Written by Andrea Desmond
Many of my musician friends have asked me advice on becoming a music teacher, knowing that I’ve been in the business for over nine years. I went from teaching, directing, and overseeing other instructors at music schools to running a full private practice of my own.
They want to know where to begin, and they often wonder if they would even be able to pull it off. If you’re one of those musicians wondering the same thing, the good news is that you do have the capability to pull it off. It just takes getting organized - and most of all believing in yourself.
Most every musician-turned-teacher has the feeling of being not good enough, or imposter syndrome, when they first start. However, this is only because they don’t have the technical instructor experience to back up giving themselves that title. When I first started out at the School of Rock, a fellow teacher said to me, “fake it till you make it, and then one day you’ll actually feel experienced as a teacher”. Not only did those words help me tremendously, but that exact scenario played out through the years.
Thus, the big secret to getting started as a music teacher is having confidence from the get-go. It may sound like a basic concept, but this is a key factor to helping your build your clientele. Of course, mapping out your lesson structure and curriculum are absolutely important steps as well to feeling confident in what you can bring to the table, but when it comes to gaining and keeping new students, it is all about relationships. You are presenting yourself as someone who has knowledge about the subject that will truly help your student grow. They want to see you confident and sure of yourself - after all, they or their guardians are paying for your expertise and ability to help them improve at their craft. It is not ego or pride, but a teacher is a role of being a leader and a guide. For the record, this advice comes at the level of having the actual musical knowledge to be ready to become a teacher.
Personally, I majored in music and spent over a decade honing my craft. Everyone has a different path here. Plus as a bonus, if you have experience in the industry that is usually very exciting for your student because you’re doing it or have done it in the real world. As soon as I figured out that I do have a lot to offer and came in strong from the start, then seeing my students believe in me allowed me to really settle into the role. After the first year, I actually then did feel confident in my experience so far and it gave me so much fulfillment to witness my students improve. I knew I could grow my curriculum from there, and I have been evolving every year since. Therefore, I advise you that if you are a musician wanting to become a music teacher, believe that you are valuable and have a lot to offer. You can do it too!
If you’ve tackled this first big secret and are ready to get prepped for mapping out your lessons and material, stay tuned for my upcoming article about other tips to become a music teacher.