Music is an essential part of any well-rounded education, and is taught from elementary school all the way up to high school.

Teaching music (what does a music teacher do?)

This beautiful art form gives students an exciting creative outlet and broadens their horizons by challenging them to try something new. Within a music class students might learn how to write and read music, play an instrument, or sing.

They also might learn the history behind music and musical instruments. Not only will music class teach children how to play music, but it will also increase their appreciation of music and give them a better understanding of the science and history behind it.

Teaching the basics

Just as in other subjects, music education starts by teaching children the basics when they are young and then graduating to more complex concepts and skills as students get older. Elementary school music classes typically expose children to many different aspects of music.

These classes usually include:
  • an introduction to singing and choral concepts
  • playing basic instruments like the xylophone, recorder, and keyboard
  • simple music history and appreciation

In these classes, students will learn how to play music together, but also will learn important music concepts individually. There is a big focus on appreciating music and having fun at this level.

In middle school, students continue to take music class as part of the school day, but extracurricular music activities like choir and band also become an option. This gives students who are passionate about music the opportunity to further their studies. Middle and high schools typically offer more specialized music classes as well, such as voice classes, band and orchestra classes, and music theory and history.

These classes often connect music to real world experiences as well as concepts students are learning in other classes. Many schools require students to take a certain number of music credits during the course of their education, but they can select the music classes which interest them the most.


Chorus or choir is a class that is focused entirely on students’ vocal and singing skills. In these classes, children learn how to read music as it translates to voice, and they will learn how to memorize songs as well. Performance is typically a component of a chorus class.

Chorus is typically required for elementary and sometimes middle school students, and it is an extracurricular activity in high school. Choral classes for younger children typically focus on short, basic songs that teach students about notes, rhythm, pitch, and other elements of singing.

Once students have mastered the basics, they will begin to sing longer, more complex songs. They will also start to learn about harmony, and they may even sing in sections based on their personal vocal range. Advanced choral students may also sing solos or sing in small groups in addition to singing with the larger choir.


Instrumental music education teaches students how to play various instruments, often in a band or orchestra class. These classes teach students how to reach sheet music and play notes, and it encourages the concept of regular music practice.

A typical elementary school class will introduce students to basic instruments, and then students are given the option to continue instrumental study through a band or orchestra class when they reach middle school. In these more intensive instrument classes, students will learn the art of the specific instrument they choose, as well as learning how to play with a larger group of instruments.

Just like in chorus, students will learn about notes, pitch, and rhythm as it relates to their instruments, and then they will master the concept of harmony later on. Instrumental classes can become quite demanding as students get older, and some schools offer specialized competitive bands for students who are committed to regular performance. In many cases, band and orchestra instructors also teach choir classes or general music classes.