Some Observations on College Teaching Vacancies

February 28, 1991

When a survey was undertaken of advertisements for positions in the Music Faculty Vacancy Lists published by The College Music Society for the years 1980-1987, it was discovered that 3,628 vacancies existed in 748 schools for that period. Thirty-five different categories of positions were tabulated, although many were similar in nature. Of these, eight occurred a significant number of times to warrant further study.

In order to determine what a prospective faculty member might be offered for employment, two types of research were conducted: (1) a tabulation of how degree, rank, salary and tenure were described and (2) an investigation of the additional duties expected.

Two-hundred-one different expressions described the degree requirement. A master's was the minimum degree 43 percent of the time, followed by doctorate, no mention, bachelor's degree, advanced, and terminal. Specific degrees were often qualified with such terms as preferred, expected, desired, etc.

Rank was not discussed in more than 21 percent of the categories. Entry-level grades or expressions such as negotiable and commensurate were typical. Senior ranks were rarely mentioned.

Even though some references to salary were couched in 122 different ways, words rather than numbers appeared most often. Exact dollar amounts were low, perhaps to parallel the type of ranks. Since many vacancies were announced as part-time, salaries were difficult to tabulate in any meaningful way.

Although tenure was not specified 59 percent of the time, many term appointments did contain phrases indicating conversion to tenure-track positions might be possible.

Of most interest was the investigation of the duties beyond the obvious ones required in each category for the eight positions appearing with the greatest frequency; voice, choral conducting, band conducting, music theory, piano, music education, and music history.

Orchestral conducting mentioned applied music instruction and previous experience as the first requirements. Administrative duties and program development along with recruitment were assignments which occurred frequently.

For music history, teaching applied music and college experience were the first two conditions, followed by music theory, music composition, supervising theses, dissertations, research and publishing. Many listings specified the applicant had to be a recognized scholar.

Additional duties in music education contained numerous references requiring expertise in elementary and secondary methods, whereas supervising student teachers ranked second. It was expected that the applicant would be a woodwind specialist and have an ongoing record of research and scholarly activities. Public school experience only was important, but prior employment in both pre- and post-secondary levels was significant.

To be a soloist or recitalist topped the list of expectations for a piano position. The ability to teach pedagogy, literature, and class piano came next, while teaching experience was fourth, although that requirement can be inferred from the other items. Teaching music theory, music history, or music appreciation were also considered important.

In Music Theory, it was surprising to note that applied music expertise was mentioned most often. Teaching MUSIC composition ranked second, followed by music history and music appreciation. Scholarship and research, while not as frequently as one might expect, were major items.

For band conducting, a background in marching band headed the criteria, followed by an obligation to teach music education classes and applied lessons. Experience at the secondary and college levels did not rank as high, but administrative duties and recruitment emerged as important.

Choral conducting ranked second for the number of positions available. A variety of obligations including applied voice or voice class, administrative duties, supervising student teachers, and teaching academic courses ranked significantly. Experience at the college level was deemed more important than previous employment at the public school level.

The area with the greatest number of openings was voice. To be an active performer or recitalist were almost tied with the expectation of prior teaching experience. Female singers were advertised for more often than males. Training in directing opera and opera workshops surfaced as a major consideration, followed by teaching music theory and conducting.

When the number and types of vacancies were calculated, it was not surprising to find that voice, piano, and choral conducting were in the lead. Degree requirements were heavily weighted in favor of the doctorate or significant schooling beyond the master's degree, even though entry-level ranks were offered most often. Accurate information for a proposed salary could not be ascertained because over one-third of the vacancies did not mention this subject. While tenure-track positions accounted for only 21 percent of the entries, numerous references were made for term or part-time appointments.

After studying the eight most-often advertised positions and tabulating the statements found in the category of additional duties, it seems quite clear that the ability to teach applied music is to be expected regardless of the assignment. Experience of all types was considered very important, sometimes coupled with a national or international reputation. The ability to recruit and teach academic courses were recurrent qualifications. In the applied areas, continuing as a performer was a major consideration. Almost all assignments expected a commitment to research and scholarly activities.

It seems reasonable to assume that students seeking college positions today should be proficient in many areas, often in those somewhat remote from the primary duty. It has been the experience of this writer that expectations in the job market often change faster than the academic community can respond. Since today's students who aspire to become the college faculty of tomorrow must be qualified to compete in and contribute in a significant way to their profession, it is hoped that this study contains material which can aid faculty, advisors, and administrators in determining whether changes ought to be made as they review their curriculum and degree requirements.

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