). National estimates of retention, migration and attrition: A multi-year comparison of music and non-music teachers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 57(2), 92-107.

In this study, Carl Hancock examines data on teacher retention between 1988 and 2001 from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). He found that  during this time period, 84% of music teachers remained  in their positions after any particular year.  Of those who left their positions, 10% moved to another school, while 6% left the profession. These results were similar to the results for the teaching profession in general.

This information is of particular interest to pre-service teachers about to enter the field (and those of us who are anxious for them to be hired!)  Based on my limited experience with the music teacher market in New Jersey, I strongly suspect that the retention rate was abnormally high this year, as mid-career teachers opted not to move (especially if it involved a home sale) and late-career teachers delayed retirement in order to boost their retirement savings. Since these moves are presumably only deferred, it stands to reason that this trend will reverse itself and we may see a year or two with retention below 84% and a very active job market.  Whether the trend reverses itself in time for next year’s hiring season remains to be seen.

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