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Culture, Music & Performing Arts

Music Teacher

Job Description

You always hear stories about people teaching themselves to play the guitar, the piano or…erm… the didgeridoo. But most people need a bit of help when they first start learning to play an instrument. This is where music teachers come in!

Music teachers are the passionate people who teach children and adults to sing or play instruments. Some music teachers also teach people about music theory.

We’re here specifically to talk about private music teachers, so if you’re looking for information on music teachers who work permanently in secondary schools, check out our Secondary School Teacher job description.

Music teachers teach private music lessons in schools, community centres, music shops, people’s homes and public institutions, such as hospitals and prisons.

Responsible for teaching people instrumental techniques, scales, sight reading and music theory, the majority of music teachers help pupils to prepare for music examinations, auditions and live performances. Some might even teach people about recording software, such as Pro Tools and Logic.

If you work with young people, you may also be responsible for keeping parents up to date on their children’s progress.

If you work on a freelance basis, you will also need to manage your business, carry out administrative duties, network your socks off and promote your services to the public via posters and online resources.

Salary & benefits

Private music teachers are typically paid an hourly rate. Depending on your reputation and level of experience, this might range from £25 to £50 an hour.

Working hours

Private music teachers tend to give the majority of lessons in the evenings and at weekends in order to fit around their pupils’ work and school schedules. Therefore, many work part-time.

Music teachers are usually required to travel around from school to school and from house to house on a daily basis. 

Entry

Understandably, you must be a competent and talented musician to pursue a career as a music teacher. However, there are no minimum academic requirements. Admittedly, many music teachers have an undergraduate degree or diploma in music, or a teaching qualification.

However, this is by no means essential. If you can demonstrate your musical skills and passion for music, that will be sufficient.

It’s important to remember, however, that, as a freelancer, your success and salary will depend on your reputation. Consequently, music qualifications and experience of live performance will understandably help to raise your profile.

All music teachers must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS, previously known as CRB, or Criminal Records Bureau) check before they can work with young people.

Training & progression

In order to be a successful music teacher, you will need to improve and refine your skills on a continuous basis, teaching yourself new techniques and developing new teaching methods.

To avoid getting rusty, you might choose to attend training courses and complete additional qualifications offered by organisations such as the Musician’s Union, Rockschool and Trinity Guildhall.

Becoming a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians is also a good way to enhance your professional reputation and get some tips on business development.

If you decide to work in this area, there is no career ladder to climb, as such. It’s all about building your reputation and developing your business. Alternatively, you might decide to take a different route.

For instance, you might decide to become an examiner for a music board. Perhaps you could might try to ‘make it’ as a performer or become a professional songwriter. Other options include lecturing at a further education college, or you might choose to become a full-time music teacher at a school.

If you decide to do become a full-time teacher, you will need to obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England and Wales or a Teaching Qualification (TQ) in Scotland. There are various ways you can do this. Check out our Secondary School Teacher job description for more details.