What's it really like?
Carol has been a self-employed music teacher for fifteen months.Prior to becoming a music teacher, she was Head of Department in Music at a large Comprehensive Girl’s school, with approximately 1400 students. Carol has always been passionate about music and, from a very early age, has had a desire to impart her musical knowledge to others. At the moment, she is responsible for teaching almost 40 students. Many of these students initially made contact with Carol after seeing advertisements placed in a local music shop but she believes that many people hear about her through word of mouth. She also applied to two local schools directly and she visits these schools during the week to give music lessons to students interested in learning an instrument.
During a typical day at work, Carol teaches students of different ages and abilities. She teaches piano, flute, singing, and theory lessons, and also coaches A Level music students. She teaches lessons in slots which last for thirty minutes. Carol really enjoys her job and appreciates how flexible it can be at times. Furthermore, she likes developing good working relationships with students and also realises that she is lucky there is not too much preparation involved in the job. This means that when she leaves a lesson, she is generally free to relax. However, Carol does not enjoy the late hours that sometimes have to be worked. This can be a particular problem if music teachers conduct more lessons at home than in schools.
Carol had some words of wisdom for individuals hoping to become music teachers. She believes that you should only think about entering the profession if you are passionate about music and enjoy working with people of all ages and abilities. Furthermore, you need to be able to organise a complex schedule and have an awareness of how to run a small business. She also believes that it is beneficial to join a professional body so that you will be legally protected. Gaining previous experience is vital in Carol’s opinion and she believes that individuals should build up a reasonable library of music and try to gain the opportunity to shadow a music teacher for a day or two, in order to see if the job is suitable.
With regards to career progression, Carol is keen to remain working as a self-employed music teacher for the foreseeable future. However, she is also currently helping to create a youth choir in the local area. Over the next few years, Carol would like to start giving lessons in the form of an official singing course to members of choirs who may be experiencing difficulties reading music.
Music teachers provide individuals with private music lessons or visit schools or colleges to give students lessons during the day.
Music teachers provide music lessons for individuals of all ages. These lessons may include aspects of vocal training, instrumental training, and general musical knowledge. Individuals of all abilities are taught by music teachers and the teachers will be expected to be comfortable teaching large groups as well as single students. Many music teachers work privately, often from their own home, but most music teachers will also travel to schools to give lessons to individuals who wish to take time out of the school day to learn a particular instrument. Music teachers will also travel to the homes of students to give lessons.
The majority of music teachers are female but there is no reason why men should be put off applying, assuming that they have the necessary qualifications and experience.
Music teachers are paid on an hourly basis, with fees differing depending upon the length and type of the lesson and the amount of previous experience gained. Typically, this fee will be between £20 and £30 but this figure could rise to £50 if the music teacher has an excellent reputation in the local area. Music teachers in London will probably receive larger salaries than those operating in other areas of the country. When deciding how much to charge, you should consider the expenses which will impact upon your finances throughout your career. For example, you will need to pay for fuel which will be used when travelling to the homes of students as well as for musical material, which will need to be updated frequently.
The typical tasks undertaken by music teachers include:
- Planning lessons
- Making sure musical material is up-to-date
- Assessing the ability of all students taught
- Helping individuals to improve their musical knowledge and ability
- Teaching students how to read music properly
- Advising students on exams and entering and preparing them for these exams
- Giving students detailed and constructive feedback
- Giving the parents and teachers of students feedback
- Working together with schools and local music authorities to further the reputation of the musical scene in the local area
- Helping students to arrange public performances
- Controlling finances and advertising services in the local area
- Constantly improving own musical knowledge and teaching skills
Theoretically no particular qualifications are required for individuals wishing to become music teachers. This said, most music teachers hold a degree in a relevant subject or a diploma from a musical awarding body. The job is very competitive and having an impressive qualification can give you the edge in your local area. In order to gain a place on a music course, you will usually need impressive GCSE grades as well as an A Level in music. Competition for places on music courses is fierce and you will need to attend at least one audition to prove your musical ability.
Music teachers will be expected to further their musical knowledge throughout their career. There are many suitable courses on offer throughout the country, which will provide a further boost to any CV. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music provides information about courses which can be attended after you have gained a position as a music teacher. These courses include the Certificate of Teaching.
If you are serious about becoming a music teacher, you may well find that gaining experience is more important than qualifications. It may be useful for you to hold a full, clean driving licence, since travelling by car to the homes of students is very common. Furthermore, a criminal record will seriously impact upon your chances of gaining employment, particularly in schools.
Music teachers will need to possess the following skills:
- In-depth musical knowledge
- Good communication skills
- Good teaching skills
- Good organisational skills
- Motivational skills
- Knowledge of how to run a business
- Good administrative skills
Music teachers will usually work in comfortable conditions, since they are usually based in their own home or a local school. However, individuals will need to remain flexible at all times in order to suit the timetable of their students. The job entails a lot of travel and can be frustrating and stressful at times, particularly if a student is failing to make progress as expected. The job can also be physically demanding, since music teachers spend most of the day on their feet playing musical instruments.
Gaining previous experience is essential if you want to become a music teacher. You should take every opportunity to show how enthusiastic you are about music and to raise awareness of your services in the local area. You could do this by helping local music authorities to organise concerts. Any experience in a teaching environment or one which demands you to work with individuals and groups of people will also look good on a CV.
Music teachers may be self-employed or they may work for:
- Primary schools
- Secondary schools
- Specialist music colleges
Many music teachers progress to help the major music boards examine pupils or they may decide to spend more time teaching in schools than in their own home. Other music teachers decide to move away from teaching in order to work as a composer or a conductor. Many individuals also decide to focus upon their own musical ability and solely work upon improving their instrumental skills. Alternatively, they may choose to specialise in just one kind of music, rather than providing general teaching. For example, they may provide teaching for individuals wishing to learn more about jazz music.