How to become a music teacher

Updated February 21, 2017

Teach kids to play music, and you have fed them for a lifetime. The fulfillment that teaching music brings can last just as long. Becoming a music teacher takes passion, a love for kids and also certain qualifications to teach in schools.

Decide if teaching music is the right choice for you. Certain skills are important to have before getting educated, such as a good knowledge and range of musical styles, ability to play an instrument or sing, self-motivation, organization and a patient and encouraging attitude.

Gain experience in music and music instruction. Go to band camp and become an instructor, get a lot of performance experience and give lessons, even if they're for no money. Student teaching is a great way to impress employers and may be required in the certification process. Be sure to include all this information on future resumes, as well as accomplishments--awards, scholarships and performance honors.

Obtain a bachelor's degree in music education or music performance as well as teaching certification. Most schools won't hire an aspiring music teacher without these credentials.

Earn a master's degree in music education from a school accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. A master's degree is required in some states within a certain amount of time after starting a teaching job. It helps not only to get a job teaching music but also to keep that job.

Choose the type of school you want to work in--public or private--or decide if teaching music in a private practice is the best choice for you. Each has pros and cons; public schools have higher salaries, but private schools give more freedom and resources for the teacher. Private practice teaching can be lucrative if you acquire enough clients and you have the right business skills, but you may have to work hours that suit your clients and travel between different teaching venues.

Pick the age of students you want to work with, whether it's preschool, elementary, high school or adults. It's also good to specialize, such as music theory, history or performance teaching. This narrows the job search and makes it more manageable.

Find a music teaching job. The best time to look is in spring and summer, when teachers are retiring or leaving, although some openings can occur during the year. Look into placement agencies to help get your name out there, because schools tend look to placement agencies for specialized teaching jobs like music. Make a list of contacts who might hear about job openings, such as former teachers, principals in schools where you student-taught, recent graduates and other students.

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