The criteria used to admit prospective music teachers in colleges and universities across the United States has remained relatively unchanged since their inception. These criteria disenfranchise a population of potential music teachers who hold musical backgrounds outside the Western European art tradition. This autoethnography illuminates the challenges and barriers experienced by a self-taught musician who attended two traditional music programs in a midwestern region of the United States. Using Berry’s (1980) six dimensions of acculturation as the theoretical framework to interpret these data, the author exposes challenges associated with his journey in achieving music teacher certification. As a qualitative investigation, an analysis of results suggests that prospective music teachers—particularly those who hold musicianship skills outside the Western European art tradition—will continue to face significant barriers, and sometimes rejection, in pursuit of a teacher certification in music from a traditional college or university. The author posits that colleges and universities in the United States, specifically those with traditional performance expectations in classical repertoire, should expand their understandings of musicianship, redefine what it means to be musically literate, adapt admissions criteria to affirm musicianship outside the Western European art tradition, and consider opportunities for informal or self-taught musicians to study, perform, and learn music within formal institutions.



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