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Elementary School Music Teacher: Job Duties and Requirements

Elementary school music teachers typically work with children in kindergarten through fifth grade, helping them to discover their creativity and build their vocal and instrumental skills. This position requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree, as well as specific teacher training and a state license.

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Elementary School Music Teacher Job Duties

Elementary school music teachers must devise unique curricula for each grade level that they teach. Some days, classes might focus on the history of music, while other days are devoted to vocal or instrumental performance. Elementary school music teachers also must fulfill many of the same duties as regular classroom teachers, such as administering tests and assignments, grading students on what they've learned and meeting with parents and other faculty members.

In addition to their teaching duties, elementary school music teachers often oversee band or choir practices. They choose music for their students to perform and oversee rehearsals, offering instruction and advice on ways students can improve. Elementary school music teachers also might arrange concerts for students to display their musical talents to family, other students and faculty members.

Education Requirements

Aspiring elementary school music teachers should pursue an undergraduate music education program that's accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or a similar organization. Music education programs generally include a mix of teaching courses, such as education law and ethics, educational psychology and multicultural education, and music classes, like piano competency, vocal pedagogy, music theory and ear training. Most programs also include a teaching practicum.

Music education programs typically last four years, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, prospective elementary school music teachers might seek a bachelor's degree in education with a concentration in music or a bachelor's degree in music with a minor in education. Music education students also might choose to continue their education in a master's or doctoral program in the field.

Licensure Requirements

Prior to being employed at a public school, an elementary school music teacher needs to be licensed. In most states, an aspiring elementary school music teacher must hold a bachelor's degree, in addition to completing an approved teacher training program and a student teaching experience, to qualify for licensure. He or she also must pass both general knowledge and music-specific exams. Some private schools do not require teachers to earn licensure.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov), predicts that job growth for elementary school teachers, excluding special education teachers, will increase 12% between 2012-2022. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $53,400 as of May, 2012.

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