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Johann Sebastian Bach once said, “It’s easy to play any musical instrument: All you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.” You’ll be teaching people to do just that with a major in music education. Despite its title, music education is a multidisciplinary major encompassing courses in art, history, English, languages, psychology, philosophy, and of course, music. You’ll first and foremost study music itself—its history, its theories, the very philosophies of music. You’ll experiment with individual instruments as you learn the best way to teach children how to play the string, brass, and woodwind families. Your voice is an instrument too, so get ready to sing and encourage others to sing as well. You’ll learn about sight reading and ear training, and how to build those skills in your future students. Composition, conducting, orchestration, and improvisation will all be part of your course work. You’ll build a foundation of knowledge in instrumental and chorale repertoire, and get a head start designing a sample curriculum for the classroom.

As with other education-related majors, you’ll get classroom experience through observation and student teaching. This is often a semester-long endeavor, and you’ll get to see firsthand what goes into being a music educator—the ways music comes alive for students in the classroom and what goes into managing that classroom effectively.

Your own music will be part of your studies as well, and most programs require you to concentrate and gain proficiency in an instrument of your choice. Often, music education majors go on to teach private music lessons; others become teachers in elementary or high schools. Most programs will ask you to specialize in one area, such as instrumental music, vocal music, or general music. The most important requirement for this major is a love of music and a desire to bring that music—and that passion for it—to others. If you’ve got talent to boot, you should really enjoy the ride.


  • Aural Skills

  • Chorale Repertoire

  • Curriculum Building

  • Educational Psychology

  • Instrumental and Classroom

  • Instrumental Conducting

  • Music History

  • Music Methods

  • Music Theory

  • Sight Singing and Ear Training

  • Student Teaching

  • Vocal and Classroom

  • Vocal Pedagogy

  • World Music


The best preparation for a major in music education is a variety of humanities courses including English, history, art, and languages. Obviously, music courses will be valuable as well. You should get involved in music groups in your school or community, such as bands or orchestras. Most music education programs require some degree of proficiency in a musical instrument or voice, so explore the option of private lessons if you haven’t already. The stronger your own music skills are when you get to college, the better.