NOTES DA CAPO - By Clifford Brown
November 1984

Two teaching fields - that's what West Virginia secondary teachers had to have to qualify for a first-class certificate until 1945. Since there were many small high schools at that time, and school budgets were just starting to recover from the economic depression of the 1930s, it was logical that high school teachers should be prepared to teach two subjects. It was not unusual for an academic teacher with a minor in music to teach the music classes. Many music teachers, likewise, taught classes in their minor teaching field. As high school enrollments increased and as the band movement spread, parents demanded teachers who were especially qualified to teach the various instruments and direct the band.

One of the teaching fields that was chosen by many music majors was English. By taking 6 credit hours of English in addition to the 12 basic hours required, the minor was satisfied. Since there was usually an excess of teachers who were qualified to teach English, the music teacher was left in the fortunate position of filling his or her schedule with music. Adversely, a candidate for the position who had a second field other than English might have gotten the position. With the music program gradually expanding into the junior high school, the demand for the time and energy of the music teacher eliminated the minor teaching field for most music teachers.

As a shortage of elementary teachers developed during the early 1940s, the State Board of Education approved the famous (or infamous) "1-12 single curriculum" certificate, It was based on the premise that a broad selection of college courses would prepare the teacher to teach a wide range of subjects at either the elementary or secondary level. It ran counter to an emerging trend toward specialization, giving rise to wide-spread criticism. For music (and art and physical education) a "Special Non-Academic Certificate," approved in 1938, permitted the music teacher to teach music in all twelve grades. This certificate apparently developed "after the fact," since many music teachers had been teaching music, mostly band instruments, to grade school children without having the elementary certification required at that time.

To decrease the number of unqualified teachers that had been pressed into service during the World War 11 years of 1941-1945, the 1947 legislature enacted a salary schedule that rewarded the teacher who had the required credentials. This action-motivated those teachers with temporary or provisional certificates to take additional college courses toward eventual first-class certification. By their own dedication and by upgrading their college credit hours, some of the music teachers who began under temporary or provisional certification rose to positions of leadership in music education throughout the state.

Tacet ... for now.