Open Forum with Christopher Venesile


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Annie: As a guide we will be touching on the Teacher Evaluation System and also the program as a highlight. And, again, it’s an open forum so all questions are welcome, even if it’s not covered in this agenda feel free to bring it up here, for example admission process and stuff like that and we can definitely still speak to that. And the webinar is intended to last about an hour, but we understand, you know, you might have other obligations this evening, so the recording again will be available after, and if by the one hour mark we still have a lot of questions I will collect all unanswered questions for Chris to answer and our enrolment advisor will follow up with you with the answers after.

So if there are any questions at the moment. I’m going to jump into introducing Christopher. So I’m very happy to introduce Christopher who has kindly taken the time to be here with us today. So Chris is Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at Kent State University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Music Education, coordinates the one hundred percent Online Master of Music in Music Education Degree and directs the Kent State University Nova Jazz Singers which serves in part as the vocal ensemble component for the New Jazz Minor. Chris earned his PhD from Case Western Reserve University and has an MM from Cleveland State University and BME from the Ohio State University.

His public school teaching experience includes the Independence, Brooklyn and North Olmsted Ohio School Districts. His college and university teaching has included Cuyahoga Community College, [Western] and Metro campuses, Youngstown State University and, of course, Kent State University. So, Chris’s research interests include teacher education, online learning, educational policy making and vocal jazz. He has presented at professional conferences for the Ohio Music Education Association, Jazz Education Network Conference and American Choral Director’s Association, Central Division, and other research clinic poster and panel sessions include The Society for Music Teacher Education Conference in North Carolina, American Choral Director’s Association National Conference in Dallas and International Association for Jazz Education Conference in California. And his articles have been published by the Ohio MEA Publication Triad and Ohio Choral Director’s Association newsletter. So thank you for taking time out for us, Chris, and I’m going to pass over so that you can move forward.

Christopher: Thanks very much and welcome everybody. Well, I’m delighted to be able to spend some time and answer some questions. Obviously you’ll be able to look at these PowerPoint slides and they may jog some questions that you may have in your mind, and I’m happy to answer anything from descriptions of the various courses, talking about time management, even about, you know, teacher evaluation and how it’s changed across the country. I know here in the State of Ohio the political changes that have happened have prompted school districts to take a look at their Teacher Evaluation Systems and the evaluation of teachers now plays a part – a bigger part – in promotions, and that is of concern to a lot of us in the teaching profession. So we can talk about anything and everything, and with Annie’s help hopefully it will go smoothly.

Christopher: So first of all, Teacher Evaluation Systems are different in each state and we are always interested in hearing about how things are changing in their state. In Ohio in the last five years with the leadership in the governor’s office instead of the traditional step approach to promotion in the public schools now teacher evaluations are playing a bigger role in promotions. Some people think it’s a good thing and other people think it’s not a good thing and that it leaves itself open for abuse or tampering, but we are interested in hearing about things like what a master’s degree and additional hours behind your master’s degree can do for your promotion and tenure in your school districts. It’s important to note that it’s vastly different from state to state, so to be able to keep up every state’s ever-changing Teacher Evaluation System we really do need a lot of background and input from students from all 50 states and our program is now in all 50 states.

So becoming familiar with the changes in your teacher evaluation instrument, whatever that is, if it’s in your local school district, if it happens to be in your region, or whether it’s organized by the state, it’s very, very important to become familiar with all of the updated information. In Ohio we have the Local Professional Development Committee – LPDC – and this body is organized by region and each school district contributes a faculty member to serve and they inform their constituent teachers about the things that they need to do professionally and educationally to stay certified, to stay up-to-date and to keep their dossiers active and open. So in Ohio we have what we call the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System or OTES.

And I think we can go to the next line. I think the biggest feature of our program versus all of the other programs out there – and there are many fine master’s degrees out there for teachers – I think number one the idea that we require a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and also that our students are practising teachers. I think it’s very important because from the design of the courses to the course content and how that material is being synthesized by our students, it’s all designed for the practising teacher. Indeed, even in each course the material that you’re going through can be directly applicable to what you’re doing in the classroom. Everything from discussion board questions to textbook material is reflected off the teacher’s practice in the classroom. I think many have told us that the distinguishing feature of the Kent State Master of Music and Music Education Program is the opportunity to specialize in two of the areas in music education, instrumental, choral and general music.

It is conceivable that if a student is in a special situation where they are now teaching choir after teaching band for several years, we have had teachers that work in all three areas – instrumental, choral and general – we have from time to time taken requests from students to take all three of the advanced methods in each of these domain areas. They’re great programs; we have just had an update to our general music program and it’s getting great reviews from students. Our Instrumental Advanced Methods course has been revised as recently as last year by both Dr. Pat Grutzmacher and Dr. Craig Resta who have been in this program from the very beginning, are both instrumental music educators and it’s an outstanding course.

This summer I am redesigning the Choral Methods course; it’s being offered this second session of summer. It will be the last iteration of this particular Advanced Choral Methods course. We will be utilizing the same author, the same textbook. However, it’s a brand new edition and there are five brand new chapters and all of the other chapters are updated, so it’s kind of the hub and then the course design then will feature content, not just from the textbook but from many other sources. So the methods course is like all of the courses in the program, designed to reflect the content and often the students practise in the classroom. So, again, if you happen to be someone who is teaching general music and choral music, typically will find this in the elementary, in the intermediate schools, and of course in the middle schools. If you were a Choral Music Ed Major and in your undergrad you had one general music methods course I found that in my own training I didn’t have but one course in general music methods. As a 21-year-old when I was taking it I had no idea that I may be faced with the prospect of teaching a general music course. I was going to be a choral director.

Even though I didn’t teach general music for a long time, about a two-thirds through my career I was asked to design, implement and teach a nine-week exploratory course in American roots music and I sure could have used that general music course to be able to provide, you know, multi-dimensional-specific methods for teaching this course and involving students from singing and playing and moving, et cetera. So we never know what’s going to happen in our career. At one time I did teach both choral music and instrumental music and, like I said, we have students that change jobs, they happen to go to a school system where they’re utilized in every area. If you’re starting your master’s program you have three wonderful courses that can just get you very, very excited about implementing these kinds of methods into your teaching.

Do we have any questions? I don’t know if I want to wait to the very end, and I think I do see one on my screen here. This is from Brett. Hi, Brett. What topics do you cover in a Choral Methods Course? I didn’t have to take choral methods in undergraduate. A good question. The topics that are covered include all of the domains of choral music, so, you know, for instance, vocal development. Obviously if you’re an instrumental teacher and you didn’t have choral methods as an undergrad I’m sure that things like choral tone and blend and intonation seem to be very foreign. I remember being a young teacher and going to a contest and a couple of band directors were sitting in front of me and they were very experienced and very good, and they turned to me during the performance and said, hey, is that good? Does that sound right? And I remember being very surprised because I said, well, you guys have ears, can’t you hear if the tone is pleasing, if it sounds like it’s [free], does it sounds like it’s in tune? And they were talking about, well, you know, we don’t know about these vowels and all of that. And I just remember being very surprised by that.

And I suppose it can seem like sort of a mystery if you have been involved in evaluating the sound and tone of clarinet players as opposed to voices. So, certainly, healthy vocal development, a thorough grounding in the production of sound, a little bit of the mechanics and the biometrics of the human voice, but also developing individual good tone freely supported. And, of course, it’s very important not just in instrumental, but also in choral music, when we talk about breath support and, of course, all of the diaphragmatic involvement in singing and playing.

In addition, there are segments or chapter or units on organizing the choral music department. There’s at least one unit and chapter on effective warm-ups for choirs. There’s information on all of the various kinds of ensembles that are available in secondary schools from concert mix choirs to single gender choirs. There are chapters on dealing with the young adolescent voice, dealing with the male voice change and the not often recognized, but also very, very important young female voice change as they move through the middle school. There is information on literature. Of course, all of the various historical cultural epics that are commonly utilized in choral music and choral literature, so music that comes from the Mediaeval period, from the Renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, impressionistic and a variety of 20th century styles.

The issue of specialty groups is attended to. Show choirs, vocal jazz choirs, barbershop singing, the new contemporary A Capella Movement, how to be able to navigate these and where to go for further training or further information in being able to lead these kinds of ensembles. So everything from A to Z is covered in a choral methods course. It’s a little bit different from an undergraduate choral methods course. There are some projects – long-term projects – that are involved in the current iteration of the course. We have a project analyzing two choral pieces from various domains and doing some historical research on the pieces so it gets the students actively involved in kind of a comprehensive research project on a given choral work.

So I hope I’ve answered some questions about what’s covered. I’m probably leaving out some big things, but it is a very comprehensive choral methods course and not just valuable to the choral director who is in service now, but also someone who is not oriented to choral methods and feel that they need more training or that there may be a possibility of taking a choral course at some point in their career. All right. Any other questions with regard to methods?

Annie: Thank you, Chris. [Unintelligible 00:18:46] the message, which was great, like this was very informative and I think Andrea also asked us I guess generally for a teacher how has been out for a while and wanting to return the classroom in the next couple of years, how can this program kind of help the situation? Right, Andrea, or are you going to clarify that in the chat box for me or are you looking at it from an admission perspective?

Christopher: Is that question to me?

Annie: Sorry, it was Andrea’s question what about a teacher who has been out for a while and wanting to return in the next couple of years. And she just added on saying her licence has lapsed and want to renew so to see if this program will work.

Christopher: Okay. Well, I think it’s important to know the admission requirements and I’m sure that the admission requirements are available to all of the prospective students, but the important things to keep in mind are that whether you are a practising teacher now or not the undergraduate transcripts, minimum of the three point zero GPA, a valid teaching licence and at least one year of full-time teaching experience. If you are a prospective student who has been, you know, out of the game, so to speak, perhaps some folks that have been doing some other things within the music world or maybe outside of the music world, maybe a mom who has had some children and been a stay-at-home and now the kids are getting older and it’s time to, you know, think about getting back into it, I think it would especially important from someone who has been away to be able to get into this program and to find what’s current.

One of my favourite courses is the Music Technology Course, which is also newly redesigned. It’s amazing to me how quickly technology has changed. I was using garage band in a music theory course ten years ago and it’s just amazing to me since then all of the other different platforms, the upgrades to GarageBand itself and the products and the services out there to help music educators excite students from elementary to high school with technology. It’s probably the fastest-growing part of our business and I’m thrilled that so many of my colleagues are utilizing it in every area, instrumental, choral and general.

Okay, I don’t see any new questions on the screen. Our next slide talks about the course spotlight, which is the Foundations of Music Education. I think that for the educator who is interested in furthering their education, one of the points that was so important to me when I started graduate study was taking a course called Foundations of Music Education. For everyone that comes into this program it’s the entry-level course that introduces the philosophical, sociological, psychological and historical foundations in American music education. At no time in any undergraduate program do we have a course like Foundations. It just takes a deeper view of music education and what it means to children, what it means to community and where we’ve come, where we are and where we’ve going. It is a course that causes a stretch in the graduate student’s thought, their reflecting about why they’re in the profession, how they are reaching their students and how they can better reach their students. So it’s a course that includes an element of research.

And, by the way, I was a practising public school teacher for nearly 30 years and kind of an oddity in the business. Usually university professors are [minted 00:24:09] somewhere between their early 30s to late 30s, early 40s. I didn’t start my PhD until I was 42 years old. I had already had 20 years in the schools. It just made sense to me at that time. And my master’s degree was in choral studies so it was closer to a choral conductor’s degree. So when I took Foundations as a PhD student it really was not unlike the Foundations Course that’s in our program and I have taught Foundations in this program; I’ve taught Foundations in a land-based doctoral program at Kent State University and it’s my favourite course because you get to introduce and delve deeper into each of these areas.

I suspect that we might have some questions about this course. It’s the course that got me excited about graduate study. I think that after even just one year of teaching up through 15 or 20 years of teaching, we have some questions and it’s the answers that we seek, and many times those answers come from our own experience and many times those answers come from doing some research. And the two research courses that we have in this program, Inquiry 1 and Inquiry 2, try to train our master’s candidates to be lifelong music education researchers. But what we do is we really work in an area called action research and we have a textbook design for action research.

Action research is something that any professional can do. We can do it in our classrooms. We have a question. Why is my flute section, you know, so much more out of tune than all of my other sections in the band? And as we go through the course we talk about things like methodology, how to set up a very quick action research project that will help answer that question. And sometimes we are surprised to find out the answer. Many times we have a hypotheses going in where we suspect that one of the reasons that my flutes are out of tune more often is perhaps the temperature and climate changes within the classroom. Sometimes it might have to be with the fact that our flute players are always, for one reason and another, the last section to get their instruments together, and perhaps the instruments are too cold and requires, you know, more time blowing into the mouthpiece. There could be many different ways, but there are methods that we use to be able to utilize a little research project which will help us answer questions.
So they are very informative and I think also we have some doctoral students that were also master’s candidates and they tell us that they got the research bug from Inquiry. They just saw it as so much less threatening music research, music education research, utilizing the scientific model, borrowing it from the natural sciences and using it in the social sciences, you know, just provides just another world where we can answer some questions that we have. So these courses, I think, are also very popular.

Any questions with regard to Foundations or Inquiry? I strongly suggest going to the Kent State University School of Music website and being able to navigate your way to some of the descriptions and some of the landing pages that we have on there that give some deeper descriptions of each course. Any questions on your end, Annie?

Annie: Yes, there is a question. I just want to know how many hours do you think the workload is per week.

Christopher: That’s a good question. Since our courses are sectioned into seven weeks, so every semester you’re actually taking two courses. So, for instance, in your entry-level course may be Foundations that first seven weeks followed by one of the other courses in our carousel. I would say that in my experience teaching these courses that a student could expect to spend between an hour or two a night on their studies. Not only are they doing weekly work that they turn in at the end of the week, but they’re also, at the same time, working on a long-term project that is due at the end of the session.

And, of course, we know how life is. You know, I’ve got meetings after school and then I’ve got a band in the evening. I can’t get to it on a Wednesday night so maybe you have to put a little bit more time on the weekend. I know that as a high school choral director not only did I have school all day, perhaps meetings or rehearsals after school. I had a church choir job in the evening, not to mention family responsibilities, so for some folks time management is not a big issue because as an educator they’ve learned how to compartmentalize, they’ve learned to how structure and balance their time. You know, for others of us it’s a little bit more difficult, particularly if during the week your schedule is very heavy so you may need to carve out a bit more time on the weekends. You know, for everybody it’s different, but certainly if there are questions along that way about time management, you know, I’d be happy to address those individual questions.

Annie: Thanks, Chris. I think you might have touched on this a little bit, but the other question would be, what types of assignments are there, especially because it’s online, will they be performance-related or how do we go about …?

Christopher: Well, because this is a music education degree there really isn’t any performance application. However, the long-term assignments should be thought of as a degree itself in music education. It should be thought of as a scholarly degree. If you were going to be a master’s in music candidate with a conducting emphasis, you know, you would certainly need to be in a land-based program where you have a lot of time conducting ensembles. But in music education we have the literature so there is quite a bit of reading and you do need to, you know, polish up your writing skills. One of the wonderful things that Kent State University has for all of its students is a writing centre and I know myself when I entered the PhD program at Case Western Reserve I was a little bit nervous; I was a little bit intimidated, and when I sat with the faculty and they said that, you know, this is a scholarly degree, you are going to have to, you know, learn how to write in the American Psychological Association style, the APA style I was more than just a little bit nervous. B
But I was fortunate there, as we are at Kent State, in having a writing centre that is able to present the scholarly writing style in a very non-threatening and, you know, very step-by-step method. And people always ask me what’s the best way for me to become a better writer, a better scholarly writer, and the answer is to read a lot of it, to read a lot of music education research articles, not just the peer review journals that you might not be familiar with, but certainly journal articles from the Music Educators Journal that is put out by NAfME each month teaching music. These are, of course, not hard research articles, but they do utilize the APA style, a scholarly writing stance. The narrative may be a little more relaxed. The journal that is peer-reviewed with regard to NAfME is the Journal of Research in Music Education, and the JRME is, certainly in our business, the premier research journal.
Within your courses you will be reading research articles that may be a part of a course’s text. You may be assigned to find some research articles on a particular content area and I would advise just really getting yourself into a habit of reading these articles, being able to identify those things that might create some question in your mind. And I know that our Foundations instructors are very, very sensitive about their students and being introduced into reading scholarly writing.

Within our program we have all over each course in the preparation of folders, we have lots and lots of information on APA style writing and lots of tools. There are tutorials that we have put together, tutorials that come from the Internet. For those of you who have done some scholarly writing you may be familiar with the Purdue OWL. These things are designed to help our students be able to navigate the beginning of their graduate career and writing papers.
Typical writing papers in our program are literature reviews, identifying a topic and then researching and finding articles and books in that area. Being able to summarize and synthesize the information, being able to present it in such a way that it’s not quite an annotated bibliography, rather than just listing content and the important identification information. Literature reviews also compare and contrast. It identifies gaps in the literature and it also makes recommendations for future additions to the literature. So the student who does a literature review is really doing a new research project; they’re becoming a semi expert on a particular topic and they are presenting that for others in the field to be able to review and help them become a mini expert as well.

Moving on to the Capstone, the Capstone essentially is the master’s thesis and in itself is a 12-week course. You have an advisor and that advisor works very closely with you; you communicate each week and you talk about the area of interest. What we hope and what we hope that we do a good job of early on in the program is reminding the student that at the very end of their coursework is the Capstone. It’s an opportunity to identify an area of particular interest to you. For instance, you may be a choral music educator and perhaps your area of interest is adolescent boys changing voice. In our business it has been for the last 30 or 40 years a topic that is very important. Number one, what is the process of voice change for an adolescent male? How does it happen? What are the physical manifestations? What are the psychological effects? What are some things that choral directors do and can do to facilitate and ease that voice change and still be able to deal with the psychological and emotional issues that go with adolescent male voice change? We know that it has a dramatic on their psyche.

And so this Capstone Project could be structured in several different ways, and we have several different templates of Capstone Projects to choose from. You can choose from a literature review. You can choose from a small research project. Perhaps you would want to do a short research project that would involve a descriptive study. You may do a survey of middle school directors in a given region of a state and to be able to get their thoughts on a variety of phenomena that are happening around the adolescent male voice change. And you may do a little bit of numbers crunching and come up with a profile of what the current thought is regarding adolescent male voice change.

There are also opportunities to create a curriculum project. Perhaps there is a course that needs a tremendous overhaul in your curriculum, in your school. Perhaps there is an opportunity to create a new course that would utilize a curricula project. Perhaps you’re a general music teacher and you do not currently have an effective course for teaching American music to intermediate or middle school students. So you may embark on a mission to create a curriculum project. This variety of Capstone Projects- we have templates, we have experienced instructors and advisors that have mentored many dozens of these Capstone Projects and, you know, they’re to be utilized for their expertise.
I see the Capstone Project having advised and being able to talk to our grad students about their experiences. This is something that is really important; they’re very excited about it. They really realize that this is something that is my choice, you know, I get to be able to design my own thesis project, even though it has to be approved and it needs to be done in one of a variety of four or five different kinds of projects, literally it’s designed and developed and executed by the grad student. And so it’s not too early to be thinking about what my Capstone Project might be like.
For many of our students during their Capstone Project they’re looking back on their career in graduate study and sometimes it puts a little seed in their mind that, you know, maybe I’m the kind of person that would benefit from going on and doing doctoral study in music education. We currently have two current students and a graduate of our program that they did the online MME and then came to Kent State on-ground and completed their doctorate. And one of our former students is teaching at Community College in Michigan.

So, I think we’re at 6:15 and it looks like we have about 15 minutes. I’d love to be able to take more questions.

Annie: Chris, actually I have Cecelia on the chat and I’m chatting with her and she’s a former professional opera singer and I guess she’s been teaching for a while, like for 20 years now, and there’s something that she really wants to do, I guess. She was wondering if it’s worth pursuing at this stage where she’s been teaching 20 years and she’s currently in the [unintelligible 00:44:48] of vocal, choral and music teacher and she’s interested obviously in the choral part of the program.

Christopher: Absolutely. In fact, it’s not uncommon when myself and my colleagues are reviewing applications for the program to have someone just like Cecelia who has been in the business doing something else and then find their way to music education. You know, these are, I think in my opinion, students that may benefit most of all from this program because they bring so much relevant experience, you know, to their background. So absolutely, someone who has 20 years of teaching and maybe this is the time, you know, I just think it’s a great opportunity to give yourself a rebirth. All I can say is that when I started graduate school – both times I started graduate school – it was like a blood transfusion. It really did fuel me with more passion to do a better job in the classroom, do a better job for my students, to be able to provide them with knowledge, skills and resources that they needed. And I think by thinking deeper and going through that stretch, it made me a better teacher and so I couldn’t endorse it enough.

Annie: Thank you, Chris. There is a question about the online class. I think we have a slide on that. Did you want to also touch base on online environment so that maybe that can answer the question?

Christopher: Sure. Can you take us to the …? There we go. Okay. And I see another question from Brett too. Are courses graded on test quizzes or papers and discussion boards or all of the above? The answer is all of the above. And I guess I didn’t bring up that every course utilizes a discussion board. Every week there is a new question and that new question, everybody writes a response to the discussion board question and then are required to respond to some of their classmates’ posts, so in this way you really are getting to know the other students in your class when you think about having to read your classmates’ responses and choosing a few to respond to over the course of seven weeks and over the course of several courses you really do not get to know the students in your class. And, of course, there is always the general discussion board where at any time you can discuss a topic outside of the discussion board questions and, of course, also be able to involve the instructor.

But all of the courses, yes, have in their syllabus a very, very well-defined grading system. There are weekly chapter questions perhaps. There may be some type of a weekly project that’s graded, discussion boards, all of those things. And then, of course, the long-term projects which usually are introduced in the very beginning of the course.

Let’s see. I hope I’m not repeating too much here, but obviously it does accommodate a music educator’s demanding schedule. It’s always there and it can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our program builds on the foundation that they received in their Bachelor of Music Education degree. And I think that is very important because we don’t just recover the same content in the same way. There may be some covering of content, but hopefully it delves deeper into the history, the theory, the practice, the pedagogy, and I think if we’re heavy on anything it’s the teaching pedagogy of the in-service practicing educator.

The course, as we know when we design these courses, it is meant to be rigorous. I guess we would leave it up to students to be able to tell us, with regard to the rigour, if it matches up to what they find, that they’re hearing in other programs. We do have, as all our college courses do, an evaluation of the program, of the course, of the instructor, of the design, of the content, and we welcome input from our students about how well we are doing, not just from our section instructors but also the course design. One aspect of the program that I think I should mention is, unfortunately because of the nature of the automated part of the designs on Blackboard there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room. For instance, if assignments are due on a Friday evening at 11:00 pm then that can’t be arbitrarily changed, the section instructor just doesn’t have that authority to do that. And I think we can imagine if we would have our students telling us, hey, I can’t turn in my paper on the due date but can I turn it in later or can I turn it in earlier, we are somewhat restricted there.

I think the student services advisors could discuss a little bit more in-depth about the need for a student to stop out of the program, for instance, life happens while you’re going through 20 months of a program, but if there happens to be a medical issue or a lifestyle issue that prevents a student from being able to perform in their class you very definitely need to give thought to whether you would have the fitness to be able to complete that particular course. One thing I always say is that, just like different genres of singing if you are an opera singer, if you are an arts singer, if you are a jazz singer, if you are a musical theatre singer, when we compare these different kinds of singing we don’t say that one is better than the other or one is good and one is bad, we just say that they’re different and they’re different for a lot of reasons. And I think that online learning, it’s not better, it’s not worse than conventional learning, it’s just different.

Many people have their ideas and their opinions about what they feel the experience of distance learning is and, you know, because people are different they’re going to have different perceptions. Our students tell us that they get to know their classmates better in their online courses due to the kind of sharing of ideas, thoughts and opinions that they have to do on a weekly basis; that they get to know their classmates better than they do in their on-ground courses. Again, some may, some may not, but we do hear that an awful lot. And because you are doing a lot of reading and you are doing a lot of review and mandated discussion with your classmates within your section, you know it’s very interesting what you can learn about people. I really do believe that doing a music education degree, whether it’s on land or distance learning, it’s a reading and writing intensive discipline, and hopefully through that involvement of doing lots of reading and writing, that the takeaways are going to be important, and the takeaways are going to be significant and it’s really going to be able to help them.

Not all of the projects in each course are writing and reading, there’s lots of watching and observing of videos, of teaching and learning going on, and the student is expected to be able to make the kinds of observations necessary to be able to carry out that particular assignment itself. So there’s much more than just reading and writing and utilizing of text books, our course designers are finding new ways and better ways of utilizing technology to make out courses multi-dimensional.

Annie: Thanks you Chris, that’s very, very informative. And I just want to clarify for everybody, like if you could speak to that, because it’s online, basically then everyone is flexible in terms of when they pick, I guess, that week’s lecture, they don’t have to sit down at a specific day or time just for the class, it’s really up to them to [unintelligible 00:55:51] it up within that week, right?

Christopher: That’s right, yes. It’s what we call asynchronous learning and so, you know, at 5:30 am on Saturday morning, if you’re someone who is an early riser, you know, you could probably knock out a lot of stuff before the kids get up or, you know, you have your day ahead of you on a Saturday. Some people are late risers and they go to bed later and so it’s not uncommon for someone to decide that the house is quiet at midnight and I’m up and alert anyway and so midnight is my time. And they can do it from any computer that has Internet, so they can do it from the office, they can do it from home and in the summer you can do it by the pool.

Annie: Nice. Otherwise this one other question I could also get that [unintelligible 00:57:06] they come in, but if you could speak to … I know we already have had two courses and we are really close to time, but the curriculum of the program, like if you could highlight briefly high-level, or what other curriculum can be expected, and also a general admission kind of requirement for them to get an idea?

Christopher: So just basically admission requirements?

Annie: Yes, like a high-level admission requirement, and also what other courses can …

Christopher: Okay, well the other courses, I think I touched on the methods courses, the Inquiry courses, the Foundations courses. The Music Technology course has gotten rave reviews and it was just kind of debuted last semester with, I think, one of the country’s finest music technology experts and utilizing a textbook of, you know, probably the person who is doing the most in music technology research. We also have America’s music, dealing with the music and the history of America. It’s an ethno-musicology course that is really, really fine. One of our theory history professors designed that course. We also have a world music course and this is extremely popular with all of our students, but particularly our general music practitioners. They have lots and lots of very interesting content in the world music course, Andrew Shahriari is our Professor in World Music and he’s just designed a course that just continues to get lots and lots of really, really good reviews from students. And basically I think that’s about it, we have about ten courses and if you start adding those up I think we’re probably getting close to all of them including the Capstone.
Again, the admissions requirements, three point zero GPA, a valid teaching licence and at least one full-time year of teaching. We also require three letters of reference, we prefer those to be letters that are coming from people who know the educator’s work best in the classroom, so the principal in charge of evaluating that teacher. If it’s someone who has been teaching for a couple of years, perhaps the Director of Music Education at the institution where they received their bachelor’s degree, superintendent, a curriculum director; these letters of reference carry a lot of weight. Some that don’t quite carry as much weight are, you know, letters from a parent of one of the children, perhaps another teacher that teaches in that school.

Sometimes effective letters come from, if you’re a choral director, the band director who may have been there for a long time and maybe he was on the search committee that hired that person, but a music supervisor, not that there are that many out there today, full-time music supervisors in school districts, those are the positions that generally get cut. But the letters of reference we think are very important because these are people that can identify some of the important features of that particular music educator, their commitment, their character, their effectiveness in the classroom, their ability to work with a diverse population; how do they differentiate learning for different students? All of these things are important factors.

Also, the candidate is required to write an essay, and the essay is informative especially if it speaks to maybe some lapses in their undergraduate transcripts or a gap between jobs, they can clarify and explain some things that are happening there, but also, you know, it gives us a chance to see how well a particular person writes, if it’s full of grammatical and syntactical errors that student may project to struggle a bit when it comes to scholarly writing. So being able to do your best and to edit well and maybe get a trusted colleague to be able to review it also is helpful.

So when we’re reviewing applications we’re not just reviewing transcripts and letters of reference, but also the essay, looking at the teacher’s certificate, taking a look at the entire resume and that gives us, I think, a better picture. And this isn’t just one reviewer; we have five different reviewers, three faculty- a graduate coordinator, an assistant dean. So we have many, many eyes so that we hope to give a very, very fair, impartial and comprehensive look at each applicant.

Annie: Thank you, Chris. And I know we’ve already passed the one hour mark, Chris. I don’t know if you have to leave. There are two more questions, otherwise I can always chat to you in email?

Christopher: Sure, that’s fine.

Annie: Yes, okay. So Amy has asked, are transfer credits allowed?

Christopher: I don’t believe so. I think we’ve gone through this before. Because of the nature of the course design and the way these courses are structured that they really don’t have any equivalent anywhere else. If there is a question, for instance if a student did take a Foundations course at another institution I think that the committee might take a look at it, but typically most transfer credits are denied. And it’s not just us; we have to pass that information on to higher-level people who also make their evaluations. So typically, I would say transfer course unfortunately they’re not usually successful.

Annie: And then another question from Ron: What type of course would further a method that I have created to help special needs students, using music to teach literacy?

Christopher: I know that several of our courses deal with teaching students with special needs, students with a variety of symptoms along the autism spectrum. So I know that our courses have been updated to be inclusive of trends in education of which special needs definitely has increased over the last several decades.

Annie: And the last question: Do you need just an undergraduate transcript, or if there has been other graduate work do you need that too?

Christopher: Yes, we like to have it all, we do. We like to have it all; we like to have the undergraduate transcript. Frequently students go off and do a master’s degree in public health and then they realize that they’re coming back to their first love. It really does help to complete that full picture of that student so if they have done graduate work in any other area it’s very welcome and we review it all. Sometimes we make suggestions, for instance if a student already has a master’s degree in music but also wants a music education degree we’ve had some of our faculty say, you know, you have a masters in music already, maybe instead of getting a parallel degree why not think of a doctoral program in music education?

Annie: Thank you. And that’s all the questions I have on my end from the audience. Chris, thank you again, this has been really informative and I hope for everyone who is still on the call, you know, you’ve got a lot of information from the session as well, and if you do still have any questions or if questions pop up afterwards, definitely contact us and you can find us online, or email us or even call [Michelle] and we can definitely answer any of your questions, or even if you are looking to apply. So again, thank you Chris, and thank you everybody for coming onto this session, and that’s all for today. I hope you have a great evening.

Christopher: Thank you. Thanks everybody for joining us and if you have any questions that you’d like to be directed towards me I’m sure I will get them and I’d be happy to respond, so I could respond with email and/or phone numbers, that would be great. Thanks very much everyone.

Annie: Thank you.

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