A music teacher helps students understand and develop musical skills, such as reading notes and scales, playing musical instruments, and music theory.
Learning how to become a music teacher can open career opportunities for individuals who are enthusiastic about music and teaching. It’s also a good opportunity to earn a living doing what you love.
If you’re considering a music teaching career, you’ve landed at the right place.
From academic requirements to salary expectations and more, this guide will equip you with all the relevant details you need to know about pursuing a career as a music teacher.
Music Teacher Job Description
A music teacher is a qualified professional who teaches music as a subject in the school curriculum.
The teacher is tasked with instilling musical knowledge in learners of different ages and abilities. The music teacher’s work may involve teaching voice lessons, choral, instrument, or a combination of the three.
A music teacher can teach music education programs at different educational levels depending on individual qualifications. They can teach students music basics or prepare them for a music career.
Responsibilities of a Music Teacher
To succeed as a music teacher, you should create an enjoyable learning environment and motivate students to help grow their appreciation of music.
Here are the responsibilities you’ll be tasked with:
- Building a positive and supportive learning environment for your students.
- Maintaining student progress and attendance reports.
- Working with school administrators and other teachers to support the music education program.
- Encouraging students to practice and develop their skills outside of lesson time.
- Providing guidance and support to help students prepare for performances or exams.
- Staying up-to-date with developments in music education and incorporating new ideas and approaches into your teaching.
- Managing your time effectively to ensure that you can meet all your students’ needs.
- Planning and delivering engaging and effective music classes tailored to each student’s needs and goals.
- Assessing students’ progress and providing feedback and support to help them improve their skills.
- Communicating with parents or guardians about students’ progress and any concerns or issues that may arise.
How to Become a Music Teacher
We’ll now cover all the steps you must follow before you become a certified music teacher.
1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step in becoming a music teacher involves attaining a bachelor’s degree in music education.
In the bachelor’s degree program, you’ll learn coursework in musical theory, music history, and musical performances.
You also learn the art and science of teaching with topics such as:
- Classroom instruction
- Student evaluation
- Musical instruction topics
- Lesson planning for music
- Instrument-specific instruction
- Teaching music appreciation
2. Finish Classroom Training
Before completing your bachelor’s degree, you’ll also need to complete student teaching or practical training to gain hands-on experience in the classroom.
The practicum and observation hours will involve observing experienced teachers, leading lessons or activities under the supervision of a mentor teacher, and receiving feedback on your teaching.
3. Gain Music Teaching Experience
After attaining the mandatory classroom training hours, you’ll need to participate in real-life activities where you put your music-teaching skills to work.
For example, you can offer music lessons, such as playing instruments or voice lessons to peers or music students. This will go a long way in polishing your instructional and teaching skills.
You may find such opportunities by volunteering in your community programs, where you can also make meaningful connections as a music professional.
4. Obtain a Teaching Certificate
After the music teacher preparation program, you’ll need certification to enter the job market as a licensed professional.
Every state has different certification requirements for you to be licensed. For instance some states will require you to complete specific coursework based on your desired area of focus. To successfully apply for certification, learn the requirements of the state where you desire to teach.
Music Teaching Certificate Criteria
To get a music teaching certificate, you’ll have to fill out an application form with the hiring agency in your state and submit it with the required documents, such as:
- Education transcripts
- Proof of completion of a teacher preparation program
- Proof of passing the required certification exams
In some states, you may be required to pay a fee as part of the application process.
Four Components of Music Education
Music education is based on four pillars, namely:
- Music theory: Involves learning about music fundamentals such as melody, harmony, and form. Learning music theory helps students better understand how music is created and how to analyze it.
- History: Here, students learn about the history of music, including the development of different styles and genres and the cultural and social contexts in which they emerged.
- Music appreciation: Students are taught to listen critically to music and to develop an appreciation for a wide range of musical styles and traditions.
- Performance: Students learn to play an instrument, sing, or participate in a music ensemble. Performance allows students to develop their musical skills and express themselves through music.
5. Consider Getting a Master’s Degree
Once you’re a certified music educator and your career is moving smoothly, you should consider getting a master’s degree in musical education. Some states may require you to attain one after a certain number of years after beginning your teaching career.
Aside from that, pursuing a music teacher master’s degree opens more lucrative career opportunities for you in the music industry, which means better pay.
For example, you can go from teaching middle and high school to teaching in graduate programs at a higher level.
Required Skills for Music Teachers
Prospective music teachers need skills that can help them instruct students and help them appreciate music. Now, let’s explore some of these skills.
To become a music teacher, you should have a strong foundation in music. This includes how to read music, how to sing, knowledge of music genres and history, etc. You should also be able to play at least one musical instrument and have a passion for music.
You should easily come up with fun and impactful ways of helping students understand and develop music skills. Creativity may involve writing music compositions, organizing themed performances, or even new teaching methods.
Music is competitive. As a music instructor, you should be strong in leadership to help students through rehearsals and performances. You need to keep everyone’s attention during practice and ensure the right student behavior and still motivate the students to keep trying.
Music teachers should easily communicate musical concepts to their music students. Communication may involve active listening, giving feedback and guidance, and sharing progress reports with parents and school administrators.
Reasons to Become a Music Teacher
Besides being a career to help you pay your bills, becoming a music teacher can be fulfilling and a way to impact society positively.
Let’s explore what prospective teachers can expect from a music teaching career.
According to salary.com, the average music teacher in the United States earns $52,619 annually. The salary ranges with the highest earning around $80,354 and the lowest earning $40293.
Your level of education, certifications, additional skills, and years in the music teaching career will strongly determine your earnings.
A survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that between 2021 and 2031, the employment of teachers is expected to grow by 4%. This means there will be a higher demand for music educators and instructors.
As a music teacher, you can work in different environments, for example:
- Elementary school
- Middle school
- High school
- Music Conservatory.
With multiple options, career growth options for music teachers are limitless.
Tips from Successful Music Teachers
Here’re some tips from successful music teachers to help aspiring music teachers in their pursuits.
1. Plan Your Lessons Well
Planning lessons well as a music teacher can help you stay organized and ensure you have all the necessary materials and resources.
It also allows you to set specific goals for what you want your students to learn and be able to do. This can help ensure that you cover the material you need more comprehensively.
2. Learn from Other Music Teachers
To be a successful music teacher, you can seek help and guidance from more experienced music teachers. This can help you expand your knowledge and learn how to overcome challenges.
3. Have Fun Teaching Music to Your Students
Music is a fun subject where students enjoy practicing and learning different aspects of music. As a teacher, you should be able to employ fun ways of teaching while maintaining professional teaching standards.
4. Take Courses to Improve Your Knowledge
Even when your music teaching job is going well, always strive to improve yourself and your musical ability.
You can take courses in nearby institutions or online, where you learn more about music and teaching music.
5. Help Your Students Fall in Love with Music
Teaching your students to analyze and play music should help them become more passionate about the art of music.
Take the Next Step to Your Music Teaching Career
Music teachers guide students through musical practice, help them learn musical instruments and teach them how to use their own voices. They instill a lifelong love for musical sounds, harmonies, melodies, and culture in their students.
And, music teachers experience a pretty stable career in public schools, and they can even teach music lessons outside the school setting.
But, you need to get your certification as a music teacher first before enjoying this fun career that gives you an opportunity to impact your community. Take this first step and start your journey as a music teacher.