Survey: Full time director/organists who also teach elementary ed.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 117
    Hello all,
    I’m curious to do a bit of a survey:
    Are there many of us who are Directors of Sacred Music / Organists who are also asked to teach the music classes for attached grade schools? I hired in to be DoSM/Organist and teach K-5 weekly music classes in one position. This situation is inherited from my predecessor. I’m not exactly thrilled with the arrangement and it got me to wondering how common this actually was. If I had to guess: not very.

    At your church/school are these two functions separate or combined?
  • (Comment withdrawn.)
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,100
    In the archdiocese where I work, most church music directors do not also teach in the parish school. I, personally, had 2 positions where I did not teach in the school and 1 position where I did teach in the school. All of the positions did require playing for school Mass and at least some preparation of Mass music with the children.
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 494
    I do. Also High School.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,094
    With all due deference to Mr. Osborn's tremendous bank of knowledge and considerable intellect, I do take some umbrage with regards to his comments regarding musicians teaching general music in the schools. In my current position, I teach in the school 2 days a week. Those days have enabled me to encourage, invoke and invite more students to sing in the choir programs. We are well on our way to building a choir school, whereas, choirs from the school practice and prepare music as a part of their daily curriculum. My knowledge of music is such that I teach them the history and practice of sacred music. We learn and appreciate solfege, practice hymnody and learn large swaths of the Gradual and the hymnal as a result of my presence in the school. I do not see my work in the school as a direct opposite to that of the parish. In fact, it is a joy to make connections for students to engage the larger picture of sacred music. Only as a sideline, do we make inroads into secular music. But we do visit the opera house, go hear a symphony orchestra and singers regularly visit to show good technique. The ties that bind my work in the school and in the parish are available only because I do both positions. I suppose I wish I had more practice time for my own organ work, but that will come with time and assistance as the program grows. Thus, it is possible to do both situations with joy and competence and for me, the two positions support one another in ways that I did not think possible.
  • Carol
    Posts: 488
    KevinF, your situation sounds lovely because you are enjoying what you are able to accomplish and you have the wide ranging skill set to do it. Is this a high school or K-8? If one is working hard, but feeling that their work/life has so much purpose to further God's kingdom, then that person is very fortunate!

    As a retired Catholic elementary school teacher and school parent, most of the music education I have seen is substandard. It is extremely hard to find part-time teachers who are qualified to teach music. In a school of 100 to 150 students a one day/week job is not enough to draw a talented person so combining the role of church music director and school music teacher is a good solution IF the right person can be found.
  • Bobby Bolin
    Posts: 380
    In the Diocese of Cleveland it seems that most music directors play at the school masses but do not teach in the schools.
  • Serviam, when I get some time to sit and type I will send you a PM.
  • I am in a slightly different boat -- I am part-time DoM at one parish and teach K-8 music at the school three days a week for another.

    At that school, neither I nor the parish's DoM/liturgy director handles the school Masses; someone else (a semi-retired church musician who herself is perfectly competent) does them. I think that's weird and not good. Either I should be doing it, or the DoM should be doing it, but not this third person, as good as she is. I think we should be establishing better continuity between school Masses and Sunday parish Masses (and/or better continuity between music class and school Mass), and this isn't how that happens.

    If the DoM job opened up at this parish, I would apply -- asking them to give the liturgy director responsibilities to someone else. (Since the pastor and parish staff know me well, I might be able to finagle this.)

    I think there are advantages to being both music director and music teacher. I would love to be able to create continuity between school Masses, parish Masses, and music class, so that what they learn in class gets applied to their Masses. I think having that presence in the parish is also a good thing. I know there are scenarios where this won't work, (especially if the parish is massive), but I do think it's a good idea in at least some cases.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,176
    For ten years, I worked in the parish school as librarian and computer science teacher. I am still DM and organist at the parish. I was certified to teach music but only filled in when the music teacher was away. It is all good and rewarding work. Here is the problem. It can become too much for one person. If you thrive on 60+ hour workweeks, then you will be happy doing both school and parish. I have retired from the school and yes, it was too much and too many hours each week.
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • ghunter
    Posts: 15
    At the Cathedral where I’m DoM we are trying to create an Assistant Director position by hiring a school music teacher with enough church music skills to be AD. That would give us the church/school overlap we are trying to achieve. It is also the only way the pay would ever be good enough at the school for someone talented to take the job.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 521
    That's my idea of a dream job and I'm NEARLY there.
    I teach at a very nearby special needs school and am director of music where I am.
    My dream is to get the job in the parish school.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Carol
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,094
    My position is K-8.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 117
    Kevin, you have to teach K-8 in addition to being organist and choir master?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,094
    Actually 2-8. I have an assistant who does Pre K, K and 1st. And yes, I am the organist and choirmaster. I adore it. I draw no line between church and school. My general music students learn chant, solfege and harmony. What we sing in the classroom we sing in Church. For instance today, everyone learned the solemn Regina Caeli. We'll sing it on Friday for the Feast of the Visitation BVM.
  • @TimTheEnchanter and @kevinf: tell me more! I am starting a K-8 program but have never taught these ages before. I have a lot of control, can start a whole new curriculum, etc. I have the summer to get the next year in order.

    I would love to know what curriculum you use, and how you structure your program.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 352
    mmmm - you can not serve God and mammon, either you will . . .
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,176
    mmmm - you can not serve God and mammon, either you will . . .


    Yeah, but Mammon sure does pay good, doesn't he?
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 352
    lol - I meant the church school side vs the parish church side. Last time I checked, neither one paid well, on average, compared with the secular world. I once did both jobs and it was exhausting at 60 hours per week with only Saturdays off. The same church and its academy now hires 3 full time to do what I once did.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • rjlynch210
    Posts: 23
    I have done both for the past 5 years. Not anymore after this school year. It's too much hopping back and forth. Get burnt out very quickly!
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,007
    @ghunter it seems UT-Austin alums think alike in this regard! I don't have a school at my current place, but in my last job, I tried and tried to get that to happen. Would have saved the parish/school money and achieved better, more cohesive results. I think it's a great model.
  • If you have the vocation for it, then perhaps yes. I’ve found teaching the youngest kids to be quite vexing and coming up with curriculæ week in and week out is exhausting. I have taught my kids chant that we then sing in church, but I’m expected to do general music ed also. It’s absolutely impossible to teach concepts and music in one 40 min class per week and also prepare for a Christmas concert. I’ve burnt out after only one year.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • (It doesn’t help that I don’t have a music classroom; I have to teach in the gym which is awful. I don’t have a piano (but a small 61 key non-weighted keyboard that doesn’t even have built in speakers) and we have no other instruments apart from wood sticks.)
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Year 2 will be much easier... By year 4 you'll have it down pat! Build your resources slowly but surely.
  • "coming up with curriculæ week in and week out"

    This is what I keep hearing as the WORST part about teaching the kiddos. Why not use a standardized curriculum, like Quaver or Gameplan? I haven't used either myself, but I keep hearing good things about them.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,100
    I will never teach classroom music again, but if I did, I would GLADLY pay for a standardized, complete curriculum that has all my lessons planned for me. I think Doug O'Neill used to use something like this, if I remember correctly. Maybe @doneill can weigh in?
    Thanked by 1sergeantedward
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,094
    Maybe I should sell my curriculum. I have every lesson worked out. The only difference is the repertory.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,100
    If I were teaching classroom music again, I would buy it, KevinF. Not kidding. I bet I wouldn't be the only tradition-minded classroom music teacher who would LOVE to get their hands on a complete curriculum that is aimed at the right place: facility, holiness, and beauty.
  • @kevinf I *am* teaching K-8 this fall and would absolutely be interested in buying it!
  • doneill
    Posts: 188
    Sorry, just saw this. When I was teaching, I used the series of workbooks called A Young Singer's Journey, published by Hinshaw. They are good for developing both solfege and note-reading skills. I began by using them with Grades 3 and up, but found that 3rd graders struggled with the first book, so changed that philosophy. For K-3, I used a series from Alfred called Music Expressions, which is a good curriculum for those without music education degrees, because the lessons are already planned according to educational theory. They incorporate a lot of Kodaly method, and I appreciate them for their emphasis on building music-reading skills. Being for the public schools, there is no religious aspect to them, but I found it easy enough to incorporate Catholic moral teaching in place of the humanist moral values. We could certainly use a good Catholic-based curriculum; what Kevin has developed could be of great use.
    Thanked by 2sergeantedward Wade
  • @kevinf: Sounds like you've got a customer base :)