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Music Teachers: What Do They Do?:

Music education is a field of study associated with the teaching and learning of music. It touches on all domains of learning, including the psychomotor domain (the development of skills), the cognitive domain (the acquisition of knowledge), and, in particular and significant ways,the affective domain, including music appreciation and sensitivity. The incorporation of music training from preschool to postsecondary education is common in most nations because involvement in music is considered a fundamental component of human culture and behavior. Music, like language, is an accomplishment that distinguishes us as humans.

As you might have guessed, music teachers teach music! But that teaching can take on many different forms. Some are vocal coaches, some teach instruments, some teach music theory, and some do a combination of different types of teaching. Some music teachers are tied to a school or a business and some teach music independently.

The career path you take as music teacher can vary greatly. It simply depends on the kind of teaching that interests you most.

Music Teachers in Businesses:

Some music instrument shops have in-house music teachers. This set-up can work in a few different ways:

  • Independent music teachers may "rent" space in the shop, like an independent hair dresser rents salon space, and set their own prices
  • Workers in the shop may teach music on the side in the shop and share income with the business
  • The business has dedicated music teachers on staff
Again, these music teachers may handle vocal instruction, instrument instruction or all of the above. Lessons may be private or group.
Private Music Teachers/Independent Music Teachers:

As mentioned in the section above, sometimes, independent music teachers can work in a specific location, renting out space. Other times, private music teachers travel to the homes their students or teach lessons out of their own home. In terms of the subject matter, working as a private music tutor is the same as working in a school or business - you can teach whatever aspect of music you have the most skill and feel comfortable teaching. The difference is that these music teachers are self employed. Sometimes, private music teachers teach music as a second job, and some do this work full time.

Music Teachers in Schools:

Most of us have had experience with these kinds of music teachers. As a school based music teacher, you will rove from classroom to classroom providing music instruction. The exact curriculum you cover will be dictated by the school district and the grade levels with which you are working. Usually there is a heavy emphasis on vocal instruction and music theory.

Some schools have elective music classes that go a little deeper into music - teaching instruments, working more on music theory, and so on. Music teachers may also be responsible for devising school musical productions and/or coaching the school band.

Qualifications Required to Be a Music Teacher:

The qualifications you need to be a music teacher depend on the career path you choose. Of course you will need to be proficient at the subject you're teaching, but if you are self employed for instance, there is no outside vetting process that you need to pass before you advertise your services as music instructor (though judgment will be passed soon enough if your students aren't thrilled with your know-how!).

On the other end of the spectrum, to work in a school, you'll likely need a degree, preferably music related, and depending on your location, possibly a teaching certificate as well.

Making Money as a Music Teacher:

If you work in a school setting, naturally you will have a fixed salary. Other types of music teachers are typically paid per lesson. Setting your fees is something you're going to have to do some homework on before you arrive at a number. Do some research and find out the going rate in your area - you'll need to be competitively priced to draw in students, and to build up your client list, you may want to start your prices at the lower end of the spectrum. You can revise your rates periodically as needed.

For private music teachers, payment is usually expected at the time of the lesson.

How to Become a Music Teacher:

To work in a school, you need to apply through the school system as you would any other teaching job. To work privately as a music teacher, it is all about advertising your services. Try fliers in local record stores, music instruments shops - anywhere you think potential musicians might congregate - as well as your local paper, Craiglist, social networking sites - anywhere you can get the word out.

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