Do you need a degree to teach music lessons?

The above question is something I get asked quite frequently. As a matter of fact, it’s something I asked myself when I started teaching guitar. I got an e-mail the other day that sounds all too familiar to myself and many other musicians out there who are passionate about music but don’t have the degree to back it up.

See if this sounds familiar to you:

“Hi Lauren,

I'm considering taking the good path of becoming self employed as a gutiar teacher and quitting my typical day-job but I've never taught guitar before and wanted to enquire for some help. I've been playing for up to 13/14 years and am a part of musical projects but I do not hold any certificates of merit as I'm completely self taught. My main concern is that students won't trust someone who isn't formally trained.

Any help would be tremendous! 



Not having a degree can seem like a serious setback for passion musicians.

The truth of the matter is, in my 10 years of teaching guitar and voice, I only once had a parent/student ask me if I had a degree. And when they asked that question, I was honest with my answer. No, I didn’t have a degree in music, but I was 100% confident I could help her daughter learn to play guitar. I told her there were many bad teachers out there that had masters degrees in education and were still horrible teachers. I said I don’t have the degree, but I know how to teach.

Fast forward 7 years later, the daughter studied with me and then went on to get into Berklee. Go figure.

The mother wasn’t buying a degree, the mother was buying a solution to a problem.

The mother bought her daughter a guitar and wanted her to learn how to play. I was fortunate enough to live in the same city and offer the service she was looking for. When she called, I was likable and assured her that I could help solve her problem.

If there are a couple things you take away form this article, let it be this:

  • People buy from people they like.

  • People buy a product of service that helps them solve a problem.

At the writing of this article, I own and operate three music schools with over 425 students. I did all this without a degree in music, education or business. My degrees are actually in archaeology and biology. Neither of which qualifies me to teach music full-time.

What I did have was a passion for music and a knack for inspiring confidence in others.

So if you are a self-taught musician like me, something that is more common among guitar players, don’t worry. You don’t need a degree to be successful as a music teacher. As long as you have the skill set to teach others how to play their instrument and the confidence to transfer that information to your student, you will do very well as a music teacher.

Have more questions about starting a music lesson business?