Dear Prospective Community College Music Instructor,

As you may or may not be aware, these are lean times for music instructors (and the performing arts in general).  Due to the current budget situation, almost all community colleges are either in, or just coming out of, a hiring freeze.  Although the current hiring situation is not very hopeful, the outlook is that in the next 3-10 years, music positions will start to open up due to retirements and increased enrollment.  My advice for you, if you are committed to teaching, is:

  1. Make sure you have a Master's degree in music. If you don't, go get one.

  2. Consider moving to another state.  (I have considered this myself, but for a variety of reasons this is not an option for me right now.)

  3. If you're not willing to move, then identify the colleges at which you would like to, or are willing to, teach.  In other words, figure out how far you are willing to drive!  Many of my friends teach at 3-4 colleges to make ends meet.

  4. Research the schedules of the colleges you have identified and see if what they offer fits with what you want to teach.  Don't research the catalogs, as they list all possible classes, but may not accurately reflect the current course offerings at each school.  All of this information can be found on the websites for each college.

  5. Once you have identified the colleges that fit your particular area of expertise, send (or personally deliver) your resume to the Chair of the music department.

  6. Follow-up!

  7. Be patient (and keep following up)!

  8. Be aware the although part-time hiring tends to come up in the couple of months before each semester (but could happen at any time during the year), full-time hiring generally takes place in the Spring of each year (from February to May).  Here are some links to help you out:

  9. Consider getting a Ph.D./D.M.A.  If you do decide to get one, by the time you're done, the situation should be much improved (and you would even be eligible to teach at the university level)!
I hope that this is helpful for you (and not completely discouraging).  Obviously I do not know any of your specific circumstances (age, desires, etc.), but this is a good time to really examine how committed you are to education.  I have learned that to be a good teacher, you must love to teach.  Make sure this isn't just a back-up plan for a music career.  I've been there and done that, and it doesn't work well.

Hang in there!


Shane W. Cadman

Program Facilitator, Performing Arts
Santiago Canyon College