Cal State East Bay wants to help put music back in public schools

Despite the resurgence of bringing back music programs in K-12 Bay Area schools and across the state, California Music Educators Association says there’s a shortage of music teachers.

At Cal State East Bay (CSUEB) in Hayward, there’s a push to get more students to become music teachers.
Students say they have a love of music, but most do not plan on a career in it.

The university is hoping to change their minds.

In orchestra class, students are looking to strike the right note while finding their rhythm.

"I've made so many friends through music through the years I've played," said Jennifer Tibbot, a sophomore who says music is a hobby.

But John Eros, CSUEB Coordinator of Music Education, hopes to find students who want to make it a career.

"They take a class. They get in front of students. They start teaching. They start to discover an element to themselves that wasn't there before previously," Eros says. He adds that school districts in the Bay Area and all over the state are looking to hire music teachers.

Many are hoping to revive music programs that were cut previously.

Eros says the shortage of music teachers is so great, California schools may need to recruit from out of state.

James Leyba is among the few students who plan to teach music after he graduates from college this year.

He says stepping into a music class is somehow magical, "All of a sudden the light would switch on."

He says it's a different world where everyone speaks the same language.

"When I'm playing instruments, when you're performing with other people, you can't help but just feel joy," he says.

"It's exciting. It's fun. It's fun. It's around us all the time. It never leaves us," says orchestra teacher Joseph Hebert.  Hebert is also assistant principal cellist for the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. He says he loves performing and teaching.

"When we're teaching, we're asking the people who we interact with to open themselves up to the possibility of all that music can be," says Hebert. He says music should be a part of every child's education.
“To me, it's fundamental. It's not ‘should it be?’ It has to be. It has to be a part of who we are," Hebert says.

There is pending legislation in Washington D.C. to make music and arts part of core education.

Music educators say that will likely mean an even greater need for music teachers.