#VPA- Music Education

Tag: #VPA- Music Education

How to become a Music Teacher (Elementary, Middle School)

Interested in becoming a music teacher for elementary or middle school students? Read on for some important information on how to get your dream teaching job! 

Job duties:

Here are some specific job duties required for becoming a music teacher. First you must have knowledge of the instrument/instruments in the ensemble. Knowing your instrument(s) inside and out will make teaching your class that much easier. Next you need the ability to manage a classroom. Classroom management is important because sometimes children can get rowdy and not retain the information you are teaching. Finally, you’ll need experience writing curricula, and in this case concert programs with appropriate repertoire. Music teachers not only have to create classroom plans, but they also have to plan exactly what music their ensembles and students are expected to play. 

Where they work:

Oftentimes, any type of music teacher is hired by a school district to teach band, orchestra, or private lessons. Sometimes if hired by a school district you are expected to travel between several schools within the district per week to teach students. You can also be hired by private schools, however, this process can be lengthy and sometimes requires degrees from very specific universities. Many areas are looking for music teachers, especially during the pandemic. Be sure to choose the right area for you by taking into consideration the cost of living + your salary of that particular area to make sure that is where you want to be.

Working conditions:

As a music teacher, you can expect to be working at least 40 hours a week. This is often the minimum for music teachers since they also have to do after-school music programs, concerts, musical rehearsals, etc. The best thing about being a teacher though is that you have a good portion of the summer off of work! Unless you seek out summer music camps to help out with. 


Often times you are working with children in a classroom setting. Your colleagues will most likely range in age, and sometimes you may have to collaborate with a music teacher of another ensemble or even have a teacher’s assistant. 

Education and Training:

The minimum degree for this profession is often a bachelor’s degree in a music-related field. After earning this degree, you are then expected to complete practicum before applying to work within a school district. State licensure is required for teaching in any state within the U.S. Requirements for these do differ by state so it is important to do your research before applying for different school districts. Here at Lawrence, if you are a Music Education major you will be guided to get your certification over the course of the 5-year degree program (4 years of school, 1 year of student teaching).

How to gain experience while in undergrad:

The best way for aspiring music teachers to gain experience while in undergrad is by applying for and attending internships. There are many summer programs that offer teacher internships such as The People’s Music School, Merit School of Music, Wisconsin Conservatory, and much more! You don’t need your teachers certification to apply for these internships, and they are a great way to gain experience in the field.

Pay and Benefits: 

Your pay depends on the school district your working in and its geographical location. Often times your pay is based on price of living for geographic area. On the lower end of the price of living, but you can get by. Substitutes are going to be under a full teaching salary, making around $12-$15. Public school teachers generally have benefits (dental, vision, health) however, private school teachers often times do not.

Job Outlook:

Right now, music teachers are needed EVERYWHERE. There is a shortage of teachers in general, however, music teachers are especially needed. Sadly, music is one of the first classes to get cut out of curricula in elementary and grade schools. Job market is thankfully expected to grow by 12% in the next few years, and many school districts will hire you right out of your student teaching experience. 

Global Considerations:

Teaching jobs that are abroad (outside of the U.S) often offer 2 year contracts. Teachers coming into the U.S are asked to apply for a VISA upon hire; which means you can go through the application process without needing a VISA, however, if you are hired by the school you are required to apply for one. As far as I know, all types of US teaching certificates can be obtained by international students and they can secure a teaching job in the U.S upon graduation. There could be extra steps depending on where certification is obtained (NYC you need fingerprint scans), so it is important to do you research on the district you are applying for.