Deborah H. Mitchell, D.M.A

California State University Long Beach


A number of factors currently influence the preparation of music teachers in the twenty-first century. While some are directly related to the study and performance of music, many are not, nor are they addressed in teacher preparation courses. These factors include student needs and preferences, rapidly changing student demographics, high stakes testing, and ramifications of the No Child Left Behind Act on education. If we choose to ignore these issues in the preparation of music teachers we have given our students strong musicianship skills but failed to address the political, economic, and social ideologies that will blindside them in the real world.


The curriculum in today’s teacher preparation programs varies according to individual state-mandated standards and those established by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Both reflect a K-12 curriculum that has evolved from traditional performance-based instruction and often leave little room for innovation. Because institutions of higher education have failed to provide pre-service music teachers with the necessary skills to adequately assess the whole student learning environment by offering few, if any, courses in non-traditional instruction, new teachers are unable to develop alternative instruction that better meets the needs of the student population. NASM has now proposed changes to the 2005-2006 Handbook that include new areas of specialization and acknowledge the musical needs and preferences of today’s diverse youth. In low-income, low-performing schools where non-traditional instruction might better serve students, the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act has resulted in a disturbing trend that exacerbates this situation. Students are being denied access to music and other electives when their individual test scores fall below the 50th percentile.


If we are going to effect change in music education, the most important change must occur in teacher preparation programs. This position paper will discuss the revision of the undergraduate music education curriculum to reflect the educational issues, concerns, and trends of the twenty-first century and the delivery of K-12 music education. A curriculum model reflecting the California Standards for Subject Matter Preparation in Music and NASM standards for music education will be presented.