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Longy Director of Teacher Education Talks Teaching Philosophy and Longy’s Online MMME Program

By June 25, 2024News

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 

Longy Director of Teacher Education Erin Zaffini has made it her mission to help music educators develop innovative and forward-thinking teaching practices to provide accessible, equitable, inclusive, and relevant music education for their students. 

With the July 1 application deadline approaching for Longy’s top-ranked Master of Music in Music Education Online (MMMEO) program, we spoke with Erin about her teaching philosophy, the importance of culturally responsive teaching, and what students love about the online MMME program.  

Apply now to Longy’s Master of Music in Music Education Online Fall 2024 program at 

Erin Zaffini

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your teaching philosophy? 

My teaching philosophy for students of any age, regardless of where they are on their musical journey, is that progress is always much more important than being perfect at anything. There truly is no such thing as perfect.  

 When we center progress, we make space for everyone in our classroom. We celebrate their successes; we accommodate their needs so that they can be successful with the next step on their own personal journey. Anyone can be a musician. Anyone can be a great teacher. Everyone is worthy of whatever it is they are trying to achieve. 

At Longy, not only do we help our teachers center progress over perfection, but we also live that same mission in how we help them grow and develop as practitioners in the field. We collaborate, we facilitate learning, but most importantly, we are on this journey with them. That is something that we would never take for granted. 

Longy’s teacher education programs are centered in culturally responsive teaching. What is CRT and why do you feel it’s important?  

CRT acknowledges that students’ cultures can have a real impact on how they learn, process, and engage with information. It honors the idea that everyone has their own lived experience and lens, and that culture is a part of that lens.  

When we acknowledge or consider students’ culture, students are more engaged in learning; have ownership and agency in the classroom; feel welcomed in a community that celebrates them for who they are; build a more positive identity; and, academically speaking, perform better because their needs are being met. 

What is unique about Longy’s Master of Music in Music Education Online program? 

While other programs purport to be doing the work to improve access to quality education for students in higher education and the PreK-12 setting, Longy is really doing it. Access, equity, and inclusion are the central part of everything we do.  

We have embraced this so much that we even reduced our tuition for our graduate students. We purchase students’ textbooks, so they do not have to. The other thing that students have LOVED about the program is its relevancethat only happens when you have faculty who are teaching in the field. It was a purposeful choice to hire practicing teachers. Our students really benefit from it. 

What is one thing students should know about the online MMME program? 

This program is geared toward folks who want to learn more about how to make real changes in their teaching. It is a program for those who want to take actionable, useful steps on relevant things for their classrooms. If any part of the coursework is not applicable, it has no place in our program. We honor that and are so proud to embrace that truly. 

Who is Longy’s online MMME program for? 

Longy’s online MMME program is for anyone who wants to become a better music teacher; anyone who is looking to make more money on their salary scale; anyone who needs a master’s degree to keep their license; and anyone who is supercharged by the idea that music education can be much better than how it is been done in the past. 

It is also for any working teacher who wants to keep their job and have a life outside of school; any teacher who champions equity in music education; and any teacher who is looking to become promoted within their role, teach at the college level, or switch over to a PreK-12 music administration role. 

Can students still work when they’re enrolled in Longy’s online MMME program? 

This program was built for working teachers. Everything that is required in the program is asynchronous. There are no required class meetings. We always offer them, but students can go through the entire program without attending a single meeting and still graduate with top grades.  

On top of that, all our faculty are presently teaching in the classroom. As teachers themselves, they fully understand what it means to be juggling everything. They get it, and with that comes a lot of compassion, grace, and flexibility with assignment deadlines and other needs that our students have. In my opinion, Longy is the most “human” program out there.