Music teachers prepare and give lessons in music theory and teach pupils to perform, create and listen to different types of music. They work to guidelines set up by the Curriculum for Excellence and prepare pupils, aged 11 to 18, for national exams.
You could be:
- using a variety of teaching techniques such as whole class lessons, demonstrations, performances and discussions
- arranging, directing and conducting concerts and other musical activities
- using a range of materials including musical instruments, recordings, music technology, computers, audio-visual aids and text books
- organising and directing the whole class, encouraging them to be creative and helping individual pupils as required
- setting assignments, projects, tests and exams, preparing and carrying out continuous assessment, marking pupils’ work and writing reports
- keeping good order in the classroom and dealing with discipline issues
- doing administrative work which includes keeping a register of pupils
- preparing for and attending parent-teacher meetings and staff meetings
- sometimes supervising out-of-hours activities such as visits, concerts, rehearsals or social events.
Teachers in Scotland are paid on a national salary scale. The starting annual salary for a probationer teacher is £22,866.
If you do your probationary period on the Teacher Induction Scheme, and are prepared to work anywhere in Scotland during that probationary year, you can also apply for the Preference Waiver Payment. For secondary school teachers, the payment is £8,000 before tax and national insurance.
After your probationary year, your salary will increase to £27,438 and increase an increment each year up to £36,480.
If you teach in a remote school or on certain islands you may get an additional allowance. £1,941 for a distance island and £1,371 or £2,574 for a remote school.
Where a teacher is employed in a remote school on a distant island both the remote schools allowance and the distant islands allowance are paid, in addition to the teacher’s normal salary.
A principal teacher can earn up to £51,330, while the scale for depute head teachers and head teachers ranges from £45,111 to £88,056, depending on the size of school.
Salaries in independent schools may differ slightly.
- You would work in a classroom, music room or school theatre.
- Your working hours are based on a 35-hour week and are usually 9.00am to 3.30pm or 4.00pm.
- You would probably teach for 22.5 hours a week, so you would have some time for preparation and marking or assessment in school. But you would often have to do more at home, in evenings or at weekends.
- You would have 13 weeks holiday each year, but would probably use some of this time to prepare next term's work.
- You would have to prepare for and attend parent-teacher meetings, which are usually in the evening.
- You should be aware that teaching is a mentally and physically demanding job.
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To become a secondary school teacher of music, you must have a degree in music plus a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) OR a degree in music and education such as the BMus from the University of Aberdeen or the BEd Music run by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).
- For entry to a degree course in music or music and education you normally need 4-5 Highers usually including English and Music.
- You must have Higher English and National 5 Maths. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths at all universities with the exception of University of Edinburgh.
- For entry to the BMus degree at the University of Aberdeen you need to have 4 Highers at BBBB including Music, preferably at A. You must have a pass in Higher English plus National 5 Maths. You should also normally have Grade 8 standard in your main instrument or singing and be able to demonstrate competence in piano.
- For entry to the BEd Music and Secondary Education run by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, you need passes in 4 Highers at ABBC including Music at A and English plus National 5 Maths. Applicants are normally of a Grade 8 standard of the ABRSM and are required to play a piano piece of Grade 6 standard at audition. Applicants who apply by the closing date are invited to audition. Applicants are also expected to play a short piano piece at their audition which will be of approximately Grade 5 standard.
- You must apply through UCAS Conservatoires. Apply by 1 October in the year before entry. Auditions are usually held from mid October.
- You must study music for at least 3 years in your degree and it must include at least 80 Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) credit points in music. 40 credit points must be at SCQF Level 8 (second year undergraduate level) or above.
- Your degree must include harmony, counterpoint, arrangement, orchestration and composition together with a broad study of music in social and historical contexts within traditional, ethnic and non-western musical cultures.
- It must also include keyboard studies, including sight reading, playing by ear, accompanying, harmonising and improvising in traditional and contemporary styles.
- You must study an instrument or voice to an advanced standard.
- You must be familiar with, and able to use, music technology.
- For entry to the PGDE, you need an approved degree together with Higher English plus Maths at National 5 - some institutions specify at B. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths at all universities with the exception of University of Edinburgh.
- Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Strathclyde universities offer the PGDE in Music.
- There is a lot of competition for places in these courses. It helps if you have experience of working with children or young people.
- For PGDE courses, apply through UCAS.
You would require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
Newly qualified teachers who want to teach in local council schools must complete a probationary period to demonstrate that they meet the Standard for Full Registration of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland). Those who wish to teach in independent schools may also require to be registered.
You are guaranteed a teaching post with a Scottish local authority for a full school year to complete this probationary period.
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- an interest in child development and an understanding of how children learn
- patience and adaptability
- enthusiasm and energy
- a firm and assertive approach when necessary
- good organisational skills
- a sense of humour and positive outlook.
You need to be able to:
- hold the attention of pupils of all abilities and encourage them
- work on your own and as part of a team
- stay calm under pressure
- get on well with other staff members, parents and carers.
- You will do in-service training (often provided by local councils) throughout your teaching career.
- You might also take part time courses in specialist aspects of education, run by universities.
- You may be promoted to be a principal teacher or head of department.
- You may then become a depute head teacher and then a head teacher.
- You might move into related work such as learning support teaching, further education lecturing, advisory work, education authority administration or schools inspection.
Most teachers work in local authority schools but there are also jobs in independent schools, British schools abroad, such as schools for the children of British armed services and in private tuition.
Job vacancies are normally advertised on local authority websites or look on the myjobscotland website.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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