How to Become an Elementary Music Teacher in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for elementary music teachers. Get the facts about the education and licensure requirements, job outlook and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does An Elementary Music Teacher Do?

Elementary music teachers work with students in elementary school grades. They provide musical instruction to students in kindergarten through grade five. Using the curriculum guidelines, they develop age-appropriate lesson plans and use them in their classes. Elementary music teachers will develop assignments and tests to measure student progress and may also meet with parents to discuss their child's performance in music class. Elementary music teachers are often involved in preparing students for special performances, such as Christmas concerts. They may work in public or private schools. Those who work in public schools need a bachelor's degree and their teaching license.

Education Required Bachelor's degree and supervised teacher training experience
Education Field of Study Music education, elementary education with an emphasis in music
Key Responsibilities Educate young children about music, encourage musical appreciation & interests, develop musical programs, communicate with parents
Licensure State teaching license
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%* (elementary school teachers)
Average Salary (2015) $57,730* (elementary school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Elementary Music Teacher?

Elementary school music teachers encourage students to gain an appreciation of all forms of music. As a music teacher, you might incorporate choral music, pianos, violins, trumpets and drums into your lesson plans. You'll train students to play these instruments and sing songs. You'll also expose them to different types of music from around the world.

Step 1: Develop Musical Skills

For a career in music education, College Board recommends that while in high school, you study music theory, English and computers as well as how to play an instrument. Knowing how to play multiple instruments may provide you with an advantage when applying for a music education degree program. You should also consider participating in school bands and choral groups.

Step 2: Enter a Bachelor's Degree Program

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers must earn a bachelor's degree before teaching in a classroom. You might choose to pursue a degree in music education or elementary education with an emphasis in music. While taking courses in a music education degree program, you may study music theory and education, instrumental methods, music classroom methods, child development and educational psychology.

Step 3: Complete a Student-Teaching Internship

Before you can apply for a teaching license, you're required to complete a supervised teacher training experience. During the last portion of your degree program, you'll work in a classroom and assist a teacher in developing lesson plans that meet the skill level of students. You may also teach songs and instruct the children in proper instrument techniques. You'll report your experiences to your degree advisor after completion of the internship.

Step 4: Obtain a Teaching License

All states require public school teachers to be licensed by their State Board of Education. Many private schools also want teachers to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but most states usually require passing a reading and writing test in addition to demonstrating knowledge of music education. You must also have specified hours of teaching experience and you'll usually meet this requirement during your degree program internship.

Step 5: Work in a School and Advance Your Career

Once hired as an elementary music teacher, you'll work with school administrators to develop a music program that helps your students develop musical talent and interest. Teachers are required to keep up with new developments in music education, so you may want to attend classes, workshops and seminars to gain new skills and methods. You may also choose to interact with other teachers by becoming a member of a professional organization such as the National Association for Music Education.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Preschool teachers may incorporate music as part of their curriculum, but they teach all subject areas. They work with students ages three through five to help them develop the skills needed to be ready for kindergarten. An associate's degree is the essential academic requirement for this career, and certification may be required as well. Middle school and high school music teachers perform the same tasks as elementary music teachers, but they work with older students. The educational requirements for middle and high school music teachers are the same as they are for elementary music teachers. Career and technical education teachers need a bachelor's degree, and they instruct students in trades and vocational courses.

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