How To Become A Music Teacher (Responsibilities And Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you enjoy music and are passionate about it, becoming a music teacher is a great career option. Although singing or music ability is a natural skill for some, you can become a music educator and teach music theory, different instruments and lead choirs. Becoming a music teacher is a great way to stay connected to music with greater job security and a stable income. In this article, we will discuss how to become a music teacher, understand their skills and duties and discuss how much salary a music teacher makes.

How to become a music teacher

A music teacher is a professional who teaches music and its different aspects to the students. They teach different disciplines of music, such as theory, instruments, orchestra, band, basics of music, choir or a combination of all the disciplines. They usually work full-time or part-time at educational institutes and may also work independently to offer private music classes. A music teacher can work in the below settings:

  • independent studio

  • middle school

  • elementary school

  • high school

  • private music school

  • college or university

  • youth or community centres

  • music conservatory

Below are the steps you may follow to become a music teacher:

1. Get a bachelor's degree

If you plan on teaching in an educational institute, most schools require you to have at least a Bachelor of Arts in music education or another equivalent degree. Choose a college or university that combines advanced musical training and an in-depth teacher preparation program that fulfils the requirements for teaching music to all grade levels.

In most undergraduate programmes, you study different subjects such as music theory and history, performance, ensemble and conducting. You also get to learn general education topics such as classroom instruction and student evaluation, musical instruction topics, including lesson planning for music, instrument-specific instruction and teaching music appreciation.

2. Complete classroom training

Most music education programmes require students to complete a certain number of classroom observation hours and student teaching along with their own lectures, exams and musical performances. This part of the program allows you to observe music teachers working with a variety of learning levels, teaching different instruments and musical concepts and leading various student music groups.

Besides observation hours, such courses also generally teaching practicums in which you serve as a learning teacher at a local school, conduct lessons under the supervision of the lead teacher and gain practical experience. Some courses may allow you to complete your practicum with a teacher who has the same speciality as you. A practicum semester also allows you to get regular feedback about how to improve as a teacher and reflect on your experiences to develop your own style of teaching.

3. Gain experience

Aside from the observation and practicum hours, consider pursuing other opportunities that allow you to develop the skills required of music teachers. You can offer music lessons and teach young students or peers how to play an instrument or develop their singing voice. This allows you to practice your one-on-one instruction skills and improve your training abilities. You can also look for opportunities to volunteer at a school or community centre's music programming, which will also allow you to build professional networking connections.

4. Attain teaching certificate

After completing your music educator preparation program, you need to obtain your state's requirements to earn your teaching certificate. Each state may have different requirements for its educators. Requirements may include passing multiple exams such as CTET (Central Teacher Eligibility Test), SET (State Eligibility Test) that test you on your teaching skills and subject knowledge. Some states also require teachers to take regular tests to check skills and knowledge or continue their education to learn the latest practices for the classroom and music education.

5. Pursue higher studies

Earning a master's degree can help increase your job opportunities and earning potential as a music teacher. The subjects in a master's program for music educators may include the history and philosophy of music education and the psychology of music. You may also have to complete an internship, both of which allow you to further develop a specialisation. If you want to teach at the university level, you may also have to obtain a doctoral degree.

Read more: 10 Common Teacher Interview Questions And Answers

What does a music teacher do?

The daily duties of a music teacher may depend upon the grade level they teach, their work environment and the location where they work. For example, music teachers who work at a university or college focus on teaching specific disciplines as compared to a music teacher at an elementary school, who might simply introduce musical concepts to young students. Generally, a music teacher performs the below duties:

  • teach students about different musical concepts and how to play musical instruments

  • impart knowledge on how to read music, including key elements of tempo, harmony, rhythm and melody

  • keep a record of student's progress through report cards and discuss it during parent-teacher meetings

  • conduct rehearsals for musical performances

  • prepare students to perform at school events and various competitions

  • organise school trips for students to museums, musical concerts and other music-related shows

  • providing group or individual lessons

  • teach music theory to students and introduce them to varied genres of music like classical, folk, pop music and jazz

What skills does a music teacher need?

A music teacher develops their skills over time with practice, and most of them start as young students with training and education in their school or college. A good music teacher develops the below skills as they progress in their career:

1. Musical knowledge

Music teachers have excellent knowledge of the genre of music they teach. They also know how to play various types of musical instruments. They have to explain complex concepts and theoretical knowledge to students. Thus, the ability to break down information and knowledge using simpler ways and methodologies is also important.

2. Organisational skills

Music teachers keep a track of student assignments, program budgets, lesson plans and progress reports. They also organise students into distinct class groups depending on their grade, performance ability or instrument each group plays. Music teachers who give individual lessons also keep a track of invoices, payments and receipts. To carry out all these activities efficiently, music teachers require good organisational skills.

Read more: A Guide To 10 Effective Management Styles (With Examples)

3. Patience

Music teachers give lessons to students of different age groups, backgrounds and skill levels. They create different teaching strategies depending on the grade they teach. To carry out this job effectively, you guide students through different learning skills which required immense time and patience. Also, skills and perfection in music develop over time, and being patient is an important part of this process.

4. Leadership skills

When you lead a class, a group of students or a band, you need the ability to keep everyone attentive and motivated to learn. Also, you require making sure the students are understanding the music lessons and, at times, even correct their behaviour during the music session. Learning music requires time, discipline and focus and you have to encourage students to continuously practise and keep trying.

5. Communication skills

Music teachers use their interpersonal communication, public speaking and active listening skills to discuss classroom concepts, provide tailored guidance, offer support and give feedback to students. They are also responsible for consistent communication between student progress and other classroom topics with parents, colleagues, administrators and clients. Accomplishing these tasks require excellent communication skills and an ability to steer conversations and lessons.

Read more: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions And Examples

6. Decision-making skills

Music teachers create strategies or take decisions that are best for their students and their learning curve. They also decide what music to teach and make plans to allocate the resources to fund their program as per the needs of their students. Their decisions have an impact on the students, colleagues and parents as well. Thus, they require strong decision-making and planning skills.

7. Creativity

Having a creative mindset is important for music teachers to compose music and craft theme-based performance. They also develop different and innovative ways to make the teaching lessons interesting and challenging at the same time. Having creativity skills may help them as well their students to learn new skills and progress in their career. Thus, being creative and passionate about music is extremely important.

Read more: 10 Important Skills Of A Teacher And How To Develop Them

Average salary of a music teacher

On average, a music teacher earns a monthly basic salary of ₹26,416 per month. The salary may vary depending on the educational qualification, experience and location. For example, the average salary of a music teacher in Mumbai is ₹31,006 per month, the highest in the country.

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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