Novice music teacher, Jessica Tirado, planned to pursue a Master of Music Education degree in the future. A family member--also a music educator--encouraged Tirado to act now rather than later. Taking their advice, she began researching different programs and discovered UGA’s online Master of Music Education program.
“I wasn’t planning to start right away, but when UGA accepted me into their program, I saw that as a sign to begin even with the little in-field teaching experience I had,” she explained.
The program description intrigued her and matched her interests.
“I wanted to truly see how I could improve as an educator. I have a passion for education and enjoy finding innovative and effective ways to engage meaningful music learning in my students. I wanted to expand my horizons and make a difference in my current and future students.”
Prior to beginning the MMEd program, Tirado worked as a substitute teacher and private music instructor in her community. Shortly after beginning the Master of Music Education degree online, she was hired to start a school music program. She immediately began implementing the skills and strategies she was studying in the MMEd program.
“Seeing results, even minimal, of the concepts and strategies I learned from my classmates, professors, and research articles provided a fountain of inspiration and motivation. I also was blessed in being hired to start the music program,” she says.
Tirado advises current and future graduate students not to underestimate their capability to learn and flourish in an online environment.
“I believe everyone should experience online learning at some point in their career because it does shape learning habits and skill sets in a different way that a traditional learning environment doesn’t. In the area of music education, I learned a lot of skill sets that are going to be part of my career in a meaningful way,” she says.
Tirado did not hesitate to engage with others in the online program and encourages others to do the same. She took advantage of Skype meetings with professors, email correspondence, and classroom message boards. While earning her degree, Tirado developed a close bond with three of her classmates. “It all started with replying to each other’s discussion board posts, that later led to an email chain of support as we were working on our action research projects and submitting them. We continued to email back and forth throughout the course and now we still keep in touch,” she explained. “We’re currently working on a date to meet up in person to celebrate our degree completion.”
Tirado graduated with her Master’s in Music Education in July 2017. She hopes to continue providing more action research in the area of rhythm cognition in elementary level children. Eventually, she would like to design a curriculum tailored to her local church organization.