Music Notes: Professional Development Resources

by H. Ellie Wolfe
Assistant Professor of Music Education, Drake University
Early Childhood Chair, Iowa Music Educators Association
Secretary, Early Childhood Music & Movement Association

The term professional development takes on many forms in teacher education. Though the term is sometimes misused and might evoke images of wasted time and frustration, many forms of professional development are incredibly rewarding and can lead to positive and substantial changes for educators and their students. Teachers might read up on a topic that interests them, create a small community of educators who collaborate in finding, exploring, and applying resources in their teaching, or attend workshops and conferences organized by others. In this column, I will share ideas for seeking professional development specific to music in early childhood education.

Congratulations. You are already acquainted with one place to seek professional development regarding music in early childhood education: the Weekly! Beyond this publication at the state level, there have been some helpful articles specific to music in NAEYC’s publications, Teaching Young Children and Young Children, over the years. A keyword search on each journal’s webpage can help you find what might be interesting to you and your context.

National and international, music-specific education associations—such as the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), International Society for Music Education, and Early Childhood Music & Movement Association—similarly offer articles in their varied publications that may be helpful in your own context. Your keyword search simply transforms from “music” to “early childhood”. These publications, however, are often beyond a paywall (though a library may be able to help you with access). The Iowa Music Educators Association (the state association affiliated with NAfME, mentioned above) offers its semiannual magazine open access (no paywall!) through their website (iamea.org), and you may find additional readings of interest there. Reading about music in early childhood can be a fantastic way to find resources and engage in reflective practice, but it also has some limitations.

If you are looking for hands-on professional development, consider contacting a music education professor at a college or university near you—especially one who specializes in either “early childhood” or “general music education”. Many professors will appreciate you reaching out and will work with you to discern a good match between what they have to offer and your needs. And don’t be shy! You might be helping them meet expectations of their jobs in ways they are passionate about. Iowa requires education faculty to average eight hours co-teaching in the schools each year. Additionally, most faculty are expected to network locally and provide service to the profession, such as through engaging in professional development with teachers.

Similarly, you can also find hands-on professional development opportunities through conferences and local workshops. The Iowa Music Educators Association, for instance, will be hosting a morning of early childhood music workshops on the last morning of their conference (Saturday, November 20). The Early Childhood Music & Movement Association has hosted workshops in the past, and they and other organizations will likely do so in the future.