Photo Credit: Ajay Suresh/Frederick Loewe Theatre
Approximately 3.4 million students don't have access to music education.

Music education in jeopardy

NYU Steinhardt suspends enrollment to the program to focus on reworking their undergraduate curriculum.


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Music education continues to be inaccessible in many public schools in America. 

According to recent findings by The Arts Education Data Project (AEDP), 92% of students have access to music education, and approximately 3.4 million students don’t. What’s more alarming is that approximately 2.1 million students don’t have access to any arts education including  dance, music, theater or visual arts. 

However, just as public schools still have a long way to go in making arts education a priority, the music education program at NYU Steinhardt announced last month it would suspend enrollment to the program, to focus on reworking the undergraduate curriculum—an astonishing blow to future music educators and the mentorship model the department relies on. The mentorship model allows “older students to direct younger students in bands, choirs and orchestras to gain the skills of leading large ensembles,” as reported by Inside Higher Ed. 

In a statement emailed to Inside Higher Ed, Marilyn Nonken, who chairs the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, said in response to students’ expressing concerns to overseeing and conducting an orchestra of accomplished NYU performance students versus younger students in the program by stating the following:

“NYU established the first school of pedagogy in the United States; we believe that music and arts are vital to primary and secondary education and we want to be in the business of training music teachers,” she wrote. 

However, she added that “music teaching and learning now often occur outside the classroom -- in cultural institutions, community centers and libraries, to name a few examples. While our program historically focused on training teachers for New York City schools, we want to expand our mission to reflect the changing field and to give students the ability to explore related areas such as music technology, music therapy and arts administration. This approach will also tap into the expertise of the talented faculty in our other programs.”

The curriculum is still being reworked with the intent of finalization by the end of December.


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