Elementary / High School Music Teacher Careers

Music teachers teach basic principles of music to children or teens.

Exploring music in a school setting allows children to explore sensory possibilities, develop new skills, and understand meaningful concepts. Music teachers engage young students in an array of activities that allow them to explore different facets of music. Children's innate capacity to learn can be brought out by a knowledgeable instructor; in some cases, having someone around who can demonstrate the magic in music can be life changing for a student. The content they teach varies widely by age group, skill level, and institutional focus; teachers who work with very young students often have a different skillset than those who work with high schoolers.

Many music teachers are generalists with the ability to play multiple instruments. This broad skillset is especially useful in settings where students are themselves learning to play instruments, as it allows them to provide guidance to students learning completely different things. Some music teachers are vocal experts who may be in charge of student choral ensembles; others are conductors who lead orchestras or bands. Others are early childhood education specialists who use instrument play and musical devices to get children interested in learning.

Work in elementary or high school music education may include...

  • Leading students in musical activities
  • Introducing and fine-tuning new skills
  • Exploring musical techniques and concepts with students
  • Designing lesson plans for a particular age group
  • Helping students prepare for performances

School music teachers are almost invariably employed by schools - surprise! Public schools, private schools, charter schools, performing arts academies, and religious educational institutions are just some of the places you can expect to find a music teacher. However, no two schools are the same, and different types of schools may expect different things from a music teacher, such as small group lessons or ensemble conducting.

Becoming a school music teacher typically requires a Bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate, though some music teachers possess advanced degrees and credentials. Generally speaking, an aspiring music teacher will need to demonstrate knowledge of music history, theory, composition, performance, and technique, as well as teaching skills like lesson planning. Certification tests ensure that an instructor will be prepared to engage with both the material and the students in productive ways.

If you're invested in setting the next generation of musicians on their path to success, a career in music education might be for you.

The Music Teacher's National Association is a professional organization dedicated to supporting and connecting music teachers.

The National Association for Music Education has worked for over a century to establish music education as a profession and integrate music study into the school curriculum.

The American String Teacher's Association supports string and orchestra teachers and players throughout their education and careers.

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