How To Become a Music Teacher
Updated 31 August 2023
Music teachers are education professionals who instruct students and individuals on how to sing, play an instrument and compose music. These professionals may teach various subjects to students from different age groups. If you love music and enjoy working with others, a career as a music teacher may be a great fit for you. In this article, we explain how to become a music teacher and include other important information about the career.
How to become a music teacher
If you're interested in becoming a music teacher, follow these steps:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
If you plan on teaching in a school setting, most schools require you to have at least a bachelor's degree in music education. Choose an arts education institute or university that combines advanced musical training and an in-depth teacher preparation programme that fulfils the requirements for teaching music to all age groups.
Throughout this type of undergraduate programme, you may study topics such as music theory and history, performance, ensemble and conducting. You may also learn general education topics—such as classroom instruction and student evaluation—as well as musical instruction topics, including lesson planning for music, instrument-specific instruction and teaching music appreciation.
2. Develop your musical skills
As you continue your education, try to develop your musical skills. This can include learning new instruments, practising different styles of singing and arranging your own music compositions. Having a variety of musical talents can help you advance your career and give you an advantage over other candidates in the job application process. To develop these skills, take elective classes that cover topics not required by your major or enrol in private lessons.
3. Choose between private and public teaching
Choosing between private and public teaching can affect your career path. While you can take steps to ensure you're eligible for both, knowing that you're interested in one or the other can help you look for career opportunities and take more specific steps toward your professional advancement. For example, if you want to offer private lessons and work on a contract basis, you may not have to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from the National Institute of Education (NIE).
Instead, if you want to offer private lessons, you could take additional courses to help you develop your marketing and business skills. This may help you advertise your services and determine your rates. If you're unsure if you want to venture into private or public teaching, it's often best to continue to earn the qualifications so you can work in a school, since you can also offer private lessons in your free time.
4. Obtain a teaching certificate
To become a teacher with the Ministry of Education (MOE), it's necessary to gain admission into the PDGE programme. If you wish to teach at private schools instead, enrol yourself in a similar postgraduate education programme. These programmes allow you to earn a teaching certification after you graduate from your bachelor's programme. Postgraduate education programmes typically cover topics of curriculum, language skills, education practices and discourse skills. If you want to be an MOE teacher, it's compulsory to serve a three-year teaching bond after completing the programme as the government funds the cost of your training at NIE.
What does a music teacher do?
The job duties of a music teacher can vary depending on the grade level they're teaching, their location and their employer. For example, music teachers at a university may focus on a more specific discipline than a music teacher at a primary school.
In general, a music teacher can be responsible for the following tasks:
teaching students how to play instruments and master musical concepts
helping students learn how to read music, including the basics of rhythm, tempo, melody and harmony
recording student progress through report cards and parent-teacher conferences
conducting rehearsals for musical performances
coordinating performances for school events and competitions
arranging field trips for students to attend musical performances, museums and other music-related events
providing individual or group lessons
teaching students music theory and introducing them to diverse genres of music, such as jazz, classical, folk and pop music
Types of music teachers
While many of the requirements are the same for most music teachers, there are a few types of jobs you can pursue with this focus:
A music tutor typically offers private lessons for a specific instrument. For example, a music tutor may teach piano lessons. Music tutors usually work on a contract basis and advertise their own services. These professionals might teach individuals of varying backgrounds, including young children, students seeking extra development and adults who have taken an interest in the art.
Vocal coaches are music teachers who focus on instructing clients on how to become better singers. Vocal coaches often work on a contract basis and may not have a teaching certification. These professionals usually offer their services to a variety of clients, including those who vary in skill level.
Vocal music teacher
Vocal music teachers often work in schools as choir or theatre instructors. These professionals can teach students of varying ages. Vocal teachers may supervise other classes as well, such as music history.
Instrumental music teacher
Instrumental music teachers work in schools and instruct students of varying grade levels. These professionals typically teach classes such as concert band, marching band and courses relating to a specific instrument, such as guitars or piano. Like vocal music teachers, instrumental music teachers usually have an education certification so they work in schools.
What skills do music teachers have?
Music teachers develop their skills through their personal musical development—often starting as young students themselves—and through the education and training they pursue in their university education. A music teacher can develop the following skills and characteristics as they pursue their career:
Music teachers are usually highly skilled in the area of music they're teaching. Most music teachers can play multiple instruments and are able to teach those skills to others. It's also important to have knowledge about music history and composition, as some music teachers instruct classes in multiple subjects, such as music composition, concert band and choir.
As a music teacher, having organisational skills can help you keep track of assignments, progress reports, programme budgets and lesson plans. You may also help organise the students into specific class groups based on their instrument, grade or performance ability. Those who offer private lessons may also keep track of payments, invoices and receipts from students' parents.
Developing different teaching strategies for students of different ages, levels and backgrounds can help you guide students through the process of learning new skills and habits, which can take time and empathy. Learning music can be challenging for many, so it's also important to exercise this skill when your students are learning new musical practices. Because you often have a limited amount of class time to teach each day, it's also helpful for you to recognise the time it may take to complete lessons.
Music teachers use their interpersonal communication, public speaking and active listening skills to discuss classroom concepts, provide tailored guidance, give feedback and offer support to students. They're also responsible for consistent communication on student progress and other classroom topics with parents, clients, colleagues and administrators.
Being creative as a music teacher often involves writing music compositions or arrangements, crafting a themed performance or developing new ways to teach challenging concepts to students. To develop these skills, accept challenges and improve your brainstorming process. You can also communicate with other professionals in your network to help you generate ideas.
Related: Creative Skills in the Workplace
Music teachers understand the impacts of their decisions on students, parents, colleagues and administrators. They make decisions that are best for the classroom and student experience. You may want to decide ensemble placement for each student, what music to teach and how to best allocate resources to fund your programme to fit the needs of your students.
What is a music teacher's work environment like?
Music teachers work in many types of educational institutions, mentoring children of various ages. Typically, music teachers specialise in education for a general age demographic, such as teaching primary school children or university students. Music teachers work in school and office settings. If they teach marching or concert bands, they may travel to events outside of school hours.
These professionals can expect to work with other teachers and may have an assistant music teacher to help them instruct students. Usually, music teachers work on weekdays during school hours and don't work on weekends or weeknights unless there's a concert or other music events.
How much do music teachers earn?
According to Indeed Salaries, music teachers earn an average salary of $3,154 per month. This salary can depend on a variety of factors, including your employer, location, education credentials and experience level. Some teachers receive bonuses for working at events outside of regular school hours, but it often depends on the school for which they work.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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