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 £32,217 (January 2024).
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 £38,655 and increase an increment each year up to £48,516.
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 earns between £52,896 and £68,265 a year, while the scale for depute head teachers and head teachers ranges from £59,994 to £110,808 a year, 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, working in a classroom 9.00am to 3.30pm or 4.00pm. You would use the rest of the time for preparation and marking.
You may have to do some preparation and assessment work at home, in the 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.
To become a secondary school teacher of music, you must have a degree (SCQF Level 9-10) in music plus a Professional Graduate Diploma (SCQF Level 11) in Education (PGDE) OR a degree in music and education such as the BMus Music Education from the University of Aberdeen or the BEd Music run by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) (SCQF Level 10).
For entry to a degree course in music or music and education you normally need 4-5 Highers including Music.
You must have Higher English and National 5 Maths. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths.
For entry to the BMus degree at the University of Aberdeen you need to have 4 Highers at ABBB including English and preferably Music plus National 5 Maths or Applications or 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 run by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, you need 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. There may be other requirements at the audition.
You must apply through UCAS Conservatoires, usually 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.
On completion of your degree you must be able to demonstrate intellectual music skills and practical music skills. You should also have experience of music technology.
For entry to the PGDE, you need an approved degree together with Higher English plus Maths or Applications of Maths at National 5 - some institutions specify at B.
Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 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 will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
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.