Teaching through the sound of music

Ask any soon-to-be college graduate what he or she hopes for after commencement and you'll likely receive an answer akin to this: a job doing something I love. Fortunately for the passionate students of UNI's music education program, nearly 100 percent of graduates find employment as music teachers. In fact, UNI provides the largest number of music educators in the state of Iowa.

The University of Northern Iowa's music education program combines two of the institution's most well-known academic units: the College of Education's Teacher Education Program and the School of Music. UNI's reputation for excellence in teacher education and high-quality and high-level musicianship make the music education program an extremely attractive draw for aspiring music educators.

Students like Betsy Kreassig, senior instrumental music education and flute performance major, believe much of the program's success can be attributed to highly-regarded faculty who are "extremely knowledgeable and professional, and encourage inquisitiveness in their students and are always willing to help." On the flip side, associate professor of music education, Kevin Droe, complements the program's students, describing them as "individuals who love music as much as they love working with people to help them learn and enjoy music."

"More than anything else, engaging in music means being involved in art. For me, art is at the foundation of everything that is human."

- Kevin Droe, associate professor of music education

Students in the music education program pursue a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and are required to choose one of three specializations: instrumental, choral or jazz. Since music education majors combine the training of a musician with the education of a teacher, they require not only a deep understanding of the countless facets of music and how it's created, but also the complexities of people and how they learn.

Rigorous coursework in the classroom helps students learn about different aspects of music and techniques for teaching it, while off-campus field experiences and student teaching placements give them an opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge and connect with pre-K through 12 learners.

Jordan Leckband, a senior choral and elementary music education major, recalls one of his favorite field experience moments at Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls. "I was working with a student on his singing range and he told me he didn't join choir because he didn't think singing was a 'boy activity.' I told him about some famous male singers and also actors like Hugh Jackman who sings, as well as plays roles like Wolverine in 'X-Men.' After class he asked his teacher if he could join choir."

Says Droe, "More than anything else, engaging in music means being involved in art. For me, art is at the foundation of everything that is human. That's why I help prepare future music teachers who can help others to learn and experience music for enjoyment."

For more information about the music education program, visit www.uni.edu/music.

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