Music Teacher

The Job and What's Involved

There are two main types of work for music teachers. They can either be:

  • A classroom teacher in a primary or secondary school, or
  • A private or visiting teacher giving instrumental, theory or voice tuition.

Classroom music teachers:

  • Teach all aspects of music.
  • Work mainly with class-sized groups.
  • Plan lessons.
  • Set and mark work.
  • Maintain pupil discipline.
  • Organise and lead school choirs, orchestras and concerts.
  • Use specialist computer programs and recording equipment.
  • May work with pupils with special educational needs.
  • At primary level, may teach most subjects, including music, to one class.

Private and visiting teachers:

  • Offer instrumental or singing lessons to individuals or small groups.
  • Teach music theory.
  • Plan lessons and set work.
  • Prepare pupils for graded instrument or voice exams, and the practical parts of GCSE/S grade and A level/H grade music.
  • Keep accounts and publicise their business.
  • May organise groups such as orchestras and choirs, and plan concerts.
  • May work with pupils with special educational needs.

School hours vary, but are usually between 8.45am and 3.45pm. Music teachers may do extra work such as tuition, rehearsals and concerts before and after school, or at weekends. Part-time work is possible.

Private music teachers often work evenings and weekends. Visiting teachers may offer lessons before school and at lunchtimes. Part-time work is common.

Music teachers work mainly indoors, in classrooms and practice rooms. Private teachers often work in their own or pupils' homes. Some work in youth and community settings such as youth centres or care homes.

There may be lifting and carrying of musical equipment and some travelling, especially for private teachers.

State school music teachers in England and Wales may start on £20,133 to £24,168 a year. In Scotland, starting salaries may be between £19,878 and £21,888.

Private teachers agree their own rates with pupils. The Musicians' Union recommends a teaching rate of £25.40 an hour.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Music teachers work for state and independent schools, colleges and music services all over the UK. There are also opportunities with universities and specialist schools of music. Many private teachers are self-employed. Employment opportunities are good, with a current shortage of qualified music teachers.

Jobs are advertised in The Times Educational Supplement, national and local newspapers, local authority websites and music magazines.

Education and Training

Private or visiting teachers are not required to have a teaching qualification. However, they must be qualified in the instruments they teach to become members of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and be listed in their Register of Professional Private Music Teachers.

State school teachers must have a degree and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). For general information on becoming a school teacher, see School Teacher. Along with the general requirements to be accepted onto a teacher training course, music applicants usually need at least A level/H grade music (equivalent qualifications may be accepted) and often instrumental, singing or theory qualifications at a high grade.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Newly-qualified school teachers are supported by a mentor during their induction year.

Private teachers need to keep up to date with examination board syllabuses. The ISM offers part-time professional development courses, including the Music Teaching in Professional Practice distance-learning programme. A number of other colleges and organisations offer qualifications in music teaching.

A Professional Development Award in Music Tuition (Certificate) is available in Scotland.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Music teachers should:

  • Have a high level of personal musicianship.
  • Communicate well.
  • Be able to inspire and motivate pupils.
  • Be self-disciplined and organised.
  • Work well independently and as part of a team.
  • Be patient and calm.
  • Have a sense of humour, stamina and energy.
  • Have knowledge of a wide range of musical styles.

Your Long Term Prospects

Classroom teachers may be promoted to subject leader, head of department, head of year, deputy head or headteacher.

Private and visiting teachers may move into music board examining, performing, composing, directing choirs or orchestras, or accompanying at examinations and recitals.

Get Further Information

Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM),
10 Stratford Place, London W1C 1AA
Tel: 020 7629 4413

Musicians' Union, 60-62 Clapham Road,
London SW9 0JJ
Tel: 020 7840 5558

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