Press Release: Building Strong Music Programs Now Available from MENC

A Handbook for Preservice and Novice Music Teachers

Building Strong Music Programs Now Available from MENC: The National Association for Music Education and Rowman & Littlefield Education

RESTON, VA (May 8, 2009)Building Strong Music Programs, a new publication by Charlene Ryan and published by MENC: The National Association for Music Education and Rowman & Littlefield Education, provides strategies and tools for developing a vibrant music program and building community support.

Building Strong Music Programs uniquely focuses on music programs in the public school community. Covering relationships with colleagues, parents, staff, administrators, and the community at large, Charlene Ryan also provides tactics for developing courses, performances, and publicity to enhance your program. She outlines how to build a repertoire of tried-and-true strategies covering curriculum, classroom management, special needs, concerts, assessment, budget, and more that are based on years of teaching at all levels.

When asked what inspired her to write the book, Ryan explains, “The impetus for this book came directly from my first years of college teaching. I was working with students who were very bright, exceptionally talented, and who were going through a very rigorous music teacher-training program. I began to notice, over a variety of courses and semesters, that in spite of the excellent training they were receiving, my upper-year students still had a lot of uncertainties and questions about the day-to-day job of a music teacher within a school setting–they seemed to soak up any bits of information that came up with respect to the implementation of practical aspects of school music programs. My book stemmed from discussions and handouts in these classes. As I took a closer look at the university curriculum, I began to realize that their training covered so many important pedagogical and skill areas, but did not really deal with many of the practical ones. And so the handouts and discussion notes began to morph into something bigger, which eventually resulted in this book.”

Ryan explains that while program building is an essential, time-consuming part of every music teacher’s job, students are rarely prepared for it. The questions for discussion and student assignments make this an excellent choice for preservice teacher training courses.

The author covers issues important to student teachers, new teachers, teachers changing schools, and teachers looking to rejuvenate their existing programs. From student trips to music software to district ensembles to advocacy to entry-level instrumental courses, Ryan addresses it all in this comprehensive handbook.

Building Strong Music Programs comforts the emerging teacher by assuring him or her that a smooth transition into the profession is possible. This handbook covers a wide variety of practical topics, which are either omitted or get short shrift in the typical music education college curriculum. The real world previews provided will help new teachers weather storms and avoid mistakes which can cause loss of enthusiasm, embarrassment, and premature burn out. It is practical, easily accessible, organized, and a valuable aid, full of sound advice for emerging music teachers, who will enter their first jobs mentally and emotionally prepared for the steep learning curve of the first year. Even if this book is used as a text in college student teaching seminars, after graduation it will continue to be a source of comfort and guidance. This handbook is a valuable contribution to the music education literature for neophytes.”
—Sandra Nicolucci, associate professor of music, Boston University

Charlene Ryan is assistant professor of music education at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and is the former chair of music education at McGill University in Montreal. She has taught at all school levels from pre-kindergarten through secondary school, and specializes in elementary music education. Ryan founded the successful Very Little Musicians and Little Musicians early childhood program in Montreal, and she is past-president of the Quebec Music Educators Association.

Building Strong Music Programs is available from RLE in paperback for $21.95 and clothbound for $65.00. MENC members receive a discount of 25%. To order or for more information, call 800-462-6420 or visit

MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the world’s largest arts education organization, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. More than 142,000 members and supporters represent all levels of teaching from preschool to graduate school. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education. MENC is located in the National Center for Music Education in Reston, VA.