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Considerations for Administrators

Utah Music Educators Association

Music embodies the expression, emotion, feelings, and the creativity of humanity. Music connects us to each other both far and wide, and to those in the past and in the present. It is a unifying art form that excites, calms, satisfies, and stimulates our emotions and feelings. Learning about and performing music binds people together and brings a sense of belonging and self confidence.

Music is an intricate body of knowledge with a history tied to every human culture. Learning about and performing music provides a window to understanding human interaction over time. Through music, one can reach and hope to understand every extremity of human existence and experience.

Music provides high intellectual engagement and develops 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Students learn to multitask, communicate non-verbally, rely on their senses to balance with others in time and space, and work creatively within a system of symbols.

Utah Music Educators Association is a professional organization for school music teachers. UMEA believes the inclusion of standards-based music education in the school day provides a well-rounded education; giving Utah students opportunity and environment to lay a foundation for a full and rich life. UMEA seeks to:

  • Insure every school student in Utah has equal access to a sequential music education taught by a certified music educator
  • Improve the quality of teaching, research, and scholarship in music
  • Foster the utilization of the most effective pre-service and in-service preparation of music teachers
  • Promote the involvement of persons of all ages in learning music
  • Build a vital musical culture and an enlightened musical public for the benefit and general welfare of all persons

In an effort to assist administrators in their desire to support educational music programs, we offer the following resources


  • Courses are taught by highly qualified, certified music teachers, licensed through the Utah State Board of Education.
  • Instruction is based on Utah State Core Music Standards including the strands CREATE, PERFORM, RESPOND, and CONNECT.
  • A variety of courses are available. Core performance ensembles (choirs, bands, orchestras); other performance ensembles such as guitar, percussion, musical theater as teacher expertise and student body numbers permit; courses for general music interest such as Piano Lab, Music Theory/Composition, Music History, World Music, Music Appreciation, and Music Exploration.
  • Teachers actively engage in professional development. Administrators support teachers when they desire to attend workshops, conferences, and other training.
  • Program is supported by administration in funding and scheduling. Music programs need adequate funding for instruments, equipment, uniforms, music, and supplies. Scheduling support includes building a master schedule that minimizes conflicts of singleton music classes.
  • Music courses demonstrate consistent quality and maintain healthy student enrollment. Teachers are actively engaged in helping students achieve excellence in music literacy and performance. This may be demonstrated in performances throughout the school year and participation in music festivals where ratings and adjudicator comments are received.
young men playing french horn


  • Participation in music education develops the whole child: physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively.
  • Music unifies students as they work together producing a musical performance.
  • Music develops creativity, promotes higher-order thinking skills, instills disciplined work habits, and correlates with gains in standardized test scores.
  • Music education develops social and emotional skills, resiliency, and enhances sensitivity to others and understanding of self.
  • Educational achievement through student engagement, improved attendance, and increased motivation.


Hiring the right highly qualified music educator will have a lasting impact on the students of your school. Below are some tips and suggestions to consider when hiring a music educator.

The candidate should have a current license to teach music through the Utah State Board of Education. This assures that the candidate has pedagogical training. Experience solely in music performance is not always an indicator that the candidate will be successful as a music educator.

Include other arts teachers in the interview/screening process. Consider those in your school and other schools in your cone-site who will work closely with the new music educator. Also, seek input from your district arts coordinator.

Observe the candidate in rehearsal with students for 10–15 minutes. Ask the students what they think of the candidate. If possible, have other arts educators observe the rehearsal and have a candid discussion about how the candidate will work with their team. Collaboration between team members in the performing arts is critical.

Look at the candidate’s music experience on their resume. Evaluate the variety in their experiences. A wide base of music experience can be a good indicator of teaching success. Find out how long they have been participating in music. Have they had private lessons? Have they taught private lessons? Have they taught music to large ensembles? Do they currently perform music outside of school teaching?

Contact the candidate’s previous administrator and former team members. What did they see as the candidate's strengths and weaknesses?

What are their philosophies? What are their philosophies regarding music education; classroom management and environment; music repertoire choice; festival participation; tours; collaboration with other school arts educators? Do these philosophies match up with the vision provided in your district, school, or team? Ask them about the state core music standards for their content area. What is their five-year vision for the school music program?

Look into a candidate’s unofficial portfolio. It is very common to find video or audio recordings of a music director's ensemble performances on the internet. See if what you hear and see is what you are looking for. Also look into past festival ratings which are often posted on the UMEA website (high school).

Check candidate's references. For a candidate who has just graduated from college, contact their student teaching mentor-teacher and their supervising music  education professor.

band conductor

Consider these sample questions:

  • What types of ensembles have you directed?
  • What styles of music are you most comfortable directing?
  • What are your most important considerations when choosing music for an ensemble?
  • Are you planning on attending region, state, and other festivals?
  • What professional development have you attended?
  • Who have been your mentors and what did you learn from them?
  • What has been your experience with organizing travel?


Evaluating a music educator is different than evaluating a teacher in other content area. Excellence in music performance is a process. An administrator may evaluate a teacher at any point in that process, thus leaving different indicators of success at any given time. Music teachers are constantly formatively assessing by observation and listening in the music classroom, and student mastery is demonstrated through group and individual performance and less by quantitative data.

Indicators of a successful music educator could include:

  • Teachers adapt lesson plans based on formative assessment of performance.
  • Teachers successfully assess students in groups and as individuals.
  • Teachers successfully engage students throughout the class period.
  • Teachers can envision the finished music product and can articulate what needs to be done to obtain that vision.
  • Teachers allow time for students to reflect on what the music means to them.
  • Teachers' knowledge of and passion for music are evident.
  • Teachers model correct concepts and skills.
  • Teachers create an environment where students want to be and can form lasting relationships with peers in the program.

NAfME (National Association for Music Education) provides a document that can assist administrators in evaluating teachers and student achievement in a music classroom.



Utah Music Educators Association provides professional development for all music teachers, including support for rural and “singleton” teachers in schools and districts.

Utah Music Educators Association


Utah Music Educators Association (UMEA). UMEA is an affiliate of the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) and is dedicated to improving existing music programs and creating opportunities for musical learning, growth and leadership through the following professional development opportunities.

  • UMEA Annual Mid-Winter Professional Development Conference. Held at the Dixie Center in St. George on the first Friday–Saturday in February.
  • UMEA All-State Rehearsals and State Large Group Festivals. While the primary benefit is to individual students, teachers have the opportunity to observe master teachers at work with All-State ensembles. During festivals, teachers receive feedback from adjudicators and clinicians from all over the country.
National Association for Music Education


National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Membership in UMEA (https://umea.us) includes membership in NAfME (National Association for Music Education https://nafme.org) NAfME/UMEA offerings include:

  • Annual professional development conferences
  • Magazines and professional research journals
  • Online professional development
  • Amplify”—A collaborative digital community of over 60,000 music educators
  • NAfME Academy”—Professional development webinars for subscribers

Area-Specific Professional Organizations. These organizations provide focused professional development to directors of specific ensembles through conferences, publications, and online offerings. Most of these organizations have a Utah affiliate group.

Other Opportunities:



young women singing

UMEA and UHSAA provide the following opportunities for Utah secondary school music students:

UMEA All-State Ensembles. Through a selection process, members of school music ensembles can participate in All-State ensembles (choir, band, orchestra, and jazz band) at the Junior High School and High School levels.

UHSAA High School Region Music Festivals. Each USHAA region holds annual high school festivals for solos and small ensembles (including chamber choirs and percussion ensembles), large instrumental groups (bands and orchestras), jazz bands, and choirs. Region festivals are adjudicated by certified experts in the state. Individuals and groups that qualify are invited to participate in state festivals. Note: Some school districts hold similar festivals for junior high school individuals and groups. Check with your district arts coordinator.

UMEA/UHSAA High School State Music Festivals. USHAA sponsors an annual State Solo and Ensemble Festival where those who qualified through their region USHAA festival can receive additional comments from qualified adjudicators.

UMEA sponsors annual festivals for Utah high school and junior high school large ensembles (concert bands, large choirs, orchestras, and jazz bands). For high school ensembles, participation in a state festival requires a qualifying score from a UHSAA region festival. For junior high school ensembles, participation in a state festival involves a screening process including an audition recording.

UMEA also sponsors a circuit of regional marching band competitions and a state high school marching band competition.

UMEA Area Honor Ensembles. In rural locations where there may not be regular opportunities for music students to experience large group ensemble performance with full instrumentation/voices, UMEA sponsors area honor ensemble experiences. With UMEA support, local teachers pool resources and bring together students for a weekend honor group experience with rehearsals and performance under the direction of an invited clinician.

Other Annual Events:

  • University-/college-sponsored music festivals for high school and junior high school ensembles (Spring)
  • University/College Honor Ensembles
  • Utah State Fair Jazz Festival (September)
  • Utah Percussive Arts Society—Day of Percussion (March)
  • Utah Symphony “Side-by-Side” Performance (May)

Post-Graduation Opportunities in Music. Many scholarships are available to members of university/college performance ensembles. Scholarship recipients do not have to major in music to obtain these types of scholarships.

Music study in secondary school can lead to majoring in music at the collegiate level. Bachelor degree options include music performance, music education, music production, music therapy, etc.


Trophies, or placing is not the award system used in most Utah music festivals. First, second and third place does not truly reflect achievement in music. Two performances can be very different and score equally well. Music festivals are not a competition between groups but rather a comparison of each group to a standard. A rubric is used to “standardize” the critical elements of music performance (refer to https://www.uhsaa.org/music/forms/LargeInstrumentalEns.pdf for a sample of the rubric). Every group in a festival who demonstrates a high standard on the music they perform could come away from the festival with a superior rating.

Rating System  
A system from 1 to 5 is used  
( with + and -)  
This is very similar to a grading scale  
(A to F with +/-)

I — Superior  
II — Excellent  
III — Good  
IV — Fair  
V — Poor

The rubric contains fundamental music performance categories such as tone, intonation, rhythm and tempo, balance and blend, articulation and diction, etc. From this rubric, an overall rating is awarded by the adjudicator after determining the level of excellence in each category. The adjudicator also gives comments, in writing and/or via audio recording to further contextualize the rating. Ratings are subjective and based on an adjudicator’s previous experience and knowledge of the rubric. Teachers and students can use festival ratings and adjudicator comments as a guideline for skill improvement. At the region level, superior ratings allow qualification to state festivals. High ratings can be an indicator of strong teaching, but should not be used exclusively to determine the effectiveness of a music teacher.


Performance classes can vary in size. Large numbers in one class may provide justification for low numbers in another class; for example, a 90-member band class and a 12-member percussion class. Music educators are often comfortable with large class sizes, however, when numbers get unwieldy it is suggested that an additional teacher be hired to support the growth of the program.

For non-performance music classes traditional class size consideration may apply, but may need to be limited based upon equipment and technology availability.


The National Association for Music Education has prepared a document called “Opportunity to Learn Standards.” The standards are recommendations for curriculum, scheduling, staffing, materials, and equipment for music programs in all grade levels and all content areas based on the student body numbers in a school. It can be viewed at NAfME-Opportunity-to-Learn-Standards-2020.pdf Below is a summary of some of the logistical recommendations in the “Opportunity to Learn Standards.”

Materials and Equipment

  • High-quality pianos (acoustic and digital). Acoustic pianos (tuned at least three times a year) available in choral and instrumental rehearsal space and performance venue.
  • Sufficient and sturdy music stands.
  • Sufficient chairs designed for music classes.
  • Portable choral risers.
  • Undamaged “student line” instruments sufficient for program size (see instrument lists below).
  • Annual maintenance budget of school-owned instruments and equipment equal to at least 5% of current replacement value.
  • Depreciation and replacement plan for school-owned instruments and equipment.
  • Music rooms equipped with a high-quality sound system capable of using current recording technology.
  • A music library that contains music appropriate for various skill levels and various ensembles. Sufficient original copies are available so there is no violation of copyright laws.


  • Music rooms should have appropriate acoustical properties.
  • Music rooms are isolated by an acoustical barrier or wall with a Sound Transmission Classification (STC) of 50 or more.
  • In an auditorium or other performance spaces, lighting and ventilation systems should not exceed Noise Criterion levels of 20; no more than 30 in rehearsal rooms and practice rooms.
  • Sufficient structured storage space is available to store instruments, equipment, and instructional materials.
  • Quality performance space allows students to demonstrate learning and growth in a summative evaluation setting. In music education, this summative assessment (concert or festival performance) is a necessary part of the music learning process; much like standardized testing in a STEM class.


  • String, woodwind, and brass instruments needed for traditional ensemble instrumentation are provided where students have difficulty in purchasing instruments due to financial hardship. Typically, violins, violas, cellos, flutes, clarinets, alto saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and guitars can be rented or purchased by students from local retailers. However, it is best practice to have some of these instruments available for students to rent from the school district. Other instruments are not typically available for rent so schools should have the following as part of their basic instrument inventory: string basses, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinets, oboes, bassoons, french horns, bass trombone, baritone horns, and tubas.
  • Percussion instruments provided by the school for a basic band/orchestra program include: concert snare drum, pedal timpani, concert bass drum, crash cymbals, suspended cymbals, tambourines, triangles, xylophone, marimba, orchestra bells, and other assorted equipment.
  • Jazz band basic instruments include a drum set and electric bass guitar with amplifier.
  • Consult with the band educator about equipment needs for a marching band.
  • The music educator should keep careful inventory of school-/district- owned instruments and equipment, and they should monitor careful and responsible use.
  • If a school initially invests in high quality instruments and equipment, and commits to regular maintenance of the items, they will last for many years.


The following should be available for use in music instruction: computers and appropriate software, including notation, sequencing, and audio editing software; printers, audio and video input and output devices; and electronic keyboards.