Did you play the drums in the high school marching band? Do you find yourself running your fingers down any available keyboard? Did you enjoy singing in school choirs?If you are musically inclined and like working with teenagers, a career teaching music to high school students may be for you. Teachers conduct bands or orchestras, or direct a chorus … or both. They may also lead the marching band, plan the annual high school musical, give individual lessons and teach basic music theory.
Be prepared to sacrifice some personal time for after-hours marching band practices, games and parades, as well as extensive rehearsals for musicals and concerts.
What You Will Need
- Bachelor of Arts degree: a B.A. in Music Education, or a B.A. in Music with supplemental education courses. You’ll need to choose one primary instrument, or voice.
- Certification or Licensing: each state has requirements for licenses or certificates for teaching high school music.
- Student Teaching: this practical training, supervised by a teacher in a real classroom, will give you hands-on experience in teaching music.
Another important requirement is a love of music – all types of music – and the desire to share that appreciation with students. From Handel to hip hop, from Broadway to Brad Paisley, students enjoy learning and performing in a wide variety of musical genres. A good high school music teacher will inspire students to perform and give them the confidence to build on their musical talents.
If this description fits you, read on to learn how to fulfill your dream of teaching music.
Becoming a High School Music Teacher
It’s key to get a college or university degree in music education. The steps below outline the process to get accepted to the right school:
- Find the best college for you. The College Board BigFuture website allows you to search for colleges by major and location. Decide if you want to attend college where you live, and whether public or more expensive private schools work for you.
- Online learning may be your best option. Many online universities offer Music Education degrees. Because online courses are available 24/7, it’s the ultimate in flexibility. You’ll also save money because you won’t be commuting. You can start your search by filling out our sign-up form (link).
- Audition may be required. Colleges may require entrance exams, such as the SAT and ACT. For Music Education majors, an audition in your primary instrument or voice may be necessary, or the submission of a CD on which you’ve recorded several pieces.
- Talk with music department faculty. They can give you information on Music Education courses and cultural offerings, and discuss program elements like instrument practice and performance requirements.
- Itemize all costs. Costs vary widely among all schools. Consider taking core courses at a local community college, then transferring to a four-year school to save money. Attending an online college will allow you to keep working, even full-time, while taking courses.
- Study financing options. Check out the website for the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) office. Individual college financial aid information is here, along with as application materials. Contact your chosen schools directly for information on work-related aid and scholarships. Take the time to explore all avenues to avoid large student loans.
While learning, enhance your resume by giving private music lessons, working with students in summer programs or with a local drum corps. Hone your own musical abilities in college or community choruses and orchestras.
Use your musical talent to build a new rewarding career, and spread the love of music to the next generation.