Strike up the band: U-M alumni teachers dominate in music classrooms across Michigan

November 5, 2018
Contact: Sydney Hawkins

ANN ARBOR—Chances are good that if you or someone you know has taken a music class in Michigan in the last 70 years, it was taught by a University of Michigan graduate.

More than 400 U-M alumni are now at the helm of hundreds of elementary, middle and high school music classrooms across the state of Michigan.

Boasting one of the oldest music education programs in the country, the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance is considered a national leader in preparing successful music pedagogues for 21st-century challenges. For many years, there has been a 100-percent job placement rate for U-M graduates hoping to begin a career as a music educator.

“Beyond our incredible placement numbers in Michigan, you can find many of our alumni teaching in public schools in each of the 50 states, and in many countries around the world,” said Michael Hopkins, associate professor and chair of the music education department. “It is rare that I go to a conference anywhere across the U.S. and do not run into someone who graduated from our program.”

Each year, SMTD’s Department of Music Education accepts about 15-20 new undergraduates in a competitive audition process, according to Colleen Conway, professor of music education.

“What’s really unique about our program is that, musically, our students are incredible—the educators that we’re producing are top-notch performers who also want to become music teachers,” said Conway, who has been teaching at U-M for nearly 20 years.

“The students I’ve had here get really fired up about changing the world, and they see beyond the music a little bit and understand that what they’re doing will change lives. I can’t put my finger on what that is—maybe it’s the energy of campus or the way that Michigan encourages them to think beyond their little piece of the world.”


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