Five Famous Music Teachers

For hundreds of years, teaching music has been a respected and influential career. Musicians who studied and taught music went on to have amazing careers in the industry. These people spent their lives inspiring and shaping the next generation of accomplished performing artists.  Here are five of the most famous musicians from the 19th to the 21st century.


Natalie Gauci (Born 1981) – Singer Natalie Gauci’s rise to fame began after she won the 5th season of Australian Idol, leading to a chart-topping musical career. Prior to her Idol appearance, she worked as a high school and college voice teacher, as well as a session musician to fund her original work. Natalie has released two studio albums and has been featured in a number of Australian chart-topping hits.

sherly crow

Sheryl Crow (Born 1962) – Grammy winning singer-songwriter and actress Sheryl Crow received her degree in music composition, performance, and education. She taught elementary school music, which gave her the flexibility to play in bands on weekends until she had her musical breakthrough writing advertising jingles and touring as a backing vocalist to Michael Jackson. Crow debut her first album in 1993 and has since released 8 more albums.

Roberta Flack (Born 1939) – Roberta was admitted to Howard University on a full scholarship roberta flackat age 15, the youngest student ever to enroll there.  After graduating, she taught music at two junior high schools as well as private piano lessons, while providing piano accompaniment to blues singers on weekends.  In between sets, she would play her own repertoire of blues and folk standards, accompanying herself on piano. Once she established herself in the jazz, folk and R&B recording realms, Flack became known for her hits The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face and Killing Me Softy. These songs won her the Grammy Award for Record of the Year 2 consecutive years (1973-74), a distinction she shares only with U2.

andy griffith

Andy Griffith (1926 – 2012) – Television and film star Andy Griffith, most famous for his roles as the title characters in The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, began his college career studying to be a Moravian preacher, then changed his major to music and graduated with a degree in music education. He taught high school music and drama in North Carolina, where NPR radio personality Carl Kasell was one of his students. Andy Griffith’s love of music extended throughout his career, and he sang in many of his roles. Griffith also recorded albums of country and gospel music, as well as Christian hymn albums.

scott joplin

Scott Joplin (1867 – 1917) – Pianist and ragtime composer Scott Joplin, given the title The King of Ragtime, had a brief but productive musical career. He wrote 44 ragtime pieces, one ragtime opera entitled Treemonisha, as well as a ragtime ballet.   When not performing or touring, he taught local young musicians in his hometown, including Scott Hayden and Arthur Marshall, who he later collaborated with. His most influential hit was the Maple Leaf Rag, a ragtime piece considered to be the first and archetypal ragtime hit.