“We are Just Getting Started”: Gerrity on Online Music Education Concentration

Kevin Gerrity

Speaking of Ball State’s online master of music with a concentration in music education, Kevin Gerrity, associate professor of music education, can’t contain his pride, nor his joy. 

“Our online program has become a quick success, and we are just getting started,” he says of the program launched in 2020. 

Kevin says the program met its enrollment goal much sooner than expected and continues to see an increase in student demand.. 

A Graduation Celebration 

“We recently celebrated our first two graduates from the program, who completed the program a semester ahead of schedule,” he says.

The online master’s was launched to support the growth of K-12 music educators and provide a quality foundation for those considering doctoral study. 

“I think the program’s appeal among students is that it is rather affordable, has a rigorous curriculum taught by expert faculty, and is practical and achievable while teaching full time,” he says.  

Courses Provide Practical Solutions 

Kevin says online professional development courses give practical solutions to challenges that in-service music teachers, who comprise most of the enrollment, face each day. 

“It is often the case that our faculty discuss and model specific strategies that the candidates themselves request because of personal struggle or interest,” he says. “We can tailor our discussion to their specific needs. These strategies can be easily implemented into their classroom the very next day.” 

Kevin points out that Ball State’s music education curriculum is unique.  

“Most teacher candidates, despite four years of learning, will end up teaching ‘the way they were taught’ when they were students in K-12 music programs,” says Kevin. “But we are able to dig deeper. We challenge our students to question what they teach and how they teach it, always taking into account the unique needs of their students.” 

Faculty Prepared at Top-notch Programs  

He says it makes a difference that students learn from nationally known and award-winning professors. 

Ball State faculty hold specialized doctoral and/or terminal degrees from the best-known music education programs in the country, he adds. 

“We have music education experts in every field—a band specialist, a string music specialist, a secondary education music specialist, a choral music specialist, and so on,” he says. “At many institutions, music education courses are often taught by music faculty who are content specialists, but not music educators that have actually taught in K-12 public schools.” 

He notes that Ball State’s music education faculty have more than 200 years of combined experience, half of which was spent as public or private school music teachers in K-12 settings.  

Kevin Invested Years in K-12, Too 

As an example, Kevin spent 14 years teaching instrumental and general music in Ohio before joining the Ball State faculty, who have come to be recognized by many peers and colleagues as experts in their field because they regularly participate as leaders in state, regional, and national conferences. 

Pride and joy are also what he feels for his music education alumni. 

“So many Ball State grads, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, are doing great things in Indiana schools,” he says. “I want prospective students to know that choosing our program will also put them in the company of all of our alumni who continue to do amazing things within our profession.” 

 

Online Master of Music Student Working on Grad School Memories

Middle school music teacher and Ball State graduate student Haley Muller uses the word “memories” so often you’d think she was about to retire.

During her sophomore year as a music education major at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., she toured the U.S. and Spain with the Millikin University Choir.

“That is the absolute best performance memory I will likely ever have,” she says, explaining that three back-to-back years with the Choir was “her most prized memory.”

One of Her Favorite Memories

She conducted her first musical, Violet, during her senior year of college. “One of my favorite memories,” adds the choral and music director for Northview Middle School on the north side of Indianapolis.

Having performed in 22 community theatre productions since third grade and with such a full undergraduate experience, Haley wondered if graduate school, particularly online, could ever compare.

Although online students never need to come to campus, Haley’s teaching position had put her just an hour and minutes from Muncie, home to Ball State University. She decided to visit.

I knew that this is where I wanted to be pretty quickly,” she says. “Ball State impressed me immediately.

As did professor Don Ester, professor of music education and coordinator of the master’s in music with a concentration in music education.

“I Knew He Was A Sincere Educator”

“I knew that he was a sincere educator who wanted to genuinely impact current music educators,” says Haley. “His kindness and knowledge spoke volumes. He even let me sit in on one of his courses, which gave me insight to what classes would truly be like.”

Memories of her undergraduate faculty, who today treat her like a professional colleague, had set the bar high for graduate faculty.

What stands out about Ball State’s online classes are the amount of time the professors take to really engage students, give clear instructions, and most importantly, give strong feedback,” says Haley.

Faculty Encourage and Challenge

As a new music educator, she was worried whether she had the experience to do the program.

But Dr. Ester saw my strengths, praised my hard work, and encouraged me,” she says. “He encourages his students so efficiently while also challenging them. He always helps students to discover information on their own.

Likewise Dr. Kevin Gerrity associate director and coordinator of undergraduate music programs. “Dr. Gerrity has helped me a lot with research,” she says. “He is also great at being vulnerable and personable with his students.”

Now in her third semester, Haley is enthusiastic about her graduate school experience, even during the pandemic.

She’s Loved Conversations, Collaborations

“I’ve been able to have a lot of great conversations with other students in my classes about different ideas and possibilities during virtual and hybrid learning,” she says. “I have loved the collaboration!”

Haley also loves teaching in public schools. But her future might hold the possibility of a doctorate and teaching on a college campus.

I am enjoying what I learn every single day about myself and my teaching abilities. My professors and my courses have been an excellent fit for me,” she says. “I still feel welcomed and a part of the Ball State family from the comfort of my own home!

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