Edward McClellan, Coordinator of Music Education, recently presented findings from his national research study on the Identity Formation of Undergraduate Music Education Majors at the International MayDay Colloquium at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. The conference, titled “The Aims of Music Education,” was sponsored by the MayDay Group, an international organization of music educators and scholars concerned with the future of music education. The meeting brought together approximately sixty scholars and researchers from the United States, Canada, Finland, and Europe.
Dr. McClellan used results from his study “Identity Formation of Undergraduate Music Education Majors in the University Music Department” to examine ways the university music department may contribute to future music teachers’ commitment to the motivations, strategies, and rewards of teaching. The purpose of McClellan’s study was to examine the collective impact of people and experiences most connected to the undergraduate music education major and associations in the university music department culture. Participants were undergraduate music education majors enrolled at universities granting a bachelor of music education degree across the United States. Results demonstrated that socialization through the music teacher education curriculum, authentic contextual experiences, and music department subcultures have powerful impact on the development of identity as a music teacher.
With findings from this study, McClellan recommended to the MayDay Group that music teacher education programs engage the music department community in establishing collaborative environments that collectively encourage and shape future music educators’ identity as music teacher. Interdisciplinary work between music education, education, and applied music faculty should address relationships between musician-music teacher identities that exist in music education major professional development as a future music teacher. Finally, as undergraduate enthusiasm for teaching as a career and influence of high school peers and mentors on choice of major contribute to identity formation, university music departments should examine recruiting practices to engage the best qualified candidates for the music education profession. As Goodson (1981) wrote, “In understanding something so intensely personal as teaching, it is critical we know about the person the teacher is.” Therefore, it is vitally important that the music education and overall university music department select music education candidates that demonstrate enthusiasm for music teaching, value for the music education profession, and vision in pursuing a career as music teacher.