Teaching Music

How did I end up teaching?sheet music

Well I certainly didn’t spend hours as a kid practising my instrument so that when I grew up I could become a teacher ! Like all other kids I wanted to be a rockstar. I actually got into teaching by accident and resisted at first (I was asked to cover a friends lessons while he was in hospital). After a shaky start I found my feet quite quickly and started to really enjoy the experience. The friend for which I was covering was unable to return to teaching so I was asked to continue.

At this point I decided that if I was actually going to do this then I should probably get some relevant qualifications (more about this later) as, though this is not crucial as a private music tutor it does show a greater degree of professionalism and I did actually learn an awful lot about teaching that I did not know!

And so 20 years later here I still am and still loving every minute of it.


Don’t I need to be qualified to teach music?piano music

Well yes and no ! If you are quite good on guitar and just want to teach your friends how to play some Oasis songs then probably not. If on the other hand if you are looking to seriously teach “members of the public” either privately or possibly in schools through a music service then it is possibly a good idea to be qualified in order to know what you are doing. It should not be underestimated the difference that a good or bad music educator can make to a child when they first start to learn an instrument.

I am not talking here about having a degree in music. I shall assume that if you are considering teaching music then you are proficient enough on your chosen instrument to do so. I am talking about teaching qualifications. Most music educators (like me) are simply not interested in classroom teaching and are simply not in the position to take however many years out of their lives to achieve this.

So where can you start?

Possibly one of the best places to begin would be with the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). Either by sitting grade exams (to show your level of competency on your instrument) or taking the ABRSM CME (Certificate for Music Educators) which is a brilliant course designed with independent music tutors in mind.

I personally feel that as well as properly equipping you with the skills required to be a good music educator, having some kind of teaching qualification demonstrates to potential pupils (and parents) that you take seriously the fact that they are entrusting their musical education/journey to you.

Please note that I am in no way sponsored by or endorse ABRSM over any other music board. It is simply an opinion and an example.



Ok, so you have decided that, yes, teaching music is something you would like to do.

How to starteye glasses

As I mentioned earlier, I got into music education by accident covering for a friend. Once I decided that it was something that I actually wanted to pursue then I firstly had to get some pupils ! I designed a small poster and placed it in a few local shops. I also asked a few friends to place it on noticeboards at the places that they worked. It didn’t take long for me to build up a small portfolio of regular pupils.

At the time I didn’t have an appropriate teaching space at home so I would travel to my pupils home to teach. Some of my colleagues still prefer to do this. I now have a more appropriate teaching studio at home and personally prefer to teach from here. It means I can charge a little less (as I no longer have transport costs) but I can make this up by teaching more pupils in a shorter amount of time. It also means that I have all my resources to hand.

I also approached my Local Education Authority Music Services (I am based in the UK) to ask about any vacancies as a peripatetic music tutor. My particular LEA did not employ music tutors but operated a system where they would recommend tutors to schools who could then engage the services of the tutor on a self employed basis. This suited me as it allowed me to build up my hours whilst also gaining vital experience and also gaining some qualifications.

Most Music Hubs (as LEA music services are now called) work differently, some requiring full teaching certificates some do not. If this interests you then simply approach your local music hub to enquire.

It took me a few years but I gradually built up a regular portfolio of schools that I now teach in and a large portfolio of private pupils.

If you are new to teaching music or are considering teaching music here are some very good books to help. Remember its not about how good you are as a musician….its about how to transfer your knowledge/skills to your pupil to best help them become a good musician. These books certainly helped to improve my teaching skills.

The Sounding Symbol.

A really useful book which aims to advance our perception about the nature of music. This provides a good understanding of what constitutes good teaching practice.



Tuning In : practical psychology for musicians

This book is relevant for all tutors who teach individual or small groups. It helps musicians deepen their awareness and understanding of music teaching, learning and performing. In particular it spells out the processes that all good teachers (and performers) use so that these can be appreciated and utilised with conscious intent. I found this to be a really useful book.



If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them and I shall be happy to reply.