STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 08/21/2007

ARTICLE | An Uncommon Vision for Graduate Music Education

Story Daniel White
Drew Straton '09

In the summer of 2003 professor of music Kenneth Phillips and the Department of Music launched the Master of Music Education (M.M.Ed.) program, Gordon's second graduate program. "No one on the North Shore was offering the M.M.Ed. degree," says Phillips, "and the College wanted to provide a place for its music education alumni and others to pursue their graduate work."

Turns out some of those students were also searching for just such a place. In four years enrollment has more than quadrupled for this summer program, from nine students in 2003 to 38 in 2006, with up to 45 expected in 2007. Of those enrolled, six are Gordon alumni: Andrew Norton '99, Jen Bowler '00, Erin Cherry '00, Shannon Sullivan '02, Debbie Gesualdo '03 and Beth Newman '04. Most students who enroll are music teachers in public and private schools.

Phillips attributes the growth to several factors. "We offer practical knowledge to our students that is directly applicable to their own classrooms. We make sure the course material can be used effectively within the students' teaching situations." Students themselves teach part of the curriculum to their peers, a feature of the program that builds their confidence and helps make them better teachers. "Too many young teachers are dropping out of teaching after just a few years--they are ill-equipped and try to rely too much on textbook knowledge," Phillips says. "At Gordon we are trying to reverse this trend."

Phillips is an award-winning researcher and teacher and is widely regarded for his seminal work Teaching Kids to Sing, a standard text in elementary school music programs throughout the United States. He has also written Basic Techniques of Conducting and Directing the Choral Music Program, and has just completed his fourth book, Exploring Research in Music Education and Music Therapy, set for release in 2008 from Oxford University Press. Members of Gordon's accomplished undergraduate faculty also teach within the M.M.Ed. program along with area clinicians.

Now entering its fifth year--and after having graduated its first class at last year's Commencement Ceremony--Phillips hopes the program will serve as a model for teacher education at the graduate level. "We are striving for a change of attitude toward graduate teacher education," he says. "We are all about making good teachers great."


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Caspian's much-anticipated, full-length CD The Four Trees is due out April 10, 2007, in the United States and May 2, 2007, in Japan. Their spontaneous and emotionally diverse sound has commanded attention from the media as well as from fans around the world. Since releasing their debut EP, the band has twice toured the U.S. and Canada playing at legendary venues such as The Knitting Factory (Los Angeles) and CBGBs (New York City). Choosing an instrumental rather than vocal route, their sound is obsessed with the lifting and cresting movements between ambient space and epic complexity. Caspian consists of Philip Jamieson '01, Calvin Joss '03, Chris Friedrich '08 and Joe Vickers. Check out


Phillips Music Center
The Four Trees