Guest post by Evan Zwisler
Being a music teacher is not only a great way to make money, it will also help make you a better musician. It’s rewarding, profitable, and can be really fun. If you’re a music teacher, there are a lot of different ways to use your passion for teaching and music skills to make a living.
According to www.careersinmusic.com, music teachers make on average forty seven thousand dollars a year. Teaching can range from music theory, to voice, to instruments, to production and sound, although you’ll probably be teaching some combination of those subjects.
If you want to be a music teacher, decide what you want to teach, and what makes you feel the most passionate. Then think about what sort of teaching makes you the happiest — is it one-on-one lessons, teaching online classes, or teaching large groups of people?
Here’s a look at some of the different types of job opportunities and income streams available to music teachers:
1. Teacher at a primary school
If you like children and music, this is a great option for you. There are both part-time and full-time opportunities for primary school teachers depending on how much time you want to commit to teaching.
You’ll need at least a bachelor's degree to be a full-time teacher, ideally with a music or education major. If you haven’t majored in one of these categories, there are many online courses that can help you fill in the gaps to make you the best educator you can be.
Becoming a student teacher is also a great way to get some experience in the music education field if you’re already in school for music education. Think of it as an internship for teachers. Each state will also have a distinct licensing process that will require you to pass some sort of exam, as well as submitting yourself to a criminal background check.
Perfect for: Someone who loves children and can encourage their emotional development as well as their musical development.
2. Teacher at a middle school
As children get older, their music teachers will need to have a better concept of music theory, basic instrument skills, as well as write engaging lessons plans. You’ll often be responsible for one or two performances a year, so you’ll need to understand how to manage and direct a group of adolescents.
In addition to all the educational requirements needed to be a primary school teacher, many middle school music teachers have completed an education certification program, as well as having some sort of masters degree. Do not let these requirements scare you!
If you do not have the correct educational background, reach out to a variety of schools around where you live and see if you can teach an after school program or start working part time.
Perfect for: Someone who wants to work with kids as well as enjoys organizing large productions and performances.
3. Teacher at a high school
Music in high school is almost always an elective. This means that your students will be pretty skilled. You’ll need a strong command of musical theory, as well as solid teaching credentials.
What specific credentials you’ll need it determined state by state. It’s not unheard of for people with a four year degree to be teaching high school music, but you’ll probably need some sort of additional higher education to make sure you’re properly prepared.
Perfect for: Talented musicians and educators who want to help shape young musicians into talented players.
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4. Teacher at a college/university
While you’re still a music teacher, you’ll also be a college professor. This means you’ll most likely have to get a PhD after getting a masters degree. You’ll need to find your speciality and really know what makes you feel passionate. However, being a college professor is one of the most steady and profitable ways to make money being a music educator.
Perfect for: people who love music, and also love research.
5. Teacher at a music school
There are tons of schools out there that specialize in music education. A lot of their business is from kids coming in after school, or other people looking to take music lessons.
A lot of your lessons at a music school will be one-on-one, but it’s not unheard of to teach group classes. There’s a trade off when working with a music school, as they’ll help you get students, but they take a little money off the top.
Working at a music school is a great option for people who want to teach private music lessons and are willing to trade some of their freedom for the stability of a steady paycheck. And since most music schools are private, the educational requirements are lower than that of primary, middle, or high schools and colleges.
Perfect for: people who enjoy teaching music lessons and working with kids, but don’t want to go back to school.
6. Teacher at an online music school
More and more people are looking to online education these days. If you’re someone who enjoys working from home and likes to correspond with people mainly over email, this is a great way to earn money. It’s very similar to working at a music school, except you’ll be teaching through your computer screen.
Perfect for: Tech savvy musicians who feel confident they can explain how to play an instrument without being in the same room.
7. Private tutor
This is one of the most common ways for musicians to supplement their income. Being your own boss, you can can choose the hours and clients that make sense for you.
If you’re already pursuing another career in music, this is the perfect way to make some extra money on the side. Sites like www.takelessons.com can help get you started by matching you with students.
You can also teach these lessons however you want. They can be in person, or online. You can teach two lessons a day, five days a week, or teach them all on one day. It’s up to you!
Perfect for: busy musicians with skills to share but that have a restrictive schedule.
8. Video lessons
Many music teachers will put their lessons online on YouTube or Vimeo. While these don’t always make the most money, they will definitely increase your exposure. With a low barrier to entry (you just need to make a video) there’s little to lose by putting some lessons online.
Perfect for: music teachers who want to grow their brand.
Teaching music is one of the most rewarding and profitable things to do as a musician. So if it’s taking a few private students, or pursuing a PHD in music to become a college professor, I can’t recommend it enough. So get out there and get teaching!
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Evan Zwisler is a NYC-based musician who is most notably known for his work with The Values as a songwriter and guitarist, and is an active member of the Brooklyn music scene.
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