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A music teacher is someone who teaches people how to play an instrument (for example the piano, guitar or violin) or gives singing and voice lessons. Some music teachers work in schools from elementary to high school levels, and teach many students. These teachers are responsible for directing the school bands, choirs and orchestras. They may also teach appreciation, theory, or composition classes to advanced students. Other music teachers give lessons on an individual basis, and may work out of their homes or from a music store.
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A music teacher is responsible for instructing students with the skills they will need to become successful musicians in their own right. This includes the basics of teaching how to play an instrument, as well as fundamental concepts such as tempo, pitch and rhythm.
A voice teacher instructs students in proper vocal technique. A vocal music teacher helps students learn to stay on pitch while singing and gives tips on finding the best songs to fit a student's voice. A private voice teacher works with only one student at a time, whereas a voice teacher in a school is responsible for directing a whole choir.
An instrumental teacher in a school setting, such as a band or orchestra director, might be responsible for instructing students in more than one instrument, even if they are not extremely familiar with how to play every instrument in the entire band.
There are many differences between teaching at the elementary or middle school level and at the high school level. At most high schools, choir or band are not required subjects. Therefore, older students are often more serious about studying and improving than younger students, as they choose to enroll in the class. Younger students need more guidance during their lessons, and need more focus on the fundamentals as they are simply not as experienced as the older students.
Additionally, a music teacher must evaluate and grade a student's performance, which often takes place by way of recitals and performances, and must give the students feedback on how to improve their skills.
Most teachers hold college degrees in musical education, and some have masters degrees as well. A college degree is especially important for teaching in a school setting, as most schools simply will not consider applicants without degrees. Public school teachers must hold education credentials which means keeping up with continuing education requirements for teachers. They often know how to play multiple instruments, and even choir teachers are often proficient piano players.
In addition to holding a college degree, the ideal music teacher needs to be patient, as he or she will likely be working with children and teens. Creativity is important, as it is in any arts-related field. It is important to have a positive and encouraging attitude towards students, as young people can often become discouraged if they do not pick up on a concept right away. A music teacher who displays a positive, can-do attitude toward his or her students will encourage a student to stick with musical performance as a life-long hobby.
A music teacher will benefit from having a flexible attitude towards the job, as he or she may need to spend extra time preparing for musicals or performances and selecting songs for the new school year. A private teacher can make extra money taking on more clients, but this will obviously require more of a time commitment. In both cases, the music teacher needs to be flexible with his or her time, and needs to make time management a priority to best serve the students.
A music teacher can work in public or private schools or colleges, at stores, or even out of their own homes. A school teacher has a work environment similar to other teachers, with regular Monday through Friday hours, having holidays and summers off, but will need to invest extra time in rehearsals, especially before large performances.
An important difference between band or choir teachers and other music teachers, especially at the elementary school level, is that the aforementioned teachers see a great variety of students every day. An elementary school music teacher will be exposed to many, and possibly all, of the students at the school, depending on how many teachers the school employs, but a grade-level teacher will only see his or her specific class of students most days. A music teacher who is patient and enthusiastic will best be able to deal with the challenge of teaching many students.
Music teachers who give private lessons out of their homes or at music stores generally set their own hours and decide how many clients they are going to see, and give the lessons on a part-time basis. Some private teachers are also employed at schools on a full-time basis and teach privately for extra income. Some are advanced students at the college level, and still others are retired music teachers looking to make extra income doing something they love.
Music teachers provide individuals with private music lessons or visit schools or colleges to give students lessons during the day. 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.
I am now a full-time private tutor and gigging musician and teach around 30 students at the moment.
Taking part in a pilot scheme turned everything Anna Gower thought she knew about music learning and teaching upside down and inside out.
Nancy Shankman is former Director of Music for the New York City Public Schools, and currently serves as Professor of Music Education at The Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.
Liz Mummery decided she wanted to become a musician too late so turned to teaching music and has never regretted it.
The career path you take as music teacher can vary greatly. It simply depends on the kind of teaching that interests you most.