MSUToday
Published: Jan. 3, 2017

Endowment supports more diverse future for music education

Contact(s): Michael Sundermann College of Music office: (517) 353-2043 sunderm1@msu.edu

Throughout the years, John Kratus drew on his non-traditional music background to explore musical creativity and to push the boundaries of music education. In addition to teaching in preschool and K-12 settings, he directed music education programs at major universities and published in the fields of creativity and curriculum development.

Today, the MSU professor emeritus of music education is continuing to encourage new directions in his field by establishing an endowed scholarship that supports progressive-minded future music teachers.

The John Kratus Tipping Point Endowed Scholarship in Music Education supports students who aspire to lead music education toward a more diverse and inclusive future.

Traditional music education can be narrow in focus, appealing to just a small segment of the school population, and out-of-step with 21st century musical experiences and teaching, Kratus said.

“There are few places in society for young people to continue their musical interests in the same way they’ve typically been taught in school settings,” Kratus said. “For me, music is something that should continue throughout a lifetime. This scholarship can help attract and support music education students who envision teaching music in a more inclusive and forward-thinking way.”

The tipping point for music education may be approaching as new teaching venues, such as songwriting classes, popular music ensembles, ethnic ensembles and music technology classes, propel the field toward a more diverse and inclusive future, he said. Reaching that point is something Kratus wants to help speed along.

“We’re going through a period of transition as we speak,” Kratus said. “In 30 years, music education may be very different from what it is today. This scholarship will prepare educators to work within that changing dynamic and help them prepare as many students as possible to enjoy and engage in music throughout their lives.”

Kratus was a member of the music education faculty at the College of Music from 1994 to 2014. During those two decades, Kratus founded the New Directions in Music Education conference series and the annual Honors Composition Concert for the Michigan Music Education Association.

“John continually challenged us to identify and keep creativity as the core of the music education profession,” said Dean James Forger. “His generosity through this named endowed scholarship ensures we will continue to attract and retain talented students and future leaders in this premier music education program, who will go on to make an impact on the direction and value of music education in the world.”

Mitchell Robinson, associate professor and chair of the music education area, said Kratus’ gift will support the area’s overall mission and enable faculty to identify, support and nurture future music educators who display leadership and creative potential.

“John is a visionary scholar and thinker,” Robinson said. “His research and creativity has pushed the envelope and provides a model for all of us as scholars, teachers and community members. His gift will allow us to keep creativity as the focus for future teachers.”

The John Kratus Tipping Point Endowed Scholarship in Music Education is established through an estate gift from Kathleen A. Walsh and John Kratus. For information contact Rebecca Surian, senior director of development for the College of Music, at surian@msu.edu or by calling (517) 353-9872.

John Kratus, professor emeritus of music education

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