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Music Teachers

The Job

Music teachers help students learn to read music, develop their voices, breathe correctly, and hold and play their instruments properly. As their students master the techniques of their art, teachers guide them through more and more difficult pieces of music. Music teachers often organize recitals or concerts that feature their students. These recitals allow family and friends to hear how well the students are progressing and help students get performing experience.

Elementary school music teachers teach basic music concepts and simple instruments to students, gradually adding more advanced topics or instrument instruction. They teach introductory lessons in music reading, music appreciation, and vocal and instrumental music. They may organize musical programs for pageants, plays, and other school events.

Secondary school music teachers teach music history, music appreciation, music theory, and other music-related courses to students in group and/or one-on-one lessons. They also teach students how to play percussion, wind, and string instruments. They direct in-school glee clubs, concert choirs, choral groups, marching bands, or orchestras. Since music is usually an elective at the high school level, music teachers often work with students who have some musical knowledge or ability.

College and university music teachers are also frequently performers or composers. They divide their time between group and individual instruction and may teach several music subjects, such as music appreciation and music history, arrangement, composition, conducting, theory, and pedagogy (the teaching of music). They use lectures, quizzes and tests, listening exercises in a musical laboratory, and performance before a jury (a group of faculty music teachers) to educate and assess the abilities of their students.

Private music teachers, also known as studio music teachers, may teach children who are just beginning to play or sing, teens who hope to make music their career, or adults who are interested in music lessons for their own enjoyment. They teach these students in a studio, in their homes, or at their students' homes. Private music teachers who teach music to very young children are sometimes known as early childhood music educators.

In addition to teaching students, music teachers also perform administrative tasks, such as assessing and grading the performance of their students, keeping attendance records, ordering supplies, storing and maintaining musical instruments and other classroom materials, and meeting with parents to discuss the performance of their children. They also plan classroom lessons based on local or state requirements and the National Standards for Music Education.

To earn extra income, music teachers may also direct school musicals or community choirs or other musical groups, work in community theater, or perform as musicians or singers. Some music teachers also work as freelance music writers, composers and arrangers, and in other music-related professions.