For Teachers

How to Become a Music Teacher

By Rebecca Carlson
How to Become a Music Teacher

Do you want to be a music teacher? It’s a challenging but rewarding career that makes a difference in the world by sharing the joy of making music with others. Learn about the skills you’ll need and the educational paths you should take to become a music teacher.

If you’re looking for a proven teaching method that provides a complete music education with a fun and engaging approach, plus all the tools you need to accelerate student progress, try the Hoffman Method! We have a free teacher training series that will show you how to make music learning more fun and successful for your students. Hoffman Academy’s online program is packed with resources to keep your piano students engaged with learning every day, and is a great way to supplement private or group music lessons.

What does a music teacher do?

Music teaching comes in many different forms. A music teacher might work at an elementary school, high school, or college. They might teach private lessons to one student at a time, or conduct an orchestra of 100 or more students. Some people choose to teach music as a full-time career, while others do it part-time.

There are five common types of music teaching: private lessons, group classes, elementary music classes, ensembles, and academic courses. Each one has a different set of educational requirements, but they all have one thing in common. Music teachers love music and love sharing it with others!

What skills does a music teacher need?

First, a music teacher must be proficient in the areas they are teaching. Taking private lessons or studying music in school will provide a good foundation. Many music teachers will major in music in college. If you want to teach music in the public school system in the United States, for example as an Elementary school music teacher or a high school band director, you’ll need to both study music and gain a teaching certificate for the state in which you want to teach. To teach music at the college level, plan on getting a PhD in music or music education.

Here are some skills you can acquire that will help you become a successful music teacher:

  • play an instrument
  • have an in-depth understanding of music theory
  • be able to explain concepts to others
  • know how to break complex tasks into manageable steps
  • know a variety of teaching strategies
  • work with a variety of different age groups
  • understand child development
  • have good interpersonal skills

One thing that will help you as you develop your personal approach to music teaching is to learn a bit about the field of music education itself. There have been many great teachers in the history of music, such as Shinichi Suzuki, Zoltán Kodály, Edwin Gordon and Carl Orff, just to name a few. These teachers often developed their own systems for music education. Suzuki, for example, created the Suzuki method, which teaches students to play by ear, and is designed to mimic the natural ways in which young children learn language. 

How to become a music teacher

To become a music teacher, first figure out what kind of job you want. Then, determine what qualifications are necessary to get that job. 

Private music teacher

If you’re just starting out and have no prior experience teaching music, the easiest route to go is teaching private lessons. This could be something very small, like teaching a few kids in your neighborhood out of your own home. You may also want to look for a job teaching with a company that provides private music lessons in your area. If you are a competent musician, there is a good chance you can get a job teaching private lessons, even if you’ve never worked as a music teacher before. Search online for music lessons in your area to find the businesses and organizations that employ music teachers. 

There are many music programs and associations that support music teachers. For example, MTNA hosts conferences, piano competitions, and certifies music teachers. They can be a great resource for music teachers looking for guidance.

K-12 school music teacher

If you want to teach music at an elementary school, check the teaching requirements in your area. Sometimes no formal music education is needed, but to teach at a public school you will need to earn a teaching certificate.

In middle school and high school, music teachers will usually direct a band, choir, or orchestra. They also might teach other music classes as well, such as music theory or music history, depending on the school. Studying music or music education in college will be helpful for getting this kind of music teaching job.

College or university music teacher

At colleges and universities, music teachers fulfill many roles. They can direct multiple ensembles and teach classes on a variety of music subjects. Many of them will compose and arrange music both for school productions and for professional publication. To teach music at this level requires at least a master’s degree and usually a doctorate in music. If training music teachers is what you want to do, you’ll want an advanced degree in music education. Look for a college or university that offers the kind of music degree you need to achieve your goals.

How to become a music teacher: resources from Hoffman Academy

If you are a music teacher, Hoffman Academy has tons of great resources to use in your lessons and classes. Here is a small sample of rsources that you can access for free:

One incredibly valuable resource for music teachers is Hoffman Academy’s library of video tutorials. All Hoffman Academy videos are free for anyone to watch, anytime. A music teacher can learn a lot from simply observing how Mr. Hoffman presents musical concepts, and they can also assign their students to watch lesson videos during the week to reinforce principles from their private lessons. 

Watch lesson one for a great example of how to introduce a young child to the piano.

Mr. Hoffman’s Piano Street is a fun, foundational concept that’s easy for music teachers to adopt and use to teach letter names on the keyboard. For a teacher who is introducing the grand staff to students, try this video.

Another important aspect of teaching music is playing games. Games are a great way to engage children in the private studio or classroom, and they often provide teachers with clever ways to make repetitive practice fun. For some ideas, check out Twelve Great Games for Piano Students.

No matter what kind of music teacher you want to be, we hope you’ll take advantage of the many music learning resources Hoffman Academy has to offer. We wish you all the best as you pursue a career in music teaching!

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