Music education majors speak a universal language


How often do you hear from a Texas Wesleyan music education major? Probably not that often.

That is because, according to Janna McKinley, the Department of Music’s music coordinator, there are only 57 music majors, and only 38 of them are studying music education.

Several music education majors said there is a lot that they wish others knew about their field of study.

“It’s so much more than just being in an ensemble,” said Drenda Burk, a senior and music education major. “There is so much more than goes into it. In our degree plan, we cannot even take a GEC course until we are sophomores, or going into our junior year because we have so many required music classes that we have to have.”

Burk said that after you add in the education side on top of the music requirements, you are basically getting two degrees in one.

Senior and music education major Emily Messenger said that music education majors always take at least 18 hours a semester, with ensemble being a zero credit course.

Messenger said that she was bullied a lot in high school, but music was that one thing that gave her confidence.

“It gave me a way to express my feelings, and I was pretty good at what I was doing,” Messenger said. “My senior year of high school I joined every single choir we had — whether I was supposed to be in it or not — and was basically able to be a TA [teaching assistant] in beginning choir, so that’s when I got to see the education side of things.”

Burk said that the music education major at Wesleyan has provided her with a variety of opportunities to succeed outside of her particular interests.

“You don’t really get that in a bigger school, and here — being in such a small department — we have the unique opportunity to be in several different groups,” Burk said. “I had never sung before in my life before college, and I got to be in the choir, which in turn helped me in all other aspects of music.”

Messenger and Burk said that music education majors sometimes struggle to fit into the education department, as well as differentiate the content between music and education courses.

“We have to be able to put content in their terms,” Burk said. “Dr. (Kary) Johnson does a phenomenal job incorporating music, and has been very accommodating to us, which is not necessarily always the case.”

Johnson, an adjunct professor of education, wrote in an email that she finds her music education students to be a delight. They are creative and have taught her so many aspects of reading and literacy that can be taught through music.

“I want my students to be able to integrate what they are learning in my class with their own practice in the real world, so my courses and assignments allow flexibility for students to make learning their own,” Johnson wrote. “ Reading is in everything. So is music. Personally, I am so grateful for music educators.”

Messenger and Burk love that through obtaining their music education degree, they can speak a universal language.

“You can communicate the same feelings or emotions through music whether you speak the same language or not,” Burk said. “I love that fact. The reality that I can touch somebody who I wouldn’t normally be able to touch and that apply to education. To touch and inspire students, it’s a feeling unlike anything else.”