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Who Should be a Music Educator

Cathy Benedict is an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies in Music Education at New York University.

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Cathy Benedict from NYU talks about what type of people should be music educators. She believes there is a great need to focus on performance majors having access to pedagogical models. She discusses how she leads her class in conversations about what it means to be a thoughtful teacher and to facilitate learning environments.

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The people that I get in this program have essentially self-selected into music education. But I think that that’s - I think that’s a fallacy because, as I said be - I think it’s a fallacy to think that some people can and some people can’t. I think, I suspect that some people are wired to bed more - because they find it attractive teaching, and I think they’re wired for that venue. But I - and I think perhaps some people aren’t well suited to teach. But I think that it’s - that anyone can become a thoughtful teacher if they choose to do so. I don’t think people should become teachers if they do not want to be. In the long run, they will be miserable, and their students will be miserable, and their students will be miserable.

But as I said before, I think it’s really important in students of music that there’s a bigger focus on the students who are planning on becoming performers that they have access to pedagogical models and not just think about teaching in terms of “well that’s how my studio teacher taught me.” I think this is a big problem, especially in conservatories where you’re sitting in a room with a teacher for four years and you’re learning one particular way of thinking about what it means to teach and learn. And then you go off and you replicate that same model. And I don’t particular think all of those models are very thoughtful.

So I think we need to be very mindful that the jazz study students are gonna have their own students. They might even have a jazz band somewhere. I think pedagogy, the pedagogy of what it means to help someone become a better learner/teacher needs to be embedded throughout a music school. I don’t think we need - I don’t, I think we take that for granted, and I don’t think we really care. I think we say, “Oh, well, he had a great piano teacher.” Well he might be a great player, and he might be playing everywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into thoughtful teaching. I don’t think it should be thought of as being trained to teach.

I think we need to provide ways of having conversation about what it means to be a thoughtful teacher. So when I structure my classes, they’re very much in - I don’t use the word “train”; I talk about facilitating learning environments. I talk about myself as a teacher/learner. My expectations are that they will engage in the learning process as a teacher/learner, and that I’m not training them to do anything. In fact, they should find that word insulting.

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CB, Who Should be a Music Advisor.doc

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