Talbert teaches students and the community alike
Matthew Talbert likes to keep busy. As assistant professor of music education in the School of Music, Talbert manages the recently launched Master of Music Education (MME) online degree and also leads a music ensemble for older, amateur musicians.
Talbert teaches a large volume of online MME students.
“I love having a class of almost fifty, it’s incredible," he says. "All these people want to be music teachers? Heck, yeah!”
Talbert says the online MME degree is designed to prioritize flexibility for working musicians. Students choose their own work times and the program can be fast-tracked to a single year or stretched to as many as three. Talbert, himself a former public-school employee, touts the responsiveness and care he and other instructors provide, designed to put students first.
“In the past, the only option was to quit, go back to school, and then find another job," says outgoing Director of the School of Music Christopher Hayes. "The online program is a great opportunity to get a master’s degree while teaching.”
Talbert's work with older, amateur musicians manifests in a program called the New Horizons Music Ensemble, which has moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have more fun on Tuesday nights than I could ever have imagined,” he says. “We laugh more than we play, probably.”
The New Horizons Music Ensemble, a chapter of the New Horizons International Music Association, teaches how to play music to older adults who have never played before. Participants rent instruments from the School of Music and in addition to the ensemble meetings, can take private lessons. Select students enrolled in the School of Music assist in teaching the ensemble participants which gives the students valuable teaching experience and the participants the mental, physical, and social benefits of making music.
“Most people are hesitant to join because they’re scared to death, but anybody can do it. Most have never touched an instrument a day in their lives, most of them can’t read music. And that’s exactly what I want," Talbert says. "This is self-regulated learning, and I have yet to meet someone who cannot be successful with it. Our members do learn, and they can bring their full life experiences to how they play.”