If you are considering a career in teaching and you also have a love of music then combining both may be the right fit for you. When choosing a career path it is always ideal if it involves something that you have a passion and aptitude for. You may be able to learn some skills through courses and college but other things need to be in you already.
Becoming a music teacher allows you to work with your passion and help others explore, learn and grow. You may end up helping a student towards a professional career as a musician or in the music industry. If this is an area that intrigues you then you need to know how you actually become a teacher.
What is a music teacher?
As any teacher or tutor, they are employed to educate their students. In this case, they will teach their pupils about different areas of music, techniques and also prepare for music exams later on. They will also sometimes organize school bands and performances.
What do music teachers do?
The responsibilities of a music teacher will differ depending on where they are hired. It is possible that a teacher may work privately with students of varying aptitude levels or they may teach different grade levels at school. University teachers will be teaching music very differently from primary school levels.
The range of tasks would likely include teaching techniques, scales, how to prepare for performances, and to play various instruments. Here are a few of the duties carried out by music teachers:
- Teaching students to read music
- Vocal lessons
- Organizing school bands and performances
- Running auditions and rehearsals at school level
- General teacher duties such as recording attendance and progress
- Teaching music theory
They will also introduce students to different instruments, musical styles, and genres, plus possibly new technology. These days it is possible to use recording software at home; so a music teacher may show their students how to use different software in the classroom.
Where can a music teacher work?
Generally, music teachers will work in the school system. This means elementary school up to University, including middle and high school. They may also work independently as a private teacher or at a private music school. Public or private schools will also employ music teachers and so can musical conservatories. It is even possible to teach music in prison if you should so wish.
Are music teachers necessary?
Many people teach themselves to play instruments and read music. Indeed, with the internet, it can be simple to follow guitar lessons or learn piano chord songs just from using online music tools. Some of these platforms are great for budding musicians. A dedicated teacher though can help iron out some bad habits and teach other techniques. They may introduce a student to styles of music they have never investigated before.
What skills do you need to become a teacher?
You will need to be musically minded. While you don’t technically need to know how to play a range of instruments to teach, it is useful to be able to. It will make your lessons more interesting if you display practical skills as well as theoretical ones.
You must be organized, able to communicate with pupils, parents, and other teaching staff, and be able to motivate and know how to keep your students attention.
You will also need to be determined, professional, and have a lot of energy. There will also be some professional qualifications needed.
What requirements are needed to become a music teacher?
Apart from the above abilities, you will also need to be reasonably strong as you will be moving heavy musical equipment around quite often. As to what formal qualifications you need, that will depend on your region and country that you are looking to work in.
Generally, you will need to hold a suitable Bachelor’s degree and be able to meet teaching certification requirements. This involves finishing an approved teacher preparation program. There will be different requirements depending on which state you reside in.
Normally, a BSc in Music Education would be the best choice as this will give you a background in the areas you, yourself, will be teaching. If you have a Bachelor’s in an area outside of music you may need to take further studies in education.
Gaining work experience
This course will normally include some real-world teaching experience too. This is vital as it allows you to see if you truly want to work as a teacher. Many students realize during their studies that their previously desired career is not the path they wish to continue with. You will get invaluable work experience and be able to ask questions and gain career advice from other teachers.
Getting your teaching license
Once you have your qualifications you can apply for a teacher’s license which can include other checks such as background and criminal searches. You will also have to show a complete understanding of music education including music history, theory, composition, and performance. You can help yourself get your state licensing by first acquiring certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards although this is not necessary. Now you have your license you are ready to apply for teaching positions and start your new career.
What future career and salary can you expect?
Although you may stay in music teaching for your entire career there are other avenues that you will be able to explore with your experience. You may decide to specialize in different areas. Here are a few considerations for your future career options:
Private music teacher
As mentioned above, you don’t need to work in a school. You could focus on one instrument and teach this privately. This could be a piano, or you might teach violin or Adele chords on the guitar to children and adults. This means you can choose what hours to work and focus on one-to-one instruction.
Vocal coach or teacher
A coach generally helps a singer prepare for a performance. They help with singing and breathing techniques. A vocal teacher will give singing instructions to classes or individuals on vocal techniques and help with developing skills and performing.
If you tire of teaching itself then you may want to move up and help other teachers in your district. This job would involve working on the school curriculum and how music is taught in the area. You would set goals and help the schools and teachers meet these targets.
As far as the salary goes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you could expect a mean annual wage of around $80,000 if you were employed in a University. The salaries for music teachers differ for the level they are teaching and the experience they have.
Is a career teaching music going to last?
Previously, music teaching in schools was seen to be in somewhat of a decline. Now, however, there is something of a resurgence in this area. A nationwide study carried out across the states showed that over 90% of people believed music lessons should be part of the regular school curriculum.
It is predicted that between 2016 and 2026 the employment market in this area will grow by up to 12% which is higher than many other roles you could be considering.
Becoming a music teacher will require some formal qualifications, certification, and then determination and energy. However, it is a great way to combine a love of music and a passion for passing on your knowledge and educating others.