Career Story: High School Music Teacher

High School Music Teacher

Job Title: High School Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district on Cape Cod.

Education: Bachelors of Music Education, MM, New England Conservatory of Music

Previous Experience: I have taught general music in grades K-12 and worked as a choir director. I've also taught, and continue to teach, private voice lessons at a local Conservatory and have directed and sung in various church choirs.

Job Tasks: I start work each day at 6:30AM. Students arrive at 7 and classes begin at 7:25. I am responsible for choosing, ordering and teaching choral music to students in grades 7 through 12 as well as writing curriculum and keeping up my state teaching certification by taking appropriate graduate courses. The students choose my classes (only 1 Fine Arts credit is required for graduation), so if they are not interested or intrigued with the selection, they do not register. This is good because I only get people who are serious about music and singing, but if my courses are not interesting, fun, challenging and fulfilling, no one will sign up and my job will not exist.

I think that some of the things that a student may not realize about my job include the fact that there is much more involved than simply teaching and preparing lessons. There is a tremendous amount of interaction with students which requires setting time aside to listen to and help troubled students. Students come into my classroom from before 7 AM until long after our evening rehearsals are over to talk about their life choices, problems and sometimes just to "hang". I need to find time for them and hope that the words I offer will help them. Just being there means a lot and many teachers spend a great deal of (unpaid) time being there for the kids. We go to their games, are active in interscholastic events and music teachers participate with their students in many weekend and evening concerts, music festivals, performances and competitions.

There is a lot of organizational and administrative work that also goes into this job. You become an event planner (most choirs perform in the community and tour many times each year), production manager (concerts require a tremendous amount of planning), accountant (fund raising, budget planning) and publicity agent.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is the love you give and get back from you kids in return. They are amazing and when you give them all you've got, they will reward you by doing the same. It is very inspiring and rewarding to see the improvement by the time they reach their senior year.

The worst part is the lack of understanding and respect from many uninformed members of the community. People labor under a lot of false impressions about teachers. Some may have had bad experiences at some point that colored their judgement, or they are simply ill-informed, but there is a strong feeling that we do not work hard enough and that we are paid too much. Music also is looked upon as an unimportant subject. I feel that I have been fighting for my entire thirty-three year career to make my school, administration and community realize how important the Arts are to a child's education.

Job Tips: There is NEVER a dull moment. Boredom will not be part of your life!

Never stop remembering that the students are the reason you do this. They are the BEST!

There is no more rewarding career. You hold these kids' future in your hands.

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