Music is a fantastic subject to teach. Helping others unlock their creative expression and channel it through their instrument is an incredible feeling.

However, unlike other subjects you can teach, music is somewhat of a grey area. If you want to learn chemistry, you will go to the most qualified teacher in that area, likewise with something like mathematics you would probably want to do the same.

With music though, it isn’t so cut and dried.

There aren’t a huge deal of courses which will set you out as a fantastic music tutor for example, and it’s very possible that students looking to learn music respect experience and the approach more than the most qualified tutor.

With all this in mind, we’re going to investigate the question further, and assess whether or not it’d be worth your while getting qualifications before embarking on a career as a music tutor.

Experience Matters

Guitarist performing on stage
Experience playing in a band can help attract students.

Before considering qualifications, it’s worth knowing that experience counts for a lot if you want to become a music tutor.

Experience vs qualifications

Think about it, if you were to have the opportunity to take guitar lessons from a successful guitarist who plays regularly in a band, but didn’t have a degree in music or an equivalent qualification, would you do them?

I’m willing to bet that in this scenario most people would.

Now obviously you’re probably not going to be at this level of experience, but you can see how experience is almost everything within the music industry.

At the end of the day, if you are taking music lessons to improve your ability to play an instrument, you will want to take them with an accomplished musician who knows the instrument inside and out.

If you play in a band, that’s an extra bonus for you, since students can potentially find videos of the band on YouTube and see first-hand who they are learning from. Many students will also have the goal of one day forming or joining a band too, so this will help you relate to them on their future goals.

Do you need qualifications to tick these boxes? Not necessarily.

That isn’t to say that they aren’t useful, - and we will look into how they can help you in the next section - but you can almost certainly become a music tutor without qualifications.

You could definitely make the argument that building your reputation as someone who plays an instrument well would be just as helpful to your career aspirations as acquiring a music degree.

Teaching experience

Playing an instrument well is only half the story though.

Being a good teacher is the other half. While it’s easy to think that being good at a skill equates to being able to teach that skill, it isn’t always the case.

You could be the best guitar player in the world, but if you don’t know how to put the art of playing well into words, in a coherent manner which your student understands and can put into practise, then you will struggle as a music tutor.

Some people learn well by osmosis, meaning that if they simply watch someone do something they are able to imitate it, and improve in the process. However, many people need clear instruction and guidance to learn, and this is why it’s crucial that you are able to communicate well.

Before jumping into the process of becoming a music tutor, realise that you will have to plan music lessons much as if you were a school teacher. This might not fit into some people’s ideas of what a music lesson is, but at the end of the day, the student is paying you to provide them with value and useful information.

So while you may not necessarily need qualifications on the music side of the business, it’s worth considering your teaching ability, and whether you’d benefit from taking some teaching courses. You’ll also have to base how much you charge students based on your level of experience and qualifications, so bear in mind that it can be more profitable to get some courses under your belt.

After all, one of the things prospective students will look for as they are looking over the online profiles of music tutors is how many years of teaching experience they have, or failing that, how qualified they are to give music lessons.

On that note, if you are considering a career as a music tutor, then a good thing to try is giving test lessons to family members or close friends, and asking them for honest feedback.

This way, you can start to evaluate your teaching ability, and get better at it with their feedback. You could also maybe ask for testimonials to get your business up and running in the beginning, provided that they’ve taken several classes with you and it isn’t fabricated.

Are qualifications necessary?

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of experience, and teaching ability, it’s time to answer the big question: are qualifications necessary to become a music tutor?

Yes and no.

As we touched upon earlier, it can be worth your time having a couple of teaching-based certificates or qualifications to your name in order to bolster your credibility as a tutor.

Aside from teaching, there are two other areas in which qualifications could prove useful if you aspirations of becoming a music tutor: the instrument you play, and the type of student you want to teach.

Qualifications for your instrument

A piano and bench
Knowing your instrument well is half the battle with tutoring.

One way to ensure prospective clients know that you can deliver a good music lesson, is providing the reassurance of being qualified in the instrument you wish to teach.

Commonly known as grades, this way of assessing musical instrument ability is essential for becoming a credible music tutor from the get-go.

One of the best parts about studying for a grade in a musical instrument is that you will go through the process of working with a private tutor. As such, you can glean what the best practises are, and maybe even quiz your music tutor as to how they came to be one!

A fantastic way to study for a grade exam is to pick one of our qualified music tutors on the Superprof website. You can be safe in the knowledge that you will get top-notch music lessons, while also having the flexibility to do them online or in-person.

Becoming an online tutor is also an option for when you feel ready to take the leap, and you can do so at Superprof. That way it will be less a case of how to find students, and more a case of sitting back and letting students come to you.

Qualifications for the type of student

fountain pen and paper
Different age groups require you to work towards different qualifications.

Finally, it’s important to know what level or age of student you wish to teach.

This is important for several reasons.

First, you want to know what kind of teaching style you’ll need to adopt, depending on the age of the student, and then you will want to know what qualifications that type of student will likely look for in a music tutor.

Luckily for you, we have divided up students into 3 categories based on age, so that you can see what they might want to see in the way of qualifications.

Children

There’s no denying that children can be testing students at times. Easily distracted or bored, it can seem like an impossible task to get them to sit still and for the duration of a class.

But with the right teaching methods and techniques, you will be able to manage your lessons well and ensure everything goes smoothly.

For these types of classes, you could argue that qualifications aren’t hugely important. Parents will want to know you have ability, and can teach children, but whether or not you have the highest qualifications probably won’t matter to them as much as fun lessons for their children.

That being said, it might be of benefit to get a CME level 4 certificate under your belt if you’re considering teaching kids. This music certificate will get you up to speed on everything you need to know about music theory, and teaching it to younger learners.

Teenagers

At the age of teenagers, you might find that they are more motivated learners, and have made their own choice to pick up an instrument.

This works in your favour, as working with a willing student is always preferable.

Whether or not you’ll need qualifications can depend. If the student is looking for purely recreational lessons (which will be a lot of teenagers), then you will probably be fine with some experience and a grade in the instrument they want to learn.

If they want to take it more seriously though, and work towards music exams for example, then you will want to brush up on your musical theory, and having a testimonial of helping someone pass their exam will be of use.

Of course, starting out you won’t have that, so an option you have is to provide a sample class, so that the student can judge whether or not you are the right person for the job.

Adults

Lastly, we have adults. The most discerning group of the three.

With adults the motivation to learn an instrument can vary wildly, so to have the best chance of getting adult students you’ll have to cast a wide net.

That is to say, work on getting experience teaching, and see if any qualifications will help you sell yourself, since at the end of the day you will be your business.

To this end, a degree certainly wouldn’t hurt, nor would a postgraduate certificate in a related field. That way you will set yourself out from the crowd.

Though as we’ve already established, the qualifications themselves aren’t essential to your success as a music tutor, but rather, just a part of it.

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Samuel

Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.