Q & A with a Current Eastman Student

December 12, 2012

Photo by Mariel Hope Fedde

The following guest post was written by one of our current undergraduate percussionists.  We hope you enjoy this insider’s perspective on being a student at Eastman!

As a prospective student, it can be difficult to get a gist of what it’s really like to be a student at Eastman.  My name is Ariel Jackson and I am a junior Percussion Performance/Music Education Major.  I absolutely love the energy and creativity within Eastman and being a student here is very rewarding.   In order to let you know what life at Eastman is all about, I have answered a few questions about my schedule and what it is like to be a double major.

Q.  What is a typical schedule like for a Double Major?

A.  As an Applied Percussion Major and Music Education Major, I keep a very busy schedule.  A typical Monday, this semester, for me consists of:

9:30-Early Childhood (One of my favorite classes)

10:30-Clarinet Class (A beginning methods class for Music Education)

11:30-Work at Admissions Office (My favorite part of the day!)

1:30-Quick Lunch and Warm up for Percussion Lesson

2:45-Applied Percussion Lesson

3:45-Large Ensemble Rehearsal

5:30-Quick Dinner and Starbucks (Yes River Campus has a Starbucks!)

6:15-Psychology at the U or R’s River Campus (I carpool to this class with another student)

7:30-Homework and Practice time

This may seem like a lot and it often seems like too much to me but it is manageable!  The key to managing a schedule like this is time management.  Taking advantage of little slots of time can also make life easier.  Often, I have 15 to 30 minutes between classes or rehearsals and using this time to get something done can actually make a huge difference later in the day.

Q.  What are the Music Education classes like?

A.  As a freshman, the Music Education classes I took were introductory classes or instrumental method classes.  For example, I took voice, trumpet, Intro to Music Education and Field Experience in Music Education my freshman year.  Voice and trumpet focused on the basics issues involved for those particular fields and required students to reach a certain level of proficiency by the end of the year.  Intro to Music Education and Field Experience in Music Education were led by Christopher Azzara, a faculty member in the Music Education and Jazz Departments.  These classes focused on basic theories and fundamental pedagogy for Music Education.  A lot of singing, dancing and improvising was involved in these classes which made them some of my favorite classes.  I got to dance around and act like a little kid in order to learn how kids learn and how that applies to Music Education!

Each year, Music Education classes become more in-depth and more hands-on.  This year, my junior year, I have taught pre-school aged children and elementary aged children in various schools around Rochester.  All throughout the second semester of my junior year, I will be teaching even more as I prepare for student teaching in the fall of my senior year.  Music Education courses become progressively more detailed and interactive leading up to student teaching.  For this reason, these classes are often my favorite.  Instead of listening to a lecture, I get to move around and experiment with teaching my peers as well as children of all ages!

Q.  What are the benefits of being a Double Major?

A.  As a Double Major, when I graduate, I will be certified to teach K-12 and I will hold a performance degree.  I have the option to choose from a large variety of future paths based on these two degrees.   Should I decide to teach after graduating or after I attain a Master’s degree, I will have the necessary skills and experience to help me achieve a teaching position.  This is probably the most obvious benefit of being a Double Major but there are many more.  Eastman’s Music Education Faculty is an excellent, energetic and well-respected group of people.  Working with them is always a joy and always enlightening.  The skills I receive from my Music Education classes often transfer over to performance affairs.  My schedule may be demanding, but the benefits of Double Majoring are certainly worth the time and effort.

Q.  What are some challenges of being a Double Major?

A.  The only true challenge of being a Double Major is the amount of time that is required for all of my classes.  My practice time, homework time and relaxing time are all shortened due to the mass amount of classes that I have.  It is a goal of mine to teach in the future so I know that the degree is worth my time.

The Music Education faculty strongly discourages people from pursing a Music Education degree as a backup plan.  Somebody that has no interest in teaching K-12 should not be a Music Education/Performance Major.  Pursing a Music Education degree by itself is time consuming.  It is a decision that should not be taken lightly or be thought of as something that can be easily added to a Performance degree.  To sum up, as long as you really wish to use a Music Education degree in the future, the benefits far outweigh any challenges.

Q.  How do classes differ between a Double Major and a Performance-only Major?

A.  Most Performance requirements stay the same for Double Majors.  The overall credits required for a Performance major are 125 credits and the credits required for a Music Education major are 147 credits.  The Music Education requirements are integrated into the performance requirements for Double Majors.  The only real difference is in the chamber music requirements.  Double Majors are not required to fulfill as many chamber ensemble requirements as Performance-only Majors.

Students may also be excused from a semester of Large Ensemble during the semester that they student teach.  I will be student teaching next fall so I will only be taking Music Education classes associated with student teaching and my Applied Lessons.  I do have more to do than my Performance-only Major friends but this means I always have complaining rights over them!

Q.  How does the Forte Program Work?

A.  One way to ease the stress of being a Music Education/Performance Major is by participating in the Forte Program.  Forte allows students to add a tuition free ninth semester for student teaching.  This permits Double Majors to spread out their classes over eight semesters instead of seven.  A lot of students choose to apply for this program since it makes life a little easier.  Students that wish to participate in the Forte program can turn in an application and teacher recommendation by the middle of the fall semester their junior year.