Why Teach-Why Music-Why Me?
Special thanks to Irma H. Collins, chairperson, MENC Society for Music Teacher Education

Why Teach?

Today more young people than ever want a career in which they can merge artistic talent, academic preparation, and idealism in satisfying and meaningful ways. Teaching can provide that career.

Teaching offers many kinds of satisfaction. A teacher can

  • work with learners of all ages and cultures
  • continue—for a lifetime—the study and practice of his or her chosen discipline
  • experience the thrill of sharing thoughts and feelings with others and seeing others learn
  • take advantage of great opportunities for individual creative involvement
  • enjoy time for recreational travel and professional development

The teaching profession demands the best of all who enter its ranks. America needs dedicated, well-qualified teachers to lead the nation's young people into the twenty-first century.

Why Teach? Because teaching not only demands the best: it offers the reward of years of satisfying service.

Why Music?

Music touches every human being from infancy to adulthood. The power of musical sound can be the vehicle for expression of a wide variety of human emotions. And not only does music move us emotionally, it activates our intellect.

It is difficult to ignore the sound of music. Music composed and performed by those who understand its aesthetic power can elevate our spirits, urging us to respond through listening, moving, and singing.

Why Music? If you have decided to teach and have the talent, the skills, and the ability to make music, teaching music could be your path to self-fulfillment.

Why Me?

If teaching is a richly rewarding profession, if music is a powerful medium of expression, and if you have musical talent and ability, then teaching music is a logical career choice for you. You may want to decide on music teaching as your career if

  • you have been attracted to and involved in making music
  • you seek opportunities to become actively involved with music individually and in groups
  • you have been encouraged by family, friends, and teachers to pursue the serious study of music
  • you enjoy sharing your musical ability with others in formal and informal settings
  • you genuinely like being with people

The music teaching profession has a long and noble history. To associate yourself with that history–with an unbroken chain of some of the world's greatest musical intellects, music-makers, and music teachers–is personally and professionally exciting.

In choosing this profession you add one more link to the chain, binding yourself to others who have dedicated themselves to bringing joy and beauty to the lives of those they encounter. But, more than this, you will add an extra dimension of humanness to yourself and others by sharing the power of sound through the teaching of music.

Why Me? Because you are on the threshold of making one of the most exciting decisions of your life: to teach, and to teach music! Choose music teaching as a career and you will have chosen an exciting and satisfying profession as well as a challenging and rewarding journey through life.

What If I Choose Music Teaching?

If you choose music teaching as a career, discuss your decision with your music teacher and guidance counselor. Ask them to help you find out

  • what college or university with an accredited music education degree program interests you the most. (Try to visit at least two schools.)
  • what music scholarships are available to you in the music department of these schools.
  • what options are available within the music education degree program. You may prepare for working with children from kindergarten through middle or junior high school as a teacher of general music. If you do so, you may work in a single music room or you may travel from school to school. You may prepare to teach music electives in high school such as theory, history, and music appreciation. You may prepare to be a band director, or an orchestra director.

As you gain experience and add to your academic foundation, you may decide to be a music supervisor in a large or small school system, a state supervisor of music, or a college professor. Often, state certification allows you to teach all music subjects through grade 12. Alternatively, depending on state regulations, you may be asked to choose certification within a specialty. Institutions may prepare students to receive any of three different types of certification: comprehensive, which allows graduates to teach all K-12 music courses (both vocal and instrumental); instrumental, for teachers of grade 5- or 6-12 band or orchestra; or vocal, for teachers of K-12 general music and chorus. Obviously, if you have a teaching certificate with your music degree, your opportunities are greatly increased.

What Happens After I Graduate?

Each college and university has a placement office to help you find a teaching position. As you go out into the field, you may also call on your music education department as well as the department chairperson, your applied music teacher, your ensemble director, and music alumni from your school. Added to these resources are the more than eighty thousand members of your professional organization, MENC: The National Association for Music Education, an association that will give you a helping hand throughout your teaching career. What kind of life awaits you as a teacher of music? Just ask someone who knows best...your music teacher!

Where Can I Find Out More?

If you would like to learn more about choosing a career in music, contact MENC: The National Association for Music Education at (703) 860-4000 or visit http://www.menc.org/information/infoserv/careersinmusic.htm

Special thanks to Irma H. Collins, chairperson, MENC Society for Music Teacher Education

From National Standards for Arts Education. Copyright © 1994 by Music Educators National Conference (MENC). Used by permission.
The complete National Arts Standards and additional materials relating to the Standards are available from
MENC - The National Association for Music Education
1806 Robert Fulton Drive
Reston, VA 20191 USA