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how to become a music teacher

Kids Discover Music Careers – Part 4 – Music Teacher

In part 4 of the “Kids Discover Music Careers” series, I will be talking about my experience as an elementary music teacher.  There are many types of music teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  Music teachers are some of the hardest working people I know and do so many things that may or may not go unnoticed.  Not to mention, students learn so much in music classes.  Are you curious how to become a music teacher?



1.  What is an elementary music teacher?

An elementary music teacher does exactly what it sounds like…they teach music to elementary students.   An elementary music teacher teaches grades anywhere from Pre-K-6th grades.  At my school, I taught Pre-K-5th grades.


2.  How do I become a music teacher?

You need to get a bachelor’s degree in music education.  There are different degree plans you can choose.  One is music education with an instrumental emphasis, meaning you are pursuing along with elementary music, more of the band or orchestra teaching route.  The other is music education with a vocal emphasis, meaning you are pursuing along with elementary music, more of the choir teaching route.  You will follow your degree plan which will include general education, education classes, music classes, practicums, senior recital, ensembles, and student teaching.



3.  How much do I get paid?

Honestly, this depends on not only which state you live in, but which school district also.  I taught in Tulsa, which pays significantly lower than Northwest Arkansas (where I live now.)  But, the rest of Arkansas doesn’t pay as much as this area does.  I will tell you to go into teaching music because you love it, not just for the money.  A lot of music teachers also teach private lessons or do other side gigs to earn extra income.


4.  What do kids learn in the music classroom?

Kids learn so much in an elementary music class.  In a 45 minute class period, students will sing, dance, play instruments, learn about composers, practice for an upcoming program, compose music, count rhythms, and so much more.  Not only are kids learning music, but they are learning teamwork and cooperation which are great life skills to know.  Music is also great to integrate with other subjects like math or reading


5.  How do I get a music teaching job?

After completing your student teaching at the elementary and secondary levels and receiving your degree, you have to apply for a teaching license and take the professional teaching exams.  Once you have all of these things, you can apply for a music teaching job usually at the districts websites.  Every school district or private school will have instructions on their websites for how to apply.  After applying, if you are called for an interview, bring your resume, teaching certificate, college degree, and professional teaching exam scores.  Go in with your head held high and with confidence and answer the questions asked of you honestly.




Are you interested in becoming a music teacher?  If you have a passion for music and for teaching, then this may be the right career choice for you. 


If you are a parent, student, or teacher who wants to learn more about music, connect with other musicians, or wants to post their latest videos of what they’ve been working on, I would love for you to join my Facebook group Music Education Connection. Collaborate, learn from each other, and grow new friendships. This is a place to receive encouragement, positive feedback, and to ask questions.


how to become a music teacher

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Jessica Peresta

Music teacher and music education blogger who helps parents and teachers by providing online music education lessons for kids.

14 thoughts to “Kids Discover Music Careers – Part 4 – Music Teacher”

  1. My sister went to a school that is well known for music (although she was actually not there for music). Almost all of her friends were there for music education and it was fascinating to hear about their classwork. I went for early childhood and elementary education and they had to take a lot of similar coursework, plus tons of music work!

    1. Yes! It was fascinating as I went to school for music education, my sister went for early childhood and elementary education. She noticed how we took a lot of the same classes, yet I had to do a lot for the music portion of my degree plan also. That’s why I always think it’s funny when I get asked “oh you have to have a degree to teach music?” Um…

  2. Great blog! What are your thoughts on making kids continue with music lessons when they say they want to stop? I have 6 year old twins… one took piano and one took guitar this year. They said they wanted to stop… but I think they really do enjoy it… so do I let them stop… or just sign them up for lessons again in the fall (after a summer break)?

    1. I would let them take a break from it (my opinion). I notice when you force kids it makes them hate it even more. My 7 year old was super into piano and then just stopped wanting to learn, so like you, I said I would try again in the fall. A lot of kids don’t take lessons in the summer anyways, so giving them a couple months break may be all they need.

  3. My music teachers during school were so “instrumental” in helping to form my sense of discipline and desire to perform at my best. Although the money isn’t awesome, the impact is tremendous. Thanks for sharing!

  4. As an elementary teacher myself, I can speak to the importance of music education. Besides allowing kids to develop a love of music, it really helps develop their confidence. Sometimes the success they feel in music class is all they need to start feeling successful as a reader, too!

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