Music Education


The music education program at Colorado State University is designed for prospective elementary and secondary school music teachers and is a gateway to employment and growth in musical excellence. Upon successful completion of the undergraduate degree, students become licensed to teach elementary, choral, band, and orchestra music to K-12 students.

With a focus on B.M. and M.M. programs, one of the many strengths of CSU’s music education area is the personal attention given to each student, paired with ongoing opportunities for all students to have early teaching experiences working directly with school-age students. Additionally, an emphasis on performance and outstanding musicianship is highlighted.

At the secondary level, students receive extensive training in how to design and implement programs centered around comprehensive musicianship and reflective practice, while at the elementary level, the training incorporates both Kodály and Dalcroze methodologies. The teacher licensure program is nationally accredited by NCATE and includes on-site work in schools and student teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Additionally, students work with youth on campus for arts-integrated experiences such as BRAINY (Bringing Arts Integration to Youth) and the Middle School Outreach Ensemble, featuring an innovative teacher training component.

Students are extremely active within the music education area and lead their own organization (Collegiate National Association for Music Educators), which focuses on professional development, social mentoring, and community outreach. The CNAfME chapter has received a Chapter of Excellence Award from the Collegiate National Association for Music Educators.

The music education faculty work closely with the Teacher Licensure Office in the School of Education to place students in quality music classrooms throughout their degree in practicum placements and during their student teaching placement. In addition, students receive preparation to teach Early Childhood through Senior High in all areas: elementary, choral, and instrumental. The program consistently sees more than 95% job placement rate upon graduation.

The music education program is comprehensively structured to allow for continued study at the master’s level, with enrollment tripling in the last three years. A program highlight includes side-by-side work with ensemble directors, allowing full-time master’s students to assist in teaching coursework and directing ensembles.

The music education faculty is comprised of nationally and internationally-recognized educators, researchers, clinicians, adjudicators, and award-winning performers with a vested interest in the educational process of our students. There is a concerted effort on the part of all faculty to know our students on a professional and personal level, guiding their growth throughout the program.

On-campus training takes place in the world-class University Center for the Arts, an exquisite teaching, performance, and exhibition venue for music, theatre, dance, and art. The UCA is located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and is an inspiring setting for personal growth.

Along with the knowledge of teaching they bring to the table, music education faculty at CSU also have the personal experiences that bring different strategies and methods to life; offering a perspective at a practical level. ~ Aleaha Harkins


As the undergraduate program facilitator for the Middle School Outreach Ensemble, I have had the opportunity to learn about the joys and challenges of teaching music within a supportive environment of peers and music education faculty. The program gave me the opportunity to refine my leadership skills and work with others toward a collective goal. I now feel confident in my ability to make a positive impact when I enter the field as a full-time educator. ~ Charlie Mathews (CSU Music Education alum)

Study With

Bonnie Jacobi

  • Associate Professor of Music
  • Music Education
  • Director of Colorado Kodály Institute

Erik Johnson

  • Associate Professor of Music
  • Music Education (Instrumental)

Seth Pendergast

  • Assistant Professor of Music
  • Music Education (Choral)

Nathan Payant

  • Instructor of Music
  • Administrative Coordinator of Music Education
  • Director of Concert Choir

(970) 491-2346

Jessica Warner

  • Instructor of Music
  • Music Education
  • Coordinator of Community Engagement

Integrated Research

At Colorado State University, faculty research and professional activity is relevantly integrated throughout coursework in both the undergraduate and graduate degree sequences. Examples from music education faculty:

Bonnie Jacobi’s passion for on-location historical research includes a recent discovery of the first formal Dalcroze instruction that took place within an American music curriculum (1913, Bryn Mawr College), resulting in two published articles in the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education. Additionally, topics such as musical gesture, space, literacy, and socioemotional learning in music augment her research on the role of music in higher education for nineteenth-century females.

Erik Johnson is passionate about research directly impacting public school teachers and students, including investigating the effect of peer-teaching and collaborative learning on music achievement, engagement, motivation, and student self-concept. Results provide exciting implications for how to diversify traditional instruction in an effort to construct successful music-learning environments. At home with both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, he continues to investigate and share the exciting ways that peer-teaching can enhance student learning.


Music Education Events

Music Research Colloquium presented by Dr. Bonnie Jacobi

March 30, 2023 at 1:00 PM
Join us for a music research colloquium presented by music education professor, Bonnie Jacobi. Dr. Jacobi will present the topic: Music-Making in the Early Years of Vassar Female College 1865-1888: The Glorious Sunset. The lecture will be held in room 222 at the University Center for the Arts.  

Middle School Outreach Ensembles Concert

April 15, 2023 at 6:00 PM
The CSU Music Education program presents the Middle School Outreach Ensembles concert! More than 60 music educators, including advanced high school students in the CSU Trying-on-Teaching Program, college music education majors, CSU faculty, practicing teachers, and retired sages provide instruction to more than 200 young musicians during this nine-week program. This performance will feature students [...]

Music Education News

Flowers in front of UCA

Spring 2022 Music Education Faculty Notes


Dr. Seth Pendergast Dr. Pendergast published both “Research-to-Resource: Two Motivation Frameworks for Encouraging School Choral Participation” for The Choral Journal and “Creative Music-Making with Digital Audio Workstations” in Music Educator’s Journal. Dr. Pendergast appeared on the Choralosophy Podcast to discuss the “Encouraging School Choral Participation” article. Listen to the podcast here. Dr. Bonnie Jacobi Dr. […]

Flowers in front of UCA

Spring 2022 Music Education Alumni Notes


Scott Wheeler, B.M., Music Education, ‘95 Scott Wheeler is choir director at Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has worked as a music teacher in the Poudre School District for 25 years.  How have you experienced innovation in your job (including overcoming challenges to find success with your students)? I think […]

TEDxCSU Paul Rose Promotional Photo

CSU Music Student, Paul Rose, Inspires Others to Retrace and Create a Diverse Canon with his TEDx Talk


On Saturday, March 5, 2022, senior music student Paul Rose delivered his TEDxCSU talk, “Music Education: Creating a Canon as Diverse as We Are” at the Colorado State University Lory Student Center. Rose was inspired to create the talk after many conversations on diversifying music in his classrooms at CSU. Rose said, “after many of […]