Over the last few years the teaching profession has been through many changes and unexpected challenges and the impact on music education has been significant. Many music programmes finding themselves pivoting from thriving performance-based programs to virtual overnight and then spending the last year or so pivoting back to in-person environments whilst trying to maintain practical music and meet the safety demands still in place. However, it warms my heart every time I see a new post from colleagues and friends around the world talking about the success of their students and their programmes. So, if you are wondering if you should invest in taking your music skills to the next level and turning it into a career then I would strongly recommend you consider how you can support music education.
- Teaching music everyday!
When people ask me what I have enjoyed the most about teaching over the last 25 years it is always the ability to create, play or talk passionately about music every day with young people and be surrounded by all my wonderful students. There is something magical about seeing your students grasping a piece of difficult music theory, completing their first composition or playing their first solo in front of the class. Seeing that shy and quiet student arrive in Year 7 and then perform in concerts, shows and taking a leading role is just beautiful to watch. Celebrating with your students when they do well in exams, get into their university of choice, passing their driving test and being there to hand a tissue on their hardest days is what makes teaching so important.
You will never come into music teaching totally prepared but you will learn so much about music, teaching and become an awesome practitioner who makes a difference. When I look back, I am now able to conduct, arrange, compose, direct shows, design lighting, teach drama, use music software and so much more that university never taught me. I got to stretch my own musical skills, the students and to ensure that people thought twice about putting limits on what the students could achieve in the classroom and in the music programme, regardless of funding, ability and location. Truthfully no university course could possibly teach you everything you need to know or prepare you for every situation you will encounter in music education, but remember there will be colleagues and friends who will be willing to help you along the way in becoming an awesome musician and teacher.
2. You get to share you love of music with others!
Ok, it’s a bit cliché, but the students really will make the job worthwhile! If you think back can you recall that special person who started your love of music? Was it your family, friends, a music teacher? Well when you become a teacher you can become that person to all the students in your class. You will get the opportunity to watch them grow from beginners to confident performers, composers, creators and amazing young people. The shows, concerts, trips and tours will be a big part of each of your students’ school memories long after leaving school and that is a positive gift you give to them all. I still have students who are in contact and are now successful adults in their own right with families of their own. I love it when they reminisce about the shows, concerts and rehearsals we did together and we always remember the good times. You being able to give the gift of music to the next generation is super rewarding and a special talent!
3. A career path with plenty of opportunities!
I’m not going to lie and say that teaching in a school setting is easy. It’s tiring, demanding and stressful and there are points within the year that the workload is heavy for music teachers. These are usually at the end of a term when everything is due and you have all your concerts at the same time! So although teaching is stressful and busy in term times – it is a good career that is generally well-paid and secure. The first years are hard as you learn the craft of teaching and build your bank of teaching resources, materials and behaviour strategies that work for you but after that you will find that you cope well with the pace of the classroom and teaching in general.
There will be plenty of opportunities for career progression for you regardless of whether you work in private or public schools, universities or work for a music school. During my teaching career I have been a teacher of music and drama, head of department, head of performing arts, been on numerous working groups and was chair of the Bermuda Middle School music team where I was asked to write the brand new music curriculum for Bermuda. I have worked in the UK, Switzerland and Bermuda and this only happened because I am a fully qualified classroom teacher and I am grateful for the teaching profession for these amazing life-changing opportunities. Teaching internationally has helped me grow as an educator, musician and as a person and I loved the experience. It gave me an opportunity to live in other countries, appreciate other cultures, meet great students and colleagues and to see some amazing places and have amazing experiences.
The other great aspect of teaching is that once you are qualified and experienced you can always leave the profession for a break and return to it at a later time. This is also the case if you need to move to a different location or country due to a family situation. There are many opportunities to progress within education, including as an administrator and to lead a school’s direction as a principal. These promotion opportunities will come with greater financial packages and generous pension and remuneration packages.
Music teaching and education might not be a career that you stay in for 40 years but it is a great way for you to share your love of music with others every single day.