Students who graduate with a degree from the music education program at the University of Hartford’s The Hartt School are all but guaranteed a job offer. To date, the major has a 100 percent placement rate. Professor Joshua Russell, director of the Music Education Division, credits that to the program’s putting students in teaching environments in their first year and allowing them to learn to teach in multiple ways.
“It’s an incredibly rare experience for students to be working in a classroom setting from their first year on,” Russell says. “They are immediately placed in different settings so they can have various experiences and get a different view during their four years here. That way they begin to think like a teacher and not like a student.”
The after-school music program at the University of Hartford Magnet School, located on campus, is one of the places music education students begin practicing their teaching skills. “What I like about the music education program is you get started in the classroom right away,” says Cody Bigenho ’17 of West Hartford, Conn. Cody, whose father is a music teacher, is pursuing a double major in music education and violin performance and working with students at the magnet school as part of his coursework. He has been taking lessons for much of his life and says he wanted to attend The Hartt School since he was a 7-year-old student at The Hartt School Community Division.
Emma Gould ’18 of Coventry, Conn., whose mother is also a music teacher, attended The Hartt School Community Division as a child as well and is doing coursework at the magnet school. “Every time that I am in a classroom and working with a teacher, it reassures me that I know what I want to do,” she says.
Music education alumnae Emily Caravella ’13, MMEd ’17 says she’s grateful for her undergraduate teaching experiences at the University of Hartford Magnet School and at Simsbury High School. She believes the time she spent in the training classrooms helped prepare her for her current role as a music teacher at Emerson Williams Elementary School in Wethersfield, Conn.
“When I started, I almost felt like a second-year teacher,” she says. “Before graduation I had already taught all the different band and string instruments to students who are in same age group as I’m teaching now.” This summer, Caravella, of Bayport, N.Y., is planning to complete her master’s in music education at The Hartt School.
Elizabeth Schorr ’16, a first-year choral and general music teacher at East Windsor Middle School in Connecticut, was a double major in vocal performance and music education. After graduating mid-year, the Pennsylvania native started out as a long-term substitute teacher before getting the job full-time. She says her degree gave her the skills and knowledge to improve her teaching. “In our teaching practicums we would do a lot of reflecting,” she says. “We’d get up and practice, give and get feedback, and see a lot of different teaching styles because everyone in the class is a different type of teacher.”
Professor Russell says the students do help each other by giving constructive feedback. “They begin to understand the philosophy of student teaching, and become incredibly valuable colleagues when they graduate. “