Home USA News Educators-in-training are fighting for the future of NYU’s music education program

Educators-in-training are fighting for the future of NYU’s music education program

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Steinhardt’s music department has announced that it will not be accepting new applications for the program, causing concern among students studying to become music teachers.

Kieran commanders

File photo: NYU Steinhardt Pless Hall, located at 82 Washington Square East. Photo taken in spring 2022 (Kiran Komanduri for WSN)

The music education program at NYU’s Steinhardt School will stop accepting applications for the fall 2023 semester, according to administrators. Several students in the program, which trains students to be music teachers, expressed concern about its future.

Department Chair Marilyn Nonken said in an email to students that the change came as a result of a decision by program faculty to review the current curriculum. Despite the changes, she said the program will continue to offer the courses current students need to earn their degrees.

“Such periodic curriculum reviews ensure that our academic programs continue to meet the needs of our students and evolve to meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment,” Nonken wrote. “This pause in enrollment will not affect your ability to complete your music education and graduate from NYU.”

As a requirement of the program, music education students in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development take several ensemble-based and practicum-based classes in which new students learn to play an instrument and students in subsequent semesters of the program learn to lead a classroom. With no first class, several students said they were unsure how classes would be organized.

“Our specialty relies heavily on the apprentice teacher model, and many of our classes are based on high school students teaching juniors,” said Jhanvi Seshadri, president of NYU’s Student Music Educators Club. “We’re going to miss out on a whole class of people who are going to do that — it just completely disrupts that year’s education.”

Chairman Nonken also invited students to a Zoom meeting on November 17, giving them an opportunity to voice their concerns about the future of the program. In a Nov. 15 letter from students to faculty, the program asked to lift the admissions freeze, but the request was denied, in addition to requests that students and faculty be included on the curriculum review committee.

“We wanted to be colleagues — we wanted to sit down at the table,” said Ray Heller, a sophomore in the program. “We don’t just want our voices to be heard, because if you are heard, you can be ignored. We want to be involved because these are decisions that will directly affect us.”

Requests by students for additional full-time staff — there is currently only one faculty member at the Washington Square campus — and a special advisor for the program were denied. Some students plan to create a petition in support of the program in the coming weeks, and there are also plans to release an alumni statement regarding the program.

“I hope the people who make up the committee understand that we’re not going to go into this blindly,” Heller said. “We understand the impact of their actions, and we understand the impact of their words.”

Contact Bryn Borzillo at [email protected]

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