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Teaching Opportunities for South African Musicians

This article provides an overview of teaching and tutoring opportunities for South African musicians.

Teaching in South African schools

Music education in South Africa has seen considerable development since the advent of democracy, with the government seeking to shed its ‘elitist’ reputation and integrate the discipline into the core curriculum of schools across the country.[1]

In South African schools, music education is mandated by the Department of Basic Education in the compulsory learning area of ​​arts and culture. The program begins in grade R (preschool) and continues through grade 9. The Department further stipulates that the Arts and Culture curriculum should be divided equally into four art forms: dance, theatre, music and visual arts.[2] Music teachers therefore play a crucial role in the educational landscape – even if, from grades 10 to 12, the number of music students tends to decrease drastically.[3]

Historically, in terms of qualifications, music teachers would need appropriate music-related qualifications (e.g. Bachelor of Music), or else sufficient music teaching experience. However, a specific diploma or degree in music education is often stipulated – or at least preferred – by schools.

A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a popular choice for university graduates looking to get into teaching, although this degree offers more training than is strictly necessary for those looking solely to teach music. . In these cases, a degree in music (DipMus) will be sufficient, as it provides an NQF level 6 certification (see more below).

  • Many South African universities offer PGCE programs. For a useful list, including application procedures, please click here.
  • For those looking to get a DipMus, options include NMMU, UFS, and NWU.

Concern around qualifications has been intensified by the South African Council of Educators (SACE) which recently changed its requirements.[4] While in the past the council was willing to accept provisional registration, as of July 2018 permanent registration is required. As teachers across South Africa are required to register with SACE, this means that musicians who are serious about pursuing this path will need to achieve the qualifications outlined above.

For job postings and opportunities, music teachers should register with the Department of Basic Education’s Qualified Educator Recruitment Database and regularly check the job postings page on the Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA) website. Some teaching positions are also listed on online job markets such as BizCommunity, Indeed, Career Junction, MNC Jobs, LinkedIn, etc.

Finally, it is strongly recommended that South African music teachers register with the South African Society of Music Teachers (SASMT). This organisation, the ‘oldest professional music society in South Africa’, offers a number of benefits to its members and provides potential employers with the ‘teacher finder system’ to facilitate their search for a suitable candidate.[5]

Video: In this video, Dr. Arisa Voges of the Hugo Lambrechts Music Center discusses the benefits of music education.

Tertiary opportunities

Thanks to the large number of performing arts colleges in the country, there are plenty of opportunities in the higher education sector for South African musicians. Institutions such as AFDA, COPASA, ASE and Boston City Campus offer degrees, diplomas and certificates in all aspects of music, from composition to performance, production and even music rights management.

  • In this sector, relevant qualifications that demonstrate your competence as an industry professional are desired.
  • Previous teaching experience is desirable, while personal networks and referrals can also be key to finding work in this sector.[6]
  • As these are usually private commercial institutions, job postings are usually posted on individual company websites and through mainstream channels such as BizCommunity, Indeed, Career Junction, MNC Jobs, LinkedIn, etc. .

Teaching in an academic setting, on the other hand, is recommended for musicians with an academic orientation, as the demands of this work go beyond training and into the areas of formal academic research. Teaching in a university setting will also be recommended for musicians who have strong ties to the formal music education sector, as jobs in music departments are often found through alumni networks and personal recommendations.[7]

However, those entering university-level music education will find a dynamic and changing space where, according to Neil Gonsalves, director of the Center for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), all aspects of program are impacted by rapidly changing technology. “Everything is in abeyance these days about what we should teach and how we should teach it. Everything is in a constant state of flux,” he says.[8]

  • As university music departments tend to be small, competition for jobs in this sector can be fierce. Applicants will generally be judged on the quality and depth of their academic and musical qualifications.
  • Job openings of this nature are usually advertised through official university channels or on the Careers page of the Department of Higher Education and Training website. Check the country’s music department websites for information on job vacancies: UKZN, University of Cape Town, Wits University, University of Pretoria, North West University, Rhodes University, University of the Free State , University of Stellenbosch, etc.

Tutoring opportunities

Music tutoring – usually in the form of teaching a specific musical instrument to students of all ages/skill levels – is an established and popular “side hustle” for South African musicians. According to the South African Society of Music Teachers, the minimum rate to be charged for this service is R340/hour (for individual lessons) or R150/student (for group lessons).[9]

South African musicians looking to earn an income from music lessons can try a variety of channels:[10]

  • Schools. Even if you are a freelance tutor, it is a good idea to approach schools to see if they would be interested in the services of a music tutor. Not only can schools provide a classroom (or rehearsal room) for your classes, they will advertise your services to the student body on your behalf.
  • Self-marketing. Musicians who would prefer to tutor adult students will find that self-promotion is the most effective method of finding new clients. This can be achieved through targeted advertisements on social media or by distributing flyers in instrument stores, concert halls, etc. This can be particularly effective if you are able to offer lessons in a rare instrument (e.g. banjo, bouzouki) or in a specialized genre. (e.g. maskandi, bluegrass).
  • Online tutoring. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting global education systems, online tutoring has proliferated both in South Africa and around the world.[11] Online tutors can help music students who have fallen behind due to a lack of class time, while – as more areas of social life shift to platforms such as Zoom – online tutoring can also be a convenient way for mature students to pick up a new hobby. Emerging platforms such as Master Music, Turtlejar and Brightsparkz operate as marketplaces for students to connect with online tutors across the country.

Final Thoughts

No one is born a musician; everyone is learning to make music, and even those who have been playing for many years are always looking to develop their skills and learn to play in new ways. Therefore, teaching and tutoring presents a reliable income stream opportunity for South African musicians.

As a final note to conclude, teaching and tutoring, of course, does not always occur in a formal setting or academic environment. For more information on creating online courses and e-learning materials, or to find out more about opportunities in the development sector in South Africa, please see our individual articles in the Sources of income for South African musicians series. These avenues will allow you to supplement your income from tuition fees, which – according to the Revenue Streams for South African Music Creators 2022 report – equates to a monthly average of R5,990.

Resources and citations

  • [1] Jacobs, GS. (2010). The viability of music as an academic subject at the secondary level. University of South Africa. Accessed February 6, 2022: https://uir.unisa.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10500/3696/dissertation_jacobs_g.pdf
  • [2] Jansen van Vuuren, E. (2011). Topic Music in rural South African schools: challenges and solutions in a comparative context. University of Pretoria. Accessed February 6, 2022: https://repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/29012/01chapters1-2.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
  • [3] Hellberg, EP. (2014). A critical review of South Africa’s Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement: Music Grades 10-12. Free State University. Accessed February 6, 2022: https://www.sace.org.za/assets/documents/uploads/sace_82162-2021-03-31-Registration%20Requirements%20%202019%20(latest%20version).pdf
  • [4] South African Council of Educators (SACE). (2021). “Conditions of registration”. Accessed February 6, 2022: https://www.sace.org.za/assets/documents/uploads/sace_83229-2021-08-19-Registration%20Requirements%20%20Revised%202021.pdf
  • [5] South African Society of Music Teachers. (2009). “Who we are”. Accessed February 6, 2022: http://www.sasmt-savmo.org.za/society/policies.php
  • [6] Barile, N. (2017). “Networking for Teachers: 7 People and Places to Turn to”. Western Governors University. Accessed February 6, 2022: https://www.wgu.edu/heyteach/article/networking-for-teachers-7-people-and-places-to-turn-to1711.html
  • [7] Original interview for Music In Africa with Neil Gonsalves, Director of the Center for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: January 15, 2022.
  • [8] Same.
  • [9] South African Society of Music Teachers. (2019). “Costs”. Accessed February 6, 2022: http://www.sasmt-savmo.org.za/society/fees.php
  • [10] Barile, N. (2017). Same.
  • [11] Li, C. & Lalani, F. (2020). “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how it is.” World Economic Forum. Retrieved February 6, 2022: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/

This article is part of the Revenue Streams for African Musicians project, supported by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity under the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the Siemens Cents4Sense program, Siemens Stiftung, Goethe-Institut, the National Arts Council of South Africa and Kaya FM.

Editing by Kalin Pashaliev