Meet Dr. Rachael Fleischaker, Proud Alum now Overseeing the Online Master of Music in Music Education Capstone Research Project at Kent State University
Dr. Rachael Fleischaker is now overseeing the capstone research project for the Online Master of Music in Music Education at Kent State University. She is also a proud alum of the program!
Tell us about yourself and your work/time at Kent State University.
I grew up in a small town in WV. After completing my BME at the College of Wooster, I began teaching elementary music. For the past 25 years, I have taught band, choir, and general music in the elementary and middle schools of Canton City Schools in Canton, OH.
I received my Master's in Curriculum and Instruction here at Kent in a program that placed special emphasis on urban teaching. Many years later, I decided to begin my doctoral studies in music education. My master's had opened my eyes to culturally responsive teaching and my dissertation gave me the opportunity to study it in-depth and research the ways it is perceived and applied to music education.
What drew you to music?
In high school, I began to play the oboe. I studied with Dr. Nels Leonard of the Wheeling Symphony. He was a wonderful coach and was the first person to encourage me to think about a career in music. In college, Nancy Ditmer was my mentor who not only supported me through my studies but as a female conductor was a wonderful role model.
What are you looking forward to most in your new role (overseeing the program capstone project)?
I am very excited to work with the wonderful faculty and staff in the MME program. I had such a positive experience throughout my doctoral work that it is nice to continue those relationships and already I am building more relationships with very supportive and enthusiastic people. I am also excited to work with the master's students and see what types of Capstone projects they create.
Why should students choose this program?
That is a good question. I would say that getting a master's degree is the right move for any teacher, but especially for music educators. In undergraduate studies, students are working on such a broad range of topics - becoming an expert on a given instrument, music theory, history, pedagogy, performing ensembles; not to mention the requirements for a teaching license - child psychology, teaching methodologies, behavioral management strategies and so on. It can be quite overwhelming. Once a person has had a few years of teaching experience, strengths and weaknesses become more clear. A master's program allows teachers to ask educated questions and really personalize their studies so they can become a “master's” teacher.
Why choose the Kent program?
Because you can get all the benefits of a master's degree with the convenience of online coursework. You can tailor your studies to your specific needs and work in a timeframe that suits your busy teaching schedule.
What was a favorite memory of your time in the MMME program?
I have to laugh at that question because when I was ready for a master's degree, Kent did not have an online program. Today’s students may not believe this, but I finished my undergraduate degree without owning a computer or a cell phone! Perhaps, that is why I am so excited (and amazed) that Kent State can offer such a high-quality program in such an accessible manner.
What podcast are you currently listening to or what book are you currently reading?
My podcast listening varies greatly. I mostly listen to NPR or other news-related podcasts in the car on the way to and from school. I was so busy reading books about music education during my doctoral work over the last year and a half, I have been working through a large stack of books by my bedside table. They were put there for “when I have the time”. Now that I do, I have really enjoyed some good fiction. The last book I read was Amor Towles, The Lincoln Highway.
What’s your favorite part about higher education?
My favorite part has to be the students. I am passionate about music education! I love to see how the next generation is reacting, interacting, and transforming the profession for future music students!
Learn more about Dr. Fleischaker.
Rachael Fleischaker teaches general music, beginning band, and elementary choir at AIM Academy in Canton, OH. She has also taught undergraduate coursework for Baldwin Wallace University, The College of Wooster, Kent State University, and The Ohio State University Mansfield Campus. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the College of Wooster and a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University.
Rachael earned her Ph.D. in Music Education from Kent State University. Her dissertation, Culturally Responsive Music Education: Conceptual and Practical Approaches of Elementary General Music Teachers, focused on how general music teachers understood and subsequently put into practice culturally responsive teaching. Rachael has published Text Sets: Multimodal Learning for Multicultural Students (Brill Sense Publishers, 2016) in collaboration with Dr. Joanne Dowdy. She has twice won the Kent State University Excellence in Performing Arts Research. Her research papers, Student Assessment in the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES): Is It Improving Instructional Practices in the Music Classroom? and Accumulating Capital in Music Education: A Content Analysis of the Music Educators Journal from 2011 to 2016 can be accessed in the Excellence in Performing Arts Research online journal. She also has several articles published in TRIAD.
Rachael enjoys presenting at local, state, and national professional development venues. She is a frequent clinician at the Ohio Music Education Association’s annual professional development conferences and has presented at the National Association for Music Education conference. Topics at these events have included culturally responsive teaching in the music classroom, social justice issues in music education, working with special needs students, the Ohio teacher evaluation system, and general music repertoire.
Rachael currently serves as the chair of the OMEA Teacher Evaluation Committee and serves on the Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Anti-Racism (DIEA) committee. She serves on the Ohio Department of Education Fine Arts Advisory Committee for the 2022 Fine Arts Revision. She also serves on the Stark County Educational Service Center Lead Music Teacher Planning committee.
Rachael's work in the Kent University Master of Music Education program stems from her belief that all students deserve the very best music education possible. Daily interaction with students of any age keeps her motivated to develop as a music teacher, professor, and role model. The doctoral pursuit was challenging, but the struggles have helped her to relate to her students and to grow as a professional.
Rachael lives in Massillon, OH with her husband Dan. They have four children and two dogs.
Enroll today in the Online Master of Music in Music Education Program at Kent State University
The Online Master of Music degree in Music Education program is designed to offer music teachers the opportunity to develop and refine their professional skills. The degree program allows for enhancement and specialization relative to music teaching and learning in contemporary school contexts.
Kent State University is synonymous with music education. Some of the leading voices in the field have earned a degree here. Our 100% online program can be completed in as few as 23 months. Our curriculum is created for the music teaching professional. Classes are 7 weeks and you can enroll in two classes per semester, including summer. This format allows you to focus on one area of study and then begin another music education course after a brief recess. We are dedicated to helping you design a program that provides you with exciting new perspectives in your teaching right from the beginning.
For more information on Kent State’s Online Master of Music in Music Education, visit https://onlinedegrees.kent.edu/degrees/master-of-music-in-music-education.