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Beat the heat while brushing up on music teaching and learning at the ASU Summer Music Institute

Students in the ASU School of Music's Summer Music Institute participate in a workshop.

Photo by Jesse Rathgeber

April 08, 2016

Summertime at ASU is noticeably quieter than during the school year, but look closely and you’ll see that learning still takes place all over campus. This is particularly apparent in the ASU School of Music, where music educators from Arizona and throughout the United States congregate throughout June and July to complete courses and workshops to further their knowledge of music education.

“The ASU School of Music is the place to be in the summer,” says Heather Landes, director of the school. “Our Summer Music Institute not only provides master’s students with necessary research and practice-based coursework, but also workshops and professional development opportunities for all teachers needing certification hours. Our summer community offers nurturing opportunities to explore application of one’s knowledge and musical experiences.”

Known as the Summer Music Institute, the program is made up of one-week, two-week and three-week courses and workshops that cover a wide range of musical subjects. The broad class selection includes topics such as songwriting and steel drums, music and technology, string and instrumental pedagogy, guitar and popular music labs, music in early childhood and all levels of Kodály and Orff courses.

“The Summer Music Institute has two main purposes: to provide summers-only master’s degree study for teachers who are busy during the school year and want to fit it into their schedules, and to provide professional development for teachers who want to enrich their practice or who need recertification hours,” says Sandy Stauffer, coordinator of the Summer Music Institute and professor of music education in the School of Music. Classes and workshops are available with anywhere from as few as one credit (15 hours) to as many as four credits (65 hours).

Karen Scott, a School of Music alum and teacher in the Phoenix Union High School district, needed teacher certification hours in a hurry, and was pleased that the program could cater to her needs. “The professors and teachers have been so very knowledgeable and supportive,” says Scott. “I have learned to expand my creativity in how I teach students and to give them more choices in what they learn.”

Credit hours and recertification are not the only reasons to take these classes, however. “This program is a great chance for current teachers to get fresh new ideas and inspiration for the upcoming school year and help recharge their batteries,” says Margaret Schmidt, one of the music education faculty in the School of Music.

Jana Gutenson, a teacher in the Chandler Unified School District, was looking for professional development hours for recertification that would apply directly to her area of teaching. “As a teacher entering my 20th year of teaching music, it was inspiring to be actively engaged in music learning,” says Gutenson. “What began as a pursuit of professional development hours ended with a great sense of renewal and inspiration.”

The teachers for the Summer Music Institute classes are ASU faculty and specialists from other states, including Rhode Island, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, as well as Arizona music educators who are exceptional in their fields. Each year, some courses stay the same and others are changed or added, depending on the needs of the participants.

Shannon Carrion Acevedo, who is working on her master’s degree and teaching certification, has taken classes through the Summer Music Institute two years in a row. “I took Kodály I my first year, and the class was like you’re in an actual classroom, so I could see what it would be like once I started teaching,” says Carrion Acevedo. “I learned so much during that session that I came back this year for Kodály II and Orff I.”

These courses are also ideal for those who are looking for jobs in the field and want a leg up on their interviews. “Taking Orff level 1 last summer was the main thing that helped me get hired at my first job,” says Kathy Overall, a general music and chorus teacher in Gilbert, Arizona, who took classes through the Summer Music Institute because of the connection to all local public schools.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about these courses is the positive effect they have on the participants. “My favorite thing about being involved in the Summer Music Institute is seeing the excitement of those who take the classes,” says Stauffer. “It really changes their ideas and their teaching lives.”

For more information about the classes available summer 2016, visit — check back often to find newly offered courses. The website is updated regularly with new courses. 

Media Contact:
Heather Beaman
Communications Liaison