The Catholic University of America

Overview of the Music Education Program

What is the purpose of the program?

The purpose of the initial certification Music Education program is to prepare educators to work as music teachers in elementary and secondary schools. The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at Catholic University prepares music education students in undergraduate and graduate levels of study.

What are the program’s philosophy and goals?

The overall goal of the Music Education program is to promote the education of wellrounded professionals who demonstrate abilities of the highest quality, understand general learning principles, and show appreciation for other disciplines and cultures. The Music Education program is based on general education in the humanities, social and natural sciences, specialty studies, and guided practice. The program intends to provide a comprehensive and integrated program of instruction by introducing current theories, research, and methods; immersing students in pre-student teaching clinical experiences, and working with students during supervised practice teaching. 
The Music Education program is committed to developing school music teachers of the highest quality. We prepare musicians with the necessary skills and knowledge to work with children in grades PK-12 in instrumental, choral, and/or general music settings. Our faculty believes that future teachers must be well grounded in both theory and practice, capable of designing comprehensive, sequential music curricula and applying those plans effectively in real-world settings. In addition, future teachers should exhibit leadership in the classroom, have the ability to communicate well with others, and be comfortable and caring in their approach to working with children. Ultimately, we wish for our students to be reflective practictioners, music teachers who continually assess teaching-learning transactions and strive toward excellence in music education. 

What knowledge, skills and dispositions does the program address?

To work successfully as a music educator in diverse social, economic, and cultural environments, candidates are expected to act as a professional educator in increasing degrees throughout the program. Acting as a professional educator entails being reflective about concepts and practices in the field of education so that teaching and learning contexts are responsive to the best interests of all children, including those with varied cultural and language backgrounds as well as those with cognitive and physical challenges. They must be open to change that will suit children’s emerging needs. Candidates must be able to interpret students’ cognitive and affective needs in order to use appropriate instructional strategies. Successful educators must be able to select, design, and implement appropriate curricula. They must be familiar with state and professional standards, and be acquainted with resources necessary for developing or creating additional curricula and materials, including technology. Students must understand the role of the teacher in the teaching-learning process and possess a variety of instructional techniques and strategies relevant to specific content areas. They must be capable communicators, able to work with groups of varying sizes (individuals, small groups, cooperative groups, and entire classes.) They must be able to use appropriate assessment techniques, ranging from formal testing to informal assessment, and managing and storing materials. They must be capable in the areas of establishing rapport, increasing motivation, and preventing and solving discipline problems. Successful teachers are able to collaborate with families, communities, and other professionals to support the development and learning of all children.

What are the program standards?

The Music Education Program has developed a set of candidate performance standards that incorporate the core features of the CUA Education Department’s conceptual framework, as well as national standards. The following are elements of the learning environment and what a reflective music education practitioner considers in practice:
Personal Educational Beliefs: How does one’s own beliefs and value systems impact the learning environment?
Diversity of Student Needs: How does the intellectual, emotional, social, physical development as well as cultural and spiritual needs of students affect the teaching/learning process?
Stakeholders: What people and institutions have a stake in what happens in the learning environment? How might the needs and expectations of other stakeholders affect the learner?
Collaborative Practice: How are educational resources shared to benefit the learner? How does educational research inform classroom decisions?
Discipline Knowledge.  What knowledge, skills, and/or dispositions does the educator try to foster? How do these new materials fit into the overall goals of learning?
Instructional Strategies: What instructional strategies are used? What other instructional strategies might have been used? How proficient is the teacher at implementing the chosen strategy?
Classroom Structures: How does the educator work to maximize motivation while minimizing disruptive behavior in a positive learning environment? How does the physical environment and classroom or school policies impact the teaching/learning process?
Assessment: What assessment strategies are used? What assessment strategies could have been used? How effective were the chosen strategies at evaluating student achievement?
Further, the Music Education Program ascribes to a set of candidate performance standards that incorporate desirable attributes, essential competencies, and professional procedures as identified by the National Association of Schools of Music:
Desirable Attributes: The prospective music teacher should have:
  • a personal commitment to the art of music, to teaching music as an element of civilization, and to encouraging the artistic and intellectual development of students, plus the ability to fulfill these commitments as an independent professional
  • the ability to lead students to an understanding of music as an art form, as a means of communication, and as a part of their intellectual and cultural heritage
  • the capability to inspire others and to excite the imagination of students, engendering a respect for music and a desire for musical knowledge and experiences
Essential Competencies: The prospective vocal/choral or general music teacher should have:
  • sufficient vocal and pedagogical skill to teach effective use of the voice
  • experience in solo vocal performance and choral ensemble
  • performance ability sufficient to use at least one instrument as a teaching tool to provide, transpose, and improvise accompaniments
  • laboratory experience in teaching beginning vocal techniques individually, in small groups, and in larger classes
Essential Competencies: The prospective instrumental music teacher should have:
  • knowledge of and performance on wind, string, and percussion instruments sufficient to teach beginning students effectively in groups
  • experiences in solo instrumental performance, as well as in both small and large instrumental ensembles.
  • laboratory experience in teaching beginning instrumental students individually, in small groups, and in larger classes
Teaching Competencies: The musician-teacher should understand the total contemporary educational program – including relationships among the arts – in order to integrate music instruction into the total process of education. Essential competencies are:
  • the ability to teach music at various levels to different age groups and in a variety of classroom and ensemble settings in ways that develop knowledge of how music works syntactically as a communication medium and developmentally as an agent of civilization. This set of abilities includes effective classroom and rehearsal management
  • an understanding of child growth and development and an understanding of principles of learning as they relate to music
  • the ability to assess aptitudes, experiential backgrounds, orientations of individuals and groups of students, current methods, materials, and repertoires available in all fields and levels of music education
  • the ability to accept, amend, or reject methods