Music Education Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Music Education?

Music education is a field of practice in which educators are trained for careers as music teachers. 

Musical training stimulates and trains the same part of the brain that deals with understanding language. Children who have some exposure to music education will, therefore, have a greater understanding of tone and how different segments of speech align

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Music Education courses in the following subject areas:

  • Music Performance and Audio Engineering – This course is designed to meet the needs of learners wishing to develop their understanding of the music industry and improve their music skills.
  • MA In Music Education – An exploration of music teaching and learning processes from a range of social science perspectives and involves interdisciplinary studies in Education, Music, and other related fields.
  • Diploma in Music (theory, analysis & historical studies) – A broad introduction to the study of music with an emphasis on introductory music theory. aural studies and general historical & cultural studies.
  • Singing and Music Theory for Beginners – A study of the basics of singing alongside music theory. This course will cover breathing techniques, warm-ups, exercises for vocal control, performing in front of an audience, and correct singing posture.
  • Music (Conducting) / Ceol (Stiúradh) – A program specifically tailored to the needs of aspiring conductors. 
  • MA/MSc in Music Technology – A combination of technological competence with musical creativity.
  • MA in Traditional Music Studies – A study of Irish traditional music and traditions which have impacted Irish music.
  • Classical Music Appreciation – A crash course for anybody interested in appreciating the works of great composers from the 17th to 20th centuries including Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Debussy.
  • QQI Level 5 Certificate in Music – This course focuses on the development of creative skills through performance, composition, technology, and contextual study.
  • BA (Hons) In Music – A study of musicology, music technology, composition, Irish traditional music, ethnomusicology and performance, and practical and theoretical approaches to learning Music.

Studying Music Education in college

There are many Music Education courses that take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or volunteering to help with young people’s music-making, whether you’re coaching ensembles or teaching individuals.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future. Private teaching practice is usually built up through personal recommendations, so networking with local musicians and other music teachers is important.

Career options

After completing a course in Music Education you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of music and music theory.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The hours are usually after school, evenings and weekends, and may be irregular due to cancellations and rearrangements. Some students may stop lessons during holidays, while others continue throughout the year.

If you’re working as a self-employed visiting music teacher, you’ll typically work during school hours, although you may have some lessons before or after the school day. Part-time work is common, and many private music teachers combine teaching with performing, directing, composing, or other activities. Travel during the working day is common if you teach pupils in their homes or different schools.

Teaching can take place in a school, college, university, conservatoire, or a community-based setting. Alternatively, you may work in your own home, travel to various locations to teach students, be hired by a local authority music service or music education hub to teach in schools, or be employed by a privately or publicly-funded music center.

Related jobs include:

  • Music producer
  • Music therapist
  • Musician
  • Private music teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Sound designer
  • Sound engineer
  • Sound technician, broadcasting/film/video
  • Special effects technician
  • Arts administrator
  • Broadcast engineer
  • Choreographer
  • Community arts worker
  • Event manager
  • Marketing executive
  • Private tutor
  • Radio broadcast assistant
  • Radio producer
  • Talent agent
  • Theatre stage manager

Further study

After completing a course in Music Education you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as broadcasting, sound engineering, or therapy.

You will need to maintain your musical skills and develop yourself professionally as a teacher. This includes keeping up your awareness of developments in music education and teaching through personal reading, attending conferences, courses, and seminars.


Why is Music Education important?

Music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words and helps the body and mind work together.

Researchers have found that learning to play a musical instrument can enhance verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills. Playing an instrument makes you use both sides of your brain, which strengthens memory power.

What skills could be helpful for a career in Music Education?

Some skills that would be helpful when starting a career in Music Education are musical and teaching ability, patience, perseverance, and excellent communication skills, the ability to motivate and encourage your pupils, high standards of professionalism and professional ethics, excellent self-management and organizational skills, the ability to discuss money frankly and practically, resourcefulness and the ability to make things happen, willingness to try new directions and be flexible, passion and enthusiasm for music and teaching and a willingness to do the routine jobs as well as the exciting ones.

Where can I study Music Education?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Mozart sold the most CDs in 2016, beating out Adele, Drake, and Beyoncé, even though all of those artists had Grammy-winning hits that year.

· Multiple studies have been conducted that prove singing as a part of a group provides numerous physical and emotional benefits. Researchers have discovered that singing is soothing and does indeed raise one’s spirits and mood. 

· In 2014, a group of researchers from The Museum of Science and Industry in England released an online test called “Hooked on Music.” It contained one thousand quips from pop hits, going back to the 1940s, and it asked 12,000 participants to identify songs as fast as possible. They found that “Wannabe” by The Spice Girls was the catchiest song: people were able to recognize it in about 2.3 seconds, which was way below the 5-second average of identifying other popular songs.

· “I Write the Songs” was made famous by Barry Manilow, but he didn’t write it.

· Research has consistently shown that the synchronization of music with repetitive exercise provides enhanced physical performance, helping people both work out for longer and train more efficiently. 

Mariza Halliday

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