A music teacher gives lessons on how to play instruments, or gives singing or voice lessons. Some teachers work in schools from elementary to high school levels, and teach many students. Other teachers give lessons on an individual basis, and may work out of their homes or at a store.
Some popular jobs include teaching piano, violin, guitar, or voice. At schools, these teachers are responsible for directing the school bands, choirs, and orchestras. They may also teach appreciation, theory, or composition classes to advanced students.
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A music teacher is responsible for instructing students in the skills they need to become successful musicians in their own right. This includes the basics of teaching how to play an instrument, as well as fundamental musical 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 schools, choir or band are not required subjects in high school. Therefore, older students are often more serious about studying and improving than younger students, as they choose to enrol 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 teacher must evaluate and grade students' performance, which often occurs through the use of recitals and performances, and he or she must give the students feedback about how to improve their skills.
Most teachers hold college degrees in musical education, and some have Master's 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 instructor 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 for a teacher to have a positive and encouraging attitude toward his or her 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 the students to stick with musical performance as a life-long hobby.
Finally, a music teacher will benefit from having a flexible attitude toward his or her job. A school music teacher may need to spend extra time preparing for musicals or performances and selecting songs for the new school year. A private instructor can make extra money taking on more clients, but this will obviously require more of a time commitment. In both cases, the 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 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. An instructor who is patient and enthusiastic will best be able to deal with the challenge of teaching many students.
Teachers who give private lessons out of their homes or at 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 teachers looking to make extra income doing something they love.
A full-time school music teacher can expect to make about $48,000 a year on average. Starting salary for teachers is less, and the salary ceiling is higher, especially for those who also give private lessons on the side, or teachers who have Master's degrees. Like all teaching jobs, salaries vary greatly depending on years of experience, school location, and the teacher's credentials.