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Music Education

Music education students gain teaching and conducting experience in their coursework and in area schools with cooperating teachers

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Careers and internships

Music education students gain teaching and conducting experience in their coursework and in area schools with cooperating teachers. Many students teach at the SBC Music and Arts Academy, a local program offering reduced-price lessons to promising students. Augustana students begin working with K-12 classrooms in their first year, while their peers at other schools may not get into the classroom until their second or third year. 

Graduates in music education consistently secure teaching positions. The combination of Augustana's strong academic reputation, student development of effective teaching skills and recommendations from faculty who speak about their students in detail provide excellent opportunities for graduates to be hired to teach music in public and private schools. 

Graduates from the music education program have a 100% placement rate.


Augustana College maintains a reputation for preparing outstanding music educators. Students who participate in this vibrant program are drawn to the small class sizes and individual attention they receive from faculty and advisors. Compare Augustana's music education program to the same at other schools, and you'll see why Augustana's program stands out. At many schools students need up to five years to graduate with a music education major, but Augustana's course structure and four-year guarantee allows students to graduate on time. 

Graduates benefit from a history of strong job placement, consistently finding positions in a variety of school settings throughout the country. Augustana's strong liberal arts tradition, in conjunction with a rigorous progressive music education curriculum, provides students with a broad base of knowledge and skills to become effective music educators. 

The Augustana chapter of CNAfME, the national association of music teachers, is highly regarded within the region and has been elected as Illinois' host chapter for events across the region for two years.

Augustana College is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Teaching license information

Successful completion of all coursework, exams and requirements leads to an Illinois P-12 music teaching license. This license allows the holder to teach all levels and types of music in the state of Illinois, ranging from preschool through high school, including instrumental, vocal and general music classrooms. The Illinois teaching license is accepted for reciprocity in most other states.

Music education faculty

The Music Education area has three faculty members, each specializing in different content areas. This provides an excellent and balanced approach to the Music Education coursework. The music education area faculty present and conduct at local, state, national and international events, giving students valuable insight and connections during their undergraduate education.

Dr. Dawn Farmer, Instrumental Music Education
Dr. Jesse Rathgeber, General & Elementary Music Education
Dr. Michael Zemek, Vocal Music Education

The music department

Students of any major — including non-music majors — may audition and apply for music scholarships ranging from $500–$4,000 annually.

The 40+ music faculty represents all instrumental areas, including harp. All students, including non-music majors, can take lessons and participate in one of 12 ensembles—from opera to a symphony orchestra to jazz combos. Nearly a quarter of Augustana’s students perform in ensembles.

The music program has a strong tradition of touring ensembles. Since the early 1880s, annual tours have taken the Symphonic Band to 32 states and many countries, most recently Japan. The Augustana Choir traveled through Germany, Denmark and Sweden in 2015.

Augustana has four concert halls, including the 1,600-seat Centennial Hall and the more intimate, acoustically excellent Wallenberg Hall. After a renovation in 2016, Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts now houses all of the music department’s classrooms and offices, practice rooms and ensemble spaces.

• Music department handbook

What students say

Timothy Koll ’10, music education major; now choral music educator, Conant High School, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

"My time in the Augustana music department was formative, challenging and inspiring. Augie didn’t just teach me how to be a music educator, but what music education could look and sound like in my classroom.

"I truly believe what sets Augie apart is the understanding and development of individuals. There is something amazing about the fact that when conversation with friends, phone calls home to Mom and Dad, and personal reflection weren’t enough, the time and attention of my music education advisor was. That in itself probably sets Augie apart. But beyond that, my advisor Dr. Zemek and Augustana took the time to understand me AND make me better."

Justin Lebo '15, music education major; now K-5 elementary music specialist, Moline (Ill.) School District

"Augie Choice allowed me to travel to Germany, Denmark and Sweden with the Augustana Choir for the 2015 tour. It was an incredible capstone to my college experience, and helped me further define who I am in the world as a musician and lifelong learner. I will never forget performing with such an esteemed ensemble in the world's most beautiful venues.

"The faculty in the music department puts an emphasis on developing both our musical knowledge and our outlook on the world, using music as the tool to shape these values. Each music professor has influenced the way I interact with my craft and my colleagues, molding me into an insightful musician with skills to succeed after graduation."

Silvia Ramirez-Bertolasi '15, music education and vocal performance major; now music teacher, grades 3-12, Aquinas American School in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Spain

"I actually chose Augustana twice — once when I was finishing high school and again after my sophomore year when my parents decided to move to Spain. I had the opportunity to attend university in Madrid, but I knew I would not get an education nearly as thorough as what I had at Augustana, so I chose to stay in the Quad Cities to finish my degree. Upon coming back to Spain, I received several job offers because of the outstanding résumé I had developed during my time in Augie's music education program."

Kyle Amati '13, music education and jazz major; now director of bands, Beckman Catholic High School, Dyersville, Iowa

"Augustana's music professors are the most knowledgeable people I know. Not only did they teach me about music, but also everyday life skills. Music is my life, and it is hard to choose the best of the many good moments in my career at Augustana. I performed at Orchestra Hall in Chicago as well as concert halls in Italy. After becoming a high school band director, eventually I wish to continue my education and receive a master's and doctorate in wind conducting, and pursue a career in collegiate wind conducting."

Lauryn Dick '11 Deets, music education major; now orchestra director in the Pleasant Valley (Iowa) School District

My Augustana experience has meant everything to me. My student-teaching experience directly led me to my career as an orchestra director, and Augustana also gave me the opportunity to develop the interpersonal skills I have today."

Ryan Jones

Music alumni show Jones '24 what's possible

Until Ryan Jones '24 applied to Augustana, he didn’t realize all his music teachers from elementary through high school in Lake Zurich, Ill., were Augustana alumni.

New music faculty excited to get started

Augustana’s Department of Music welcomes a director of jazz and director of orchestras this fall.

music video

Even without an audience, music students find joy, purpose

Music students aren't able to perform for an audience due to COVID-19, but in some ways this has caused them to look at music with fresh eyes: