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Subtle Ways That the Music Profession Is Devalued by Society

Thursday, May 25, 2023 by Gemma Wilkins | Teacher Resources

Have you ever noticed the subtle ways in which the music profession is devalued by society?

In this article, I will delve into these subtle forms of devaluation and shed light on the importance of recognising and addressing them in subtle ways in return, to reinforce value to our main goals as music educators. First let's look at the most common ways I see the music teaching profession devalued.

The Perception of Expensive Music Lessons

It's not uncommon to hear complaints about the cost of music lessons compared to other activities. However, what often goes unnoticed is the immense value that music education brings to individuals. Music lessons foster discipline, creativity, and self-expression, offering lifelong benefits that extend far beyond the lesson room. By understanding and appreciating the value of music education, we can combat the perception that it is an expensive luxury. 

Reluctance to invest in Quality Products and Instruments

One of the subtle ways the music profession is devalued is through a reluctance parents of students may show to invest in quality instruments and products. As music teachers, we understand the transformative power of playing on a well-crafted instrument. However, society's tendency to prioritise budget-friendly options can hinder students' progress and dampen their enthusiasm. 

Teachers can attest that low quality instruments can sometimes result in a self-fulfilling prophecy - the student is reluctant to play an inferior instrument, the parents won't invest unless the student shows interest in playing and then no greater investment is made, and the parent sees the experience was not worthwhile.

Casual Copyright Infringement and the Value of Original Music

In an era of easy accessibility to music, copyright infringement has become a prevalent issue. When original music is undervalued and artistic creations are freely shared without permission, it undermines the hard work and creativity of musicians and songwriters. 

Ways this may manifest in a studio could be parents suggesting they borrow your copy instead of getting their own, bringing bootleg copies to lessons or even asking you just to photocopy something for them. By respecting copyright laws and supporting original music, we can foster a culture that appreciates and values the artistry behind every musical composition.

The Impact of Economic Downturn on Music Education

During times of economic downturn, music education often faces reduced investment and support. (Don't get me started on COVID restrictions allowing packed out football stadiums but music rehearsals were banned!)

However, it is precisely during these challenging periods that the benefits of music education become even more crucial. Music nurtures resilience, provides an outlet for expression, and offers solace in difficult times. By recognising the long-term value of music education and supporting it consistently, we ensure its continued presence and positive impact on individuals and communities.

There are various other subtle ways in which the music profession is devalued. Unrealistic expectations, stereotypes, and underfunding of music programs are just a few examples. By shedding light on these issues and sharing personal experiences, we can spark conversations and inspire change in the way society perceives and values the music profession.

So what can we do as music educators, as musicians that can subtly enhance our value in our community?

Music educators no doubt have a collection of sought after skills, that can sometimes be overlooked as valuable contributions in the community. So consider leaning into these strategies to leverage yourself more positively in your community.

Expanding our reach in creative ways

One way to counteract the devaluation of music teachers is by embracing side gigs in music-related fields. This could include offering online courses or workshops, providing virtual music lessons to a broader audience, or creating and selling digital products such as instructional materials or guides. By tapping into these additional revenue streams, music teachers can expand their reach and showcase their expertise while generating supplemental income, which is detailed more here in my free Ebook. 

Public Engagement

Music teachers can actively engage with their local communities by organising concerts, recitals, or workshops. By showcasing the talent and dedication of their students, teachers can demonstrate the value of music education and its positive impact on individuals and society. These events can also serve as opportunities to educate the public about the importance of supporting music programs and investing in quality music education. I think it is important here to consider what should be given for free, and what should be given at a ticketed price.

Collaboration with Schools and Local Education Systems

This can involve participating in curriculum development, offering training sessions for fellow teachers, or presenting at educational conferences. By sharing their expertise and advocating for the integration of music into the broader educational framework, music teachers can help foster a culture that values and prioritises music education.

Engaging with Policy and Decision Makers

When there is a grant program for the creative arts, apply, tell everyone you know in the industry to apply. It shows that the industry has demand, and there is a need to fund the arts. Consider engaging with policymakers and decision makers at the local, regional, or national level. This can involve attending public hearings or meetings, writing letters to elected officials, or joining music advocacy groups. By voicing concerns, sharing success stories, and providing data on the benefits of music education, teachers can influence policy decisions and ensure that the value of music education is recognised and supported.

Follow industry recommendations for rates for your area

You may not be aware, but pricing yourself cheaply compared to others in the area can damage the profession of music teachers and cheapen its contribution to society. Where possible charge closely to what the industry recommends, and add value in other areas to give a competitive advantage. We have enough issues battling the devaluation from outside the industry, let alone from within. 

Cultivating a Supportive Music Community

Music teachers can create a supportive network of fellow educators, musicians, and arts enthusiasts. Consider building spaces whether physical or virtual where there is inclusion in the creative arts. This can be done through online platforms, social media groups, or local music associations. By connecting and collaborating with like-minded individuals, teachers can exchange ideas, share resources, and collectively work towards raising the profile and value of the music profession. This sense of community can provide encouragement, inspiration, and a platform for collective action.

Leveraging Affiliate Marketing Opportunities

Affiliate marketing presents a promising avenue for music teachers to increase their monetary value. By partnering with reputable music-related brands and promoting their products or services, teachers can earn commissions for each sale generated through their unique affiliate links. This not only provides an opportunity to monetise their influence but also allows them to recommend high-quality resources to their students and fellow teachers, further enhancing their value as trusted educators. Here I go into more detail on how this can work for music teachers - learn more. 

Developing and Monetising Digital Content

In an increasingly digital world, creating and monetising digital content has become a powerful tool for music teachers to showcase their skills and knowledge. This can include creating online video tutorials, blogging about music education, or starting a podcast discussing various aspects of teaching music. By monetising their digital content through ad revenue, sponsorships, or even offering exclusive premium content, music teachers can generate additional income while establishing themselves as thought leaders in their field.

Emphasising the Value of Music Education

While side gigs offer tangible financial value individually, it's crucial to emphasise that their pursuit should not overshadow the value of music education itself. By actively advocating for the importance of music education and demonstrating its positive impact on individuals and society, music teachers can contribute to reshaping the perception of their profession. The combination of side gigs and a strong commitment to quality music education can help restore the monetary and intrinsic value of music teachers. Any time you notice a subtle devaluation, bite back with your value, contribution and place as a music educator.

As music teachers, it is our responsibility to advocate for the recognition and appreciation of the music profession. By addressing the subtle ways in which it is devalued, we can create a shift in societal attitudes and promote a greater understanding of the importance of music education. Let us join forces to champion the value of music, celebrate the contributions of music professionals, and ensure that future generations can benefit from the transformative power of music.

Remember, each small step we take to combat devaluation can make a significant impact in fostering a society that truly values the artistry and dedication of music educators.

90 Second Tutorial to Create a Product

Friday, January 27, 2023 by Gemma Wilkins | Teacher Resources

90 Second Tutorial to Create a Product - Music Teacher Side Gig Idea

Let's take a look at how you can make a product to sell in just 90 seconds! Creating and selling a product can seem overwhelming for some teachers, but let me show you in just 90 seconds how quickly you can create and publish products that are ready for sale AND you get a 40% markup on. 

Step 1 - Watch this quick tutorial


Step 2 - Register an account with Printify

Step 3 - Promote your product to existing clientele, or link printify to your preferred selling site. If you don't  have a shopfront with your website consider creating an Etsy store and sell through there. 

Step 4 - Get talking about it, Socials, emails, face to face!

Want more ideas on how to add side gigs to your studio? Get a copy of my free eBook - Side Gigs for Music Teachers for more lucrative ways to increase revenue without adding more students. 

Download free eBook now