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What Are the Different Types of Music Teacher Qualifications?

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  • Written By: Emily Daw
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2018
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Gaining the level of skill to become a music teacher is a time-consuming process. In addition to musical proficiency, however, there are a number of other music teacher qualifications. Teaching music in public schools in the US typically requires a bachelor's degree, while teaching in colleges and universities may require a doctorate. By contrast, private music instructors have few, if any, set qualifications.

Music teacher qualifications for primary and secondary education are generally a bachelor's degree in music with a teaching certification, which will usually qualify teachers for kindergarten through 12th grade. A bachelor's in music will most often require the student to gain proficiency in all instrument groups by taking courses in strings, wind, brass, piano, voice and possibly others. This allows a music teacher to have the skills necessary to teach almost any music class offered at the primary or secondary level. Most music teachers, however, have unofficial specialties, such as early childhood, band, string orchestra or choir.

Gaining a teaching certificate also requires education courses, such as child development and classroom management. The culmination of these courses is generally a student teaching semester. These courses are often taken while a student is earning his or her bachelor's degree, but can also be taken later through an alternative certification process, which varies from state to state.

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Music teacher qualifications for those wanting to teach in universities or conservatories nearly always include a graduate degree such as a Master's in Music (M.M. or M.Mus.). This degree usually involves specialization in an area like composition, conducting or performance in a particular instrument or instrument family. A doctorate may be required at some schools and will likely give a competitive edge to an applicant even when not required.

There are no set music teacher qualifications for people working as private instructors. Often students working on a bachelor's or higher degree in music will teach lessons to less advanced students either independently or through their universities. Many private music instructors are self-employed, so what qualifies them to teach is simply their ability to recruit and keep students. Other teachers work through music stores or studios, which may have other requirements, such as past teaching or performing experience.

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