How to Prepare for Your Music Education Degree – Guest Post

If you will be juggling full-time work plus earning an online music education degree, you’ll need to have a plan in place that could help streamline your life. In addition to taking college seriously, setting goals, managing expectations, and making the most of support systems like family and friends, you should understand how to best prep for your music education degree as a nontraditional student.

Knowing exactly how you will use your degree can help get you through the tough times ahead. While it may not be easy to balance current career demands with studying for finals or writing papers, if you remain focused on your goals, you should find earning a college degree a great way to jumpstart a new career.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your online music education degree:

Expectations. When you apply to a college to earn your online music education degree, there are certain things typically expected of you. You should have:

  • some type of background in vocal or musical performance, so experience with playing instruments or singing will be a plus.
  • basic music theory is often assumed and/or covered quickly when in college.

Also, be prepared to audition since some music programs require it as part of your application process.

Coursework. As an online music education student, you may take classes such as Basic Ear Training, Music Notation, Counterpoint, or Arranging:  Rhythm Section. It may also be a good idea to keep a portfolio of your accomplishments, as you earn your online music education degree, since you usually receive hands-on music education experience in the form of juries and recitals.

Careers. As an online music education major, you have already decided upon your college major or specialty. However, what careers could you have with a music education degree? Depending on your level of higher education and whether or not you earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD, you could be a Music Professor, an Early Childhood Music Educator, a Music Consultant, or a School Music Educator. Skills like teaching, leadership qualities, musical talent, and thorough music knowledge could help you jumpstart your career upon college graduation.

Accreditation and Certification. It is important that the online music degree you are earning is from an accredited college should you need to transfer credits or seek employment after graduation where a certain type of accreditation is desired. In addition to the importance of accreditation from a legit accrediting agency, most states require you to have a bachelor’s degree in music in order to be certified. If you want to teach music education in your state, you should check in advance to ensure the music education program you enroll in will grant teacher certification upon graduation. The National Association of Schools or Music (NASM) is a great resource to check out.

Social Media and the Internet. Make the most of tools such as the Internet and social media when you are researching colleges and music education programs. Setting up a LinkedIn profile may help you connect with other music education professionals and network. Use Pinterest to organize your college search by creating boards and pinning school info and college tips that you find helpful. Conduct regular Internet searches that may turn up links to sites which offer free sheet music or K-12 music education resources.

Earning your online music education degree, while working full-time in another career, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you follow the tips mentioned above, you should discover the process of going back-to-college and simultaneously having a career may be fulfilling as well as rewarding. Be sure to think about where you want to live after graduation in addition to frequently perusing job openings in those states.

Liisa Jaaskelainen works for where she manages the online community. In her free time she enjoys spending time outdoors and working out.

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One thought on “How to Prepare for Your Music Education Degree – Guest Post

  1. Thank you Liisa, great information. As a guitar instructor with a music education degree working in Maine, some of my most promising and motivated students will ask me to prep them in applying to Berklee College of music, (my Alma mater) as it’s only about 2 hours away from Portland. As a former student of Berklee, I know how the system works and the buzz about how difficult it is to get admission at this a particular time, of which now is very difficult. I am sure these guidelines will work with many institutions. Getting your foot in the door is crucial. My 3 point approach to admissions is 1.) Study with an alumnus of the school that you would like to gain admission to if possible. They can prep you on what you will need for proficiency on your instrument and knowledge in areas such as ear training and music theory, which may also save time and money by allowing them to test out of rudimentary courses. 2.) Many music schools will have a summer program for high school students. I have helped some students not only get accepted to the summer program at Berklee, but also a 100% scholarship to these programs in some cases. 3.) If you are close to the school, call the department of your specific instrument (e.g. guitar department)and ask about getting private lessons with a professor at the school for a good 4 hour long lessons(as musicians and professors, they all need the extra money.) I did this way back in the late 80’s and I’m sure it gave me an advantage in getting accepted.

    Greg Daley
    South Portland Guitar School

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