Music Education

General Remarks


The undergraduate Music Education curriculum is planned to develop teachers who are reflective, who acknowledge the connections music has to the child’s world and who seek to promote an understanding of those connections in a social context.  Students come to know and understand:

  • the central concepts, tools of inquiry and structures of music education as they relate to the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for the Visual and Performing Arts and how to design appropriate learning experiences that connect to the students’ world and help students to broaden their perceptions of the world around them;
  • how children learn and adapt to instruction that meets a diversity of learning styles and special learning needs in a variety of school contexts;
  • the importance of teaching that is culturally responsive;
  • instructional planning and curriculum design that promote critical thinking, action and feeling through teaching constructivist and other appropriate strategies;
  • how to engage students in problem solving, problem posing and meaningful dialogue;
  • the appropriate use of multiple assessments;
  • sound principles of effective classroom management;
  • effective verbal, nonverbal and written communication techniques and the tools of information literacy;
  • the importance of being articulate advocates for music education in the schools;
  • the importance of schooling within the context of the community and of learning to build partnerships with parents, families and agencies within the community to support students’ learning and well-being;
  • the importance of ongoing professional development.

The curriculum includes a state-approved music education program that leads to a letter of certification eligibility for teaching vocal and instrumental music at all levels in New Jersey.  Transfer of certificates to other states is greatly facilitated by accreditation of the program by the National Council for the Accreditation of teacher Education (NCATE) and by membership of the State of New Jersey in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification program (NASDTEC) and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC).

Music Education majors must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Students whose general progress is unsatisfactory or whose cumulative grade point average falls below a minimum 3.0 level may be dropped from the Music Education major. If a student is dropped from the major because of failure to maintain the minimum grade point average, s/he may apply for readmission to the Department of Music Education and Conducting, Organ and Sacred Music. Readmission will be dependent upon various criteria, including the G.P.A., current academic progress and the student’s general standing. Decisions regarding retention or appeals will be made in a manner consistent with state and institutional non-discrimination policies.

Applications for certification are processed each year on November 15 and April 15, and at no other time.

Music Education Lab

Undergraduates must meet the weekly attendance and participation requirements for Music Education Lab during every semester of enrollment up to seven semesters as an undergraduate Music Education major except for the senior student teaching semester. Grading is “P” (satisfactory) or “U” (unsatisfactory). As part of the Music Education Lab experience, students are required to complete 15 hours of professional development. Students propose their own Professional Development Activity (PDA) to be approved by the lab instructor each semester.

Graduate students have no departmental requirements in Music Education Lab.

National Association for Music Education

Music Education majors are encouraged to join the Westminster student chapter of the National Association for Music Education ( Membership enables them to attend state, regional and national meetings, providing them with a connection to active members of the profession. Members also receive the Music Educators Journal, Tempo and Teaching Music, which are used as supplementary texts in several courses.

Music Education Portfolios

All Music Education majors must maintain portfolios of work providing evidence of their suitability for teaching. Portfolios of undergraduates are reviewed by the department with students when they have earned at least 60 credits as well as upon completion of ME 492. Students must pass the portfolio review to continue in the department. Portfolios of graduate students are reviewed each year.

Practicums and Field-based Observations

In addition to the standard student teaching semester in the senior year, a special feature of the Westminster Choir College program is the experience of observation and teaching in the context of the Art of Teaching Music courses ME 161ME 262ME 563 and ME 564. These combine instruction in music methods with practical experience in public school contexts. Several music education courses require students to make observations of music classes in urban, suburban, public and/or private schools.

Students must be prepared to arrange for transportation to and from practicums at a reasonable distance from the college and to sustain related expenses.

Students will be required to obtain a background clearance in an assigned school district in order to participate in a field experience. Students who have been convicted of a felony may not be approved for field experiences, and are not able to receive New Jersey State Teacher Licensure.

Priority Registration

Because of the demand for these courses, Music Education majors will receive priority registration for:

ME 111Music Education Lab0
ME 161Art of Teaching Music I3
ME 262Art of Teaching Music II4
ME 563Art of Teaching Music III4
ME 564Art of Teaching Music IV4

Students who register after pre-registration are not assured places in these classes. Students need the permission of the chair to register for student teaching. All pre-requisites for student teaching must be completed before permission is granted. Therefore, students are urged to complete pre-requisites (including PI 204) by the end of the spring semester of their junior year. It is recommended that students meet piano proficiency requirements by the end of their sophomore year.

Student Teaching

Student teaching is a full semester in duration and is usually completed during the seventh or eighth semester of study. Students may not enroll for any applied or classroom courses during the semester of student teaching, except for ME 587. In addition, students may not present or participate in recitals or choral performances or ensembles during the semester of student teaching. Further departmental policies regarding the student teaching semester are contained in the Music Education Department Handbook. Students are referred to the paragraph above which relates to registering for the student teaching semester.

Master of Music Education (M.M.E)

The Master of Music Education program is for music teachers who wish to complete graduate study in three to four summers or in two academic years.  Students may also combine summer and academic terms to accelerate completion. The degree is for those who hold an undergraduate degree in music education and a teaching certificate. Students do not earn teacher certification through this degree program.

Our 32-33 credit graduate curriculum is designed for music educators who wish to improve their practice, challenge their thinking and develop the skills to bring about positive change in their school. Students design their own 12-credit “focus area” of courses tailored to their particular interests and goals.  Some areas of focus selected by recent MME students include choral pedagogy, choral conducting, voice pedagogy, Kodály ( with certification) and music technology.  The MME degree culminates in either a thesis or capstone project. 

For more information on this program please visit Graduate Programs: Music Education

Music Education Courses Online

The following music education courses are offered in traditional (fall, spring and summer terms) and online formats throughout the year. The online versions may be offered in 13-week, 6-week or 3-week formats. Students in the MM, MME or BM-MME programs may take either the traditional or online format to complete their degree. Students in other degree programs may take these courses as free electives:

ME 685Improving Musical Practice: Research in Music Education3
ME 692Social Justice in Music Education: History, Philosophy, and Practice3
ME 693Seminar in Music Educ3
ME 721Curriculum Development & Evaluation3
ME 723Social, Emotional, and Musical Learning3

The following courses may be used as electives in graduate music education programs. They are taught quarterly online, in 8-week modules throughout the year:

     CP-600 Creative Practices in Music Teaching and Learning
     CP-620 Creative Practices in Vocal Science
     CP-640 Creative Practices in Choral Pedagogy
     CP-660 Creative Practices in Classroom


Tom T. Shelton, Jr. • Associate Professor and Chair, Music Education, 2018.  B.M., M.M., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Jason Vodicka • Associate Professor, Music Education, 2018.  B.M., M.M., Westminster Choir College of Rider University; D.M.A., University of Georgia.
Frank Abrahams • Professor Emeritus, Music Education, 1992. B.M.E., Temple University; M.M., New England Conservatory; Ed.D., Temple University. 
Sangmi Kang • Assistant Professor, Music Education, 2018.  B.M., M.M., Seoul National University;  Ph.D., University of Florida.
Maureen Murphy-Fernandez • Adjunct Instructor, Music Education, 2016. B.S., West Chester University.
Marshall Onofrio • Professor Emeritus, Music Education, 2007.  B.M., B.S., University of Connectic
ut; M.M., University of Illinois; M.M., University of Nebraska-Lincoln; D.M.A., The Ohio State University.
Sarah Perry • Assistant Professor, Music Education, 2021.  B.S., Elizabethtown College; M.A., Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University.
G. Preston Wilson, Jr. • Assistant Professor, Music Education, 2021.  B.M., Fisk University; M.M., Bowling Green State University.