Society for Music Teacher Education: Professional Literature Project


IntroductionChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8

George N. Heller, Editor

© 1999, MENC: The National Association for Music Education
Updated May 2003


This project had its origins in the series of booklets developed by the Music Educators National Conference to help elementary, middle level, and secondary music teachers utilize the national standards and to help college and university music education instructors train teachers to utilize them. It became evident that professional literature on music teacher education was in something of a state of chaos. The biggest problem was that no single bibliographic tool existed to control the music teacher education literature. Another significant problem was that people in the field who had music teacher education as their main task were not always aware of the professional literature that defines their field. Added to this is confusion about what constitutes professional literature in music teacher education, as separate and distinct from professional literature in the various branches of music education (general music education, vocal music education, or instrumental music), music (music history, theory, or performance), education (educational history and philosophy, educational psychology and research, curriculum and instruction, and so forth), or liberal arts and sciences.

The founding of the Society for Music Teacher Education came about, in part, because music teacher educators lacked identity and cohesiveness. In the process of training music teachers, music teacher educators were (and still are) subject to forces from outside the discipline: from music, from education, and from the liberal arts and sciences. The Society’s publication, the Journal of Music Teacher Education, fills the gap, but at a very slow pace. The Journal publishes two issues per year, with five to ten rather short (two- to five-page) articles. Publication of fifteen short articles a year from 1991 to 1997 has resulted in a bibliography of 105 articles; a good start, to be sure, but still not a sufficient body of literature to define a field.

Before 1991, articles on music teacher education appeared in a variety of publications. From the Music Educators National Conference came the Music Educators Journal and the Journal of Research in Music Education. In recent years, the Conference has added General Music Today, UPDATE: Applications of Research in Music Education, and Teaching Music to its publications list. All of these have had articles on music teacher education from time to time. Specialty publications for music teachers, like the Instrumentalist, the Choral Journal, and The American String Teacher have occasionally carried articles for music teacher educators or about music teacher education, as have other similar journals in the field. Research journals, such as The Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Contributions to Research in Music Education, and The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education, have also carried articles that might qualify as professional literature in music education.

From time to time, publishers have brought out books with chapters on topics of interest to music teacher educators. Authors and editors have occasionally devoted a Introduction part of their books to the history and philosophy of music teacher education, curriculum and instruction in music teacher education, activities and elements of music in music teacher education classes, and other similar topics.

Two handbook articles have special relevance for this study: Eunice Boardman’s 1990 article on "Music Teacher Education," and Ralph Verrastro and Mary Leglar’s 1992 article with the same title. Both appeared in large collections devoted to research in education and music education, and both made important strides toward identifying the professional literature and defining the field.(1)


Since the task of this project is to identify music teacher education literature in order to define the field, the definition process is critical. This project begins, but does not complete the process. It will be very difficult to see what music teacher educators and others consider to be a work in the field until a listing such as this one is readily available for criticism. A book on music teacher education, like Joan Boney and Lois Rhea’s book A Guide to Student Teaching in Music is pretty clearly in the field. One like David J. Elliott’s Music Matters: A New Philosophy of Music Education has much in it that music teacher educators and their students could benefit from reading, but it is not, strictly speaking, a book about music teacher education. Books like Richard Kinney’s High School Music Teacher’s Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing and Teaching the Total Music Program are clearly about music teaching and for school music teachers and for music education students, but they may not qualify, strictly speaking, as music teacher education literature.(2)


The following is a tentative definition of music teacher education: A subdivision of the field of music education primarily concerned with undergraduate and graduate courses and related experiences devoted specifically to educating (training, instructing, and so forth) music teachers. Central to music teacher education are introductory, history and philosophy, or foundations courses in music education; methods courses in teaching elementary, middle level, and secondary general, vocal, and instrumental music; and laboratory work, field work, student teaching, and other similar experiences in music teacher education program. Closely related courses include conducting, secondary instruments, and voice classes. One problematic area, sometimes included and sometimes excluded, is music teacher education courses for elementary education majors. Courses and other experiences in music, education, and liberal arts and sciences may be relevant in some way to music teacher education, but they are clearly at a greater distance from the central concerns of the profession.

As the process of sorting, classifying, and defining goes forward, another problem looms: proliferation. Professional literature in music education increases geometrically, or so it seems. Not only are new articles and books constantly coming out, but new journals and new means of dissemination (audio recordings, videotapes, CD-ROMs, and the Internet, for example) come into being and contribute still more to the jumble of information and opinion surrounding music teacher education. Some have said that this is an information age. If so, how are consumers to know what information is available, in what form, and at what cost? How will they know whether or not the information is relevant to whatever concerns they might have. Perhaps most importantly, how can someone seeking information about music teacher education have any confidence in the reliability of that information? All of this seems like a journey of a thousand miles or more. This project is a first step.

The Project began in 1996, when the Society at its meeting in Kansas City in April approved the project. Over the summer, experts in the field discussed the strategies via e-mail and conventional post. They were: Janet Revell Barrett of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (whose major responsibility was elementary general music, though she-like all the others-contributed substantially to other areas and to the project as a whole), J. Bryan Burton of West Chester (Pennsylvania) University (middle level general music), Diane C. Persellin of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas (elementary choral music), Carolee R. Curtright of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (middle level choral music), Lynn E. Drafall of The Pennsylvania State University (high school choral music), Rebekah Ann Brown of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (elementary and middle level strings), Dorothy A. Straub of Westport, Connecticut (high school strings), Richard F. Grunow of The Eastman School of Music (elementary wind and percussion), James O. Froseth of The University of Michigan (middle level wind and percussion), and Deborah A. Sheldon of the University of Illinois (high school wind and percussion). Paul F. Doerksen of The University of Oregon also helped by looking over early drafts and offering useful suggestions.

In the late summer of 1996, they decided on a tentative format. In the spring of 1997, they contributed their first lists. Professor Heller collated the responses and put together a first draft, which he sent to the contributors in the fall of 1997. Responses to the first draft in December 1997 led to a second draft in early 1998, which again went to contributors for their comments, corrections, and revisions. A third draft resulted from revisions turned in during March 1998, and the Society’s Executive Committee (Mary Lou Van Rysselberghe, Chair, 1996-98) considered the third draft at its biennial meetings in Phoenix in April 1998.

The SMTE Executive Committee recommended further development of the Project to include reorganizing the format, surveying additional sources, and exploring means of dissemination. Heller accepted a charge to carry the project forward into its second stage in the 1998-2000 biennium. Burton (general music), Drafall (choral music), Brown (strings), and Sheldon (wind and percussion) continued to work with the project in its final development.


–Lawrence, Kansas
November 6, 1999

1Eunice Boardman, "Music Teacher Education," in Handbook of Research in Teacher Education, 2nd ed., ed. W. Robert Houston, Martin Haberman, and John P. Sikula (New York: Macmillan, 1996), 730-745; and Ralph Verrastro and Mary Leglar, "Music Teacher Education," in Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning, ed. Richard J. Colwell (New York: Schirmer Books, 1992), 676-696.

2Joan Boney and Lois Rhea, A Guide to Student Teaching in Music (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1970); David J. Elliott, Music Matters: A New Philosophy of Music Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); and Richard Kinney, High School Music Teacher’s Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing and Teaching the Total Music Program (West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing, 1987).

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