Elementary Music Teacher Job Duties and Employment Options

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

Elementary music teachers create lesson plans and tests for students in grades K-6 as well as help them learn to sing and play instruments. Elementary music teachers might also direct a singing performance or conduct the school band. As educators, they must have at least a bachelor's degree in music education and, if teaching in a public school, they must be licensed by the state.

Essential Information

Elementary music teachers teach general music classes to children ranging in age from kindergarten through fifth or sixth grade. They may offer guidance in how to play instruments, such as the xylophone and drums, as well as provide instruction in reading music and singing. Elementary music teachers may direct a school band or choir, organize performances and maintain classroom instruments. A bachelor's degree in music education or a related field is generally the minimum education requirement. Individuals who want to teach in a public school will need to obtain a state teaching license, which calls for a degree and passing certification examinations.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in music education or other relevant field
Other Requirements All states require licensing for public school teachers
Projected Job Growth 6% for all elementary teachers , except special education, from 2014-2024*
Median Salary $54,890 for all elementary teachers, except special education (2015)*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Elementary Music Teacher Job Duties

Through general music classes, elementary music teachers spend time introducing children to various musical performers and styles. Students learn about creating, performing and listening to music. Elementary music teachers provide students with basic vocal instruction and teach them about various instruments, including percussion, brass, woodwinds and string instruments. They use hands-on activities to teach children pitch, rhythm and music notation. Like other teachers, elementary school music teachers evaluate performance, grade tests and prepare lesson plans. Music teachers may be required to plan and direct school-wide performances and singalongs.

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Employment Options

Elementary music teachers generally teach music to children in pre-K or kindergarten through grade five or six in public or private schools. In addition to teaching general music courses, elementary music teachers may also be asked to be choir, orchestra or band directors.

Elementary music teachers may do part-time work as private music teachers or performers. Most music teachers are proficient in one or more musical instruments, such as the guitar or piano. They may supplement their income by giving private lessons.

Education Requirements

Elementary music teachers are typically required to have bachelor's degrees in music education or a similar field. They must also have teaching certification in their state of practice. States have varying requirements for certification or licensure, but most require teachers to have earned a bachelor's degree and passed state certification exams. Prospective teachers must also be highly qualified in music. Master's degree programs are available for elementary music teachers interested in improving their skills and salary.

Common courses for aspiring elementary music teachers may include orchestration and analysis, vocal music education methods, elementary music theory and music education methods. Aspiring music teachers also take classes in classroom methods, music history and conducting.

Elementary music teachers are the educators who not only provide students with basic instrument and vocal instruction, but also direct their school bands and choirs. They are expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in music education, but may also pursue a master's degree to advance their careers. Those interested in entering this field will find a growing job market where they may earn a median salary of $54,890 a year.

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