For God's Sake Don't Major In Music Education (from Medium)

At the end of every school year, the band room is noisy with the sound of young musicians eager to get to university to begin the next phase of their musical lives and more often than not the answer I hear when I ask a student what they want to focus on in college is, “I would really love to perform but I’m going to get an education degree, because its more stable.”(insert, practical, safer etc..)

I tell these people what I am about to tell you, “please please don’t do it!” And here is why…

  1. Being a teacher is really hard and fraught with a set of challenges you won’t even learn about until you’re out of college. 100% of my music director friends say that their degree did not prepare them for the part of the job that their superiors actually care about. (i.e. Paperwork, budgeting, liability etc…)
  2. There are relatively few programs that are built like the teaching scenario you imagine getting when you get out of school.
  3. Administrations often are not very supportive. this means that you will spend an awful lot of time fighting for your rights, money, dignity, time, rehearsal space, and so forth.
  4. Federal and state regulations are changing so fast in favor of eliminating arts in whole or in part, that the jobs are getting more and more scarce with each passing year.
  5. If you are fortunate to land a job, often times you will have to spend large portions of your day teaching outside of your art discipline.
  6. A significant portion of your year will be lost to standardized testing and preparation for said testing.
  7. You will have a majority of students who don’t have the support of parents, don’t care about music and/or don’t realize the value of what only you are uniquely qualified to teach them.
  8. You won’t get compensated what you are worth. (by a long shot)

There are many more, but the point is that being a music teacher is very, very hard and under appreciated work! It takes tenacity, courage and a level of fearlessness usually reserved for alligator wrestlers.

So if you are going into music education because you are a coward who thinks its the “easier route” then I feel bad for the students who are unfortunate enough to have you as a teacher for the short time you last.Classrooms need teachers on fire to serve the next generation. Teachers who live to be in front of budding musicians, even as they struggle through remedial music. Teachers who are ok not having the chance to play their horn for days, weeks, or months, because they are focused on taking their students to the next level. Teachers who derive immense satisfaction from hearing a student have a musical breakthrough, and would gladly put up with hours of paperwork because it means giving their students an experience they have never had before.

So band directors, (and others) when that young talented student comes to you and tells you they want to perform for the rest of their lives because its in their heart, don’t suggest music ed as an safer or more stable alternative because if it’s not in their heart, then it’s not any safer nor more stabile.

So please, don’t major in music education…

unless you really, really, really want to.

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Drew Tucker is a musician, social entrepreneur, and cultural iconoclast who lives to help people take massive action towards their artistic goals. He also likes coffee.

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