Many people out there have musical aspirations. Some wish for a perfect pitch or a beautiful singing voice, while others dream of playing the guitar or piano effortlessly. Yet others feel motivated to write a song themselves but don’t know how to get started writing (or even reading) music. Having musical talents and abilities just seems, well, cool, and it’s no wonder that so many people desire them. And while there is probably some element of being born with it when it comes to musicality, having an excellent teacher can go a long way. A talented, passionate music teacher can help students of all ages learn the useful building blocks that will help them realize their musical dreams. 

If you already have some expertise and personal experience in the music field and are eager to share it, you could be the one to make those dreams come true for others. That’s a pretty powerful thing! Keep scrolling to learn more about how to be a music teacher, the different types of music teaching jobs that exist, and the potential that music teachers everywhere have to make a difference.  

What Is a Music Teacher? 

There are all kinds of music teachers out there (more on that later!), but the mission of all educators in this space is fundamentally the same: to teach students about some aspect of making or appreciating music. 

Some music teachers specialize in certain things, while others will offer a broader, more general music education to their students. Here are a few subjects that music teachers might cover:

Regardless of the specific material that a music teacher focuses on, students will likely walk away from classes with a broader understanding of and appreciation for music. Students without any musical background will learn some things about reading music, getting into a rhythm, and listening to songs in a new way. Students who are already experts in an instrument or some element of music will be that much more confident in their abilities. There’s something to be gained for everyone in between as well! 

Like other art forms, music serves as a meaningful outlet for people at many stages of life. As a result, a music teacher also has the power to act as a mentor for their students, helping them find ways to use music to channel their creativity and emotions and to inspire them to make their own. Educators, including music teachers, can make a major impact in the lives of their students. 

Music Teacher Job Description

No two music teacher jobs are exactly the same. There are, however, some tasks that any aspiring music teacher should expect to complete. Here are a few things that might be included in the job description for a music teacher:

  • Share various musical pieces. In order to make and enjoy their own music, music students will need to learn to appreciate music of all kinds. A music teacher should be familiar with music from many eras, genres, and styles. They should be prepared to bring in a wide range of examples for their students to experience and to discuss those examples as a group. 
  • Introduce vocal basics and techniques. Singing is a common element of the curriculum in many music programs. Music teachers must know how to lead students through vocal exercises so they can learn the fundamentals of singing. 
  • Teach basics of pitch, tempo, reading music, and more. Students who enter a music class with zero musical background can benefit from a broad education in music fundamentals. 
  • Introduce musical instruments. A music teacher doesn’t need to know how to play every instrument out there, but it doesn’t hurt to know a little bit about a lot of them. Younger students, especially, may use music classes as a jumping-off point for future musical endeavors. If they’re exposed to various instruments, they’ll know which they might like to pursue down the road. 
  • Lead music composition exercises. More advanced music students might be ready to create their own songs and scores! It’s up to a music teacher to guide them in these endeavors. 
  • Coordinate extracurricular music groups. Music teachers who work in schools are often tasked with leading choirs, bands, orchestras, and other ensembles. They may also be asked to assist with concerts and theatrical productions. 

Don’t forget the administrative tasks that come with any teaching role! Like other educators, music teachers will have to deal with classroom management, grading, and curriculum development. 

Understand Music Theory

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How to Become a Music Teacher 

There’s more than one path to becoming a music teacher. The best route depends on many factors, including the setting you’d like to work in and your own personal music experience. Here are some things to consider on the road to teaching music: 

Determine the Necessary Educational Requirements 

Teaching degrees and music degrees are available in most undergraduate and graduate programs. If you dream of working in a school setting, you’ll most likely be required to have a degree or certification in education. Do some research to find out what’s necessary for educators in your desired working environment. 

Even if it’s not required, pursuing a formal music degree is a great way to further shape and develop your love of music, and it will help you gain confidence when you enter the classroom. In most music programs, you’ll gain exposure to a wide range of musical subjects above and beyond your personal niche, which will prove an asset to students in the future. 

Gain Your Own Musical Experience 

There are many ways to gain experience as a musician, and any and all of them can prove an asset to aspiring music teachers. If you’re interested in pursuing a job as a music teacher, seek out opportunities to participate in musical groups and ensembles whenever possible. Giving your time to arts programs where you can help participants learn about and play music is also a plus! 

And, of course, if you have the chance to shadow a music teacher in any environment, you should absolutely take it. 

How Much Does a Music Teacher Make?

What’s a typical music teacher salary? It varies depending on your scope of work and where you’re teaching. According to ZipRecruiter, the average music teacher in 2021 earned $52,470. 

Music Teaching Jobs 

You can take your passion for music and education in many different directions. Here are some places where you might be able to find work as a music teacher: 

Elementary School

If you have plenty of patience and a good sense of humor, you may be well-suited to teach music to elementary schoolers. At this level, you’ll be teaching a little bit of everything and—let’s be honest—just trying to keep the little ones under control in the presence of drums and xylophones. 

Middle and High School 

As students get older, they’ll be able to handle more complicated instruments and more focused and challenging material. Some of them will also exhibit an obvious interest in and talent for specific areas of music, too. Music teachers in middle and high school will have the chance to guide teenagers as they discover their musical interests. Plus, leading choirs, bands, and theater performances can be a lot of fun. 

College and University

People who are particularly gifted in music may want to continue their musical education beyond the high school level all the way to college or university. If you wish to work as a music professor, you should be well-versed in music history, appreciation, theory, and technique. 

Private Music Lessons 

In every community, there are people of all ages who aspire to become better singers or to learn to play a musical instrument. Talented music teachers are always needed to offer that expertise. You might find work at a local music school or consider running your own business as a tutor. 

Let’s Make Some Music! 

As you can see, there are many ways to make a career from your love of music and spread that love to others as a music teacher. Prepare to change some lives! 

Work on Your Singing!

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Written by:

Alli Hoff Kosik