Music education adapts to technology and a competitive job market

Trent Thompson

It’s not hard to see that music education may be waning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, music teaching jobs are growing at 6 percent with a median annual salary of $50,110.

However, music education is more valuable than people may realize. Modern music teachers are striving to prepare their students for a more competitive job market and are also teaching them the value of leadership and cooperation.

To some, the music profession is a privilege rather than a chore. For music education senior Anna Wessels, teaching music is a selfless career.

“Any kind of teaching is a worthy job because you are giving yourself to other people,” said Wessels. “At the end of the day, I can go to bed happy because I’m playing music, I get to touch other people’s lives and I get to bring joy to those who might not have it.”

Wessels said her training to be a music teacher gave her the abilities to hone her students’ creativity — a skill that can be applied anywhere.

“Using that creative side of your brain, even if it’s just for fun, trains your brain to think in a different way,” Wessels said. “Companies look for that.”

Not only do students benefit from a teacher’s specific expertise, teachers also use their skills outside of the classroom. Music Education junior Jessica Martinez said her music education training has granted her universally applicable leadership skills.

“It teaches you leadership skills,” Martinez said. “In chamber music, you need to coordinate ideas and schedules. Some people may be unreliable, and you need to learn how to be reliable in music making.”

Martinez explained the importance of collaboration, saying that without it, music would be a difficult project.

“You need to learn how to listen to other people because you need to listen to their parts to make the whole,” Martinez said. “It’s a skill that can be applied to anything."

Current music teachers understand the need to pick up new skills in order to stay competitive.

Joshua Gall, a music professor and assistant to the director of bands, has an extensive history of teaching, conducting and performing. He is a co-creator of the Ultimate Drill Book app, a software which combines marching drills with music to help students in marching band learn faster. Gall explained that in order to remain an effective music teacher, one must always stay current with technology.

“I’m always looking for what’s next,” Gall said. “It’s important for anyone in this profession who wants to stay relevant. Our students are engaged now more than ever because we are speaking their language.”

Gall disclosed that music teachers are open to learning from students how to become more proficient with new technologies. These tools can help them teach more effectively. 

“The Longhorn Band and the Longhorn Pep Band are filled with students who are not studying music full time,” Gall said. “People who are involved in the arts are inherently curious, and students are looking into technology to help transfer what we are teaching to new heights.”