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How to Become a Music Teacher

Have you always been spellbound by The Sound of Music? Do you play one or more instruments? Sing in the shower, the car…and any other place you can get away with it? If so, you may be just right for a career as a music teacher.

What does a music teacher do?

Put simply, a music teacher helps others enjoy and/or perform music. Specific tasks may include:

  • Planning lessons
  • Developing, administering, and grading tests
  • Critiquing performances
  • Maintaining instruments, sheet music, etc.
  • Meeting with parents to discuss their child’s progress
  • Organizing recitals and/or performances
  • Leading rehearsals for recitals and/or performances
  • Preparing for and attending competitions with students

Where does a music teacher work?

It depends on whom you teach. A lot of music teachers work in primary and secondary schools, teaching music appreciation and history, as well as some basic skills to all students. Others teach at the college level, working with students who want to make a career of music. Still others give private lessons and teach wherever their clients want them to teach.

What does a music teacher earn?

It’s hard to give an “average” salary for a music teacher because there are so many variables – not the least of which are skill, specialization, and type of employment. In addition, many salaried music teachers supplement their income by giving private lessons.


Public schools

Private lessons



£21,804 - £106,148

£26 - £40 (hourly)

£51,000 - £89,000


$30,000 - $71,181

$30-$120 (hourly)

$43,140 - $67,360

 What skills do music teachers need?

  • Above-average musical ability
  • Enthusiasm for sharing your love of music
  • A knowledge of both music history and many different types of music
  • Ability to motivate students
  • Patience and understanding for students who are taking music lessons because it’s required rather than because they’re genuinely interested
  • Teaching skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Business skills, if self-employed

What are the qualification and entry requirements?

It depends on where you want to work and the type of job you want. In most cases, you won’t need any special training or qualifications to give private lessons. If your clients are happy, that’s all you need. More education, training, and experience and will, of course, make you more competitive. And, if you’re relying on private lessons for the majority of your income, you want to be the teacher everyone recommends.

Most schools require standardized qualifications:

Public schools

  •          In the U.S., most states require a Bachelor’s degree and a teaching certification. Many teachers go on to get their Master’s degrees.
  •          In the UK, you need to have a Qualified Teacher Status. Unlike in the U.S., where a music teacher often teaches nothing but music, music teachers in the UK usually teach the whole curriculum while specializing in music. Many teachers work toward a Level 4 Certificate in Music Education (CME), which was established by the music industry to prepare people to teach music to children.


  •          In the U.S., most colleges and universities require their professors to have at least a Master’s degree, and they usually prefer a PhD.
  •          In the UK, post-secondary music teachers need at least a Level 3 qualification in the subject they teach and a teaching qualification relevant to their level of responsibility.

 What are the job prospects for music teachers?

National Careers Service projects that 23,000 new music teachers will be needed between now and 2020.

It’s been said that, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” If music is what you love, a career as a music teacher could be just right for you.


photo credit: flickr via Susana Fernandez, 2012

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