How Do I Become a Music Teacher?

Becoming a licensed music teacher usually requires music ability and a bachelor's degree in music education. If you love music, you're likely to find a career as a music teacher rewarding because you are responsible for preparing the next generation of musicians. Read on to learn more about the background and education necessary to become a music teacher. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Music Teacher?

Music teachers can be found at the elementary, middle school, secondary and postsecondary levels of education. Depending on the level of education, these specialized teachers may teach the fundamentals of music, how to play various instruments, composing, music history and any other topic related to the study and creation of music. Based on approved curriculum they create lesson plans used to instruct students on this material. They also develop assessments used to assess students' understanding of the material and skill progression. Unique to teaching music, music teachers may also be in charge of band or choir programs. The table below provides some helpful details about this career:

High School TeachersPostsecondary Music Teachers
Degree Required Bachelor's Master's or Doctorate
Education Field of Study Music educationMusic education, Music
Key Responsibilities Instruct students in music fundamentals, music theory and how to play instruments; create lesson plansHelp students further advance their music skills; advise students on their future careers
Licensure Requirements Varies by stateRequired if they are teaching future music teachers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6%11% (for all postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers)
Median Salary (2015)* $57,200$65,340 (for all postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do I Need a Musical Background?

Before a prospective music teacher can receive any formal education on how to educate others, the aspiring teacher should have a significant musical background. Most schools, including Ohio State University, www.osu.edu, and Arizona State University, www.asu.edu, require students to complete a successful audition in order to be admitted into a music education program. You might get the necessary music experience by taking private lessons or participating in a band or choir through a school, church or community group.

What Training Do I Need to Become a Music Teacher?

Although anyone with musical ability can give private lessons in the community, the first step towards becoming a licensed music teacher is to earn a bachelor's degree in music education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov. Many schools, including Ohio State University, Arizona State University and the University of Florida, www.ufl.edu, offer bachelor's degree programs in music education. Music education programs focus heavily on music theory, music education and the psychology of education. The undergraduate curriculum at many schools requires prospective music teachers to complete a student teaching assignment before graduation.

While students can become licensed music teachers after earning a bachelor's degree in music education and meeting other state licensing requirements, most university music education programs require their professors to hold master's or doctoral degrees, reports the BLS. Ohio State University, Arizona State University and the University of Florida all offer master's degrees in music education. Some of these programs, like the one offered at Arizona State University, allow students to choose a specialization like orchestra, jazz or choral music. Graduate programs in music education usually conclude with a thesis on a topic of interest to the student.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Since music is a hands-on skill and music classes can prepare students for careers in the field, music teacher are comparable to career and technical education teachers. Career and technical education teachers teach students skills that they may use in a particular, often hands on, job. Another skill-based field of education related to teaching music is teaching art. Focused more on visual arts, art teachers teach students about artistic techniques, concepts and history. Also, the skills learned in an art class may be used to pursue a career as an artist.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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