Advice for Aspiring Music Teachers

Here are the 8 steps I took to graduate with my Bachelor's degree in 4 years. 
It was not easy and there were times I thought about giving up, but I am glad I stayed with it.
The time will pass anyway, right? So do you want a degree at the end of that time period, or do you want to regret wasting your time?

Let's get started.

As soon as you know where you're going to school:

How to get the classes you need to graduate

1. Go to the advising office in the music department and ask for curriculum sheet that shows you what courses you need to take in order to graduate. This is a list of all of the classes that you need to take in order to graduate with your degree. Keep it with you for the next 4 yours. Highlight the classes you enroll in and place a checkmark next to them after you've passed the class. 

2. At the same office ask for a course sequence. This will show you when you need to take certain courses and in what order. Some classes (known as prerequisites) need to be taken and passed before you can take others. Take these very seriously. Some courses are only offered once a year or once every two years, so if you don't have the prerequisites you need to take that class, you may have to wait a year or two for another opportunity to take that class.   

3. Find an opportunity to get priority registration. This will make it so that you can sign up for classes before they're filled up. This is one of the main reasons why many college students could not graduate in 4 or 5 years! I was involved in the student body (ASI) and got priority registration through that. At Cal Poly Pomona, the university I attended, students could get priority registration for involvement in different organizations throughout the school. Join one of these! This will help you graduate on time and will get you to meet other driven students. 

How to get a job when you're fresh out of college:

4. Work and volunteer in teaching opportunities during your college years. I worked at the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center and helped the teachers lead their summer workshops in any way I could. When I was about to graduate with my Bachelor's Degree, the director of the Downtown Center offered me the position of head teacher. This paid $2,000 for working 2 weeks! My friends who had only focused on their coursework and didn't volunteer did not have job offers. Some of them have not found work in their field to this day. 

5. You never know what school will hire you and you won't be sure what their music program looks like, so it's best to prepare yourself to teach band, orchestra, chorus, and ukulele. Yes, ukulele is rising in popularity and is a trend right now. As a teacher, you will have to keep your skills sharp, so I recommend you learn all that you can. Now.

How to invest in your future music program and make yourself more marketable:

6. Go to your library and check out books on general instrument repair. Intern with the instrument repair tech at your college/university if they have one. Repairs are pricy, but if you learn this skill, it can be a game changer. Get good enough at this and it can be your job during college.

How to save money throughout college and gain skills that the classroom can't give you:

7. If you want to save money, work for university housing as a Resident Assistant (RA) or Resident Advisor. I learned more about public speaking through my work as an RA than I did from the few times I presented in front of the other music majors. As an RA I had to meet new residents, meet their parents, plan events, maintain a budget, and hold people accountable to university housing policies. These skills were incredibly transferrable to the teaching job and set me up to have a much better first year than my newbie counterparts.

Bonus: I love advising new and prospective music students. If you need and advising whatsoever, please reach out. I would LOVE to help you out in any way I can. I was the first in my family to go to college, so I needed the help of others to figure this college thing out. Give me a chance to pay back all of the help I received.

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