Developing Music Education Policy Wonks: Pre-service Music Education and Policy


Carla E. Aguilar, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Christopher Dye, Middle Tennessee State University


The typical music education degree includes coursework focused on developing musicianship, musical leadership, professional education competencies, and specific pedagogical expertise (NASM, 2016). While it is understood that these topics have been part of a historical core of the music education degree, graduates will be entering a professional field where they will also interact with a range of policies and have to navigate their professional and private political lives (Woodford, 2005). Burton, Knaster, and Knieste (2015) found that pre-service music educators were politically concerned, but were unfamiliar with many of the political and policy elements impacting music education. Research related to the goals of political socialization (Galston, 2001; Lee, Shah, & McLeod, 2012), civic engagement (Levine & Higgins-D’Alessandro, 2010), and political participation (Manning & Edwards, 2014) have mixed but somewhat positive findings, indicating that including aspects of political activism and an understanding of educational policy structures may encourage interest and participation from pre-service educators as they enter the teaching profession. Colwell (2011) suggested that the music education community would benefit from the nurturing of “scholar-musicians,” individuals whose undergraduate studies could overlap fields like music education and policy studies, particularly with an eye towards developing future generations of policymakers and policy researchers within the field.


The purpose of this presentation is to outline and explore mechanisms to engage pre-service teachers with educational policies and political practices. Presenters will discuss resources for learning about federal and state policies related to education and music education, interfacing with state policymakers, political capital, and balancing their role as a politically active citizen and a state employee. Models will be suggested that integrate political topics into existing coursework and create new curricular structures to facilitate the development of “scholar-musicians.” Considerations will include the role of music teacher educator as a model of politically active citizen and arts advocate and potential concerns about adding political information to the expectations placed on new teachers. This session will address the Policy ASPA goals to increase policy awareness and build capacity for policy engagement.




Burton, Knaster, and Knieste (2015). Staying in tune with music education: Policy awareness among music education majors. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 25(1), 65-77. doi:10.1177/1057083714548587

Colwell, R. (2011). Reflections on music teacher education. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 10(2), 127-160. Retrieved from

Galston, W. A. (2001). Political knowledge, political engagement, and civic education. Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 4: 217-234.

Lee, N., Shah, D. V., & McLeod, J. M. (2012). Processes of political socialization: A communication mediation approach to youth civic engagement. Communication Research, 40(5), 669-697. doi:10.1177/0093650212436712

Levine, P. & Higgins-D’Alessandro, A. (2010). The philosophical foundations of civic education. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, 40(3/4), 21-27. doi:10.13021/G8pppq.302010.91

Manning, N. & Edwards, K. (2014). Does civic education for young people increase political participation? A systematic review. Educational Review, 66(1), 22-45. doi:10.1080/00131911.2013.763767

NASM (2016). National Association of Schools of Music Handbook 2016-2017. Retrieved from

Woodford, P. (2005). Democracy and music education. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.