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What are the job tasks and/or required college classes for high school music teachers?

I'm a sophomore in high school that's taking both band and choir. Those are likely some of my favorite classes, and I've also been considering becoming a teacher for years. What are the day-to-day job tasks for high school band and choir teachers, and what college courses are required to get there?

Thank you comment icon Full disclosure: I am a music fan, not a musician or educator. That said, I would recommend you get inspiration from the movie "School of Rock." Michael Metcalf

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Kyle’s Answer

Hey Brycen! Former teacher here - I taught HS and MS Band/Choir/Theater. I think the answers above have pretty well described the types of classes you might be expected to take - it's generally a lot of methods courses (how do I play these instruments well enough to teach others? How do I actually EXPLAIN the muscles needed for a young person to sing well? etc) and a lot of education/psychology courses.

What I'm not seeing here yet is any acknowledgement of all of the "extra" that goes into being a music teacher - likely these are some of the things that make you love your music classes (I know these are why I went into Music Ed!). Your classroom will be a home for many students - a place where they feel safe and welcome. You'll need to be there before school (so those kids that do practice can drop off instruments!) and you'll need to stay after - for extra curricular rehearsals, for practice space, for boosters meetings, for concerts, pep band, marching band, etc. Depending on the school, you may be the main administrator for the auditorium or concert space - making you responsible for when other groups want to use it. You'll need to manage contracts with instrument rental companies, instrument repair companies, sheet music vendors, band camp (if you're fortunate enough to go away for it), and the all important group trip vendor (again, if you're lucky enough!). You'll also have to be one of the chief advocates for the arts programs at your school - at a time when arts education is constantly on the chopping block. That means school board meetings and time spent with administrators, many of whom won't quite understand all of the things that are happening in your classroom.

In my experience, the time I spent in college really prepared me well for the time I spent in my classrooms...but not as well for the time I spent outside of the classroom with the "extra." If this is the profession you decide to go into (and it's an amazing one!) make sure you set aside time during your undergrad to understand the BUSINESS of music education - don't just visit classrooms, but ask mentors about those extras. Visit booster meetings or school board meetings or whatever...this is the stuff that can really wear you out if all you really want to do is help kids fall in love with music.

All that being said, I don't regret going into the profession. My goal was never to turn all of my students into future educators or top tier performers, but instead I wanted to make sure that my kids loved music for the rest of their lives...and I'm pretty sure I accomplished that while I taught.

Happy to connect around any specific questions you might have!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the perspective from your experiences! Brycen
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John’s Answer

Brycen, As a high school band and choir teacher, your day-to-day tasks would typically involve planning and conducting rehearsals, teaching music theory and performance techniques, preparing students for concerts and competitions, managing the music library and equipment, and providing feedback to students on their progress.

To become a high school music teacher, you will need to complete a bachelor's degree in music education or a related field. Many universities offer music education programs that provide a combination of music courses and education courses, such as teaching methods, educational psychology, and classroom management. You will also need to complete a student teaching experience to gain practical experience in a classroom setting.

Here are some common college courses required for a music education degree:

Music theory
Music history
Music technology
Conducting
Orchestration and arranging
Pedagogy and teaching methods
Classroom management
Educational psychology
Special education
Music performance and ensemble participation

In addition to completing a degree program, you may also need to obtain a teaching license or certification in your state. This may involve passing a state-specific exam and completing continuing education courses to maintain your certification.
Overall, becoming a high school band and choir teacher requires a strong background in music, a passion for teaching, and the willingness to work with students of all skill levels.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for giving me advice. Brycen
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Liediana’s Answer

Hi there, high school music teachers' duties go beyond teaching music classes, they may also be appointed as home-room teacher depending on the school system as part of additional duties. This incurs administrative responsibilities as well as handling students and taking care of their welfare of course. Job scope varies from school to school, but outside of the music curriculum, high school music teachers also need to handle administrative matters.

You can graduate with a bachelor in music from college and use this to apply to high schools. Other certifications vary according to the school you are intending to apply to.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for sharing your perspective. Brycen
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