Certificate presents new teaching opportunities for music students


Allesandra Sarantopulos

Professor Maxwell Kiesner prepares his Introduction to Music class for presentations on Sept. 18 in Music 306. Kiesner and other music faculty have introduced a new certificate this semester to train music teachers.

A brand new Independent Music Instructor Certificate is now being offered by the Music Department. 

Department Chair and Music Professor Kurt Erickson is working with the music faculty to discover how many students are interested.

The certificate program was created with the intent of targeting students already enrolled in courses within the music department. 

“We created this certificate program because a lot of our students, some of them music majors, some of them not, are interested in teaching music,” Erickson said. “What we found was, students would start teaching another sibling, tutoring a friend or they would graduate and start teaching music or directing a choir in a church.” 

The program allows music students to continue working towards their degree while gaining teaching experience before their graduation. 

“A lot of our students want to start with those who are beginning students because you don’t actually have to wait before you have four-year degrees, master’s, or post-graduate work before you start teaching,” said Erickson. “You can do that now.” 

Simone Karn, a 20-year-old music major, is planning to pursue the Independent Music Instructor Certificate. 

Karn said she plans to earn a degree in music, a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in the future as well. 

“My goal is to become a professor,” said Karn. “After seeing how great all of my music professors have been, I thought, ‘yeah, that’s what I want to do.’” 

Karn would like to mainly teach high school music classes but to possibly teach elementary music classes as a stepping stone. 

“You can learn a lot by teaching,” Erickson said,  “It helps to really wrap your head around concepts that maybe you just sort of have a “fleeting” understanding with. But when you are communicating it to someone else and teaching them, it really helps you.  They are starting their career but they are also becoming better musicians.” 

The certificate is also being constructed as an element for a student to add on to their degree. Erickson added that most two-year programs do not include instruction on how to teach.

“So what we’re saying is: yes, go through your music major,” said Erickson. “Yes, we want you to continue to grow and move forward. But, we also want you to pick up an ability, and a practical experience of teaching so you can do that.” 

You can learn a lot by teaching. It helps to really wrap your head around concepts that maybe you just sort of have a “fleeting” understanding with.”

— Kurt Erickson

Andrea Chea, 19, and Annabelle Terry, 17, are both current music majors. Chea and Terry are both studying voice but Chea is studying piano as well. 

Chea and Terry were both very pleased as well as surprised that the certificate program is now official and they both plan to pursue it. 

“I heard about the certificate last semester,” said Terry. “I’m definitely interested in pursuing it next semester.” 

Both Chea and Terry have made plans to pursue teaching in their futures. They both agree that the certificate program will be very helpful towards pursuing their music majors. 

“It’s a great way to add to your education,” said Erickson “It’s not that it will be replacing a degree, it’s an addition that you don’t have to significantly increase your time at the school. And I think that is a great opportunity for the students.”