Careers in Music - Part 8

Part 8 on the series of the types of careers in the music business and music industry. Here are a few more for all to consider.


One may be a general classroom music teacher in an elementary school, a high school orchestra director, or perform a combination of musical duties at a variety of grade levels. But despite the wide spectrum of specialties, all public school music teachers must be prepared educationally in the same manner, must compete in the same relative job market, and enjoy the same advantages and disadvantages of the career.

General music courses are offered at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels, as are vocal and instrumental instruction and ensembles. In general, the larger the school system, the more teachers they employ, and the more specialized each position becomes. Conversely, the smaller the school system, the fewer music teachers employed, and the more generalized the positions.

General classroom music teachers are responsible for guiding the initial formation of a student's concept of music. These educators expose students to various musical styles, instruments, and ensembles, and to concepts such as rhythm, pitch, timbre, and so on. They also help to recruit students for future ensemble membership.

Vocal music teachers work with individuals or groups of students, developing skills and techniques related to vocal performance. Instrumental music teachers work with students, either individually or in groups, teaching beginning, intermediate, and advanced technique classes, small ensembles, and band or orchestra rehearsal. These vocal and instrumental teachers work at the elementary level, the middle school level, and the high school level.
Frequently, teachers are asked to teach a combination of grade levels and musical areas. Any combination is possible, but some are more prevalent than others, such as grade 5-12 instrumental teacher, grade K-6 vocal and general music teacher, and high school band and chorus director. Because of the increasing frequency of these combinations, a well-rounded music education preparation is necessary.

Education: If a student is interested in teaching music, the sooner they start participating in music activities and programs the better. Ideally, a student would begin participation in music programs at the elementary level, high school at the latest. The student who may be considering a career teaching music should be as active in school music programs as possible. Exposure to school music programs at various stages in one's development will provide a great foundation for any student preparing to continue his or her music training in college.

The formal college music education program should provide the future teacher with the basic skills necessary to enter into and complete a successful first year of teaching. A well-rounded curriculum should incorporate all phases of the career, such as general music, vocal music, instrumental music, methods courses, ensemble performance, and so on. As much supervised practical experience should be acquired as is possible during this training experience.

For those who love children and enjoy dealing with them on a personal level, private teaching offers great rewards. To be an independent music teacher, one needs to specialize in his or her major instrument. For the piano teacher, the suggested degree would be the bachelor of music in piano or piano pedagogy. The piano pedagogy degree offers the educational background, the opportunity to observe an experienced teacher working with classes, and the practical experience of actually teaching groups of children under supervision. This training proves invaluable when one opens his or her own studio.

One of the most difficult aspects of independent teaching is building up enough students to have a secure income. If you are in a locale where you are well known, it is much easier. If you are in a new community, you must make yourself known through music teachers' organizations, music clubs, and performances for civic clubs, arts councils, public schools, professional ads in newspapers, and religious institutions.

In effect, you are a small business in which you establish your own studio policies, set your own fees, set up your own studio, which generally can be in your own home, devise your own schedule based on the number of hours you wish to teach, and determine your own vacation schedule. Sometimes teachers are limited in the number of students they have time to teach, since they can teach students only after school hours.

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