Elementary School Music Teacher: Job Duties and Requirements

Sep 17, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an elementary school teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you

Instructing children on how to play instruments and sing, as well as teaching them basic music theory, is the objective of an elementary school music teacher. Aspiring music teachers need a 4-year degree and might consider majoring in elementary education, music or music education.

Essential Information

Elementary school music teachers typically work with children in kindergarten through fifth grade, helping them to discover their creativity and build their vocal and instrumental skills. This position usually requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree, as well as specific teacher training and a state license.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements License and teacher training typically required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% for elementary school teachers, except special education
Mean Salary (2018)* $58,230 annually for elementary school teachers, except special education

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Elementary School Music Teacher Job Duties

Elementary school music teachers must devise unique curricula for each grade level that they teach. Some days, classes might focus on the history of music, while other days are devoted to vocal or instrumental performance. Elementary school music teachers also must fulfill many of the same duties as regular classroom teachers, such as administering tests and assignments, grading students on what they've learned and meeting with parents and other faculty members.

In addition to their teaching duties, elementary school music teachers often oversee band or choir practices. They choose music for their students to perform and oversee rehearsals, offering instruction and advice on ways students can improve. Elementary school music teachers also might arrange concerts for students to display their musical talents to family, other students and faculty members.

Education Requirements

Aspiring elementary school music teachers should pursue an undergraduate music education program that's accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or a similar organization. Music education programs generally include a mix of teaching courses, such as education law and ethics, educational psychology and multicultural education, and music classes, like piano competency, vocal pedagogy, music theory and ear training. Most programs also include a teaching practicum.

Music education programs typically last four years, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, prospective elementary school music teachers might seek a bachelor's degree in education with a concentration in music or a bachelor's degree in music with a minor in education. Music education students also might choose to continue their education in a master's or doctoral program in the field.

Licensure Requirements

Prior to being employed at a public school, an elementary school music teacher needs to be licensed. In most states, an aspiring elementary school music teacher must hold a bachelor's degree, in addition to completing an approved teacher training program and a student teaching experience, to qualify for licensure. He or she also must pass both general knowledge and music-specific exams. Some private schools do not require teachers to earn licensure.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov), predicts that job growth for elementary school teachers, excluding special education teachers, will increase slower than the average through 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $95,270 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $37,780 or less per year.

Besides educating young minds about music history and theory, elementary music teachers also organize school concerts and choirs. A bachelor's degree in music education or elementary education with a music minor is preferred by employers, though some choose to further their scholarship. Public school jobs mandate a license and certification.

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