University of Minnesota

Music Education Student Profile

Name: Jonny Chao
Graduation Year:

Hometown: Bloomington, MN

How and why did you choose your major?

I didn't actually start with Music Education when I entered my first year here at the U. I actually came in thinking that I was going to major in Computer Science because I really enjoyed the problem solving aspects of Computer Science and continually updated myself with anything tech-related. However, somewhere down the line it just didn't work out and the drive for it wasn't there anymore. When I had started to feel like computer science wasn't exactly for me, I looked into Music Education; a completely different track than Computer Science. What interested me most about Music Education was the idea of leaving behind a foundation for a better future. Music has been a huge component of my life growing up with many great influences from my high school band directors, and I wanted to share and inspire those who desire to dive deeper in this subject creatively.

Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.

Music Education essentially encourages the growth and progress of music in comprehension for students. Most of the things I've learned and love so far in this major stemmed mainly from the instrument techniques courses because they're some of the few courses that are specific to the major itself. Not only do you learn how to play these instrument families (woodwind, brass, percussion, strings) but you also learn how to teach them as if students are starting out for the first time on their instrument.

One of the biggest challenges I have personally faced is simply being persistent in staying on top of my music listenings for Music History. It always became something that was in the back of my mind that stayed there until last minute and that caused a lot of stress. However, I got better at them by being proactive. I had spent a half an hour a day dedicated to listenings and I was much more satisfied with my grade in the end.

What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)

Even though it's not required of the major, I have been a part of the University of Minnesota Marching Band since my time here and it has helped me a lot in developing many of the philosophies and leadership skills with which I characterize myself today. The community aspect that the band has is welcoming, greatly encourages networking and in some cases can even help you practice what you've learned in your major classes!

There is an organization known as the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) that I am a part of that is essentially another area of networking but solely for music educators. What's great about this organization is that you can learn from other music educators and their experiences to help prepare you for when you start to teach. The exchange of knowledge and information between them all is refreshing as it brings new thoughts and ideas to the table.

In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?

There were lots of times at the start that I just kept thinking that this major wasn't for me. I had thought there was no way I could become a teacher with my physical stance being on the short side and my lack of confidence and ability to teach. But as I kept being persistent, I found that I have the skills to be able to do all of the things I thought I could never do. Keep at it and I guarantee you that it will all be worth it in the end.

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