Job descriptions and industry overviews

Private music teacher: job description

19 Jul 2023, 09:01

Private music teachers provide lessons within home, educational (eg schools) or virtual settings, teaching pupils of all ages to sing or play musical instruments.

A musician in a leather jacket playing a wooden acoustic guitar: private music teachers and tutors teach music lessons in various instruments

Private music teacher : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Private music teachers (sometimes known as peripatetic music teachers) provide individual and class instrumental and vocal lessons. They may work from home and in schools and community settings, and often teach from a number of venues depending on their students’ needs.

Typical duties include:

  • planning and preparing lessons based on their students’ needs, aims and abilities.
  • acquiring teaching materials and resources.
  • teaching music theory, listening skills and practical musicianship.
  • entering and preparing pupils for music exams and performances.
  • motivating pupils and encouraging progress.
  • liaising with academic staff and parents.
  • creating and maintaining a network of contacts to ensure work continuity.
  • keeping up-to-date with exam requirements, teaching techniques and technology used in lessons.
  • 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 their services.

Many people take music lessons as a hobby in their spare time, so music teachers commonly work evenings and weekends. Some teach music privately in addition to holding down a day job or mix music teaching with a performing career.

Graduate salaries

The nature of music teaching means music teachers tend to charge for their time by the hour rather than be paid an annual salary. Early-career teachers tend to charge from £16 per hour – according to the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM) – and can increase rates as they gain experience.

Typical employers of music teachers

These include:

  • Local authorities.
  • Independent schools.

Private music teachers are also often self-employed or combine work for schools/local authorities with self-employment.

Vacancies with schools, colleges and local authority venues are on sector-specific jobs boards. You’ll also find jobs advertised on local authorities and schools’ websites.

Qualifications and training required

Although there are no qualifications required across the board for private music tutors, you will need to demonstrate practical and theoretical knowledge of music performance and teaching. In addition to a music degree or considerable experience of performing, you’ll need to be able to communicate instrumental and vocal techniques to students, encourage them and present information in ways that they can understand.

Gaining a qualification that involves training in this area, such as the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators (CME), is one way to do this. The CME is offered by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and Trinity College London. Alternatively, a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) or postgraduate diploma of education (PGDE) could set you up well if you already have a degree in music.

Professional bodies for musicians such as the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musicians' Union (MU) offer networking and professional development opportunities, as well as access to resources such as business and legal advice.

Key skills for music teachers

  • The ability to motivate others.
  • Excellent communication skills – the ability to adapt your communication to suit different people is particularly important.
  • Organisational skills .
  • The ability to build trusting professional relationships with students.
  • Creative thinking – including, for example, the ability to find new ways to explain techniques for different students.

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