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MA Music Education: Instrumental and Vocal Teaching

Discover a love of teaching music

Year of entry: 2021 (September)
Show year of entry: 2021 (January)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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Our MA in Music Education is a unique course for musicians interested in developing their instrumental and vocal teaching skills.

You'll explore practical and theoretical concepts of music education, as well as aspects of psychology, music psychology and health. By drawing on your own experiences, reading academic literature and putting new ideas into practice within your teaching, you'll develop your understanding of instrumental pedagogy and develop strategies for reflective practice, helping you to enhance your capabilities and confidence as a teacher.

We receive excellent feedback - our students say that the course has boosted their career prospects and helped them to discover a love of teaching.

Our highly committed and passionate teaching team will help you to pursue individual interests and support your professional and personal development. The collaborative and energetic atmosphere combined with our varied module content means our students are highly motivated and enthusiastic. You'll find it a great environment for your studies.

The course is led by Dr Elizabeth Haddon LRSM, whose research on instrumental pedagogy has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals and in her two co-edited volumes on creativity. Delivering the course alongside her are Dr Naomi Norton, who has specialist expertise in musicians’ health and well-being as well as experience as Teaching Artist with In Harmony Opera NorthDr Richard Powell, a violinist, teacher and researcher specialising in music analysis; Dr Caroline Waddington-Jones, who has expertise in music psychology, special educational needs and performance; and Dr Jennifer Cohen, a flautist, teacher, and community music practitioner, with experience of working in a variety of performance and educational settings.

This unique, intellectually stimulating and fascinating course is perfect for any musician wishing to hone their teaching skills. Understanding effective pedagogy has made my teaching more rewarding and I relish the opportunity to facilitate someone's learning of music. It has helped me secure teaching jobs in two schools, a music centre and build up a plethora of private pupils.
Katie, MA Music Education

Boost your career

The skills and experience you'll gain on this course are directly applicable to your career. Our students report that the course has helped them to boost their employability and gain confidence as a teacher.

Research excellence

96% of the Department's research activity is classed as 'world-leading', 'internationally excellent' or 'internationally recognised'.

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Also available as a PGDip

It is also possible to take this course as a PGDip. Find out more about our PGDip Music Education: Instrumental and Vocal Teaching.

Course content

You'll study six taught modules (20 credits each) and an independent study module (60 credits).

You'll take two modules in each of the Autumn, Spring and Summer Terms, and complete your independent study over the summer period (June to September).

Part-time students will take modules 1, 3 and 5 during Year 1, and modules 2, 4 and 6 during Year 2. The independent study module will be taken over the summer period of Year 2.


Autumn Term

Module 1: Effective pedagogy (20 credits)
Module 2: One-to-one teaching (Beginner) (20 credits)

Spring Term

Module 3: Teaching techniques (20 credits)
Module 4: One-to-one teaching (Intermediate) (20 credits)

Summer Term

Module 5: Enhanced teaching skills (20 credits)
Module 6: One-to-one teaching (Advanced) (20 credits)

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


You'll compete Module 7, an independent study module, over the summer period (June - September). This module is worth 60 credits.

This will consist of either an extended essay, or a portfolio of recorded lessons accompanied by a written commentary. You'll receive tutorial support during the summer period to help develop your writing skills and your evaluative and reflective capacities.

You will also have access to our specific guides written for Music Education students which will help you understand the requirements of the independent study module and provide practical information and guidance.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Plan and deliver effective instrumental/vocal lessons that are tailored to the musical and technical ability of the pupil, using appropriate resources and demonstrating efficient time management
  • Apply critical understanding of professional issues including safeguarding, child protection, and instrumental studio management to their work in music education
  • Interact and engage with others in a constructive manner by employing interpersonal skills underpinned by empathy and respect, communicating with clarity and attention to detail
  • Critically examine, analyse and evaluate existing pedagogical material and research literature
  • Engage in effective continuing professional development and enhancement by applying developed skills of self-evaluation and reflective practice
  • Communicate persuasively and credibly in written work by identifying and deploying appropriate writing styles for a range of outputs including lesson plans, consent forms, critical appraisal, comparative review, annotated bibliography, reflective commentary, teaching diaries, essays and dissertation
  • Employ the research skills and teaching expertise developed during the programme and in the production of a dissertation in connection with further postgraduate study or employment opportunities
The chance to do some original research as an independent researcher inspired me to take up the challenge of a PhD. Practical work helped me to understand how theory relates to practice and encouraged me to enhance my speaking and listening skills as an overseas student. With the support of my course leader and communication with my students, my confidence has been much improved in piano teaching.
Mengyao, MA Music Education

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £8,440£18,700
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2021/22 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Departmental funding

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

The course gave me many wonderful practical opportunities. The sessions are quite creative and helped us learn how to be a mentor-friend teacher; perspectives of each student are respected, which encouraged me to have more confidence. Within the comparison and collaboration between the music education in the UK and in China, I think it is a very good way to explore and improve my future teaching.
Keying, MA Music Education

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

We hope to deliver this course as advertised for 2021/22 entry, but it’s unclear when we’ll be able to return to a normal timetable. For an idea of how this course might be affected, see our changes for 2020/21 entry.

Teaching format

Classes are formed of a variety of taught and discussion based formats and regularly involve practical work.

You'll be taught via seminars and practical sessions in which you'll have the opportunity to teach others and receive feedback. You'll complete a variety of individual, small group and large group tasks as part of your studies. Regular meetings with course tutors will allow you to discuss your progress and prepare for assessments.

Weekly seminars explore areas of instrumental and vocal pedagogy including:

  • online and face-to-face teaching
  • the pupil-teacher-parent relationship
  • our motivations as teachers
  • professional concerns and obligations
  • qualities of effective teachers
  • teaching materials
  • working with students of different ages and abilities, including special needs
  • learning and teaching approaches
  • learner motivation
  • teaching particular skills including practice, aural, sight-reading, improvisation, technique and repertoire
  • understanding the development of expertise
  • working with groups
  • preparing students for performance
  • using technology in teaching
  • promoting musician’s health and well-being
  • working creatively and compassionately with others


The Department of Music is home to outstanding facilities, including a variety of seminar rooms for class teaching. These rooms have an array of specialised teaching equipment including pianos, interactive whiteboards and audio equipment.

The John Paynter Music Library is an elegant facility, located within the University Library, and houses the main music collections. It is also equipped with digital pianos, and media replay equipment. 

The University Library houses an extensive collection of CDs and DVDs, which are available for listening and research. There are also archival recordings available for student use in the University of York Sound Archives.

The Document Supply Centre of the British Library is located in Boston Spa, near to York. A weekly bus service runs during term-time.

Teaching location

The Department of Music is located on Campus West. Almost all of your teaching will take place within the department.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Modules 1, 3 and 5 involve various types of written work, including academic writing tasks, critical appraisal and essays.

For Modules 2,4 and 6 you'll submit a video of your one-to-one instrumental/vocal teaching, and a written commentary on your lesson.

The course offered a multi-dimensional approach where we could develop through reflection, experimentation and theoretical knowledge. I hadn't before considered the numerous opportunities a teacher has to develop both personally and professionally.
Nafsika, MA Music Education

Careers and skills

The experience and qualification gained from this course will help to boost your employability in a competitive international field. You'll develop skills vital for engaging in a wide range of educational activities, including studio and institutional teaching.

This course can also lead to further academic study - graduates have gone on to pursue doctoral research as well as a variety of other related qualifications.

Career opportunities

Our graduates have gone on to a variety of roles or further study. These include:

  • Instrumental music teacher in private studios
  • Instrumental teacher in primary and secondary schools and conservatoires (UK and international)
  • Class music teacher (UK and international)
  • Music administrator
  • Further study in Music: PhD; additional MA programme (Music performance or Community Music) at the University of York
  • PGCE course
  • Independent researcher
  • Freelance musician (teaching and performing)

Transferable skills

This course will help you to develop a wide range of practical, transferable skills, including:

  • use of appropriate resources
  • efficient time management
  • an understanding of child protection and safeguarding
  • high-level spoken and written communication skills
  • knowledge of teaching studio management and good practice
  • interpersonal skills underpinned by empathy and respect
  • an ability to critically examine, analyse and evaluate existing pedagogical material and research literature
  • self-evaluation and reflective practices
  • resilience
  • commitment to continuing professional development

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Music. We will also consider your application if you have a 2:2 and relevant professional experience.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements
Duolingo 110, minimum 100 in all other components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

The programme is relevant to those with varied levels of teaching experience, and to musicians who may work in a variety of musical genres.

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