Music Education

Music Education Major: Undergraduate

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 on-going 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 Music Education department. 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 Student Teaching. 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 program is the experience of observation and teaching in the context of the Art of Teaching Music courses ME 161, ME 262, ME 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, ME 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 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 and ME 595. 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.

Music Education Major: Graduate (M.M.)

This program is designed for students who wish to major in music education with a concentration in applied music or composition. It is generally expected that students interested in the Master of Music program will hold state teaching certification and will have taught for at least one year prior to initial enrollment at Westminster. Applicants are sometimes accepted without this experience, but the Music Education Department reserves the right to require that a year of successful teaching be completed before the Master of Music degree in this major field is granted. Applicants must complete an audition as part of the admission process.  

The Master of Music degree in music education does not itself include courses leading to New Jersey certification; applicants should therefore normally possess certificates before beginning master’s work.

The Master of Music program reflects the Westminster philosophy that the music educator must be a fully capable musician. Consequently, there is a decided emphasis on performance or composition in the curriculum, with several options available. The professional sequence of courses conjoins philosophy of music education, psychology of music learning and praxis. The course content is presented in the context of post-modern critical theory and connects to the social, cultural and political tensions found in schooling.  Students acquire habits of mind to challenge the status quo and complete the program as agents of change—advocating a critical pedagogy for music education that is transformational.

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

Master of Music Education (M.M.E)

The Master of Music Education program is for music teachers who wish to complete graduate study in four summers or in two academic years.  Students may also combine summer and academic terms to accelerate completion. Students wishing to pursue K-12 music certification concurrently with this degree may do so through the Graduate Level Teacher Certification Program (GLTP) offered by Rider University’s School of Education.

This program includes music education courses, music core courses, choral ensemble performance and a self-designed, 12-credit area of focus proposed by the student to the department. The degree culminates in the completion of a master’s thesis. Students in the certification program must plan to include study during the academic year in order to complete required field experiences, including student teaching. Like the Master of Music (M.M.) degree, the professional sequence of courses conjoins philosophy of music education, psychology of music learning and praxis. The course content is presented in the context of post-modern critical theory and connects to the social, cultural and political tensions found in schooling. Students acquire habits of mind to challenge the status quo and complete the program as agents of change—advocating a critical pedagogy for music education that is transformational.

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, 8-week and 3-week formats. Students in the MM, MME or BM/MAT 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 685Research in Music Education3
ME 692Hist & Phil of Music Educ3
ME 693Seminar in Music Educ3
ME 721Curriculum Development & Evaluation3
ME 723Psychology for Music Tchr3

The following courses are offered by the College of Continuing Studies and 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

Westminster Academy

The Westminster Academy is the laboratory school of the Music Education Department and the Westminster Conservatory. Classes are taught in a residency program at John Witherspoon Middle School, located in Princeton, and to home-schooled students at Westminster Conservatory, located on the Westminster campus. Opportunities for teaching internships are provided for graduate students in music education as well as practicum experience for undergraduate Music Education majors. The teaching philosophy at Westminster Academy embraces Critical Pedagogy for Music Education, connecting music teaching in the context of social change. Lessons are designed to meet individual student learning styles and the teaching strategies are framed in constructivist ideology. The curriculum seeks to affect transformative learning for both students and their teachers.

Westminster Partnership with the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil

The music education department at Westminster has a partnership with the graduate music education program at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Faculty members from the music education department at Westminster regularly teach at UFRGS and professors from Porto Alegre present seminars as visiting scholars at Westminster. Opportunities are under exploration for students to study in Brazil as part of their graduate degree. In addition, the Department offers instruction in O Passo (The Step), a Brazilian music education method developed by Lucas Ciavatta of Rio de Janeiro who is an adjunct assistant professor in music education at Westminster. Courses in O Passo are offered in alternate summers and special workshops are planned at various times during the academic year as appropriate. O Passo is taught at Westminster Academy to sixth grade students at Witherspoon Middle School.


Janet Cape (chair) • Associate Professor, Music Education, and Chair of Music Education, 2010.  B.M., University of Victoria; M.M., Arizona State University; D.M.A., Arizona State University.
Frank Abrahams • Professor, 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, 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.
Jason Vodicka • Assistant Professor, Music Education, 2018.  B.M., M.M., Westminster Choir College; D.M.A., University of Georgia.