If you have a good head for business and want to combine your musical and teaching ability, a career as a private music teacher may be for you
Private, visiting and peripatetic music teachers provide instrumental, vocal and music training for children and adults of all ages. You'll work at a variety of levels teaching different musical skills to either individuals or groups.
Teaching can take place in a school, college, university, conservatoire or a community-based setting. Alternatively, you may work in your own home or travel to various locations to teach students. You may be hired by a local authority music service or music education hub to teach in schools, or be employed by a privately or publicly-funded music centre. It's also possible to be self-employed.
Many private music teachers and musicians combine a number of these roles. You may be referred to as an instrumental and vocal music teacher.
As a private music teacher, you'll need to:
There are regional variations in rates with London lessons costing more, on average, than in the rest of the UK.
Most private music teachers are self-employed, so in addition to providing an income your fees need to cover the overhead costs of running a private teaching practice.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Your working hours typically include after school, evenings and weekends, and may be irregular due to cancellations and rearrangements. Some students may stop lessons during holidays, while others continue throughout the year.
Part-time work is common, and many private music teachers combine teaching with performing, directing, composing or other activities.
There are no set qualifications for private music teachers. In practice, however, most have a degree, and many have further teaching and/or performance and theory qualifications. The most important qualifications are musical competence and knowledge of your instrument, plus a commitment to, and understanding of, the teaching and learning process.
If you don't already have a music teaching qualification, you may be interested in the Level 4 Certificate in Music Education (CME), which has been developed for anyone teaching music to children and young people, including instrumental and vocal teachers working privately, with schools or hubs. It's awarded by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and Trinity College London exam boards. See their websites for a list of course providers.
If you've already got a degree or equivalent in music and want to work in schools, you could consider doing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE) in Scotland in order to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) (TQ in Scotland). Although this isn't an essential requirement for a private music teacher, it may enhance your application.
Opportunities to develop your teaching skills at postgraduate level include the Teaching Musician Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma provided by the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
As a private music teacher, you need:
Whatever teaching or performing qualifications you've got, there's no substitute for practical experience. You need to take every opportunity to involve yourself with young people's music making, whether it's coaching ensembles or teaching individuals.
Raise your profile by giving local performances, arranging concerts and gigs, singing or playing wherever you can. Skill as a piano accompanist can be useful and may lead to extra work for examinations, choirs and dance classes/performances.
A private teaching practice is usually built up through personal recommendation, so networking with local musicians and other music teachers is important. Take out student membership of the Musicians' Union and the ISM, and join the national Youth Music Network and LinkedIn to help develop your professional contacts.
Most private music teachers work on a self-employed basis, sometimes combining teaching with other activities such as performing or composing.
As a private music teacher, you may be 'employed' directly by your pupils or an organisation such as a school music service, which employs you to teach pupils attending schools in their area.
Typical employers include:
Look for job vacancies at:
You'll have to use your initiative to find opportunities and promote your business. For example, advertise your lessons in public places by giving out your card or publicity leaflet to your local music shop, library and schools, or use social media to boost your profile.
It's also important to register your details on databases such as:
As a private music teacher, you need to maintain your own musical skills and develop yourself professionally as a teacher. This includes keeping up your awareness of developments in music education and teaching through personal reading, attending conferences, courses and seminars.
The ISM and ISM Trust offer a range of training and continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities, including seminars and free webinars in areas such as setting tuition fees and developing a portfolio career. Training, qualifications and opportunities for professional development are also offered by the Trinity College London and ABRSM exam boards, as well as by Rockschool.
It's also important that you have an awareness of child protection and safeguarding issues. Training in this area is provided by the ISM, as well as through the Child Protection in Education (Music) online course developed by the Musicians' Union (MU) in partnership with EduCare.
Membership of the MU and the ISM is important as it provides access to careers and business advice to help your business grow, as well as specific assistance in the form of lesson planning documentation, obtaining Disclosure and Barring Service clearance, National Insurance contributions, legal issues and other teaching-related issues.
As a member of the ISM, you can also apply for Registered Private Teacher status to show potential pupils and parents that you've satisfied certain criteria set by the ISM, including a reference from a pupil or parent/guardian, a DBS Enhanced Disclosure with Barred List Check (safeguarding), a past convictions declaration and an agreement to adhere to the ISM Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy, Code of Practice and Procedures.
There are limited opportunities for hierarchical progression as a private music teacher, although coordinating and managerial roles do exist in local school music services. Arts management and leadership roles are also possibilities.
Despite limited promotion prospects within music teaching itself, there are various opportunities for professional and musical development, including:
If you choose to stay in private music teaching, there are several possibilities:
To make a full-time sustained career as a private music teacher, you'll probably need to combine several of these activities.