Generations of students have benefited from the Erskine College music program, receiving individual attention from expert faculty members. In recent years, an upgrade and expansion of the music facility has transformed spaces dedicated to instruction, rehearsal, and performance in historic Memorial Hall. Now, the music department is being strengthened by the addition of a music education major.
Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Performance Dr. Keith Timms joined the faculty in August, and he is excited about the new major.
Timms, who graduated from Erskine College in 1984 and went on to earn a master’s degree in music education from Furman University and a D.M.A. in music education from Shenandoah University Conservatory, recently retired from his position as a music educator at nearby Belton-Honea Path High School. He and his wife, Amy Rankin Timms ’85 (who serves as adjunct instructor of mathematics) are past presidents of the Parent Advisory Council and the parents of Hannah Timms ’14 and junior Harrison Timms.
Also enthusiastic about the music education major is Professor of Music Dr. Brooks Kuykendall.
“It’s great to be bringing music ed back to Erskine,” Kuykendall said. “Bringing it back gives us a chance to rethink the curriculum to respond to the needs of students and teachers now. We have a great facility for it, and with Keith Timms we are able to bring in a master educator who understands Erskine and our students from his own experience.”
Students majoring in music education will choose either the choral track or the instrumental track, with students in both tracks trained in the basic techniques of choral and instrumental teaching, preparing to take the tests necessary to be licensed in the state of South Carolina.
“Once a student has those credentials, they can usually transfer them to most any state with no difficulty,” Timms explained. “Many Erskine education students go back to their home states to teach after graduation.”
Erskine’s size offers many advantages to music education students, just as it does to students in other fields.
“Erskine is small enough that students here actually have opportunities to do ‘teaching’ on campus,” Timms said. “For example, our conducting students actually work with our performing ensembles. They serve as section leaders in Choraleers, and have evening section rehearsals where they teach and rehearse parts.”
Students are also given podium time—opportunities to conduct vocal and instrumental ensembles during rehearsals and sometimes during concerts.
Music education students will take many courses on the “education side” of the campus, and will reap the benefits of a department that “has an amazing track record” and a “long-standing tradition of excellence,” Timms said.
“Erskine’s education students participate in many more field experience hours than competitive schools. Students will have a tremendous number of hours in the field prior to student teaching.”
Meanwhile, the music department made its presence felt at a meeting of the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA) February 4-5.
“We had a booth at the conference to promote Erskine music—the new degree too,” Timms said.