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#1535678 - 10/14/10 11:58 PM master's degree
Crayola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 299
Loc: Chicago, IL
Recently I've had a strong urge to go back to school and earn another degree. I only have a B-Mus, but would love to get my MM someday. Would you recommend:
a) masters in performance
b) masters in piano pedagogy
c) masters in performance and pedagogy

I don't want to teach at a university level, mainly pre-college division. I want to be known and viewed first and foremost as a teacher than a performer, but I do enjoy performing and want to develop that skill as well.

I just don't know how I could bare to quit my full time job teaching 30 precious students (none of whom I wish to drop) and go back to school. I'm looking for some part-time class schedules, but nothing seems too promising.

It seems like anyone who's remotely serious about their work earns a master's. I'm only in my mid-20's and many of my friends have their master's... It seems to be the thing to do these days, and I'm wondering if society will reach the point where it's assumed that any good piano teacher must have a master's degree?
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Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA

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#1535682 - 10/15/10 12:17 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Before you go to school for anything, know exactly what you want it for, and what good things it will get you. If a master's degree will get you money, or a better job, or any other things you want, then you should think about doing it. But "it seems to be the thing to do" doesn't count.

You pay a lot to get a master's degree, both money and time. Knowledge, status, and confidence are not enough to get in return, because you will get those for free anyway.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1535684 - 10/15/10 12:20 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5209
Loc: Europe
I took a master's degree in composition, so probably this is not the same (and I did so in the UK), but while doing my master's degree I had courses 1 single day (every Thursday ). So apart from personal studying (which was quite a lot), I wasn't supposed to be there every day.

If this is the case to your university of choice, perhaps there is a way to keep most of your students...

Now, on the question about master's degree and being a prequisite for piano teachers. I rather doubt that on private teaching. Perhaps the time will come for colleges and stuff, but for private teaching I think that since anyone can teach, it largely depends on personal skills, communication, personality, etc...

On your first question, I'd go for c. It seems cut in the middle and I wouldn't be able to chose between the two...

Hope this helps a bit...
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1535694 - 10/15/10 12:57 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5414
Loc: Orange County, CA
For private piano teaching, you don't even need a BM degree. Unless you plan on raising your rates and teach more advanced students, I wouldn't bother going back to school.

Depending on the school, some are more time-consuming than others. Why are you doing this? Are you doing this because everybody else is doing it?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1535703 - 10/15/10 01:42 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
For what you want to do, I recommend just taking lessons and perhaps a pedagogy course or two. It makes such a difference in your teaching when you take lessons. You put yourself back in the same shoes your students are in and you expand your own playing skills at the same time. There's nothing like a little bit of empathy.

The pedagogy courses could give you some different perspectives. If there are good ones around, take them when you can.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1535821 - 10/15/10 07:53 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Not withstanding the fact that a MM lends a lot more credence to you as a teacher, it is a dream, and unfulfilled dreams often lead to regrets. From my personal experience, I can tell you waiting until your 30s, even a young 30, to return to academics is hard. Do it soon!

You might want to investigate DePaul University. My very first piano teacher studied there, and did some studies with Alexander Tcherepnin. It looks like you might be able to spread the program over several years, so that you could continue teaching while earning the degree.

Good luck to you!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1535823 - 10/15/10 07:56 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
BTW, I second the idea others have offered about continuing lessons regardless of which way you go.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1535836 - 10/15/10 08:19 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Crayola,
You mentioned you have a "strong urge to go back to school". Then it sounded like you were trying to justify going back to school by guessing whether a master's would be required later. I would suggest following the "strong urge".

I personally don't hold a music degree, so I can't address which degree to pursue. I went to graduate school when I was your age...now I wish it had been in music! I can tell you that I always feel a little like an imposter at music club meetings. Credibility gained by holding a master's has value.

I would suggest that you don't have to have it all figured out ("where will this degree get me") in order to get started. Sometimes the "strong urge" is intuition at work and that can be trusted (other times a strong urge is just lust...and to probably be ignored) smile

I hope you keep us updated on what you do.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1535868 - 10/15/10 09:22 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11403
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I got my master in piano pedagogy while maintaining a full studio. You have enough time to look at the upcoming semester and figure out when classes are held in case of conflicts. This way you can work around them. I think you'll find most classes will occur in the morning or early afternoon before the teaching day begins. Plus, if a class is offered only at a specific time that would totally ruin your schedule, you could request an independent study on the same course matter to cover it.

When I did this I took 2 classes per semester and finished the coursework in a little over 2 years I believe. It was the thesis that took most of the time. smile

As for which you should do, will the schools you're looking at attending allow a double major like that? The one I went to would not let me do two, but I was seeking piano and vocal pedagogy. If they let you do both, though, I would go for it as it is much more economical and time efficient to do both simultaneously than to do one and then want to go back for the 2nd.

Having the Masters degree is not required, of course for private study, but when I got mine it really set me apart from my colleagues.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1535886 - 10/15/10 09:50 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 757
Loc: South Carolina
Yes, by all means, go!

I agree with John V. D. Brook.

I waited until I was in my 40's to start work on my masters, and it was the 'real life' events that slowed the
coursework down to a crawl.....but I think that most college instructors are more accepting of the dilemmas that working students face nowadays.

I think that you should be greedy and get a double major, but that's just me. College administrators like to see lots of 'college-type things' (wow, that sounds silly. but I'm not deleting it) on applicant's resumes - even for pre-college work.
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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#1535901 - 10/15/10 10:12 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Crayola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 299
Loc: Chicago, IL
Thank you everyone for the feedback. I've already taken a couple graduate-level pedagogy courses online and recently started taking piano lessons again, and I'm planning on attending 2-3 conferences/workshops this year, so I feel like I'm doing all I can do on my own apart from going back to school.

I realize that a MM degree is not required to do what I'm doing. I've been teaching for a few years and no parent, student or colleague has ever asked if I have a master's. I simply love what I do so much, I just want to become good at it. And I realize, nothing can substitute for experience.

All the IL State Universities (except for one with a very small music dept) are at least an hour drive from my house - so even if I were able to take one or two classes at a time, it would really affect my teaching schedule I think. I haven't yet looked into DePaul, but thanks for that idea, John.

Another reason I struggle internally is that I am not an academic person. I usually struggle to learn effectively in classroom settings, and do much better with hands-on experience. I surprised myself with graduating with a bachelor degree and Never expected to consider graduate school! When it comes to it, I desire the degree more than the process or working towards it...

Ideally my next course of action (or education) would be to work with my current teacher observing how he teaches other students. I would love to sit in on a year's worth of lessons for a particular child student and learn from his weekly training and guidance. I think I would find that much more beneficial than taking upper level history and theory courses.

I'll continue looking into some graduate school options, but it's been helpful to have you all "listen" as I work through my goals and desires. Thanks for your input!
_________________________
Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA

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#1535907 - 10/15/10 10:16 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1478
I would get it - definitely. Even though now you're content with your job, you're still so young, and there might come a time down the road when you want to move onto to bigger and better things in teaching (more advanced students, institutional positions, adjudicating, etc), and having a master's degree will be a leg up. Also, if the program is good, your mind and abilities will grow, and thus your pedagogy.

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#1535953 - 10/15/10 11:23 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
elecmuse3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 304
Loc: Cincinnati
The performance degree may influence some future advanced students to take lessons from you as compared to another teacher without the degree. Also, when enrolled in college as a performance major, you are basically paying for lessons with your tuition, and this may enable you to get a better teacher for less money, and certainly will give you the chance at a different high quality teacher.

But I'd say the pedagogy is the more important of the two for academic studies, since it sounds like you'll be studying performance on your own anyway. You'll learn more about the learning process itself, which will make you a better teacher of others, which will translate into more students for you and (hopefully) higher rates.
_________________________
Terry@cincyrockers.com
www.theplayerpianoshop.com

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#1536024 - 10/15/10 01:06 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Kawai_Teacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 25
Hi Crayola,

I would recommend that you pursue a higher degree in piano, esp since you are young and you have a desire for it! smile

While it's true that you don't need a Master's to teach privately and a BM is great already, having that higher degree and the academic experience will yield many rewards.

For myself personally, I got my Master's in Piano Performance so that I could offer more to my students. I felt that there was even MORE to learn -- stopping after my BM felt kind of sudden for me.

After I got my Master's, I feel that I can now better explain and demonstrate technical, historical, theoretical issues to my students. I worked closely with some fantastic faculty members that I otherwise wouldn't have had the access to outside of school.
Also, a lot of the master's degree program is writing papers, reading articles, researching -- in addition to hours of practicing if your concentration is in Performance. You are going to soak in a LOT of new information that will many times tie into the music you're playing or to your students' music. You'll feel more equipped and confident in your knowledge of music, and have a broader experience overall.

Despite my occasional groaning about papers and staying home on the weekends to practice, I am so glad that I did the master's program and it was worth every single minute. I loved the more in-depth topics that I learned at the graduate level, enjoyed the discussions in small seminars, and enjoyed working with my professors more closely.

In the meantime, you might also want to visit your local schools and talk to graduate advisers during their office hours. Ask them questions, look at the required courses in the different degrees to get a better idea of what each one entails and if that's what you really want to do. Best of luck to you!

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#1536188 - 10/15/10 06:41 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
kissyana Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 199
Loc: Northeast Illinois
Wow, Crayola! What perfect timing on this post. I'm considering the same thing! I also have a BA in music but I desire more. Right now, my main source of income is a pretty good office job that unfortunately has nothing to do with music (but is still pretty interesting). I teach during the evenings. If I gave up my day job right now, I'd lose my house and probably my lovely piano right along with it... and I hate to think of what would happen to my dogs and cats! So, I'm starting to save up... and occasionally playing the lottery.
Northwestern University offers a piano performance and pedagogy master's degree. That's what I've been looking at. One of my former teachers went there and used to teach there and she is just wonderful. Plus I can take the train there. Also, you could probably complete the degree in one year with a summer semester due to your undergrad degree and teaching experience.
I say go for it. It will take effort and sacrifices but you will gain so much. Plus, you'll have a very good support group in these forums!

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#1536234 - 10/15/10 08:11 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i have thought about studying pegagogy but became interested in organ.. which there is quite a demand for.. so, i guess I'm happy. I definitely love schooling.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#1536263 - 10/15/10 08:44 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Crayola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 299
Loc: Chicago, IL
I'm so appreciative of all the feedback!

Here's a question I've run into:
What's the difference between a Master of Music and a Master of Arts degree? Is MM better/more difficult? Or are they interchangeable depending on the school itself?

Kissyana: I've looked into Northwestern with great interest - and they even have a 4-summer master's degree, but that's only for Music Ed, not performance or Ped. But the full time program looks really good. If only it weren't full time! =) And the campus wasn't over an hour drive!
_________________________
Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA

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#1536310 - 10/15/10 09:54 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
MM degrees tend to be more intensive than MA degrees, but much depends on the particular department.

And just to add my 2 cents:

Postgraduate education in music gives you exactly two things: The opportunity to learn and the opportunity to make connections with fellow musicians. It gets you nothing else. It will not get you a job, money, prestige or respect. All of that you have to earn on your own by performing or teaching or whatever it is you want to be known for. (Oh, and luck helps with all of that, too.)

I personally found every penny I spent on my postgraduate education worth it - for the opportunities I had to learn and the opportunities I had to meet and work with other people.

Everybody I've met who thought their masters and doctorates were waste of time fall into one of two categories. They either expected a job/money/prestige/respect and were surprised when they didn't get it. Or they didn't bother to take full advantage of the opportunities given to them, instead choosing to put in a minimum of hours and effort required to get the diploma. (This is why I generally don't think pursuing a graduate degree part-time is worthwhile. If you're not able to really devote yourself to it, you miss out on too much - concerts not attended, not practicing enough to really perform at a graduate level, not spending time with the other students and colleagues at the school and being a part of the school's arts community. There's a LOT more to school than classes. Classes are the easy part.)

That being said, if you want to do piano in the Chicago area, check out Wheaton. I know the chair of keyboard studies and he's fantastic. Great teacher, great pianist, great person.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1536376 - 10/15/10 11:53 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 832
As far as society assuming that every good piano teacher must have a master's degree, this is completely unlikely to happen. As far as parents are concerned, most come to you with younger students, in whom they have less confidence than they should, and most are more than satisfied with your BMus degree. From a business point of view, you will earn more money and have a bigger studio if you charge the going rate or less, neither of which you will want to do if you have a master's degree. Also, your location and personality would be of more interest to prospective parents than your knowledge, which they have no way of gaging.

But for your own happiness and peace of mind, I'd say get your Master's, and the sooner the better.

I think you should get it in performance only.

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#1536378 - 10/16/10 12:01 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5209
Loc: Europe
The only thing I'd dissagree with Kreisler is the prestige part. I don't really see it anywhere, but I do have a hunch that my credentials at least open a window and an opportunity to be heard, before I get ditched for a gig... :-/ Cannot confirm it really, but it feels this way, based on the way other composers are being ditched from potential gigs.

If anything a postgrad degree will show determination and a person that's taken his/her education seriously.

But I will repeat that a degree will not bring money, job, or respect! 100% there!
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1536390 - 10/16/10 12:29 AM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
My experiences, or rather my wife's experiences, is that if you ever go into a public sector job, the master's degree will help you pay wise. She was able to command a higher starting salary and also a higher longevity start level having her masters. This is probably true for most school systems as well.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1536506 - 10/16/10 09:16 AM Re: master's degree [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
This is probably true for most school systems as well.


Yes. This is why so many schools do summer masters degrees for music education. Summer masters degrees are rarely as good as their normal counterparts - you don't get the experience of ensemble participation or intensive applied training. But they do give people who are working in the public schools a continuing ed option, and schools like it because it makes them more $$$.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1536601 - 10/16/10 12:33 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
liyhann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Washington, DC
If you want to have the opportunity to become a better teacher, get the pedagogy degree. If you want to have the opportunity to become a better performer, get the performance degree. In my 20s I got a BM, then in my 30s got an MBA, then in my late 40s FINALLY got the degree I really wanted: an MM in Piano Pedagogy & Performance. (Ok, that's not entirely true - I'd like a PhD, but I'm outta money!) I'm now 50 and getting the MM was very well worth it. I had the opportunities and resources to research and run trials on many of the things I wanted to try in my studio (Yes, I kept teaching the whole time, which by the way is my sole support - I'm single, own my own home, car, & Steinway) What the degree gets you is what you put into it. If you have a passive, "let me buy this and I'll get that" consumer attitude about education, you may get the degree, but you will not get what you really want. It's rather like give a man a fish and he eats one day, but teach a man to fish and he eats a during a whole lifetime. If you get the degree but are not motivated, curious and hardworking to continue your education long after, then don't bother. If you want more respect and to command more authority without going the route of a formal education, I'd strongly suggest getting nationally certified. The essays alone are extremely thought provoking (or will be if you do them correctly)
http://www.mtnacertification.org/
I've done both. I'm very happy at the change in type of student that I have been getting as a result.

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#1537211 - 10/17/10 12:04 PM Re: master's degree [Re: Crayola]
Avguste Antonov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 75
Loc: Grapevine,Texas, USA
My take on this is simple and probably controversial.

It all depends on what your end goal is. If your goal is to mainly teach at the academic level (community colleges, universities and such), then consider an MM.

If you are looking to be a full time performer (concerts, masterclass, lectures, writer and what not), then in all due respect, you don't need it. If performance is your goal, and if you really want to go back to school, enroll only in piano, with the teacher that will help you accomplish your goals.
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