Phillip Edelman is an associate professor of music education and the current director of the School of Performing Arts at the University of Maine. Having joined UMaine in the fall of 2016 Edelman works not only with students to help ensure their progression as performers but also with future teachers who are planning to enter the field.
Starting his music education career in 2006 Edelman was a middle school music teacher in Goddard, Kansas. He has always been interested in teaching music ever since he was in 5th grade when his band teacher got him interested in the subject. He believes that music education in schools is underrated as they can create outstanding and memorable learning experiences for students involved.
“I think that the value of having a comprehensive music program at, let’s say, any given public school, is sometimes taken for granted and not appreciated. And what music does for students is often not appreciated,” Edelman said.
In 2013 he began working toward his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he taught courses surrounding education methods and music technology. On top of earning his Ph.D. in music education he has also earned degrees from Kansas State University and the University of New Hampshire.
Currently Edelman teaches courses in music education and conducting at UMaine. This includes teaching future music instructors the necessary skills they need to succeed in their level of education. He also teaches music pedagogy which refers to the study of teaching and learning new instruments in order for aspiring music teachers to apply them in an educational environment.
The most fulfilling aspect of teaching for Edelman is seeing the growth of music players as they learn new instruments or other valuable skills over the course’s duration.
“I see a ton of growth because these are people who have never played whatever it is that we’re teaching at the time. So right now I’m teaching a double reach pedagogy course. So these are, you know, trumpet and blue horn players who have never played a bassoon before, who now can pretty convincingly play the bassoon after a couple of weeks, and that’s really rewarding,” Edelman said.
Edelman is also the director of the UMaine Concert Band, which allows him to get involved with more students of vast music backgrounds. The UMaine Concert Band plays a variety of concert band literature in both on and off-campus environments and is involved with performing and raising money for charities such as Champion the Cure from Northern Light Health.
“Oh, it’s so much fun. It’s the best. We’ve got students from every major on campus; it feels like we’re about 100 students in any given year. We do concerts that raise funds for local charities and local organizations that do excellent work. And we just have a really great time,” Edelman said.
On top of his past and current teaching experience Edelman has served as a conductor for the New Horizons Music band in Roeland Park. The New Horizons International Music Association is an organization that brings music to older adults who are learning for the first time or want to relearn instruments they played from years prior. Edelman believes that music education has the ability to create a strong sense of community between each player.
“If you look across our society right now we’ve got people hating each other for all sorts of reasons. But when you put everyone sort of in the same room and working on the same task and making beautiful music together, it’s really hard to hate the person next to you because you have to sound good,” Edelman said.
Edelman is also a member of various music-based organizations such as the National Association for Music Education, the College Band Directors National Association and the American String Teachers Association.
“Those are our professional groups. So we have conferences, we talk about policy, we do research, we communicate with our members in the field. We talk about different methodological approaches to teaching and learning,” Edelman said.
Whether it be upcoming music teachers, music students, non-music students or even older adults, the importance of a music environment is essential for learning the art form and for harboring a strong sense of community.
“Learning is the advice I give to all professionals within or without music education. And the most rewarding aspect of teaching within the program is getting to see the current students we have become teachers, and then influence the next generation of music makers,” Edelman said.