how to become a music teacher

Your Guide to Becoming a Music Teacher

If you love music, you might be wondering how to become a music teacher. If you want to learn how to turn your passion into your profession, you’ve come to the right place.

Being a music teacher is incredibly rewarding. You’ll have a job doing what you love, and you’ll get the joy of teaching young minds all about music. There are many different kinds of music teachers out there, so you’ll be able to find the right job for you.

We’ve put together this guide to how to become a music teacher to help you get started. Keep reading to learn how to start the career of your dreams.

How to Become a Music Teacher

Teaching music covers a wide range of different careers. Most of the time, you’ll either be teaching at a private or a public school. You can also become a freelance music teacher and teach students out of your own home or studio.

You’ll need to be a talented, experienced musician. Having some prior experience with teaching also helps. However, you don’t necessarily have to meet formal requirements or have teaching credentials. As a private teacher, you don’t need certifications.

However, private lessons are usually a supplement to income, rather than a full-time job. Teaching at a school is the best way to make a living teaching music. You could even teach at a college or university if you meet certain qualifications.

In order to teach at an elementary, middle, or high school, you’ll need to follow certain paths. Let’s take a closer look at how to become a music teacher successfully.

Becoming an Elementary School Music Teacher

Elementary schools often hire full-time music teachers or have visiting music teachers who go from classroom to classroom or from school to school.

At this level, you won’t be teaching advanced concepts. You’ll focus on teaching music appreciation to your students, and introduce them to the basic ideas of music. You’ll expose them to different kinds of music and different instruments so they can explore what’s available.

To get started, it’s a good idea to study music history, music theory, and types of music around the world. You’ll also want to have a solid grasp of important concepts like reading music, and how to explain them to a young audience.

Many elementary school teachers use simple instruments, like recorders and xylophones, to teach these concepts to their students. You might want to invest in a drum set for kids or other fun ways for them to learn percussion.

You might also teach your kids to sing songs, and introduce them to musicians that they’ll love. Some elementary school music teachers focus on a single instrument, but it’s a good idea to be able to introduce kids to a variety of ways to play.

To teach at an elementary school, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certification for your state. An undergraduate degree in music or education is a good start.

You’ll probably spend some semesters as a student-teacher so you can learn the ropes before starting full-time. If you choose to get a master’s degree, you can get paid more, but it’s not required.

Becoming a Middle School Music Teacher

A number of middle schools have band programs and full-time music teachers. You’ll be teaching students how to play and how to refine the techniques they already know.

Teaching at the middle school level means you’ll have students at many different levels of music knowledge. You might be teaching simple scales and chords, or going deeper into music theory to teach them about the structure and composition of songs.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree, ideally in music or education, and a teaching certification for this job, too.

At the middle school level, you’ll want to take some extra music education courses before teaching, since your students will be a bit more advanced. If you’re going to be in charge of a band program, you’ll also need to know a number of instruments, since you’ll need to both play and teach different things to have a complete band.

You’ll likely also need to have some skills in conducting, so you can conduct the band or orchestra.

Becoming a High School Music Teacher

As a high school music teacher, you’ll be teaching music to students in a music program, band, or orchestra. You’ll need to be able to play and teach more instruments at this level to meet your students’ needs.

Many high school music teachers are expected to be able to lead the chorus, and conduct band or orchestra for the school. In addition to your bachelor’s degree and teaching certification, you’ll need more specialized training to meet all these requirements. As always, a master’s degree isn’t necessary but will allow you to be paid more.

Becoming a College or University Music Teacher

Finally, let’s look at how to become a music teacher at the college or university level.

You’ll definitely need a bachelor’s degree for this position, but many teachers at the college level also have a master’s degree. You’ll also need music experience such as a background as a successful musician, director, or composer.

Your academic history and teaching credentials will also be considered before you can be hired to teach music at the college level.

If the university has a music conservatory program, you’ll need even more credentials to get the job. You might need more significant accomplishments in your music career, or even hold a PhD in music. You’ll need expertise in a specific area, like music theory, composition, or ethnomusicology.

Pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts is a good way to ensure you’ll be able to get a job teaching music at the college level.

Ready to Become a Music Teacher?

Now that you know how to become a music teacher, you can get started on the path to your rewarding career. No matter what level you teach, you’ll be able to use your skills and passion to become a great music teacher.

For more teaching tips, check out this guide for advice on teaching children with autism.