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Private music teachers provide music lessons within home, school or college settings, teaching pupils of all ages to sing or play musical instruments.

Some private music teachers work for county or private music services but many are self-employed.

What does a music teacher do? Qualifications and training | Typical employers | Key skills

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • planning and preparing lessons in relation to individual pupils' needs and examination syllabuses
  • acquiring appropriate teaching materials and resources
  • teaching music theory, aural skills and practical techniques to pupils
  • entering and preparing pupils for examinations
  • motivating pupils and encouraging progress
  • liaising with academic staff and parents
  • creating and maintaining a network of contacts to ensure work continuity
  • ensuring up-to-date knowledge and awareness of examination requirements
  • assessing pupils’ abilities, providing feedback and writing reports
  • arranging recitals and concerts for pupils' families and friends
  • keeping financial, administrative and business records
  • advertising or publicising the business

Because many people take music lessons as a hobby in their spare time, the job commonly requires working evenings and weekends. It may be possible to teach music privately in addition to holding down a day job.

Qualifications and training required

A music degree, though not essential for becoming a private music teacher, can be very helpful. Grade exam results that reflect a high level of musical proficiency may be helpful, as can a teaching qualification or teaching experience.

Private music teachers often find work through their local reputation. Good teaching and music skills are an essential part of this. It is likely to be easier to develop your client base if you also have relevant qualifications.

There are various specialist qualifications that music teachers can gain, including a DipABRSM from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), teaching diplomas from Rockschool and various qualifications from Trinity College London. Another option is the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators (CME), suitable for those working with children and young people in a range of settings.

The professional body for musicians, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), and the Musicians' Union (MU), the trade union for musicians, offer a range of networking and professional development opportunities, as well as access to resources such as business and legal advice.

Typical employers of music teachers

Private music teachers are typically self-employed. Some are employed by schools or county music services, and teach at schools. Others teach pupils from home. It may take time to build up a client base and become fully established. Some private music teachers combine teaching with performing or other work.

Vacancies with schools, colleges and higher education institutions are advertised in newspapers and publications such as the Times Educational Supplement and their websites. Work with local authority music services may be advertised on the local government jobs website, and it is also worth making speculative applications to schools, other educational institutions and local authorities. The ISM music directory lists music teachers who belong to the ISM.

Key skills for music teachers

  • Ability to motivate others
  • Determination and perseverance
  • Enthusiasm
  • Imagination
  • Commitment
  • Passionate
  • Excellent interpersonal and verbal communication skills
  • Patience

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