Music Teacher Qualifications

Music Teacher Qualifications


So you are working towards or working as a music teacher. You might have students already lined up or already learning an instrument under your tutelage, or perhaps you are trying to figure out whether this is the path for you. But when so many jobs out there require professional qualification, training and certification, does the same apply to you music tuition? Can you get by without being recognised by a professional body? Or will a qualification help you in your profession and put you ahead of the pack?

The answer to these questions will depend on the type of music tuition you are delivering. The UK Government’s careers service does list the usual list of entry requirements for some music jobs. So QTS (qualified teacher status) is needed to teach in state schools, or a relevant postgraduate degree for teaching in a specialist music college or conservatoire. These courses will also have prerequisites, such as GCSE’s and A-Levels in relevant subjects. But, in the words of the government, “You may be able to become a private teacher without qualifications if you have exceptional musical skills.”

If you are already working in a school or for a professional body then the chances are that this is not news to you. If you are looking to go down this route, and you also have DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) clearance, then you will usually require a university degree. Currently, according to The Guardian’s University Guide 2017, Surrey, Manchester, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal College of Music, Oxford, Royal Holloway & Edinburgh offer some of the leading music degree courses in the UK. But if you are a private tutor with good skills, have attained a high grade level in your chosen instrument and are already picking up bookings then a graduate programme may be unnecessary and expensive in terms of building your business.

However, if you are a talented private teacher – with experience, expertise and a steady base of students under your care – a university degree in music or a PGCE are not your only options should you wish to continue developing your music qualifications. The best known course in the UK is run by the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). Their Certificate for Music Educators (CME) qualification (also called a Level 4 qualification) is designed for everyone from teachers in school, private teachers and any musicians who undertake community or educational work. There are no formal entry requirements beyond an assessment by course providers to see if applicants have musical competence and the skillset needed to teach.

The benefit of the Level 4 CME is that it is designed for teachers of all levels of experience and ability. It provides helpful advice and guidance to give young learners a first class musical education, by keeping lessons accessible, fun and full of learning. There are also modules on safeguarding and promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in music education. These skills are essential to good teaching practise and may already be in your skillset, but the ABRSM course is a fantastic way to lend professional credence to your work. The course is flexible around the time constraints of individuals, but typically takes a year to complete. Trinity College London are one of the main providers of the CME but there are others out there, and courses are priced from around £700.

Qualifications such as the Level 4 CME can be a great way to pick up some new knowledge or revitalise your teaching methods, and they also add a level of kudos to your teaching that may lead to more business. It also gives you a professional gateway into freelance work in schools, and could be a step towards another qualification. Like a degree in music, they may help you land certain work and they may give parents and young learners peace of mind when searching for a teacher, but it is important to remember that they are not essential. If you are already getting great reviews, happy students and wonderful results without a music qualification, you may not need one after all.

Let us know your experiences with music qualifications, and follow the links for more information about how they could help you!

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