Music, School of


Date of this Version



Published (as Chapter 17) in Composing Our Future: Preparing Music Educators to Teach Composition, edited by Michele Kaschub & Janice P. Smith (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 289–304.


Copyright © 2013 Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


The editors of this volume have asked me to describe our pre-service teacher education program that includes a concentration in music composition education. Naturally, I am pleased and flattered to do so. The considerable journey that we have begun at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to bring this program into being has been extremely rewarding, occasionally frustrating, and always remarkably challenging. Indeed, it remains rewarding, frustrating, and challenging today.

. . .

This narrative will address the set of practical questions that so often dominate discussions I have had about this curriculum when I have been asked to speak about it at professional meetings across the United States and abroad. These practical questions include:
1. Who should learn to teach music composition to children in K-12 settings?
2. Who should teach composition pedagogy to pre-service music education students?
3. Where can university students be placed for practicum experiences in K-12 settings?
4. What costs are attached to a composition pedagogy curriculum and how can university music schools and departments shoulder such costs, especially in times of diminishing funding and resources?
5. What role might university music schools play in working with local districts to create employment opportunities for music composition pedagogy specialists?
6. Are there other courses implied in such a curriculum besides a methods class in composition pedagogy and its companion practicum?

I invite the profession to consider ways, appropriate to the local contexts and constraints in which teacher-training programs may find themselves, to embrace the opportunities to equip pre-service music educators to become composer educators, and to expand the agenda of music education in the schools. Our children will nourish as these important learning opportunities expand.