The Value of a Summer Master’s Program for Music Teachers


Summer Master's Program for Music TeachersThe most effective educators are informed practitioners who learn from their students, stay up to date with relevant issues, and continue to expand their knowledge. That’s a conclusion supported by studies in which students were more successful in achieving district benchmarks when their teachers participated in professional development activities. For music teachers who strive to inspire their pupils with a passion for instrumental performance or singing, it’s especially important to welcome new perspectives and try innovative techniques.

Current teachers and other musicians interested in teaching can update their skills and advance their careers by earning a graduate degree. However, it’s especially challenging to fit the demands of cutting-edge, immersive learning into an already busy schedule that may involve leading classes, extracurricular music activities and fundraising efforts. A hybrid summer master’s program for music teachers offers a way to get the best of both worlds: convenient online classes to expand your knowledge and on-campus components that connect you with peers and professionals leading the field of music education.

The Hybrid Summer Master of Arts in Music and Music Education (M.A. M&ME) from Teachers College, Columbia University combines a four-week summer residency in New York City with online coursework during the school year. This online summer master’s program for teachers benefits early career educators in their professional development, classroom practice, and individual growth as musicians.


Enhance Teaching Skills in a Master’s in Music Education Summer Program

Music instructors have taught many of the same fundamental skills for centuries, but Teachers College has forged ahead at the vanguard of education since the late 19th century. The pioneering work of educational reformer, philosopher and psychologist John Dewey during his tenure from 1904 to 1930 placed the school at the cutting edge of pedagogical theory and practice. Education philosopher Maxine Greene, who arrived at Teachers College in 1965 and remained nearly 50 years, carried on that tradition as a highly influential proponent of expanding access to art and music education.

Best practices continue to evolve along with the latest research and technological leaps, and Teachers College’s hybrid summer master of music education online degree program equips teachers with both sophisticated theoretical principles and practical ideas they can apply right away. This cohort-driven curriculum is structured around the needs of professionals working full time, split between live online interactions with peers and instructors, asynchronous activities for students to complete on their own time and in-person class meetings.

The M.A. M&ME program features courses that are designed and taught by some of the leading thinkers and researchers in the field. Educators and musicians who enter the program can enhance their knowledge in some of music education’s most important issues. Their classes may delve into topics such as how to promote an inclusive environment, tailor lessons for different age groups and successfully incorporate technology in their classrooms.

Indeed, making digital media a productive part of the learning process may be one of the most crucial aspects of teaching today. Software and mobile apps have emerged as powerful ways to engage digital native student-musicians who are already accustomed to using connected devices for just about everything in their lives.

Still there are many barriers that can get in the way of digital pedagogy. A survey of nearly 3,000 educators around the world found that some of the most common issues they faced were time constraints in the school day, a lack of enough devices for students and insufficient technological infrastructure. In addition, 32 percent of respondents cited ineffective professional development as one of their greatest concerns.

In the music education master’s program, teachers may discover how to achieve improved results by adopting digital tools to:

  • Track at-home practice time
  • Share recordings of relevant examples, backing tracks and student performances
  • Practice sight-reading
  • Refer to specific sections of a piece and listen to professional recordings
  • Complete ear training exercises
  • Introduce composition with programs that allow students to hear what they’ve written

Music instructors can benefit from technology in their own learning as well, using online platforms, teleconferencing and discussion boards to interact with faculty and peers. The flexibility of a hybrid program allows graduate students to customize their path to degree, focusing on the concepts that are most relevant to their interests and professional objectives. The TC M.A. M&ME emphasizes the value of individualized projects and a selection of electives.

“The courses in the summer program can be tailored to each student’s interests, balancing performance, pedagogy, and literacy, and research,” explained Program Director Harold Abeles.


Live in One of the World’s Greatest Cities During a Summer Music Master’s Program for Teachers

Teachers College is the oldest and largest graduate school for education, consistently ranked among the nation’s 10 best by U.S. News & World Report. But TC also stands out because of its location in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, famous for both the historical character of the area’s 19th-century Gothic architecture and its current vibrancy as a destination for culture and dining. M.A. M&E students can attend classes and, if they choose to take advantage of on-campus housing options, live in close proximity to both the Upper West Side and Harlem.

“I really look forward to this month that I’m out here every summer,” said Juan Carlos, a student from Miami. “I love my classes and obviously spending a month in New York City—you can’t beat it.”

On-campus residencies deepen and enrich what students learn in the online components of the TC hybrid summer master’s degree in music education. Each session consists of four weeks in New York City, during which students meet their peers and TC faculty in person to take classes, collaborate on projects, and build their professional networks.

“During the summer sessions, I look forward to getting to know each student’s musical and academic personalities,” Abeles said. “Working with students three days a week gives me the opportunity to get to know students in a way that’s different if the program was only in an online format.”

Residencies also provide ample opportunities for students to form bonds within their M.A. M&ME cohorts. Ensemble courses bring musicians together for rehearsal and performance while expanding their horizons with chances to play different instruments and styles. Weekly pizza lunches offer a way for students to get to know one another and faculty members outside of the classroom.

Students learn in a traditional classroom environment, but they also participate in a variety of unique activities in one of the world’s greatest cultural hubs. Instructors commonly encourage students to take full advantage of their time in NYC by leading classes on field trips, and the program provides access to a range of organized activities. Cohort members may:

  • Attend concerts and musical theater performances
  • Take a dance class
  • Catch a Yankees game
  • Take advantage of free admission to most of the city’s major museum by displaying their student ID
  • Hear insights from local artists who frequently visit campus for guest presentations or workshops

Current and future education professionals can develop valuable skills in a hybrid summer master’s program for music teachers. But the Teachers College M.A. M&ME goes even further, delivering one-of-a-kind experiences and laying the foundation for lasting connections with fellow musicians and educators. Summer residencies in New York City bring the concepts in the online curriculum to life, revealing the score for the next movement in a music teacher’s career.


About Teachers College MA in Music and Music Education

The Hybrid Summer Master of Arts in Music and Music Education (M.A. M&ME) at Teachers College, Columbia University is designed for professionals who seek to transform themselves, their students and their communities. With an academically rigorous curriculum and on-campus experiences, our program equips graduates with a diverse and rich skillset they can use to tap into their passions and become a driving force in the transformation of music education.


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