Maybe you are getting ready to graduate or have recently graduated, have a degree in music education and are ready to begin teaching, but now the challenge of finding a full-time music teaching position begins. If you find yourself in this position you are probably starting to realize that this can be quite a daunting and overwhelming task. You are overwhelmed with where to begin, how to find job postings, applications, portfolios, resumes, and eventually interviews. As we all know interviewing is a challenge itself, but actually finding and applying for jobs can be a long and tiring journey. In this post I will give some resources for finding job postings, tips on filling out applications, and some general tips on the daunting task of job searching.
I started teaching private music lessons when I was in high school, so I’ve been doing it for about four years now. This by no means makes me an expert (or anything resembling an expert), but I’d like to think that I’ve learned a few things about teaching since I started.
As an undergraduate music ed major, I approach teaching probably a little different than some other people. I teach my students facility on their instrument, but I believe it is just as important (if not more important) that they develop overall independent musicianship. In other words, I try to teach my students to be good, independent musicians by using/playing their particular instrument. I choose this approach for a few reasons. Most importantly, I believe that it is my duty as a music educator to create good musical citizens. It is critical that people are able to listen to music, evaluate and analyze music, sing melodies in tune, and keep a beat in their bodies. These skills transcend the playing of any particular instrument, and having them makes for a more fulfilling life.
I try to teach independent musicianship to my private students so that they can carry their musical knowledge into the rest of their musical lives. When I was in fourth grade, my first instrument was the clarinet. I played it in school for five years. I am now in my third year as a tuba major in music school. If I had only learned the technical aspects of pushing the correct buttons on the clarinet, and nothing else, I would have been out of luck when the time came to learn the tuba. Instead, because I knew scales, reading, theory, how to sing in tune, and how to audiate, I had a much easier time transferring my musical knowledge in a relevant and applicable way.
Another reason I try to ‘make good musical citizens’ out of my students is very related to the previous reasons. Basically, I want my students to be able to appreciate and enjoy music to the best of their ability. Too often do we see people experiencing truly beautiful musical moments, but they find those moments incredibly boring or unlistenable because they have not been taught how to appreciate them. That does not mean I try to brainwash all of my students to enjoy classical music; I don’t. Instead, I try to work with the student to help them ‘open their ears’, and learn how to listen to more than just the surface of whatever particular piece of music they are listening to. I don’t care if it’s Mozart, Duke Ellington, or Lady Gaga, I want my students to be able to experience, appreciate, and enjoy the music that they play and listen to.
When you get right down to it, I think that is what it is all about, that is why we do what we do: to teach students how to have a genuine and enjoyable musical experience by using their independent musicianship. This is what I try to accomplish with my students.
Matt Ercolani is in his third year as an undergraduate music education major at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. At Rowan University, he is the Vice-President of the Rowan chapter of Collegiate NAfME (National Association for Music Education), and helps lead the most active collegiate chapter in the state. Mr. Ercolani has taught at music camps across the country, including as a member of the all-volunteer SWAG Team at the 2010 Music-For-All Summer Symposium in Normal, Illinois. Most recently, he was selected for participation in the first-ever TI:ME Leadership Academy at the 2012 TI:ME National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Ercolani is an active freelance private teacher and musician in the South Jersey area. His research and teaching interests include early childhood music education and utilizing technology to teach non-traditional music students. You can find more about him at http://mattercolani.wordpress.com.
Technological innovations have been shaking the music industry for a decade, and it’s inevitable that many of the innovations first dreamed up for professional artists have trickled down to become available to music students. However, not all technological innovations are created equal, and music majors at traditional colleges or taking online college courses should pick and choose with care how they spend their money. Plenty of software applications and recording devices are essential to the music major — from good sound editing software to MIDI links — but you shouldn’t invest in technology just because it’s purported to be the latest and greatest. To help you sift the diamonds from the dross, below is a list of five of the most overrated or unnecessary musical technologies available today and why they just don’t live up to the hype. [Read more...]
Ok so you’re all dressed up, pacing the floors, sweating in places you’ve never sweat before, and you’re mind is racing at a mile a minute. One word – Breathe.
Here’s the most important piece of advice I was ever told about college auditions. Professors WANT you to do well. Professors WANT to see you succeed. Remember they WANT to recruit you. Professors don’t want to go about teaching their freshman the basics, they want to get down and dirty to the hardcore musicianship. If you show in an audition, not necessarily perfection, but raw material, that a professor can easily work with, then you are on the track to acceptance.
Don’t freak out. Just remember these smiling faces are actually excited to meet you! They need freshman and you are potentially one of those freshman!
Think before you play. You’ve probably heard this statement billions of times from your private teacher before. I’m telling you, you’ll probably forget so I’m reminding you once more. Think before you play. Breathe. Relax. Professors understand the stress and want you to play your absolute best. So make sure you make the most out of those 10 minutes and show them confidently that you can play.
Also, be yourself. Don’t choke. They want to see your personality too! Have fun with them.
Smile.. Always remember to smile and walk in with confidence in your music. Let the professors enjoy your song for that short moment you have with them.
I’ll tell you a short story from personal experience. I, myself, have never been a performer. I love playing, but solo performances have never sat right with me. And I’m a bundle of nerves going in to play for people. But trust me when I say that auditions are only as scary as you make them out to be. Go to your happy place. Do any pre-performance rituals you normally do. Wear your lucky shoes or listen to your piece on your iPod on repeat for three hours before hand. And most importantly, stay calm and breathe. Make the most out of the time you have. And enjoy it!
Now it’s time for the “fun” stuff. Actually spending the time, filling out every single detail of your life from your dog’s name to your social security number and everything in between.
Suggestion #1: Fill out your applications and have a rough draft of your essays BEFORE school begins.
Accomplishing all of this early will save you hours and hours of headaches when stressed at the beginning of the year with IB and AP classes, marching band seasons (if you’re a band participant) and every other rehearsal that may take up your time. It may be difficult to get that work ethic going before school is in session, but just take the week before and fill out everything you need to. Also, see how many schools of yours accept the CommonApp Application. This saves you a lot of time as well, but don’t get too excited- there are always supplements!
Suggestion #2: Know your limits.
Please know that for simply applying to schools, there is a fee. To send SAT scores there is a fee, which must be paid for each school you wish to send them too. To send ACT scores there is also a fee, which must be paid for each school you wish to send them too. Applying can get pricey so make sure that whoever is laying out the money for applications is okay with the amount of schools you are applying to.
Suggestion #3: Uniqueness- It’s Essay Time
This part you can actually have fun with. You can write about almost anything for the CommonApp, and a lot of the time individual schools with their own applications have fun with the essay portion, and give you a very out-of-the-box topic. Be creative. Think of a completely random experience that you can look back on as if it was a movie scene, and you know you’ll never forget it. Or think of the time that you realized who you truly were. I can’t tell you which experience or person or place to talk about as I have not lived your life. But think of something that no one else can say “Oh, that happened to me too!” Be unique. Be original. And if you have fun writing it, the schools will have fun reading it.
Suggestion #4: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The minute school begins, knock on your English teacher’s door and say “Can you read this?!?” Ask for as many opinions as you can find – guidance counselor, teachers, parents and all. Do not be afraid to ask for opinions and don’t be afraid of a little constructive criticism. The school officials and family members are only there to help you. No worries!
The added stress of college applications is not what anyone wants, especially when beginning your senior year of high school. But, it will be much less painful if you get the dirty work done in the summertime. Remember to always be yourself and let that show in everything you write. Let colleges hear your voice and don’t stress!
Alright so you have your schools all listed out, you have created that handy dandy chart so all is laid out in front of you on one simple sheet, but you’re left to do one more thing before the mad practice sessions begin. What will you play? I’m here to help you choose some repertoire.
Step 1: Take a look at that chart you’ve made. When looking at every school’s audition rep list- Is there an overlap for any of these pieces?
Now, I most likely guarantee that you won’t be playing the same program for every school but if you could possibly find a program that you could play at more than one school, you are in good shape my friend.
Step 2: Take a look at the dates for auditions. Do you think you are going to be able to play this music at the same caliber, three months apart? You must look realistically at the big picture here. If you are a disciplined practicing musician, then I definitely say you’ll be fine but if you know after the first audition you won’t want to pick up the piece again, then maybe it’s not so smart to choose the same program.
Step 3: This is massively important I tell you. Do you like the music? If you don’t like the music, and it shows when you play it, don’t choose it. Times spent trying to make yourself love something you simply are sick and tired of, may not pay off as much as you would think. Make sure you’re excited and eager. Go to YouTube right now and check the pieces out! Find ones that you love.
Step 4: Which pieces that you have narrowed this down to, really show your strengths as a musician? You want to show off what you got in a sense. You want to have a well- balanced offering of pieces and a strong and equal stance on all. These pieces need to help you, not hurt you. So choose wisely! And make sure you like them. Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck drawing hearts on your sheet music to make you play with joy. Have fun with it!
New music, get excited. And break a leg!!!