There are far more options for what you can do with a music degree than you probably realize. Performing and teaching are the two most common careers in music, but those alone don’t begin to cover what music majors can pursue once they graduate.
We’ve linked several of the careers in music below to articles on MajoringInMusic.com, to give you a better sense of what people are really up to in these fields.
21st century musicians typically combine multiple jobs with multiple income streams to support themselves and their families, and to experience fulfilling careers. Performance and non-performance work do not have to be mutually exclusive; many of the fields below allow musicians to do both.
Note that some of these careers require graduate education (such as college-level teaching and conducting) or additional training beyond what you’ll find in an undergraduate program. Internships are especially important for working in any of the music industry/music business/technology/recording fields. Entrepreneurial skills, the ability to use the latest relevant technology, and some basic business skills like marketing, are also useful in every area of music.
Pay attention to ever-changing opportunities created by technology. New avenues for consuming music, innovative products, new teaching methods, and expanding uses of music as a therapeutic tool all translate to new career options in a rapidly changing world of music.
What Can You Do with a Music Degree?
- Accompanist (public and private schools, music schools and performing arts camps; religious centers and schools; dance rehearsals and performances; other venues)
- Artist management
- Artistic director
- Arts administrator/arts management (includes box office, concert series, programming house manager)
- Audio production, editing
- Band director (K-12, college, military, sports)
- Choral director
- Collaborative pianist
- College admissions director, assistant
- Community music school director
- Composing for musical theatre
- Concert Manager, promoter
- Conductor (orchestras: K-12, college, community, youth, domestic/international)
- Copyist, transcriber
- Copyright consultant
- Cruise ship entertainer
- Digital aggregator
- Digital score recordist
- Educator (K-12, college, university, conservatory, religious organizations, private studio)
- Electronic production and design (including audio engineering, mastering, mixing, music directing, producing, program directing, programming, recording engineer, studio manager, MIDI technician)
- Entertainment lawyer; music business lawyer
- Event production, management, planning, technology
- Film scoring (Composing, editing, supervising, arranging/adapting, mixing, conducting, orchestrating, synthesis specialist, theme specialist)
- Fundraiser, grant writer
- Instrument builder, designer
- Instrument company or music store (owner, manager, sales)
- Lecturer (schools, media, cruise ships, community)
- Marching Band Director
- Master classes
- Media development
- Merchandise management
- Military bands
- Music agent
- Music business
- Music consultant
- Music critic or reviewer
- Music curator
- Music editing engineer
- Music engraver
- Music for game development
- Music industry
- Music licensing and clearance
- Music online and print magazine writing, editing, publishing
- Music preparation
- Music production
- Music publishing
- Music school administrator
- Music supervisor
- Music therapist
- Music web producer
- Music instrument repair and tuning
- Musical theatre
- Performer (Vocal and instrumental soloist, session musician, orchestra/band/group member, background vocalist or instrumentalist, performing artist, show band. Venues may include business meetings, conferences, cruise ships, weddings, hotels, restaurants, clubs, religious events, orchestral contractor.)
- Personnel Manager (orchestras, arts organizations, shows, events)
- Piano tuner, mover
- Pit orchestra musician
- Playback singer
- Public relations agent or coordinator
- Radio – programming, research, management
- Recording (producer, engineer)
- Recruiter for talent agencies, universities, etc.
- Religious music – sacred music
- Royalty analyst, royalty accountant
- Score coordinator
- Session musician
- Sideman (perform live with solo artists or with a band or ensemble where you’re not a regular member)
- Song contractor
- Song producer
- Song recordist
- Songwriter (including composer, lyricist, producer; jingle writing for television, radio and internet; freelance work; librettist)
- Sound mastering
- Sound technician (sound engineer)
- Sound design
- Summer camp music director/staff
- Talent representation (booking, management)
- Talent scout
- Technical music assistant
- Tours/road work (road manager, sound technician, tour coordinator, tour publicist)
- Vocal coaching
- Vocal contractor
- Wellness (injury prevention and intervention)
Hello, I’m 19 and wanting to work with live music such as concerts/venues. What do I need to major in to be a Guitar Technician or a live sound engineer?
A sound engineer typically trains in sound or audio engineering. As for guitar technician training – it’s always helpful to get a degree in music industry. But you can also check out guitar technician and luthier programs offered by some community colleges, for-profit schools like Full Sail, and luthier training programs. You may want to check out the website of the Guild of American Luthiers at https://luth.org/about-us/
Excellent article, I definitely appreciate this website. Thanks!
Hi every one. as you know many of these music careers will require you to earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in music. Your bachelor’s degree can prepare you for entry–level jobs in music therapy or music business administration. For more advanced jobs, like teacher or performer, you will likely need at least a master’s and potentially a doctorate in music. Like any other field, you can always start with an associate or bachelor’s degree in music and work toward a graduate degree later on.
The value of an advanced degree depends on one’s career plans. An advanced degree is necessary for teaching college-level music. K-12 educators and music therapists in the U.S. find advantages to getting a Master’s degree. But in performance, additional training to advance in one’s proficiency is not necessarily gained through an advanced degree. For more, read “6 Considerations for Deciding on Grad School.”
I’m a Pianist and I also play guitar and write my own songs and lyrics. I’m 16 and I want to apply for a music school in Austria. Do you think it’s bad to record a rock song and also a classical song , if I want to apply for their scholarship?
Review carefully the audition requirements at schools you want to apply to. Be sure to follow those requirements if you want to be considered. Note that many schools offer their scholarships based on the proficiency of your audition.
Hi, I’m 17 and currently finding which path should I go. I’m a pianist but more interested with the violin. Actually I kinda wish that I could play in an orchestra like those violinist, but I did not learn the instrument. So I’m thinking , can u learn a new instrument in music college or uni?
Besides that I feel not confident that my piano playing is good enough for uni . I’m currently grade8 , makes many mistakes and my vocal is bad (I can’t sing) . Will music unis accept a student like me?
Every school is different in terms of what they require of students who want to apply. Look at the websites of schools you’re interested in to see whether an audition is required, and then to find out the level of mastery they’re looking for in the audition. Students who need to audition should do so on the instrument they are most proficient on. Once they are accepted to a music school, they are likely to be able to study another instrument as well. Again, this is dependent on each school’s policy.
“Times have really changed! Music schools have gotten hip to the fact that, like you say, training beyond proficiency on one’s instrument/voice is essential to a career in music.”
They hadn’t changed as of 2005-2009 – my time doing the time. But it’s been another decade so I guess it’s possible.
Music is one of the best careers on all continents which we can’t do without. Having a talent or through learning it at college we still need it. Let’s improve this industry, support it and safeguard it for the future generations. Music and peace work together.
One thing to note… you can do all this WITHOUT any degree. I have no degree. I have done many of the things on this list, and would be called to a session LONG before any music school graduate. Why? Because I can do what is required, been doing it for over 30 years now. I seldom see anyone with a degree in music in professional music.
You must be able to deliver the goods, and your music school is NOT teaching you this. Why? Because with the rare exception, the person teaching you has NEVER been in the situation and therefore is unable to convey this to you. They know nothing about it. They have no idea how to make the impossible possible, let alone be able to do the impossible on the spot. This is what is required of a pro musician (not school teacher, but performer).
I lived in LA during the 80s, and if you did have a degree in music back then (which I didn’t), you better keep your mouth shut about it. Too many horror stories there. Typically, when you leave college with a “music degree” you are woefully unprepared to do music as a living (other than teach). You MUST be able to play things by site with all the fervor and confidence as if you had ever played it before. You must also be able to create from chord charts, play by ear and memory, and do it with groove, musicality, and in the right style, etc. NONE of this will you get studying music at a music school.
Unless you are attempting to get some sort of job requiring a degree (which ain’t performing, composing, copying, licensing, etc), your degree is not only useless and a waste of money, but you’d be FAR better off getting out there and playing. Learn what is needed to be a working musician. You might as well do it right off the bat… because even after you get that degree… you will have to start in the same place… so you might as well start there first. Get the knowledge, learn, experience, and earn money instead of waste it on college tuition.
What’s the one question most graduates with music degrees want to know the answer to? “Do you want fries with that?”
Just my no degree, lifetime in music business, two cents worth.
Times have really changed! Music schools have gotten hip to the fact that, like you say, training beyond proficiency on one’s instrument/voice is essential to a career in music. They’re offering entrepreneurship training, business skills, internships, master classes and workshops and other opportunities for students to learn first hand what it means to be working in the world of music in the 21st century. Plus, music career opportunities now are so much more than performance. There are many paths to success, and every individual has different needs, goals, methods of learning and need for education. Career opportunities have exploded in various fields of music, and current music school graduates can attest to the advantages that their education and networking opportunities bring to attaining their goals.
Hi, I’m in 10th grade, I play Violin and Alto Saxophone. I want a career in music but everyone is telling me that there is nothing I can do with that. My parents are very supportive and my Mom says there’s a lot I can do with Music. But I feel lost. I don’t want to quit my music but I also don’t want to waste my college years in something I can’t find a job. Mom told me about music therapy or something else in medical field that involves music.
When you read the article you wrote in from, you probably saw that there are many careers in music including and in addition to performance. Become familiar with many of these by clicking on any of the careers that are highlighted in red. Also read the article about “Transferable Skills” (put those words in our search bar to find it) to see the very useful skill sets that music majors learn in addition to music that can be applied to any career. Note that many musicians have “portfolio careers” where they do several things instead of holding down just one 9-5 job. You can learn more about this by reading the article here on MajoringInMusic.com entitled “Portfolio Careers in Music.”
I’m a bit lost in my career path. A brief bio, I have a BS degree in psychology and am currently working at a physical therapy clinic. I have always had an interest in music and the psychology of it especially the neurology side of things and how it benefits ones health. Though, here is where I am lost, I enjoy the health field very much and I’m curious to know if there’s a career that bridges between psychology, music, and health? If so, what are these options?
Explore the field of music therapy. Read our articles about this career field starting with this one: How to Choose a Music Therapy Program.
I want to be a music teacher, and I’m getting ready to go to Musician’s Institute in LA. However, they only offer bachelor’s degrees and typically institutions will want at least a master’s. Should I pursue a higher musical education afterwards, or just start as a freelancer?
Training and experience in pedagogy is very valuable in addition to training to be an excellent musician. If you are hoping to teach K-12 music, check the requirements for teachers in the state(s) where you want to work to see what credentials you’ll need. Private and parochial schools may have different requirements, so check those also. If you are planning to teach in a private studio, check whether the city allows you to operate a business from a home studio if that’s what you hope to do.
I am currently a junior in college and I plan on getting my bachelors in music, but I honestly don’t know what job I can get with it. I want to be an entertainer, a musician, and a producer but I’ve been told that I don’t need a degree for those. What do you recommend?
For all of those areas, you will need to be a proficient musician and producer, so get as much training and experience now as well as hands-on experience through internships for the producing aspect. Also learn how to brand and promote yourself. Business/marketing skills, entrepreneurial training, networking savvy – these will all be important. No, you don’t necessarily need a degree, but a comprehensive college program and resulting degree should lay the foundation for obtaining these skills and give you the confidence and vision to pursue your goals and opportunities.
Hello, I graduated 2 years ago with a BA in music with a concentration in Ethnomusicology. I have had no luck finding what I really want to do in this field. What do you recommend as a list of careers?
Take a look at this musicology article. It may give you some ideas. Be sure to look at the sidebar with links from the American Musicological Society. With a focus in Ethnomusicology, were you required to do a lot of research and writing? If so, these are skills that can be parlayed into most any career. You just need to know how to talk about what you did as an Ethnomusicology-focused music major.
I have an AA in Music Comp/Performance and a BA in Music Comp. I graduated in 2015, soon after became a full-time Dad 🙂 I’ve recently been looking into taking the LSATs to become a Music Lawyer. I have two questions…Would I need to take any Law courses before applying? And will becoming a Music Lawyer ruin my chances of actually composing music?
We suggest that you read everything you can about entertainment law to get a good handle on what you’d actually be doing, as well as the demands of this field. You’ll also learn where the jobs are. We also highly recommend trying to get an informational interview with a few entertainment lawyers to learn more. As for getting admitted to law school, your LSATs will have great bearing, so getting properly prepared for them will serve you well. Look at the law schools where entertainment lawyers find the best training (a bit of googling will take you there) and see what their admission requirements are.
Continuing as a composer will be entirely your call – a lot will depend on your time and how you keep your creative juices flowing.
I’m 24 and have been working full time since graduating high school, but I’ve recently decided that I’d like return to school to find a better path. Music has always been a passion of mine so I know studying music would be great for me but I feel that since I’m older I need to commit to something that can push me towards a lucrative career. Is a performance major with a jazz focus worth pursuing if I won’t finish school until my 30’s?
Entering music with the expectation of it leading to a lucrative career is not recommended. You enter music because you can’t imagine doing anything else with your life and career. Your success as a musician depends on how you define “success” and it also has a lot to do with the skills you amass in addition to your proficiency. This article about jazz careers will be useful. Note that many musicians have portfolio careers especially when they start out (and sometimes thereafter) – which means they do many things in music and possibly in other fields in order to meet their expenses as well as feed their passions.
Hello. I’m currently attending my first year of college, and working towards a music production Bachelor’s degree. I’m mainly taking it to help me with producing my own music, and close friends who also play music. But I’m also wondering what other types of jobs I can get with the degree. Is it irrelevant to other music jobs?
We’re hearing that students who graduate in production and music technology fields get work in recording, mixing, mastering, working for companies that need these skills, working as free-lance artists and front-end and back-end developers. Since it’s an ever-changing world, adding additional skills as needed through more training once you’ve graduated may increase your work options considerably. Look for an article about this on MajoringInMusic.com soon. “Like” MajoringInMusic.com on Facebook and you’ll know when it’s posted.
Hi, I am a junior in high school and I was wondering what careers you can pursue with a Bachelors of Arts in Music?
As compared to a BM degree in music, which is usually performance-oriented and useful in anticipation of graduate music degrees, the BA in Music allows more room in your schedule to double major, minor, take a study abroad, and/or take more electives in specified areas of music. What you can do with a BA degree in music depends on what you want to do, what you’ve studied, and how you’ve prepared for your career beyond the classes you took.
Hi, I’m currently a freshman in high school and I play clarinet. I am quite good at it and I would like to have a career in music. I just don’t know exactly what music careerscene are available. My family is not supportive of me having a music career, because they don’t think it will pay well, and I won’t be able to support myself. Could you recommend me some music careers that pay well?
Pursuing a degree in music to secure a well-paying career is the wrong approach. Your success as a musician has a lot to do with how passionate you are about what you do, how proficient you are in the area of music you want to pursue, and the non-musical skills you learn to help you succeed. See this article, Entrepreneurship Training for Music Majors to learn more.
There are careers such as music education, music therapy, and arts management where you would be hired to work at a specific location and would be more likely to be provided with the kinds of benefits many jobs offer, but you would need to be passionate about careers in those areas to be successful at them.
As a college music major, you would spend many hours practicing, rehearsing, performing as well as taking classes – it’s far more time focusing on music than you’d imagine. By taking summer music programs, you will not only enhance your proficiency on the clarinet but also get to as see how much time you really want to be spend in music. Check out our 2017 Summer Music Camps & Programs page for ideas.
I’m a junior in high school planning to go to college to major in music composition. I play several musical instruments. I’ve been playing violin for about 8 years, I have taught myself piano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, and oboe and I am planning on learning more instruments. I love to learn everything I can about music. I am drum major in my high school marching band, and I also participate in state choir and state orchestra. I am very passionate about music and I love arranging my own musical pieces. One day I would love to make it big and compose music for movies, but the chances of that seem very slim. Any advice. Should I have a backup plan if my music plan doesn’t work out. Thanks
Majoring in music prepares you with many skills that will be useful to you in any career. (See: Transferable Music Skills – You Can Take Them with You.) As for making it big – that’s a great goal. But since there’s no guarantee you’ll reach it, being skilled in more than one area of music is always a good idea. Read our articles on majoring in composition and scoring for film, tv or video games. And look for college classes and workshops in entrepreneurial skills so that you can use your musical talent and skills to turn your own ideas into tangible outcomes.
Interested in scoring music for film and television, or being a music supervisor. What should I major and minor in to pursue this career choice?
Start by reading this article: Scoring for Film and TV or Video Games – 5 Ground Rules. There are some undergraduate scoring programs, not many. And a few graduate programs specifically in this field (USC Thornton just added one.) A strong music background is helpful so consider performance or composition. Take a look at San Francisco Conservatory’s “Technology and Applied Composition” program, Berklee, and NYU Steinhardt, and check their audition requirements and course requirements.
Ciao! I’m a rising high school senior and I plan to study voice in college, but I am unsure whether to do Musical Theatre or Vocal Performance. One of my coaches wants me to do one, and the other wants me to do…well, the other one. I have little classical training but would like to do classical, and my goal is to perform on Broadway and at the Met Opera (or have a pretty successful opera career on top of one in MT). If I wish to do this, would it better to acquire a BA in music with a concentration on voice or a BM in either voice or musical theater? I would like to get a Masters in voice regardless of my path. Thanks! (I have a lot of other questions too, would I be permitted to email you?)
Musical theatre entails dance and acting. While musical theatre college programs would advance you in both, you’d be expected to have a good background in those areas as well as voice when you apply and audition. Read our articles on musical theatre here on MajoringInMusic.com to learn more. If your focus has been strictly voice training and singing, you’ll probably have a better chance at getting into vocal performance programs. Note that a BA requires less music and more electives than the BM degree, but you’ll want to look at what’s offered at the schools you apply to and talk with those that accept you to determine the best degree fit. Students sometimes change from the BM to the BA for various reasons, so you can investigate that as well. Note that we do offer individual consultation; you can contact us here.
I want to be a music major when I’m older. I’m only 14 right now but I really enjoy music and want to take it a step further. But I have some questions. Normally when I watch videos of music major colleges and stuff they are only classical. No like pop music or anything. But pop is what I’m best at. Do colleges accept that?
We urge you to read articles on MajoringInMusic.com about popular music and music industry (find those topics under “Browse Topics” on the top red navigation bar or use the search tool (magnifying glass) to find them. You’ll see that yes indeed, there are schools that offer majors in these areas. In fact, we’ve listed schools we work with that have those programs.
There are also a number of summer music programs where you can learn more about these fields (see our Summer Music Camps & Programs page). Attending such programs is a great way to get started.
Hello, I’m currently in 11th grade and I love composition. I want to major in composition and pursue graduate studies in it, but I’m concerned about being able to get a job after graduation in both undergraduate and graduate. The job market isn’t exactly clear to me, and I have no idea where to look. Ideally, i’d have a stable source of income while still being able to compose personally outside of my career. I’d like to become a college professor of composition, a composer in residence, or just any other profession that would allow me to compose and maintain a sufficient income. Advice/Suggestions?
Be sure to read our article, Majoring in Composition and Where it May Lead. But please note: a stable source of income through music is not as easy to come by as in other fields, and it’s important to learn how to market your work in order to get it out into the world.
I am currently a high school graduate about to attend a university as a music major, however I am very unsure of this decision because from what I have gathered, in most music jobs, job stability is hard to come by. I want a stable job where I still get to play or deal with music on a daily basis. Any suggestions?
If you’re looking for job stability, you may want to look into the music business side of music. You may also need to look into a different major and profession that allows you to perform as a hobby or side job rather than depending on it as your main source of income.
I will be graduating this Saturday May 7th 201) w a BA in music (vocal performance). I want to continue to do shows. I currently reside in Oklahoma City. Any suggestions on what my next move should be ?
Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! Have you met with the career office at your school? If not, now’s the time to get an appointment with them. Since we have no idea what you’ve studied, what kind of experience you’ve had, or what your career goals are, it’s impossible to give any advice. We do, however, encourage you to read the vocal career-related articles on MajoringInMusic.com and also this one: Jumpstart Your Career in Music.
Hello , I’m currently a freshman in community college and just taking general courses right now. I’m not really sure what major to pick because I have many things in my head. I love everything to do with music and music production. I also play many instruments and enjoy being surrounded by music. Can give me some advice about a career in music journalism?
Take a look at this article: Music & Writing: Life as a Dual Artist. Perhaps it will give you some ideas. To be effective in both fields, you will need training in both. In today’s world, that includes knowing how to write for the internet. If you want to pursue music, we suggest you read our article: Community College for Music Students. It will likely influence what you take on the community college level.
I graduate in June 2016 and i am going to Community College for 2 years. I am a singer and want to perform in shows. I do not know what to major in or what kind of school to go to. I live in Southern California and I feel like i have a lot of opportunity out here.
We hope you’ll read our article about going from community college to music school, if that’s the direction you want to go in: “Community College for Music Students… Guidelines for Making it Work” There are a number of community colleges with strong music programs in SoCal so we hope you’ll talk with the head of the music program wherever you are, and see if they can offer some guidance.
You don’t indicate how much music training you’ve already had and plan to get at your CC, so if you do plan to transfer to a 4-year school in music, that will be an important factor for getting accepted. Look at the majors offered at schools where you’d be interested in transferring, to see what majors are most appealing. You might want to look into business or communications programs and see if you can minor in music – getting internships in the music world could help open doors to future career possibilities.
You also don’t indicate what kind of music you sing, but if perhaps it’s classical or jazz, there are a number of summer music programs on our “2016 Summer Music Camps & Programs” page that would be worth checking out asap. Several of the classical and jazz vocal programs are not limited to high school students. Whatever you do, we hope you’ll continue singing and looking for opportunities to perform.
Hello, I’m Patrick and I live near San Francisco, CA and I’m also about to graduate in May. I’m also a singer who wants to perform. My plan is to get my bachelors in music at a University in Arizona, but first I’m going to a community college for 1 or 2 years first to get any transferable credit classes that I can get. From what I’ve gathered, getting a degree in music can help open the doors for many career or job opportunities which will help to get you connected to people and even better opportunities, not to mention growth in education and maturity as a musician. Hope this helps! I’m on the same path, and I know how helpful support and reassurance can be! Keep persevering and don’t stop believeing! Hope all goes well! Peace!!
Hi. I’m 20 years old and I’m at a community college right now. And I am literally going to school because of a lot of excuses I guess you can say, but I want to pursue music for entertainment purposes and business. But I’m frustrated because time is not waiting for me and I don’t know if I should go off on my own or go to school for it. And if I did go to school where would I go? I think I’m scared of leaving home to grow up and I don’t know if my heart is in education. I mean any parts that don’t involve music. Please help me with advice!
It may be time to take a break from school and get some experience working and volunteering in settings for which you might want to go back to school to get more education and training. But to figure that out, we recommend that you first talk with advisers in the music and/or counseling departments at your school, to help you clarify your goals and how to proceed in order to reach them. We also suggest you read this article: Community College for Music Students… Guidelines for Making It Work. Note that we do offer private consulting through MajoringInMusic.com.
I’m graduating in 2017 and I’m pursuing my music career and I have no clue where to go or look into. I know I don’t want to be a teacher but I would like to be a performer or managing. But I don’t know which one is right for me. I play the violin and learning how to play the Piano. I know how to play the trumpet, and Guitar. I can see myself working in instrument builder/designer, music magazine publishing/writing and or historian. Help!
We suggest you start by reading articles on MajoringInMusic.com about careers you’re interested in. Also read the music industry internship articles, the “Music and Writing” article, and the “Entrepreneurship Training for Music Majors” article. Seriously consider a summer music program where you can focus in on your main instrument, learn music theory, and get a better sense of whether a performance major is really the right path. To be a performance major you will need to have a strong performing and practicing background, which typically means a private teacher for the instrument you’re strongest on and will audition on.
In 2017 I will be graduating high school and I am looking to major in musical education to become a band director for K-12 and minor in musical composition. I currently play the French horn, am able to play the trumpet, and am learning how to play piano, along with trying to learn a few woodwind instruments. Do you have any suggestions for me going forward? I don’t have the money to buy any professional instruments, and even the cheaper ones are close to being out of my price range, but I don’t want to get something so cheap either.
Contact professors of the primary instrument you’ll audition on at one or more of the schools you plan to apply to. Find out what their suggestions are re: instruments. Most music majors do own their primary instrument once they get to college. Do they know of instruments for sale at a lower cost than you might find elsewhere? Do the schools have a rent-to-own program? Are there scholarships or other options for students to help them obtain their primary instrument? And what are some creative ways you could earn money to put toward the purchase or rental of your instrument?
I’m about a semester and a half from finishing my degree in music. It’s JUST a BA in music. No specific concentration. This just makes me curious as to my options. I’m sure there are plenty but it worries me that I have no concentration such as business, marketing, or education.
A BA in music offers a solid education and transferable skills. But you’re the one who must parlay those skills into an income-producing future. Take some time to think about what you’d like to be doing after you graduate. Some questions for you:
1. Are there any workshops or seminars on how to put your music education to use?
2. Is there room in your last semester’s schedule to take a business or entrepreneurship class that might help you in your next steps?
3. Can we assume you’ve already read through the many careers mentioned in this article? Have you clicked through to see the articles associated with some of them, and done a search to see what those that are new to you are all about?
4. Have you made an appointment with the career development office at your school? Talked with music faculty to help you think out what you will do when you graduate?
I graduated high school in June of 2015. I just finished my associates degree in liberal arts. I play guitar, but I’ve never taken lessons. I plan to major in music education. Will I still have to have a major instrument and audition before I am accepted?
Yes! You will need to audition on your main instrument. Look at music education application and audition requirements at schools you’re interested in attending, to see all of what’s expected of you. We suggest you request a lesson with a faculty member at a school you’re considering applying to, to find out if your guitar proficiency is strong enough to get you admitted. Note that sight-reading (or sight-singing) capability is typically important for the audition.
I have a question regarding my skill sets. I had finished some music credits at my college, but decided to pursue healthcare at school instead. I am working as an administrative medical assistant in a doctor office, and just recently returned to continue finishing my music performance associates (voice). At this point I have been working in my office for a while, and I am good at my job. It involves a lot of customer service-related skills, such as being personable, organized, ability to multitask, computer skills, etc. My music skills are obviously different. I have a very quick aural recall. This allows me after hearing a song/piece a couple times to play it back in my head as clear as day. I have experience with singing, piano, cello, and guitar. I am proficient in using DAWs (my personal preference is Logic Pro), and I’ve composed in the past. Judging from my two very different skill sets, I am trying to determine jobs in the future that may be a good fit for me.
Talk with the music department at your school to see what you’d be prepared to do with whatever training you’ve received there. Hopefully, they have a career development office with counselors available for this purpose. Note that the skills you use in your office job are skills that a musician needs, too – communication, organization, technology, multitasking. Perhaps you can continue working in the customer service field and do some gigging on the side to satisfy both interests.
I studied classical music in college and now run an award winning marketing company; it can be hard to predict where your chosen course of study will take you. Here’s a recent interview about how studying 16th century counterpoint affected my marketing career.
I will be graduating from college in May. I was at first a music education major but now I am majoring in music only. What jobs can I get with just a bachelor of arts in music? I need to find a job after graduation lol
We hope you’ll take time during this last year of college to connect with the career office at your school for assistance in figuring out what skill sets you have to offer. We also suggest talking to your professors and to music school alumni to help you clarify your focus and interests. Get as much practical experience in the areas you are interested in pursuing while still having the safety net of school under you. Look at finding an internship to gain experience. And read this article about self-starting your career.
I am currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Music (Performance), voice being my chosen instrument and will be completing my final year next year. Besides the performance and teaching side of things what would be the best way to find out about other job opportunities? I’m just really interested to see what else is out there and other ways I could utilize my degree. Thanks
Hmm…have you read this article and researched any of the jobs that sound at all intriguing? Have you visited the career development office at your school or talked with your professors? We also encourage you to ask the career development and music department offices for contacts of recent alumni to find out how they’re putting their voice degrees to use.
I finished my BA in Music Performance Arts and a Master in Education! I would like to know if there is a master in Music therapy? Or some training for two years? Or must I complete a bachelor in music therapy? Please let me know.
The good news is that there’s no need to get a 4-year undergrad degree in MT if you already have a degree in music. Look for Equivalency Programs at schools offering Music Therapy. See any of our articles on Music Therapy to learn more and to see schools we work with that offer these programs. Equivalency Programs typically take about 2 years to complete and you’ll likely end up with a Master’s degree in Music Therapy.
Thank you for this guide and all of the ideas. I’m currently a second year in the University of Washington’s Music Education (Voice Emphasis) Program. I have yet to start any Ed classes and have just completed all of my theory and history prerequisites, but have recently realized music education is not what I am passionate about and feel I want to spend my career doing. I still want to be involved in music and there is a program that would utilize many of my credits to fulfill called American Music Studies. This interests me, but I am not sure what I can do with this degree once I have completed school. Do you know what I could use this for, specifically? Would this link well with another degree that isn’t music related? Thank you for your time. Again, this site is just what I was looking for in terms of ideas and to ask questions. Thank you for your time.
Good for you for recognizing now that music education is not a good fit for you. We suggest you talk with the American Music Studies faculty to learn more about what previous students have done with their degree, as well as to get their assistance in determining what classes would support you in being able to graduate with useful and transferable skills. Would this major be useful for graduate study in Ethnomusicology? And is that even an area you’re interested in? The senior capstone project appears to be an opportunity to delve into an area of interest that could relate to a future career or next step once you graduate, so our suggestion is to design your project with that in mind.
I’m 21, and about to finish my BA with a Geography Major and History Minor (setting things up to become a Socials Studies teacher). But recently, I’ve decided I want to teach music as well.
I’ve been playing piano for about 15 years now, and can roughly play at around a level 7-8 RCM. I’m planning on taking piano lessons again this coming September. I also learned electric bass (mostly self taught) for 4-5 years. I have experience as a piano accompanist for high school choirs, doing that for 5 years. Throughout high school I was in jazz band and choir and such. I can do some jazz improvisation because of jazz band. Also I’ve played in rock bands through the years, which helped develop my ability to learn music by ear. I can write music too.
After all that blabbing, my main question is: if I want to become a music teacher, do I have to do a bachelor’s program all over again? Or would it be possible for me to move onto a masters and pursue music or music education?
Take a look at a) The requirements for music teacher eligibility in the state(s) you may want to teach in; and b) The music education curriculum for undergraduates at your current school. Then make an appointment to see the music dept. chair at your current school. You should learn more than you bargained for! Some private schools may have different requirements so check them also. Remember that pedagogical training and supervised teaching experience are invaluable for good teaching.
Hello, I am an aspiring oboist (that is still in high school with time before I have to start looking at colleges). I would love to go into music performance one day, but mostly everybody I talk to makes it out to be impossible! This is where I start to doubt myself and my abilities to go into music performance. Is it very difficult to make a living as a music performer? And is it possible to even become one? I’m currently taking private lessons with a wonderful teacher and am in a youth symphony. I try to practice 6 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes at each session. Thank you!
We’ll be posting an article on music entrepreneurship and another on goal setting for musicians soon — we think you’ll find them very useful and relevant. Yes, being a musician is a challenging path to pursue and, yes, there are things you can do to prepare to be someone with the skills and talents that open more doors. For now, find people who are engaged in musical careers you are interested in, and learn how they’ve gotten to be where they are.
I am currently a Music education major going into my senior year. While I love playing music (I play trombone and a little piano) I don’t feel that I’m enjoying the education part of the major. I feel that I ‘could’ teach after I graduated if I did find a job but I don’t think that I would be really excited about it, based upon my experiences in observations in public schools. I would like to continue my education after I get my bachelor’s degree since a bachelors degree in music education by itself is not worth much in todays society but I don’t know exacly what to do. In additon music, I’ve had an interest in computers for years and I considered looking into getting some computer skills to make myself more versatile. I also have considered going to grad school for music performance. Is there any way that someone with a music ed degree could learn computer skills (without having to get another bachelor degree) or combine the two fields; What jobs are good for this type of situation? Are there people who have music ed degrees but went on to other fields?
It’s good to find out that teaching is not your passion before diving into it. You’ll save yourself and your future students the problems that arise when teachers are just not into what they’re doing. There’s a whole world out there for integrating music and technology, and we suggest you explore it now to get a sense of what area in particular you would gravitate towards. You can start by looking at schools on MajoringInMusic.com – check out music technology graduate programs vs. certificate or diploma programs, even programs at community colleges. As for performance, we suggest you look carefully at what you’d want to do with that degree before diving into the application and audition process.
H'NG ZHI SING
I am going to continue studies at Shanghai Conservatory of Music. My major is Chinese traditional music. The career of this major is teaching or performing only, I think, but I dont want to teach. I only want share my music to the world with my performance. It’s so hard to achieve… so any other jobs for this major.
It is increasingly difficult for musicians to depend on performance as the only source of income. In the US and increasingly in other countries, students are learning entrepreneurial skills to broaden their career options. Some learn what they need to manage music and other arts programs (including fundraising) while others create their own ensembles and performance venues. With the correct mindset that helps you see yourself as a business, the possibilities are limitless. Read articles on MajoringInMusic.com about entrepreneurship and music. We’ll be posting another article soon so visit often. Also realize that the skills you learn as a music student are transferable to non-music jobs as well. See this article to learn more: Transferable Skills: You Can Take Them with You.
Hi I am a senior in high school and I love music. I have been involved in various music groups in my school for 3 years, such as the advanced band, chorale, choir, and hand-bell choirs(if its called that). I have been playing the piano for a number or years…over 6 years I think and I took the ABRSM exams up till grade 5 with good scores. I also play the clarinet, trombone, and bass clarinet. I am wondering if I can still major in music particularly piano performance even though I am not super good in it…or at sight-reading. Also, can it be possible to make a good living from just playing the piano or should I look into something else? I have been reading all the other comments and it seems like this field is very tough to be in…and I don’t really want to go into music education. What level or skill does it take to be able to get good jobs playing for large concerts and such? Thank you.
The skill level to get into music school as a music major first needs to be addressed. How competitive a school you plan to apply to and audition at determines how proficient you need to be going into the process. Assuming you have a private piano teacher, they should be assessing your current skills and advising you on what you need to do to be ready for auditions. That said, if you plan to go to a liberal arts school, you may not need to audition until you get there. The skill level to “make it” as a performer is another story. And skill is only a part of the equation. Your ability to network and find as well as create jobs will determine how much work you’ll get. You’re right about this being a difficult field to enter – it’s very competitive and there are no guarantees. You have to really love music to move forward in it. Another possibility is to minor in music so that you can keep playing and get applied lessons and theory but without the competitive pressure. But remember: you can ALWAYS keep music in your life, practicing and performing in music groups in college and beyond, as well as listening to music and going to concerts..
I’m a junior in high school and I love to sing. Even though I don’t play an instrument, I would like to know what can I do to narrow down my choice in majors?
Unless you’ve been taking lessons and will be prepared for competitive auditions, you may want to look at liberal arts colleges with good music departments. You’ll get to take classes and explore music and other areas of interest before having to commit to a major, and you’ll have the option to double major as well. Know that whatever school you go to, you’ll still be able to join music groups on campus to keep singing in your life. Check out this article: Majoring in Music at a Liberal Arts College. And then start your search by checking out the liberal arts colleges on MajoringInMusic.com.
Hi, I am a succesful singer and voice over artist in New York City… I have my Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, but am interested in either teaching Music or becoming a Music Therapist. Based on my college degree, I assume that I would need to get a Masters in whichever one I choose to pursue? I am wondering if a lot of my credits would easily transfer over making the process of obtaining a master’s a bit easier? Also, is a Master’s necessary for either career path?
For music therapy, check out our articles on how to apply your Bachelor of Music degree to an Equivalency Program. If you want to teach K-12 music, check the state certification requirements in the state where you want to work to see what additional education you’ll need. For NY state, see NYSED.gov.
I am now a senior in high school, and I am planning to attend either a University of California or California State University to pursue a Bachelor’s of Music in Performance, Oboe Emphasis. I have been playing oboe for about 5 or 6 six years without any private instruction, and I am decent. This upcoming school year, I am planning on taking private lessons to help improve my tone and skills before I audition for college. However, I am kind of stuck between choosing if I want to become a professional in oboe or just become a real estate agent; I love playing it, don’t get me wrong, but I am not too sure if it will get me anywhere pursuing it. I am dedicated to playing and learning, but is performance with any instrument actually worth going towards?
Have you considered majoring in music and either double-majoring or minoring in business? That way, you’d get skills in both areas that will be useful whether you pursue a career in music or in business. No one can tell you whether it’s worth pursuing one career over another; that’s something only you can determine once you have more skills and experience under your belt. Keep seeking opportunities to widen your knowledge and experience in the areas where you’re strong AND passionate.
I graduated last spring with a BA in music composition. Ever since then I’ve been in dead end jobs, hopping from one to the next, usually in retail or customer service – NOTHING related to music. People keep telling me to go into teaching private lessons but I don’t have any “teachable” musical skills, beyond composing, theory and history. Basically my skill set is very limited and I feel like this last year has been a waste because I’ve not been able to utilize a single iota of my musicianship. I can’t go to grad school because I’ll NEVER be able to afford it. My question is: is there ANYTHING I can do with my music degree to earn some kind of income (I don’t want to be rich, just make enough to get by)?
A few suggestions: first, see this article for possible insights: Majoring in Composition and Where It May Lead. Then, contact the Career Office at the school you graduated from, or one or more of the composition faculty there. Hopefully, they can meet with you to discuss some ideas to help you move forward. Note that graduate programs may offer tuition in exchange for your work as a TA, so don’t rule them out especially if they can help put you on the path to where you want to go. You will need to present a portfolio of your work, so keeping up with composing will be essential. After exploring their websites, you may also benefit from talking with a few grad-level composition faculty at schools you’d consider attending, to see what you would gain from going to graduate school in composition. With a BA instead of a BM in composition, you may not have gotten enough background to be able to pursue whatever it is you went into composition to do, without additional training.
Hi, I am a first year college student currently studying Diploma in Economics in Singapore. I have been learning piano since 9 years old and I never give up on learning it til now. I love classical music and would like to pursue a music degree after my diploma but my parents think that a music degree is useless and can’t make a living after graduation. How should I convince them to pursue my dream of studying classical music which I am passionate about ? Currently I am having my semester break and I am struggling to decide whether I should just continue my study for another two years to get a biz related degree or transferring to another music college.. Which option is more suitable for my current situation ? I need some advice desperately..
It’s difficult to advise you based on knowing so little about you. But we suggest you look at our article on “convincing parents” – exactly what you ask about – as a starting point.
We also suggest you talk with faculty at your current school and a school you’re considering transferring to, for assessment of your proficiency on piano and what it would take to audition successfully. Remember that you can keep piano and classical music in your life whether or not you end up going to music school.
I’m a guitarist and about to go into my second year in college but I’m changing my major from biology to music … the only thing is… i have no idea what career i should pursue. what are the higher demanding jobs in music?
You have to carve out your career in music based on your passion, interests, skills. You need to be a very good performer with a broad range of skills including some business skills. You need to be a good networker and a good collaborator. And you need to be prepared to make your living through several income streams rather than one job. If this sounds vague, it’s because studying music in college will not lead to a definitive career – you have to create that for yourself based on what you learn, love, and discover.
I have a college degree in business and also a post graduate diploma in Human resources. I also have a band, modern alternative rock, but have never learned or studied or trained. I have a day job and now i feel music is what i want to do. Our band recently won the Channel V launchpad national finals. But I am from India and its getting really difficult.
What are you lacking that would help you be better equipped to do what you want to do? We suggest talking with music teachers who are actively working in the music industry. With your business background, you are likely to have some very useful skills to apply as well.
I’m a senior in high school, about to go to college, and I love music, especially rock. I want to do something where I can constantly be around bands, like a tour manager or something along the lines of that. Any suggestions?
Music Industry is the area where you’d be likely to find classes and internship opportunities to feed your interests. Check out our Music Industry articles to learn more.
Hello, I just read your tips and found your site which has lots of useful things for musicians. I know that music industry is a really competitive industry and nowadays everyone want to make a big profit out of music. I am currently junior in high school. I play piano classical music for 10 years and I taught myself flute and guitar and been singing for 6-7 years, also I have lots of experience in performing arts such as dancing. But my goal is to become professional solo artists where I can explore every genre, kinds of music. But when I read the articles throughout the internet, everyone insists that if I want to be heard in music industry I have to find an agent and send demos to record labels which I have very little knowledge of it and I’m not sure how it works or what are the costs of doing it. My parents are very supportive but they insist that I need to pursue music education by choosing music piano performance major. I don’t really know what other options I have and I think getting to popular music school will give me the chance to find some connections. What are the choices I have? Can you suggest some options to me.
Getting a strong foundation under you for whatever kind of music you end up performing will serve you well. Music theory, history, aural skills, applied lessons on your main instrument(s), lots of practice, and life experiences will all inform your music. If your goal is to become a singer/songwriter, then a popular music program would provide additional skills of networking, entrepreneurship, connections to the industry. Check out our articles on popular music and music industry and share this with your parents: Does Your Student Want to Major in Popular Music?
My name is Eric and I am currently a sophomore in college. All throughout I was very passionate about music, and had typical youngster dreams of being a rock star. I was a decently accomplished cellist and Principal Cellist in the orchestra at the Mannes Pre-college program. I have taken piano lessons throughout all of my childhood, and am self taught in guitar, bass, and violin. I had also developed an interest in music recording and production in high school. I had even gotten into Carnegie Mellon for Cello performance but at the last minute decided not to go due to the fear of the lack of financial stability. I instead decided to go study pre-med at a relatively top-tier academic university. I currently regretting my decision more and more every day and am getting a bit depressed. The music major here is a liberal arts major (so essentially an English Major but just on the topic of music) which doesn’t really interest me. They have a Music Engineering Sound Recording and Production Minor which I intend on doing. I’m also still playing in the orchestra and took lessons for a bit. I still don’t know what I’d like to major in, what I want to do with my life, or if i want to pursue medicine. If this gets worse should I drop out and try to get into a music education, or recording, or business program? Should I finish my degree here studying something else? Could a liberal arts music major help me at all? I don’t know what to do.
Know that confusion about your major and your future career plans is very normal. We hope you’ll find ways to use it to learn more about yourself and about areas you’re interested in. The college years offer a safety net – you get to explore with mentors available to you and you get to figure out what makes sense to pursue and what doesn’t.
If you haven’t already, we suggest you talk with your adviser and some of the music faculty at your school for ideas and support. (Note that we do offer individual consultations if you’re interested in working 1:1 with us.)
It sounds like music is more important to you than you first realized when you made your school choice. That’s actually a great realization to have, even though it can be painful at first to find out that what you had decided on doesn’t really work for you. It’s great to hear that you’re playing in the orchestra – keeping yourself involved in practicing and performing will really serve you. What else can you do to bring more music into your life in college?
We encourage you to read this article: Music or Medicine? Great Tips for Doing Both. It may be helpful. As for a liberal arts-oriented degree program: it’s as valuable as you can make it be. It can give you room to explore and try out classes in areas you’re interested in without the pressure of a more conservatory-oriented program. It can also provide study abroad opportunities that many BM degree candidates just don’t have room for except during the summer.
I read your article, and I’m well aware that I can major in music and still be pre-med. I’m not a huge fan of the music major at my school although I do love music. All the time I spend studying at this rigorous school is chipping away at time I could spend practicing or developing my musical skills. My quandary is more about what I want spend my life doing: struggling to make ends meet as a musician, or potentially struggling to be happy as a doctor or at some other job. Its really hard to make a decision since I, as a college student, don’t know what the real world is like. Its been emphasized to me that studying something in school and doing something in the real world is very different. I don’t know what the life of a musician is like, and I don’t know how much time a music-lover with a different job is able to devote to music. I don’t know how “rough” and “depressing” (so I’ve been told) the music business actually is. I don’t know if my old friends at conservatories who decided to go for it are going to be able to support themselves as performers. All I know is that while I’m studying for my biology test , I’m constantly thinking about my project for my music engineering class. But apparently (so I’ve been told) that jobs at music studios these days are impossible to find. Just not sure what to do. I don’t plan on studying abroad. I guess I’ll try as many things as I can and switch to the music major if all else fails. Thanks for the response.
Hi Eric, We’re hoping others will weigh in on this but for the moment, here are some more thoughts.
College is really all about facing the kinds of questions you’re asking yourself. The challenge is in finding good support systems that can help you look even more deeply into these questions. And to get education, skills, experience that will help point you in the right next direction (realizing that directions do change). We hope there are some good advisers at your school to talk with.
Working in music is not a linear path and most newly-graduated musicians (as well as many experienced ones) find they need to have several income streams. They also must learn the skills and mindset of entrepreneurship, how to be flexible, and how to be diverse in what they can do. They can’t expect jobs to come to them. They often have to take on a non-music job to support their music. So passion for music must be a driving force. If all of this doesn’t sound like it fits you, then we suggest finding ways to keep music in your life, see if you can dive into your music interests during summer breaks, and continue on your current path until you gain clarity or recognition of an alternative course of action.
I’m an aspiring artist looking for answers and direction where to go from here. Here as in, I write my own songs, compose my own music, and I also cover a lot of songs on my YouTube, Instagram, and my Facebook page. I’m 16 years old and I’ve sung in choirs and group performances when I was younger. I want to make it as a solo artist, and eventually I may even decide to get other musicians involved. I’m wondering what I should major in to become a professional artist in the future. I’m looking to hire a vocal coach this year, and I’m pretty serious about auditioning for The Voice next year, if all goes well and I feel prepared enough. So I would really appreciate some direction on what to major in so I grow my knowledge in music and learn to create better music.
If you’re looking at strengthening your performance skills as well as gain and hone the skills it takes to get your music “out there,” you may want to check out popular or contemporary music programs and music industry programs that offer a singer songwriter focus. Getting business/marketing/entrepreneurial skills under your belt along with internships will be really helpful for getting noticed in this very competitive field. We also recommend you look at our Summer Music Camps & Programs page and zoom in on programs that will help you take your music to the next level.
Hello, I am a freshman in college and I’m on my second semester. I have taken music theory classes such as Aural Perception and Structure of Music. I want to figure out exactly what I want to do as far as a career. I’m really considering becoming a producer and/or songwriter but I feel like it will be difficult to actually get into that type of business. For now I am going to continue studying to earn my bachelor’s in music composition. Honestly I sometimes feel like I am wasting time doing something that won’t be worth it in the long run. Any advice? Thank you!
Working in music industry (the arena in which it sounds like you want to work) is demanding and competitive. You’d be well-served by finding internships for summer as well as during the year, that allow you to explore the different areas you’re interested in and find out about new ones. Internships help you make connections, and give you something to put on your résumé. We hope you’ll be talking to your professors, upper classmen, and alumni re: how to get the most out of the school you’re attending in order to do what you envision when you graduate. Hang in there if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, and look for ways to get as much information and experience as you can while the safety net of school is still under you.
Thanks a lot!
I am a sophomore in high school and I LOVE music. I love composing my own music and I love to sing. I plan to be a band director and or a private tutor for woodwinds and the piano. I’m currently attending my school band as a baritone player. I’m originally a clarinet player. If possible, I would like to major where you learn all instruments in an ensemble and to be a band director. I’ve been told it’s a risky major because “there aren’t many jobs out there” and that I won’t be able to make money off it. Please, tell me your thoughts about this(: thank you.
Look at summer music programs such as those on MajoringInMusic.com for opportunities to learn more about what you’re interested in. Find ways to get leadership roles in your school band. Keep practicing and getting as many performance opportunities as you can. It sounds like music education with an emphasis on instrumental conducting could be a path to explore. There are no guaranteed jobs in any field. Keep pursuing your passions and your strengths, and remain open to the many possible paths you will discover while in school.
I’m a freshman in high school and I can’t decide whether or not I want to major in music. My problem is I don’t know what job I would fit into because I want to be a singer or performer but not classically trained like mentioned above. Any suggestions on what I should consider?
You’re at a great point in your life to do some exploring. We recommend you consider taking summer music programs where you can study different genres of vocal music. Also talk with vocal coaches and choral music teachers to learn about their careers. Note that even if you go in the direction of popular music and songwriting or vocal jazz, a strong foundation in music theory and music history and some background in classical voice will all serve you well.
Hello, I am a Senior in highschool and have been on the wall about what I want to major in college. I play Bass Trombone and I like others am curious if it is possible to double major in both Music Education as well Performance. I want to teach but I also want to perform at a high level on my instrument. Ive been asking around and am stuck on what to do.
Many students double major in Music Education and Performance. Check with the schools you’re interested in and have been applying to, to see how they’ll be able to accommodate your interests in doing both.
I’m currently a freshman in high school and I play the cello. I plan to go to music school but I don’t know what I want to study. I want to keep playing cello for a long time and plan to make a career out of it. I thought about music therapy, music education, and music performance. I considered being a music educator but also playing in symphonies on the side. What are your thoughts on what I should do?
You’ve got plenty of time to decide what you want to major in as well as what you want to do in your career. We suggest you use the next couple of years to get exposure to some of the careers you might be interested in, take summer music programs, take every opportunity you can get to perform, talk with people working in areas of music you could see yourself in, and enjoy high school.
I’m 18 years old and a Senior in high school. I’m still undecided about which college I should go to. I’m considering Full Sail University. Problem is that it’s not accredited so my credits won’t transfer if I should decide to transfer somewhere else. I already make beats and record music with my christian rap group. We’ve gotten a few gigs in the past at local churches. I want to become the music producer with a degree in music so that I’ll know exactly what I am doing. I’ve been asking a bunch of my friends on what I should do but one of my friends said something different. She said “You should minor in music because how risky that field is.” I know it’s somewhat risky but I have a passion for music! I need more advice. How hard would it be to get a job as a producer? How much would the pay be? I just need more help before summer begins.
• Electronic production and design (including audio engineering, mastering, mixing, music directing, producing, program directing, programming, recording engineer, studio manager, MIDI technician)
We suggest you look at taking a summer music program where you can explore the field of music industry, recording, and producing. Check our Summer Music Camps and Programs page to get started. As far as college goes, you may also want to consider starting out at a community college with a good music program, but be sure to look carefully at what you would need to take there so that credits do transfer. Read this article, “Community College for Music Students… Guidelines for Making it Work.” Also see if Full Sail and other schools you’re interested in can help connect you with some music producers on faculty so that you can learn more about the steps they took to do the work they’re doing.
I am a senior at University of Colorado Denver and I studied recording arts. They have a really great program there but I will say the job market is not handed on a platter. In fact I made sure to get experience in doing other things I love, like valet and hospitality. It’s hard to make it in any field but following your heart is most important. When I look at the movies I’ve scored, the bands I’ve recorded, and the songs I have written and produced, I can take a step back and truly say I’m thrilled at my choice to become an audio professional. I’m in my last semester now and I am preparing for the future. There is so much opportunity out there for me as I am extremely motivated and I always have been.
If you have similar feelings of excitement towards music and you believe in yourself, you will make something of yourself in the industry, no doubt about it. Remember it’s about making good music, for good people. Also, education sharpened the edge of my blade as a musician. I would not be where I’m at without it. Cheers
I am a sophmore in high school and plan on majoring in music. I have had a dilemma for quite a while about choosing what music career to study for. I love performing but I know that field is uncertain when it comes to getting work. I also really enjoy conducting and arranging music. But my family was worried that the music field is too risky and that I should not pursue it. I started thinking about everything else I like and found out that I am a good analyser with poetry and lyrics, as well as connecting it to history. I was wondering if there are jobs for musical analysing. If so, could you point me in the right direction when it comes to college? I was thinking maybe a liberal arts college?
Check out the field of musicology. Read this article to learn more. You’ll see that musicology is more of an academic field. You’ll also find that many music schools only offer musicology on the graduate level. If that’s the case at the schools you are interested in, you’ll want to check out undergraduate majors in music history or music studies as preparation for pursuing musicology in graduate school. But hey! You still have plenty of time to consider your options. Use this year and next to learn more about areas of music you’re interested in. Talk with people who work in careers that interest you. See if you can get some volunteer experience in areas you’re interested in. By the way, there are no guarantees of jobs in music – and most musicians have several income strands after they graduate. But there are also no guarantees of jobs for those coming from non-music-related fields. It’s really important to learn how to use your education, and not expect a job to just land in your lap as soon as you graduate. Those days are over. Look at all the transferable skills majoring in music offers (see this article about transferable skills), and remain flexible and open to possibilities beyond what you had imagined.
Hi, I am a junior in high school and am really torn about what I want to do in college. I have a passion for choral music and have for a long long time! I was thinking about music education and becoming a chorus teacher for high school, but I’m not sure. I don’t know if the need for music teachers is high enough for me to get a job quickly out of college, and I’m not sure how hard majoring in music is! I have been in chorus for my whole high school career and have auditioned for many honor choirs so I don’t believe I lack the skill. I’m just not sure!! Help!
You’re smart to explore your options. There are no guarantees of getting a job right out of college, although there are many schools that have very high music education employment rates for their graduates despite the often dismal media about the state of K – 12 music education. That said, recent surveys also point out that there are no guarantees of jobs in most every field, so it’s all the more important to be passionate about what you pursue.
Majoring in music is not an easy path to pursue. If you haven’t yet taken a music theory class, it would be wise to do so as soon as possible. Music majors are required to take several semesters of music theory, and it’s a good idea not to be caught like a deer in the headlights when you enter music theory as a college student. You will also need to learn to juggle a lot of practicing, rehearsals, class attendance, school work, and more.
Have you visited any colleges you’re interested in, where you can sit in on some classes to see what it might be like to be a student there? Are there opportunities to observe a choral conductor in a music school near where you live, and then talk with that individual about their education and work? Any opportunity you can seize that will give you a chance to explore music education as a possible educational path and and choral conducting as a potential career would be very useful. Note that the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and National Association of Teachers of Singing both have college student chapters. If you pursue choral music education, we suggest you consider joining both.
I have read through some of these questions and answers and was extremely pleased at the content.
I am a 26 year old, self-taught guitar player. I have skills in blues style/rock riffs and have become proficient through the 15 years I have practiced. I am at a crossroads though in my life. On one track, I would love to pursue a degree in music, Jazz guitar, and become more professional in my field. I do not know how to read music, or write for that matter. I know very little in terms of music theory and have been told by multiple universities that I am quite a bit behind to be accepted into a program. As for college credits, I have about 90 and most should transfer, but it was in a sports science degree, which may or may not be a total opposite affair…
On the other road, I love to record sound be behind a board in a studio or live arena. I have a pretty solid ear for music ( I taught myself guitar by listening to tracks and replicating) and love to produce sounds. Becoming an audio engineer might be a more “lucrative” profession just based on the fact I could have my own business with little overhead, other than initial studio costs.
My dilemma, and hopefully a thesis to your answer, is which way to go? I don’t expect a magic solution, I am merely wanting to do everything at the same time. I really just need to weigh my options with each path and was hoping for some insight into this. I could finish my degree in Sports Science and then pursue Audio Engineering OR just pursue being a musician and study my but off for the next year so I can just feel comfortable even setting up an audition…
Any and all responses will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
There’s no one answer to your question, and no guarantees regardless of which way you go. Wish it weren’t that way but it is! A few things to bear in mind: A performance degree requires several semesters of music theory. Site-reading is typically part of your audition. Check the websites of schools you’re interested in to see what their criteria are for auditioning. Also check their criteria for transferring credits, to find out what’s realistic to expect.
Then look at audio engineering programs – requirements for applying, required courses, cost. UC Denver MEIS and McNally Smith are two of the schools we work with that offer these programs.
But also consider taking some classes at a community college with a good music program – and there are definitely some excellent ones around the country. Check out this article on our website, Community College for Music Students for guidelines. You might also want to look into programs offered by some of the for-profit schools – they’re definitely of shorter duration than 4-year programs but scrutinize them carefully.
I’m a freshman in college and I’m stuck on trying to figure out what to do with my life. I started out as a double major in Animal Ecology and BA in Music, I dropped my music to a minor and now my 2nd semester of college decided I can’t stand the thought of being done with almost all the requirements for a minor after this semester (I’m taking almost all music classes). I practically live in music hall and am super involved in various ensembles. I started playing piano and violin both when I was 3 (my mom being a private teacher for both of them). I can also play some guitar, played some xylophone in 7th grade, I can play some alto sax, flute, clarinet, trumpet, mellophone, and am teaching myself French Horn right now. My main instrument is oboe and english horn, both of which I own professional models of.
I love learning new instruments! I have considered music therapy, however singing is not one of my talents. I have also considered music ed, but being a double major, the education requires a lot of extra classes that wouldn’t allow me to keep my other major. Although I don’t like the majority of my classes for my nonmusic major, so I’m not even sure if that’s something I still want to pursue as well. Music is where my heart is. My current college doesn’t offer a music therapy degree, but if I decided to go that route, I’ve researched colleges that offer Equivalency plus Masters programs. I’ve been researching a lot, but still not positive on what I’d be best fit for. I’m also really interested in the newer idea of music therapy for animals, although I know that’s more of an on the side research type thing. Any advice on a career that would be good for a person that loves playing multiple instruments.
We suggest you talk with the career development office, your adviser, and music faculty at your school for support. While some freshman are very clear about their paths, others are right where you are, in the exploration stage. It does sound like music is more important to you than you first realized – and that’s great to be able to see. By the way, highly proficient multi-instrumentalists are sought out for pit orchestra, touring, and cruise ship gigs. And while music therapy requires proficiency on guitar, piano, and voice, you’re not expected to be an opera star or a Carnegie Hall-ready pianist or guitarist in order to pass the exams and become a credentialed music therapist. The instruments function as tools for the profession, rather than being about performance.
All my life I dreamt about becoming a singer/songwriter and performer, but somewhere along the way, I got wrapped up in life and didn’t pursue my singing as much as I should have. Mainly because of my lack of support from parents/ family members who wanted me to get a more “serious” job. I am now 32 years old, and am a mother of 4. I have spent my whole life just working to support my family and not at all loving what I do. Deep inside it’s always been music that has been my passion. I’ve worked all sorts of admin, and receptionist jobs… I have been working at a hotel for about 4 years, and have had a bit of success from that, but it’s not my passion. After returning to work from maternity leave, I decided to reduce my work hours, and go back to school full time (with 4 children), and hone in on my interests, and talents, and finally pursue something that makes me happy. I’m considering making music my major, but have my family’s voices in the back of my mind saying that is not a good field to get into. I took a look at the curriculum guide for my school, and am really excited about a lot of the requirements. So I am trying to do some research now to see what exactly are my options if I did decide to make music my major. I appreciate this site and am really looking forward to hearing back from someone.
We’re glad to hear MajoringInMusic.com has been helpful to you, Alicia! And good for you for following your passion. Since music school is demanding and requires long hours and you refer to major responsibilities on the home front, consider starting at a community college with a good music department as a way to start exploring what majoring in music would entail. Taking music theory and voice lessons would put you on the right track. Talking with career development staff would be useful, too. Consider which area/s of music you’d be interested in diving into. For instance, a music education degree with voice emphasis will allow you to continue learning vocal music while getting the background you need to teach, if teaching is also a passion. Music therapy is another field that also utilizes vocal skills. Should you go ahead and pursue a degree in music, remember to gain some business and entrepreneurship skills to help you get your music out there.
I am a freshman in high school and I am striving to be a music major. I have a good ear for music and I sing, play piano and trumpet, and I’m picking up the tenor sax and guitar soon. School is incredibly tough and stressful, and I’m thinking about dropping high school to become a better musician and go for this music major. The bad part is I don’t know where to start or what to do honestly…My parents won’t be open to the high school drop out thing, but I think its my best bet. Any ideas to help me?
We’re not fans of dropping out of high school. There’s too much to lose by doing so. You say you want to be a music major – which implies going to college; you either have to have your GED or finish high school to be considered. We suggest you talk with your parents and your school counselor to identify ways of lessening the stress you’re feeling. Whether the stress is academic, social, or both, there are ways to address all of it while keeping music in your life. Please let us know how things go.
I am a junior in high school and I have planned on going into the music business. Recently my parents have not welcomed the idea and recommend I go for a simple music degree instead. I am just worried that not choosing a specific goal under the umbrella of music will leave me open for failure. If you have any information, I would be extremely thankful!
You are smart to be thinking ahead in the way you are doing. Most new and recent music school graduates find that they must have more than one if not several streams of income in order to pay their rent and buy groceries, etc. Even what you refer to as a “simple music degree” requires some knowledge and skills in business and entrepreneurship to be useful. Since we don’t know what aspect of music you’re interested in, we suggest you read some of the >music industry and popular music articles on MajoringInMusic.com to learn more. You’ll see that internships are crucial in the music industry field.
I am currently a senior in high school, about to graduate. I am very interested in pursing a career in music and have thought about various careers. Throughout the past year I have been interested in music therapy and music education. Lately though, I have decided that I want to become a performer or a singer/songwriter. I was just wondering what the best tips were for that–especially when it comes to majoring. I was thinking about getting a BA in music and then going from there, but I honestly have no idea. Any information would be very helpful!
The BA in music will give you more leeway in course selection, but be sure to check out each school you’re interested in, regarding their audition requirements.
Read the popular music (click here) and music industry (click here) articles on MajoringInMusic.com for relevant information about careers in songwriting. If you’re still interested in music therapy, read articles on MajoringInMusic.com about the education and career opportunities in that field. Also consider summer music programs for helping hone your thinking.
Hello, I’m currently a sophomore in high school and I plan on majoring in music. I have a passion for music and I would like to be a performer, but my singing abilities are minimal and I can not play any instrument. I also like to dance and have performed for 4 years, but I stopped for 7 years now. I’m afraid I will fail in the music industry because I lack both in experience and skill. What should I do?
If you want to major in music to become a performer, you will need to get started with instrument or voice lessons now. By your senior year, depending on which schools you apply to, you will need to be ready to audition with enough proficiency to be a serious candidate for admission. There’s still time to immerse yourself in music – through lessons, regular practice, and summer music programs (click on Summer Music Camps & Programs). Listen to many genres of music, attend concerts, and get involved with you school band, choir or orchestra as soon as you can. If you want to become a music major, you should also start studying some music theory so it’s not overwhelming once you get to college.
Remember, though, that you can take lessons and play music whether or not you actually major in music. You can also minor in music at many schools, even join an ensemble or band without being a music major. If you are passionate about music, find ways to keep it in your life regardless of what you pursue in college and afterward.
I am a 25 year old with some scattered college credits in music theory and some general classes. I’m kind of discouraged by the fact that it would probably take me until I’m 30 to get a music education degree. I would like to know if there is a possibility of getting a Bachelor’s of Music Composition Degree and then getting a Master’s Degree in music education. I want the knowledge to be able to compose music, and that’s what I really want to do, but I also work with high school bands and I figure the education part would be a big help for me. Is this a possibility? Thanks.
For starters, click on and read this article: “Majoring in Composition & Where It May Lead.”
You don’t say whether you already have an undergraduate degree, but there are a variety of ways to meet both of your interests without having to go back for two degrees. If you’re serious about getting a degree in composition, you’ll see that many schools require you to present scores of your compositions, recordings if possible, and interviews with composition faculty in addition to applying and then auditioning on a performing instrument or voice. You may find more wiggle room at a liberal arts college with a strong music department, but check carefully the requirements at any school you’re interested in. You will also find schools where you can major in music education and minor in composition. And to confuse you even further, you can find schools like Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at Catholic University, where you can major in composition and also take the Music Teacher Certification Program. Bottom line: check schools you’re interested in, look closely at what they offer and what their application and audition requirements are, and contact them with any remaining questions.
I am 20 years old and am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international business. But i have been interested in music since a long time. I play the guitar and an intermediate level and try to sing. Nothing else except music interests me as much. I always keep trying to find ways to somehow change my field of study and do something about my passion for music. But, i’m not sure if i am talented enough to do something about it! Not sure if i am eligible to get in a college to study music. You can check out some of the covers i have done using the URL given. So, i don’t know what to do about it. But, I eventually want to be a singer songwriter. I would really appreciate any guidance you give.
If you attend a college with a music department, see if you can have a guitar faculty member in the music department evaluate your proficiency on guitar. That way you’ll have some feedback as to whether you would be in a position to apply for a spot in a music school. Note that liberal arts schools allow for more exploration before declaring a major.
We suggest you read the songwriting articles on MajoringInMusic.com. A degree in business could be useful to you if you do want to pursue this interest, assuming you gain entrepreneurial skills in addition to business savvy. Gaining a background in music theory and composition would also be helpful.
A passion for music is something that will get you through life. We hope you will always find joy in music regardless of how you end up incorporating it into your life. Performing music –– solo and with others –– is something many people find incredibly fulfilling, regardless of whether they do it professionally.
Hello, I’m 18 and I looovvvee music and plan on going to college for music and becoming a music agent for a company. It is really hard because I live in a small town in Delaware where the nearest studio is 4 hours away, but I cant see myself doing anything else. I don’t know if it is really reasonable. My family seems to think I shouldn’t do it but it’s my dream.
We hope you are reading the articles about music industry here on MajoringInMusic.com – they will be very useful if you want to enter this field. It takes far more than just a love of music to be able to work in the field, but passion is also extremely important. Also check out the article on college record labels. You’ll see that two of the participating schools that offer both aren’t too far from you (Monmouth University and Appalachian State University). Drexel also has a program worth checking.
Best wishes and let us know if this has been useful!
Hi, I’m in 8th grade, and I know it’s long time before I have to make any decisions regarding my career, but I want to know what I might be able to do with my passion for music. I started playing piano when I was four, but had to stop when I moved to Germany (I was 11 at the time) so I picked up the clarinet. I became very good at it and this year I made it into an international honor band. Last year I started playing cello and I started the tenor saxophone, French horn, and restarted piano this year. Cello is the only instrument I have lessons for, since I don’t have the time or money to get lessons for the other instruments. I practice between one and two hours per day and I love it. I know that I want to have a musical job, but I don’t want to give any of my instruments or just have them be a hobby. The only job I can think of that requires those kinds of skills is a band director. Are there any other jobs that need multiple instruments?
As a multi-instrumentalist, you would have more to offer ensembles and orchestras. Check out this article, “Touring with a Pit Orchestra” to get a sense of what you can do when you are proficient on more than one instrument. Another career that requires proficiency on several instruments (keyboards, guitar, and voice) is music therapy. If you do pursue music in college, you will most likely need to audition on one instrument and make that your main instrument. You have plenty of time to discover whether that will be the cello or if there’s another that you become even more passionate about. And whichever instrument you do decide to focus on, you can still play your other instruments and take lessons on them as well. As you progress in your study of music and your instruments, you will find many other paths open to you, such as teaching, directing, composing, and so many of the options listed in this article. Don’t limit yourself at this time in your life. Stay open to the possibilities.
Hello I am current a student at Stillman College, located in Tuscaloosa, AL. I am a General Studies Major with a concentration in Music. My passion has always been music. I love to play my instrument but not so much solo aspect. I like teaching others about music. I will be graduating this spring. I just need advice on what steps can I can take to become a music therapist, theory teacher, or band director. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks in advance.
Several of your questions may be answered by reading the articles on MajoringInMusic.com about music therapy, music education, and conducting. We also suggest you talk with music teachers at your school. It’s likely they all have at least one degree in music education, and can tell you about the educational requirements for teaching on the K-12 levels as well as on the college level. While many people without a music education degree do go on to teach students through their private studios, they may or may not have the pedagogical skills to be really good teachers and must build their studios over time in order to expect any kind of reasonable income stream from them. Band directors typically have conducting training and experience. And music therapy is a very specific path with its own requirements, but as you’ll read in the articles on this website, you can explore equivalency programs many schools with music therapy programs offer to those with sufficient undergraduate training in music.
I’m a singer and I was wondering can you get your PhD in music education to be a music professor and be a performer too? Also will the degree teach techniques to help you with your performer skills?
A large percentage of music educators at every level continue to perform. At the doctoral level, you’ll often find DMA degree to be oriented around a specific focus like performance, composition, conducting, vocal coaching while the PhD or DME in music is the degree that prepares music educators for research and teaching college students who want to teach at the K-12 level. PhD programs are also widely offered in ethnomusicology, musicology, and music theory. We highly encourage students interested in graduate training in music to become members of the College Music Society and to attend their conferences.
My name is Wanda and I’m from Argentina. I have always loved music but I’m not a musician. I’m studying Marketing at university but I want to mix it with a Music Business degree. I don´t mind travelling abroad to study and get my dream job! I thought that I needed to be a musician in order to become an artist manager/music marketer, but now I feel better knowing it’s not a must! My goal is working in Asia’s entertainment industry and I won’t give up till I make it!
Hello, I am a junior in high school and know that I want to do something to do with music when I go to college and choose a major and career. The college I am most interested in does not offer Music Education, they simply have Musicology, History/Theory, Performance, and General. Would getting a degree in simply Music qualify me to be a band director?
Band directors are also music educators. Depending on what level you want to teach and conduct, you may need a graduate degree as well. Talk with the music department at the college you’re interested in to see if there’s any way they would be able to prepare you for the career you’re interested in. You may need to rethink your choice of schools based on what you learn. You should apply to more than one school anyway, so look at schools that do offer music education as a major.
Hi I am a senior in high school and I have a passion for creating music. Although I am capable of playing a bit of several instruments, I want to pursue a career as a performer. I want to know if going to a school of music will help me get there. If not, what can I do to be able to reach my goal. It may sound silly, but I’d like to be a performer as in being in a band. Will education get me there?
Being in a band does not require a music degree. And you can be in a band to simply enjoy playing music with others. Many people of all ages play in bands because they’re passionate about music, but don’t pursue music as their main occupation. As a college student, you can take music lessons, and join bands and ensembles without being a music major. You can also minor in music without necessarily having to audition. However, if you want to perform professionally, you will need to become highly proficient on at least one instrument and have a firm foundation in music theory, music history, and other classes that will inform who you are as a performer and how you perform. You will have to practice A LOT, learn to play in collaboration with others, learn to think of yourself in business terms, and learn how to network. These are all extremely important to being able to earn a living as a musician. And yes, this is what you would learn by going to school to study music.
Hello there, I was just wondering if you have to be proficient at a musical instrument before pursuing a college degree in music, or do they teach how to play a certain instrument in college?
Students who major in performance receive lessons on their instrument or voice to become more proficient musicians. They have prior background in instrumental or vocal music. The more competitive the school, the more proficient you are expected to be when you audition. If you don’t have a background on an instrument or voice, consider minoring in music or taking private lessons and then trying out for an ensemble or band to perform with once you’re ready to perform with others. Also, consider liberal arts schools where you can explore music without having to make a commitment to a major right away.
Hello, I’m wanting to find out how I can simply make beats for popular singers/ rappers. I do not have any type of degree in music, but would love to put all my effort and time into learning. I do have some practice in some online studios but they limit me to what I can do. I would love to someday have my own studio to help people like me.
To have your own studio requires that you have strong talents in some of the areas musicians need. While you don’t need a degree in music to do this, exposure to music and the recording industry is important for learning skills and networking, which are essential for success. Both are offered in music schools with music industry programs. Production and beat making require just as much practice as any other musical craft. Talking with people in the industry would be a great way to learn what it takes to be successful.
I am a senior in high school and I have a huge passion for music. I’ve been in a choir environment since I was four and am currently in 4 choirs and am taking a music theory class. I know for sure I want to keep performing but I was wondering if giving voice lessons would be a suitable career for me. Most say I am a people-person and think I work better on an individual level. What steps or classes should I take to achieve and give effective voice lessons?
To be a credible voice instructor, consider becoming a music education major with a voice emphasis. A voice degree with pedagogical training would be another possible path. Look at the music schools you’re serious about attending and see what they offer along these lines. Well-trained private voice instructors provide good role models to help you progress. Also consider becoming a member of SNATS, the student chapters of the National Association of Teachers of Singing
I’m currently a senior music major at York College. I’m beginning my graduate degree applications but have yet to pay for them and send them. Would it be in my best interest to look for a career straight out of getting my bachelors degree? With such a general degree as “bachelors of arts and music”, what I be able to teach any private or public school? I just want to figure out my life as soon as I can. I’ve currently have some experience with teaching. I work at a music school and I teach voice lessons and piano lessons. I would’ve been choirs at school for all four years and currently a paid musician at a church. Also, I like to arrange pieces for choirs. So I really just open for anything that can make me money right after getting my bachelors degree so that I may have some money under my belt and can start making a living now before I decide to go straight to graduate school. What should I do?
As you see in this article, there are many ways to use a degree in music. Entrepreneurial skills as well as the ability to talk about the transferable skills a music education provides will be most helpful to you regardless of which direction you go in. Graduate school is an important consideration for some careers in music. But it’s helpful to know why you are going and what you intend to do with the additional education before you sign on for more schooling as well as possible debt. Public schools and most private schools will require teacher certification in order for you to be a candidate to work in the schools. If you’re passionate about teaching, check out your state requirements and programs available to you where you can take the required pedagogical skills etc. to attain certification.
What kinds of career options do you think I would have with a BA in Music and a minor in Marketing? I will have 12 years of experience playing viola (my primary instrument in college), 10 years experience playing guitar, I’ve been in a few bands, I’m familiar with the music scene in my local community, I have people skills, I listen to and write a lot of music, and I have a great ear for finding new music.
What a smart combination, music & marketing! Learning how to think of yourself as a business is vital to whatever area of music you pursue. Check out the new article Crafting Your Personal Brand for some additional ideas.
I am currently in my second year of college as an International Studies major, but while I was in high school I had grown to love the Euphonium, Tuba and Bass Trombone. Low brass was everything I was passionate for at the time (even though I owned the instruments personally), but despite my band director trying to coerce me into continuing with music performance in college, I opted out. After my freshman year had ended I’ve realized I regretted the decision and I wanted to see what your opinion would be if I were to start up on one or all of the instruments again. After not playing any of them for 2 years, do you think majoring in music performance at this point would be at all possible if I focused solely on one instrument?
Talk with the music faculty at your school if you plan to stay there. Get a lesson from a faculty member on the instrument you’re strongest on. Look closely at the audition requirements on that instrument. Then see of it makes sense to audition with the intention of switching majors. If it doesn’t, feed your passion by taking lessons and see if you can join an ensemble or band. If you love music, find ways to keep it in your life.
Can you teach high school choir with a minor in music?
Public schools require you to have a music education degree and state certification. Private schools may have different criteria for eligibility but will still want to hire teachers with strong music and pedagogy backgrounds.
I am nervous about my future in music. I am currently a senior in high school and I plan on attending college for a degree in music theory. I am nervous about finding a job I actually enjoy doing every day instead of settling for a job that I have to force myself to go to everyday.
Music theory programs are more academic and research-oriented than performance-related programs, although a foundation in music theory is required in most areas of music. You’ll find music theory coupled with composition at many schools, although Northwestern Bienen School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory are examples of schools we work with that do offer a BM in Music Theory. Check out their pages on MajoringInMusic.com and ask them questions about career options on the forms right on their pages.
Hi, I am a freshman in college and I love singing. Singing is my passion, but my main concern is that there is no guarantee of a decently paying job for me. I love to write lyrics as well, but I understand that the pay for that isn’t that great. Any idea of some jobs I should be looking into?
There is also no guarantee of jobs if you go to law school. So follow your passion and if it takes you through as a music major, remember the transferable skills you’re also learning that will serve you in whatever you do. Make sure you learn how to brand yourself as a business so you can discover and create revenue streams for yourself if you do pursue your music. We’ve got lots of articles about music entrepreneurship on this website.
I’m a freshman in community college and I’m taking music theory. In high school I also took music theory and 2 years of viola. I’m teaching myself how to use the guitar and piano and I practice my singing through YouTube videos. Since I was young I knew I loved music but nobody really explained to me that I had to work hard at it, which means that I realized it on my own, but late. I was wondering can studying music at age 18 and at college help me prepare to at least have a chance to compete with other musicians to get a job in the future?
Many musicians who perform in non-symphonic capacities can find performance opportunities for themselves if they are good musicians and know how to market and promote what they do as soloists and as members of bands and ensembles. However, most are unable to make a full living this way, and typically find other music- and non-music-related work as well.
There are many areas of music to work in beside competitive performance, as this article clearly articulates. Click on all the linked options listed to read more about working in these fields.
Also be sure to read this article about starting out at a community college for studying music.
I was 4 years old when my mom got me in music lessons after hearing me playing Beethoven on the piano. Never had played music before that or understood music theory, I always played or sang whatever I heard. I am 28 years old now and am going to school for a major in International Business and my minor is Music. I will say this….if you’re passionate about something then you will find your calling in the field. If you are having a hard time finding a job then your best bet is to start your own business. Recording music and submitting it for movies, cartoons, and even schools. There are ways to go around finding a job. The one thing you have to remember is that if you are not happy doing what your doing then play music until you find a different perspective. There is music everywhere in this world. Different genres and different levels….you just have to find. Instead of putting down what you are working hard for….discover something new, because you will find it!
Thank you for sharing this!
I am currently a transfer student from a community college, major in a BM music ed program. I do not think this is what I want to do with music, but I am not good enough to do performance. I want to change to a BA in music but I do not know if I can complete a masters program in music without a BM?
Once you know what you want to do with your master’s degree you’ll be in a better position to figure out what you’ll need as an undergraduate. A BA can definitely set you up for graduate school as long as you have the required background, which typically requires more music theory and history than you need for a BA.
I’ve been studying music for the past 3 years in highschool. My ultimate dream is compose music for videogames and movies. I’ve been trying to find internships for that kind of thing, but i can’t find them anywhere!
Keep working on your music and get experience by scoring your own as well as your friends’ videos. Look for opportunities at your school and in your community to get more experience. Internships are typically more available to college students who are majoring in composition or in an undergraduate film scoring program (some of these programs are post-graduate; they want you to have a firm footing in music first). Check out this article: Scoring for Film and TV or Video Games – 5 Ground Rules.
I have my bachelors degrees in music ed and music education, 3.99 GPA. I was offered a full ride teaching assistantship out of state for my MM in flute performance. I have gotten all As here but I have never felt more discouraged about my job prospects. I don’t know if I can get a job in ed anymore because of my performance masters and I don’t remember anything about the other band instruments. I have thought about private teaching but live in a rural area and don’t know if I can be successful. My fiancée has a full time job, which helps. I have thought about getting a DMA but I fear that may limit my job prospects further. I am very discouraged and don’t know what to do, how to continue my passion without failing.
We recommend a few things: 1. Ask yourself why you’d want your MM in flute performance and what doors that degree would open up for you. Then, if you’re still on board, talk with the MM school to find out what kind of career development support they offer. Also find out whether they offer entrepreneurial classes/workshops/tracks to help you develop skills that will serve you in any work you pursue in music. 2. Ask for guidance from the Career office at your alma mater as well as from any professors you worked closely with there. 3. If you’re serious about wanting to teach, talk with the head of hiring at school districts where you’d be interested in working. Note that every state has its own teacher certification requirements. Private schools and charter schools may have different requirements. Online teaching is another option – check the Internet for companies you could connect with for this purpose.
I am a senior in high school and am wanting to persue a career in conducting orchestras! I used to play violin when I was younger but haven’t touched it in several years. In order to get into college to become a conductor do I need to go into college knowing how to play my violin again.
Look for an article soon on MajoringInMusic.com about becoming an instrumental conductor! Spoiler alert: Yes! You should definitely be a strong performer!
Hi, I’m a senior in high school and I want to become a tour manager. I am very passionate about music but I don’t play any instruments so I’m not sure if that would be a problem for this type of career. I was also wondering what you would suggest that I major in and if you think it’s a great idea to look at internships at a record label?
Some music business and music industry programs do NOT require an audition or an instrumental background. So check the websites of schools you’re interested in carefully. Also see our articles on internships in music industry – VERY important to do in this field. And look for our new article on student-run record labels!
Hi, I’m a junior in high school, and I am in an advanced placement music theory class. I absolutely love learning about music and I play trombone in the school band, I can play guitar and piano. I want to pursue music, but I don’t know what is a good musical career. I fear that having a bad ear will hinder my chances at a good career, I want to be a performer.
Not sure if your reference to having a “bad ear” is a physical problem or that you are lacking in aural skills. Whichever it is, you’ll want to work on getting the support you’ll need. Note that music majors take classes in musicianship, which includes ear training.
We suggest you read articles on MajoringInMusic.com about many different career paths in music, to start getting a sense of what you might be interested in pursuing. Talking to music teachers and musicians, and spending time next summer in a summer music program will also be useful.
I am a senior and I love music. Music is my passion and I want to be a music artist someday. I play the piano and guitar but I want to know one thing: Is it possible to have a degree in engineering and in music at the same time? I want to be a musician/engineer too.
Look at the option of becoming a double major, where you can study both. Check out this article: Dual Degrees, Double Majors, and Music Minors. Then use the Request Information Forms for music schools on MajoringInMusic.com to ask questions about their double major opportunities.
What you can do with a music degree?
a) marry someone in a career where their paycheck comes like clockwork month after month.
ie. nurse, doctor, city hall position, or school teacher. Then do your music ‘on the side’ without any worries.
b) get really good a shopping 2nd hand and thrift stores because you know paychecks in
music are sporadic and underpaid. ditto with: get to know where the cheapest housing is
and maybe the foodbank locations as well.
c) go on to do a 2nd university certificate in one of the trades or be a dental assistant or
anything that has a REGULAR paycheck as your music degree alone by itself isn’t worth much.
Sincerely, from a person who got a music degree over 24 years ago and has done most of
the positions as mentioned in the article. I had no idea I was signing myself up for a life of poverty
and uncertainty despite having talent in music, just by choosing music as a ‘career’.
If you can, do something else (or marry someone who does) in addition to your music skills.
I stupidly married another musician. The musicians I know who all did really well financially ALL married people in steady-non-music jobs. THAT is the best solution to combat the unpredictability
of music as a profession. Note: I am not saying that being creative, or writing your own music,
or performing is BAD — BUT the wages are HORRIBLE in music for the average graduate.
Sounds like you’ve had a rough go of it! Fortunately, we’re finding that music schools are doing a better job these days of preparing musicians for the real world, with entrepreneurship skills, career development classes, internship opportunities, and realistic expectations about what it takes to work in music in the 21st century. Schools are frank about the reality of having more than one (and often several) income streams. Even with ever-expanding career options, music is not an easy world to work in, as you’ve found out, and does not provide the kind of security that some fields do. For someone who is so passionate about music that they just cannot see themselves working in anything else, the good news is that music majors learn many transferrable skills that can be put to use in other fields should they find that they need to augment their income or change careers entirely.
I’m currently in my second semester at community college studying computer science, but i gotta be honest I’m hating it. Music has always been a passion of mine, I’ve been playing guitar for about 5-6 years now. My problem is that I have never been in a serious musical environment, meaning I never participated in my high school bands/music programs, the amount of musical notation I can read is minimal. I’ve played in a couple bands though, does that help?
What I’m asking is: Is majoring in music and being successful (I don’t care if its teaching or whatever) a realistic goal for me?
Hating what you’re studying sucks the life out of it. But good to find out now, right? Majoring in music will require you to study music theory, music history, an instrument (or voice), musicianship skills –– as well as how to make a living doing what you love. We suggest you take a music theory class at community college to see what it’s like, and also to start taking some private lessons. Also see this: Community College for Music Students… Guidelines for Making It Work. And know that you can always play with bands and solo without a degree in music.
Hello. My name is Bradley and I am a junior in High School. I love music, but I cannot decide on what field of music I want to enter into. I play the guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, and sing ( I however don’t know music theory or how to read music). People in music that inspire me are John Frusciante, Dr. Dre, Michael Balzary, James Valentine, and Prince. I love performing, recording down my ideas, and writing pieces or sampling songs into hip hop like beats. I am struggling with filling out scholarship information because I do not have a clear pathway as far as a career. I do understand that most of people that influence me dropped out of High School and never attended college, but I plan on doing both.
Good for you for wanting to finish high school as well as go to college!
It’s not essential to know exactly what you want to do after college. But it sounds like performing and composing are two of your interests. Go to concerts, talk to musicians, talk to music teachers – and learn from them what they studied and WISHED they’d studied to be able to make it in their field.
If you do want to go to music school, you’ll need to take several semesters of music theory and music history, and will need to know how to read music. Can you find a teacher or take an online class to learn to read music? Can you do the same for some beginning music theory? Waiting until college to begin to learn music theory can be difficult.
We wish you well as you continue on!
I’m a sophomore in high school but have been involved in professional performing arts for seven years with a choir. I want to pursue music as a career (as well as theatre), but I have never taken piano lessons. I have taught myself to play, but I’m not advanced by any means. Will I not be able to pursue a music degree without any knowledge of piano? I played trumpet for three years, but I don’t think I’m any good any more, haha. What do I do? Even though I’m going for vocal performance, will I be hindered?
Basic keyboard proficiency is important for any area of music, and will be very useful in learning music theory. Music schools have varying expectations and requirements; you would do well to increase your keyboard skills as much as you are able over the next few years.
I am just finishing up an Associates in Arts Transfer Program at a community college. I am looking to continue on to a Bachelors and quite possibly even further. I play guitar pretty well and want to start performing live. I want to be a Musicologist, study how the brain interprets music, how to look at music in new ways and add new ideas and concepts to music theory. I also would like to explore entrepreneurship related to instruments and accessories such as plectrums and strings. I am not opposed to teaching at a college/university level while researching. Basically, I want to work with music from a very analytical approach. What specific major should I pursue, what career fields match this description? Would I need to switch to a science major for this kind of analysis?
You might find this article, Music Cognition as a Career Path, to be of interest. It incorporates much of what interests you. We suggest you talk with schools offering this type of program, after visiting their websites, to learn more about what it takes to get accepted (to get started, see Northwestern Univ. Bienen School of Music page on this website – you can ask questions directly from the form on their page). We assume you have taken beginning music theory and have done well enough to want to go on in fields that will require advanced levels of theory. If not, we suggest you get started with an introductory music theory course ASAP. With musicology, music theory, and music cognition, you are probably looking for at least a master’s degree if not a doctorate in order to work in these areas.
Hi. I am a college sophomore currently majoring in Music Education and Music Studies (music theory concentration). My main instrument is trombone but I am very strong in learning new instruments. I’m just getting into my education classes (just at the observation stage) and not sure if I want to teach larger classes. I like teaching small ensembles. I compose and write music. I originally chose music education because, while I love to play my instrument, I don’t think I want a performance degree to go into an orchestra or wind symphony. I prefer the smaller ensembles. I’m thinking about switching to a music business degree instead of music education. My thought is that it would be a marketable degree and that I could always find a group to perform with on the side. However, I don’t know if I want to take the more analytical classes of business (accounting, marketing, etc.). I know these are important in life but my passion is playing and composing and learning the theory side of music. I’m worried that I am either wasting time and money on music education or, if I switch, I’ll be wasting time and money on music business. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Talk with your college adviser. They should be able to help you understand the full requirements for a music business degree vs. music education and theory. The business side of things will hopefully provide you with the skills and knowledge to create your own ensembles and work with existing ones, as well as market your compositions, whereas the pedagogy classes will teach you how to teach.
I am 2 years out of high school with a passion for music. I would like to go to school for music production or any type of music business. I want to study the different genres of music. I have no prior experience in a music program or anything like that. I want to learn how to use Logic or other production software to potentially start making hip hop beats and recording and producing my own music. What is the best school/program or just any general knowledge on how I get started. Thanks.
I’m currently in the online Music Production program at Full Sail University. I had a sit down conversation with a recruiter to decide if it was the right fit for both of us, and that’s how I got in. That easy. It’s more expensive than a local University, but reasonable in terms of music schools. Everything I’ve learned in my program is exactly what you’ve mentioned; Logic, Pro Tools, Sibelius, and others. I would definitely look into this. I hope it’s everything you’re searching for.
We suggest you start by taking classes at a community college with a strong music program. There are several around the country. You can explore your interests without making a huge financial commitment. And you won’t need to audition or produce a portfolio of work to get in.
I am a senior in High school and I love music. Music is my passion and I want to be a music artist. I rap, but I don’t find anything or have seen anything where rapping is something I can do in a college. I really want to go to college but I just don’t know if I am going to have access to studio time, and what in music can I major in? I already started my career and been getting a lot of gigs in teen events and stuff. Is there a school that I can go to and continue to rap? I also love performing, will I be able to showcase my songs in college? What type of college should I look for?
Sounds like you may be looking for a hip hop program. Check out McNally Smith College of Music’s page as well as Columbia College Chicago’s page here on MajoringInMusic.com. Other schools offer individual classes in hip hop, especially the history of the genre. To build a career in music, you may also need to look at additional areas to study including recording, music industry, and music business.
Hello. I’m a sophomore in high school and I sing and play the guitar, I lead a group of teenagers in the Catholic Church choir, (IN SPANISH). I want to have a career that revolves around something like this. I would really appreciate any advice you have for me.
If you are interested in using your skills within the church setting, you may want to pursue a church or sacred music major. Check out this article that explains what you might study: Career Paths in Sacred Music. If you decide you don’t want to major in music, you may still be able to find some volunteer and possibly even a part-time paid jobs working with a youth choir especially if the church is not in a position to hire a choral director one or more music degrees.
I’m a freshman in college and currently taking general education classes at a community college. I know I want to pursue a career in the music industry but I don’t want to perform. I can play the guitar and piano a little bit but certainly not well enough to audition for college admission. Are there any schools that allow you to major in music (just general music as opposed to music performance) without experience or would I need to major in music business?
You didn’t say what you want to do in music industry so we’ll just offer some generic information. Look at the application requirements for music industry programs at schools on MajoringInMusic.com to get started. For non-performance-based programs, auditions are often not required but a portfolio may be. Remember that every school is different. Start talking with the schools you might want to transfer to, so that you can determine which of your classes will transfer. Once you’ve looked carefully at any of the schools on MajoringInMusic.com, feel free to ask them questions by using the forms on their pages on this site.
I’ve been reading some good advice, let’s see if I can give it a go. I have a BM in cello, a Master’s degree in cello performance, and a pedagogy certificate. I spent one year abroad on a string project in South America, made a bit of a national solo career on the side and am now back in the states. After three months of dedicated preparation under the mentorship of a symphony cellist, retired from his nearly five decade career, I played two live preliminary rounds for orchestral jobs, not passing to the next round on either. I feel the bite of unemployment enough to consider continuing school (graduate performance diploma) because it doesn’t look like I’m in a position to win an audition in the next year despite carrying the necessary requisites to audition for orchestras. I definitely think there is room to improve and I genuinely want to be an absolutely amazing cellist, but this dark thought comes up; what if it is all a ruse? What if I continue on 2 years of GPD, can’t win a job- enter a DMA program, and 6+ years later re-enter the “real world” and there is nothing there for me, despite reaching the highest level of artistry? I can do studio teaching to keep me afloat, gigs every once in a while are nice- but I want a real deal job- security, benefits, regular annual salary, and to create masterful performances with colleagues that inspire me to no end.
Having a “real” job with the security you’re looking for is definitely a challenge in the 21st century world of music, especially in performance. Based on your experience, you may need to look at other fields within music especially for the security aspects you talk about.
Have you considered attending this year’s College Music Society national conference to network with faculty from around the country in order to gain insight into your next steps? Some of the faculty attending are very involved in entrepreneurship programs at their schools – those skills are important when the symphony jobs are not forthcoming.
You don’t mention whether the schools you attended have offered any career development support but if you haven’t sought that from them, we suggest you do. Music schools are getting better at this all the time.
If you do want to look at DMA programs, feel free to ask specific questions of any of the faculty at participating schools on MajoringInMusic.com – check out their graduate programs first and then use the forms on their pages.
This website is exactly what I needed to find! I had never heard of, nor considered an internship with music, but will definitely be investigating that further. I thought I would go the “logical” route and earn a business degree, but only after a week of college (after having been a music major for a couple of semesters), I was struck with an intense longing for my music courses, and have since, signed up for a few in order to keep my sanity XD Right now, I am searching for a music area I might be interested in for a major/career. My primary instruments are voice and piano, I have talent in organization and planning, I love to research and learn, and I like to be challenged with a variety of stimuli. The only ones on the list that I know I can rule out, are performance and music therapy. The rest, I am either ignorant of, or do not yet have enough information on, in order to have an opinion of them. I’ve already set up several appointments with a variety of music professors with whom to gather advice from, but would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
You’re smart to start learning all you can about various areas of music you don’t already know about but could flourish in. See if your professors can connect you with some professionals in various fields of music and invite them out for coffee so you can learn more about what they do. Perhaps what you really need to do is become a dual major, or at least a music minor – especially if you are feeling the loss of music in your life. If you want to jump back into music, you’ll need several semesters of theory and history, so look carefully at that as soon as possible. By the way, from what you say, arts management may be a field to explore.
Hi! My name is Asia and I’m a freshman trumpet player in college. I know pushing for a music degree and making it out there is difficult, but I’m willing to do the work. Just not sure what to do. I like having a plan and knowing my next move. I know I have time since I’m just a freshman but still I want to know what I can do. Somehow I want to land a spot in some orchestra. I want some insight how to go about doing such a thing. I’m taking music basics now but I’m trying to get a music ed degree since it’s flexible as advised by my instructor. I want to get really good during my college years (I already spend 2.5 hrs in the practice room at night, outside rehearsal time) and land a seat in some symphony orchestra. It doesn’t matter location wise. I just want to play classical music 24/7 and get paid for it. I know it’s not easy but that’s what I want to do. Should I get a music Ed degree? Or should I get a performance degree, then go get my masters? And what would I do after that? I wanted to try music therapy, but I don’t think that’s me. I want to play my horn all the time in an orchestral setting. Please let me know what awaits me and how to go about doing that. Thanks in advance!
It’s great to hear how passionate you are about playing trumpet. And wonderful that you have a vision as to what you want to do. That said, getting an orchestral job is not something anyone can count on. And except in the very top orchestras, you’re likely to need other income streams to make a viable living.
You’re fortunate that you’re a freshman: you get to use the next few years to explore a variety of options and interests. Get practical, hands-on experience wherever you can. Invite a local symphony player to have a cup of coffee with you and ask them about the path they’ve taken to get the job they have ––– as well as what else they do to earn a living. See if local churches hire college students to perform for holidays and other events. And talk with your college instructors about their experiences.
Don’t go into music education unless you’re also passionate about teaching – music ed jobs are not easy to come by, you’ll have to work incredibly hard, and your students deserve a teacher who is there because they really love what they’re doing.
Also consider taking some courses in the entrepreneurial or business track at your school to give you insight into what it takes to have your own studio, run a business of your own, or consider an arts management focus.
By the way, we know a trumpeter who went back to school for a MM in jazz performance –– after a stint in a cruise ship big band, he’s now playing trumpet with the Glen Miller Orchestra.
I will be going into college in two years and I am thinking of majoring in music and or education. I am a singer, and I play the flute. My goal is to either become a famous singer, join an orchestra or being a music teacher. Music is always something I like to do, it has always been a passion for me. Do you have any suggestions before I start college?
Students major in music because they are so passionate about music that they can’t see themselves doing anything else. They’re willing to work incredibly hard in school – and afterwards, realizing they may never become famous and may never get an orchestra offer. They “shoot for the moon” but at the same time recognize that few musicians make it to the “top.” And they realize they must develop expertise in more than one music-related area and have more than one income stream, in order to pay the bills.
If you are passionate about music as well as working with students, then music education may be a direction to pursue. See if you can do some volunteer work alongside a music teacher, at an after school arts program, or an arts camp, to see whether this could be a good fit for you. Note that many music educators continue to perform, so it need not be an “either/or” decision.
If you are committed to majoring in music in college, be sure to continue with private lessons; participate in school music groups; perform whenever you can; and get some good music theory classes to make college-level theory less daunting.
Hello! I am a first year student at university, majoring in both public relations/advertising and music performance. Music has always been an integral part of my life, and I wish to combine both of my areas of study in my future career. I have established contact with a nearby symphony orchestra for an internship in their community engagement department, and I have been encouraged to pursue both degrees. Aside from working with a city symphony orchestra, are there any other job settings that would utilize these two degrees? Is this a wise path to choose? Any information offered would be more than helpful. Thank you.
It sounds like your dual major can open doors in the arts management field. Check out this article, Career Paths in Arts Management, to learn more. Great to hear that you’ve contacted the local symphony for an internship – the more internships you do, the more experience you’ll get and the more contacts you’ll gain. You’ll also learn more about what you really want to do career-wise, as well as set yourself up for job possibilities when you graduate.
Hello, I am a portuguese pianista and I will finish my master degree in piano performance in the Spring. I want to work as a staff accompanist in usa universities, Before I went to USA, I worked 3 years (after finishing my bachelor degree) in this field in portuguese conservatories so I have a good resume.
I want to ask you if I should take a DMA in collaborative. Honestly I just want to end my life as a student. What should I do?
We recommend you look at the bios of staff accompanists at schools you are interested in. Not all have their DMA degrees. Consider joining the College Music Society. As a member, you’ll have access to music vacancy announcements at schools in the U.S. You may also want to contact some of the schools you’d be most interested in working at and ask your questions directly to their piano/keyboard departments. You can start by taking a look at the schools participating on MajoringInMusic.com.
As you know, the DMA is a very demanding educational experience. From what you say, it sounds like you are not ready to commit to that at this time.
I am about to start my sophomore year of college in the fall. Music has always been a passion and love of mine since I was a kid. Marched all throughout high school and will be marching for my 2nd year at the college level in the fall. I am currently a declared nursing major, and I have always had second thoughts on if I really wanted to do that over music. I am not sure that I would necessarily want to become a band director. One reason is that with nursing, job stability isn’t a question, but with music on the other hand, it is. I have thought about music therapy, potentially combing the two things I want to do, but I still just can’t make up my mind on anything. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Do both. Music therapy is amazing. You get the music side of things, but if you’re heart leans towards helping people, music therapy might be the right direction to go. I encourage you to look it up. 🙂
I am going into my second year at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. My experiences here have been absolutely amazing but I have been in a constant debate with my degree. I want to be a private voice teacher at the collegiate level and want to perform professionally. I know i am not going to end up singing at the Met but feel like being a part of professional choirs and opera choruses is in reach. I want to major in music ed so that I can have a solid foundation of music to build degrees on top of but ultimately DO NOT want to end up teaching music in the k-12 system. Is music ed a smart career move for me?
A graduate degree, and in most cases, a doctorate, is needed to teach on the college level. Pedagogy classes are included, but you should check specific schools’ graduate music programs to learn more. You can start by looking at your own school’s graduate program as well as looking at the graduate program links on the pages of the schools on MajoringInMusic.com.
Talk with some of your professors about what teaching on the college level entails. Learn about the realities and competitiveness within the college job market – the College Music Society and the Chronicle of Higher Education should be helpful with that. Tenured vs. non-tenured faculty have different responsibilities. Teaching is typically only a portion of what tenured faculty do, along with curriculum development, grading, and office hours. Tenured faculty are typically also engaged in “scholarship” – i.e., required publishing, performing, recording, and other responsibilities depending on their field. On top of that, they may be expected to speak with prospective students and even help in the recruitment process, serve on committees, and engage in various ways with the community.
Jennifer Snodgrass, Appalachian State University
Thank you for your inquiry and congratulations on beginning your second year of music studies. I took some time to look through the current job listings for vocal professors at the collegiate levels. Most of these positions ask for two things in terms of the application: 1. DMA in vocal performance and 2. Significant studio teaching and performing experience. As the coordinator for graduate studies at Appalachian State University, I have worked with vocalists who come in with a performance undergraduate degree and vocalists with a music education undergraduate degree. The curriculum seems to be much easier for those with the performance undergraduate degree as they are not required to take additional undergraduate courses in literature or languages. If your true desire is to teach on the college level, I would encourage you to think about double majoring in both performance and education. I know it may take you an additional year or so, but you would then be ready to either enter the masters degree in vocal performance with a concentration in pedagogy or teach for a few years in the public school sector before attending graduate school. Perform as much as possible as an undergraduate and take as many elective classes as you can in literature, pedagogy, and language (including diction). Take some time to look at graduate programs across the country to see what the entrance requirements are as well. You’ll see that many accept both the ed and performance degree, but it comes down to the literature you are able to perform in an audition and language proficiencies.
Best of luck!
Jennifer Sterling Snodgrass
Appalachian State University, Associate Professor of Music Theory
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Vice-President of the College Music Society
I’m a senior in college with only 15 credit hours and a senior recital remaining to obtain my bachelor’s in music performance both instrumental (tuba) and vocal. Originally I pursued this degree because I learned to play the Sousaphone my senior year in high school and managed to get a scholarship to march in the band for my college institution. I felt if I can learn this fast maybe I can teach. Going into college I had no guidance but was determined to get a degree. Long story short I’m still gaining knowledge about music daily as any musician but my main vision has always been culinary. Is there any way they coincide or would i have to choose between the two? My school has limited resources and the music department kind of get thrown on the back burner so any advice would be beneficial. Thanks in Advance
Interesting question! First, congratulations on being so close to your BM. Once you’ve graduated, getting some business and entrepreneurial skills under your belt would allow you to see how you can combine your passions to be creative and design an out-of-the-box career you’d like to have. Another option of course is to get the culinary training and perform on the side. Or vice-versa.
Thank you for your response!! I will definitely be looking into both options. Such a relief.
Hello, my name is Dan. I’m going to begin pursuing my BA in music (voice) this fall. I have my future planned out, but it will be terrifying if my plans don’t work out.
I hope on becoming a doctor in the future and I also want to keep music in my life. I read that Med schools accept Music Majors so that is a huge plus for me, but I would like to know more on how others, like me, planned or experience this route they have chosen. Like for example, how did scheduling classes and taking the credits you need to pursue this route all fit in. I know for everyone it is different. I just want to know, basically everything. Any information is useful to me 🙂
Thank You so much for making this website. I really appreciate the help you all are providing us.
We’ll be posting an article about studying music and then taking the MCAT, but in the meantime, here are some thoughts. Music schools we’ve spoken with have graduated students who’ve successfully taken their MCAT and gone on to medical school. Students often double major in music and biology or other relevant science. Some schools offer a B.A. in music with a distinct track for those interested in pre-med.
The most useful thing you can do at this stage is to start clarifying which schools you’re most interested in, that feel like they’d be a good fit. And then ask specific questions to their admission folks. Find out what kind of advising the school offers to ensure you’ll be prepared for the MCAT. Start by looking at music schools listed here on MajoringInMusic.com and use the forms on their pages for your questions.
And thanks for your kind words about MajoringInMusic.com! We’re glad you’re finding it useful!
Thank You, I’ll be waiting for that article and thank you for the help.
Hi, I am very interested in a music career. I am just lost and dont really know where to start. In my free time I create beats and write my own lyrics that I eventually create into songs. My dream job would to be someone like La Reid. I would love to become a music producer and have the opportunity to work with famous artists. However, I do understand that it does take a journey to get there, I am definitely willing to give my all. I sometimes feel like what i want is just a dream and is not reasonable. I am so lost I have been researching good music colleges, but I just need help finding the right one. My question is: Do you think I should pursue my dream or should I pick a more reasonable career? I just am confused and need help. Thanks.
It sounds like you’re well aware of your passion and now need to figure out how to direct it. You don’t indicate whether you are still in high school, but if so, now is a great time to explore the areas you’re interested in by looking at summer programs and after school programs, jobs, and volunteer work that will allow you to put a toe in the water.
There are some articles on MajoringInMusic.com that we highly recommend: Music Industry Internships: Best Tips; Essential Tips for a Career in Popular Music; Thinking of Majoring in Popular Music?; and Carving a Niche as a Singer/Songwriter.
Take a look at schools that offer majors for singer/songwriters and in music industry. Once you’ve gone on to their websites and learned what you can, ask them specific questions that will help you better understand what they can offer you. Several schools participating on MajoringInMusic.com offer these programs; look at their information from our Music School Links page to learn more about them.
Hi, I was looking for a little guidance wondering what I would be able to do with a general degree in music or music education. I love music but I wouldn’t ever be able to follow it into performance or the performing arts. Alternatively, I would like to get into music education but I don’t even know if there is a demand for music teachers or what else I could do with a music degree or having graduated from a music education program if becoming music teacher didn’t work out. What could my fall back plan be if it doesn’t work out??
This article, “What Can You Do with a Music Degree?”, sheds light on many career paths and revenue streams for musicians. If you are interested in teaching, then music education is a great field and there will always be a need for music educators. But be prepared for the demands a music teacher faces these days. This article will be useful to you:
“7 Things Music Educators Can Do When Facing the Job Market.” Explore your interests through volunteering during the summer and after school, as well as by talking with some music teachers you admire. Remember that people in many fields other than music have studied music in high school and even college. The skills they learned are useful in so many careers (eg., collaboration, improvisation, planning ahead, managing time well, thinking outside the box).
Hi, my name is Drew. I am currently a sophomore at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and I am majoring in bassoon performance. I plan on going to graduate school for a masters on performance then on to my DMA. Do I have to have any kind of teaching experience in order to apply for a DMA since it’s a performance degree? And also, after I graduate I have been thinking I want to take the teachers certification test instead doing a degree in Music Ed. If I were to do that would I even be able to be considered to teach K-12 if I didn’t go to grad school? My life long dream is to teach at the collegiate level and perform professionally with orchestras with a DMA degree. I thought if just see what kind of options there are. Thank you!
We can’t answer all your questions directly, but we can point you in the right directions. Check out this article to learn more about the College Music Society and other national music associations with student chapters. They can connect you with other students as well as faculty in helping you look ahead. Look at the master’s and DMA requirements at schools with graduate programs you might be interested in. Check the state regulations in the states you would consider teaching in, to find out their requirements for K-12 music educators. Most if not all states have a Music Teachers Association, which should be helpful (as should the Music Teachers National Association).
Hello, I just recently graduated from High School and am nearing the end of a gap year I took to do some long distance hiking and backwoods camping. I’ve always been extremely interested in music and learned to play trumpet at an early age. I haven’t played trumpet in years but about two years ago I decided teach myself how to play guitar after being introduced to the delta blues style of playing. In High School I did not put any kind of emphasis on music as it just hadn’t occurred to me I would ever want to pursue a career in this field. So being realistic with myself I can see that I am not that great of a performer as of yet, nor do I know a whole lot about music theory. I feel like I have come pretty far in the time span of just two years in my understanding in music structure though as I have gotten to a point where I can play many songs in the American Primitive style (John Fahey, Robbie Basho..) and have become proficient in playing in many tunings and styles. I was looking into the music program at the Community College in the city that I live in and I am sure I could do as well as anybody in these classes as long as I work as hard as I intend to but the real question is, would they even give me a chance? I would not really have much to tell them other than I have played guitar for two years, can read music notation but not very well, and that I have loved and listened to music with more passion than anything else I can do. All I want to know is if it would be practical for me to pursue a music degree as I begin my college journey, or if perhaps I am just too late which I would find hard to believe. Sorry about the lengthy message and I thank you for any advice, cheers!
Take some lessons and get feedback to assess how much work it would take to be able to audition for a spot in a college music program. If this is still the right direction for you, take a music theory class as soon as possible. As a music major, you’ll be required to take several levels of music theory.
Jennifer Clary at Colorado State University suggests you consider some of the music-related careers that aren’t as performance-focused. She highly recommends talking with admissions folks for answers to your questions.
Look at the schools on MajoringInMusic.com as a way to start the process. If you’re interested in any of them, look at the programs they offer and their admission/audition requirements. Then use the forms on their pages to ask additional questions. And if you decide to start your music education at a community college, be sure to read this article first.
From what I can tell, you are looking for access to develop more skills with regard to playing the guitar. Majoring in music is not the only way to gain access. At the University of Colorado Boulder for example, non-music majors can still take private lessons (offered through the Office of Continuing Education, by graduate music students) for academic credit. There is an additional tuition fee for those lessons that provide an hour lesson once per week at a time agreed upon by the student and teacher. These credits apply towards the humanities requirement or free elective areas.
Lessons can be taken as many semesters as desired, but at some point will no longer contribute towards the degree completion.
Assistant Dean for Recruitment & Outreach
College of Music
University of Colorado Boulder
I am at the end of my senior year and will be starting college next semester. I was just wondering what career would I expect to have if I am planning to major in Entrepreneurship and Vocal Performance? Is there a career out there for performing at what can I make out of Music and Entrepreneurship? I am currently in choir and have been for two years in high school and I would love to do something similar as a career. Thanks.
Entrepreneurship skills are useful for anyone majoring in any area of music. As a performer, you’ll be in a much better position to develop your career if you have the ability to set up your performances as well as understand the business side of being a musician. If you also decide to teach or become a choral director, entrepreneurial skills will be valuable to you in many ways as well. You may also find additional income streams as a result of having developed skills in both fields. Look for schools that have well-developed entrepreneurial programs associated with their music departments or colleges rather than schools that have just a required business class or two for music majors.
Hello, I’m Vanessa. I am a junior in high school. I am expected to choose the major I want, and of course it’s in music. But, my parents want me to have a job that will kick off right away. Is there a job in the music department that I will allow me to get a job right away and be able to get paid well in?
Vanessa, if you apply for financial aid, you may be offered the opportunity to do work/study in the music department or somewhere else on campus that’s music-related. But reimbursement will simply help defray some of the costs of school – don’t expect a high-paying job. Depending on your skills, you may also be able to get paying gigs and possibly even private studio students while you’re in school. Paid internships are another possibility. Talk with the financial aid offices and the career centers at the schools you are interested in applying to, in order to learn more.
Hi. I’m a sophmore in college. I’m currently a jazz studies major and am questioning my choice in majors. I was wondering if you could shed some light on what this major is good for in the “real” world (for a job that has nothing to do with music). The fear is not being able to make a living playing/teaching and needing to go back to school because my degree doesn’t help get a job other than at starbucks.
For starters, read this: Planning to Major in Jazz? 8 Top Considerations. We’ll also ask some others to weigh in on your very good question, so come back often to see what they say.
Unlike a degree from a technical school, yours will be as useful as you make it. We know that puts a burden on you but it also opens the world up as to what you can do. You’re smart to be considering this as a sophomore, while there’s still plenty of time to explore opportunities through summer jobs (check out what you can do at Stanford Jazz and other places on the Summer Camps & Music Programs page), internships, study abroad, and tons of networking.
Mary Jo Papich
I suggest getting an education degree along with a performance degree. I always encourage my students to do this and they drag their heels and are grateful later.
Another option is to get a business degree to assist in managing your career.
Mary Jo Papich, Jazz Education Network Co-Founder
John Clayton, bassist, Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Of all of the things I can share regarding the degree, being successful, getting a job, etc., I would remind you that:
The doors of opportunity will always open for you based on the level of your art.
This often requires that we (all of us) must “look in a mirror” and be honest with ourselves to define what we want to enhance or add to our music. I personally might have to say to myself, “OK John, you KNOW that you don’t really know the correct melody. You KNOW you are rushing the tempo. You KNOW that you’re not comfortable playing on those chord changes. You KNOW that your intonation is not spot on in the upper register.”
There are other elements that go into helping us grow and find opportunity, obviously. If I were to single out one important one though, it would be this one.
Greetings! I am currently a high school junior. I have maintained a passion for music since practically conception; however, I have recently decided to make it a career. I have taken piano lessons for three years, violin lessons for eight years, and I’ve been a singer forever. Last year, I made districts, regionals and states–this year I’ve made districts and regionals thus far. I’ve been asked to be a vocal soloist at a conference in my area.
I’ve shared my background in hopes of an answer to my question. I’m interested in having a dual major in vocal performance (B.M.) and music education (B.M). However, I must confess that I have little to no interest in high school teaching. How can I begin teaching at a collegiate level right after graduation? Or is that impossible?
My second question pertains to the vocal performance aspect. How realistic is it to expect to obtain a job with that major? I know of the Metropolitan Opera House and various other places–but I don’t want to be an idealist. The point is, I want to follow my dream….but I am also struggling to be realistic. Do vocal performance majors find work easily, or is it a massive struggle? Thank you for taking the time to read/answer this!!!
You sound like a very talented and committed musician. Congratulations for choosing to major in music!
It’s virtually impossible to get a job teaching at a college or university without at least a master’s degree. A doctorate is preferred. It sounds like that may change your thinking about double majoring in music ed.
As for a career in vocal performance with a bachelor’s degree –– so much depends on your level of talent, your ability to network and get yourself in front of the right people…and luck. Find a school that will give you many opportunities to perform, both at school and outside of school, so you can hone your interests and also gain as much exposure as possible. And stay open to discovering new interests and new applications of music to be discovered while you’re in college.
Hello there, I finished my undergraduate degree in Music, with a concentration in education. As of now it has been very difficult to obtain a job. I’ve been applying to education as well as administrative position in the music field (Music licensing, marketing, music industry, and what not). A music degree can get you very far, but without the proper experience or connections it will be very difficult to get anywhere. My advice to those going to college for a music degree…Make yourself marketable. By that I mean, take classes about music business, composition, performance, whatever other choices you have. However the most important thing, is that you take the time to do internships. There are many companies out there willing to take interns while they are in college. You will either get a small compensation for your time, or college credits, but what you will get out of this internship is experience, and connections. Some of those internships will even offer a full-time job upon completion of the internship. So make yourself marketable and get as much experience as you can, and build as many connections as possible.
Hi. I am a senior in high school. I can play the flute but it has been four years since I have played it because my school does not have a band program. I am also currently learning how to play the piano and am learning very quickly. I want to study music and maybe work as a pit orchestra musician but its been a while since I have played with a band or on my own and im not sure if this would be a good job for me. I love to play music and would like to make a carrer of it if possible. Preferably not teaching. Any suggestions on what I can do?
If you want to study music on the college level, it would be ideal if you had a private teacher to work with before you audition. Consider a university with a music department that allows you to explore a variety of options or a liberal arts school where you can explore music and other areas of interest. Be sure to read this article: Touring with a Pit Orchestra. It will describe some of the skills crucial to this line of work.
Hi Daisy! I am a flutist too and it is GREAT that you love to play and want to make music your life. It’s a very tough business so go into it with your eyes open and NEVER let an opportunity pass you by no matter how small or irrelevant you believe it to be. Even options outside of the music major could later bring you connections that can lead to you playing in some capacity.
It’s pretty difficult to “make it” as a pit flutist. Most pits use a doubler (they get more for their $ that way plus many shows don’t use flute throughout the entire show). I have played in many pits over the years and almost always I had to take a flute and violin book to keep me busy through the entire show. If you double (play other woodwinds) you often change your embouchure to where you may not be able to rely on an orchestra position so you need to consider that. Some people can do both, nothing is set in stone.
The BEST advice I could give you is to learn to “listen.” Listen to everything! Sing! Chorus is NOT geeky so don’t let peers turn you off. If you can sing it you really can play it. Play by ear, allow yourself to improvise, and be open to and learn about every style of music you can get your hands on. I don’t want to be discouraging but quite frankly the musicians who are working right now are the ones who have been able to create their own niche by being unique and flexible. Best of luck to you!
Hello, I’m looking for advice about pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. There’s tons of Music business degrees online, but I’m not wanting to limit my career to the music industry. Could you guys advise me on any degrees or colleges that will allow me to work in the entertainment industry as a whole (Fashion, Music, Sports, TV/Film). Some people advise me to get a communications or just a business degree. But sometimes these degrees don’t have courses that teach anything about the entertainment industry.
The entertainment industry is vast. What area are you most interested in? Once you define that for yourself, finding a school won’t be as difficult.
Since our area of expertise is music, a good way to start is to check out the schools on the list in “Face Planting into Music Entrepreneurship.” Then look at each of the schools’ pages on MajoringInMusic.com. You’ll get a good sense of what they offer, how they differ, and whether any of them appeal to you.
A communications, journalism, or business degree could be another route for pursuing what you want to do, but you’ll need to find internships and other ways of adapting your program to your specific interests in the entertainment industry.
Hello! I’m currently a freshmen in college studying International Affairs, though I’m interested in switching my major to music. I’m a clarinetist, and though I play with several ensembles here in college, I’m interested in performing more consistently and at a much higher level. Most of my activities in high school were centered around music (band, orchestra, pit orchestra, etc. ) and I find that music is by far what I miss the most about my high school experience (we also played at a much higher level than my college ensembles.) Unfortunately, because my college’s music program is fairly weak, I would probably need to transfer schools. Is it hard to switch into schools for music performance? Do you have any recommendations as to how to go about searching for colleges? Additionally, do you have any ideas as to how I can convince my parents that this is a good academic choice? Thanks!
Emily, your question is timely as we are currently planning an article on transferring. In the meantime, here are some thoughts.
Many schools look beyond just freshman applicants, especially if they can utilize more of your particular instrument (i.e., clarinet) in the orchestra, ensembles, bands, etc. So if they think your combination of skills and interests would be a positive addition, they are likely to take a serious look at you. It helps to keep up with your academics and music while you’re looking at transferring. You’ll have to apply and audition. Check to see if any of the schools you’re interested in require pre-screens, because most pre-screen deadlines are December 1st. See this article if you do need to send in pre-screens.
An easy place to start is right here on MajoringInMusic.com. Review the school pages, and ask specific questions by using the forms on the pages of those you’re seriously interested in. As for your parents, we’ve got a number of articles on MajoringInMusic.com that might be helpful. We suggest you start with this one: Need Help Convincing Your Parents?
This article thinks outside the box to make musicians realize what they can do mostly within the music field or industry. Break that barrier even further and think about what aptitudes or talents are required and developed by music and what other professions those same aptitudes are used in. Composers and conductors, especially of larger ensembles like band and orchestra, need the aptitude and talent of spatial visualization in order to succeed. They can keep polyphony and all these instrumental parts suspended in mid-air without colliding or being overwhelmed. What is that activity? Isn’t that what air traffic controllers do as well, that’s why you see a lot of composers working in that field? Isn’t that what database professionals, astro-physicists, acrobats, chefs, manufacturers, supply chain professionals and other similar professions do as well? That spatial visualization is also used by engineers, architects, space and city planners.
Hello, I’m in the 10th grade and have played oboe for the last 5 years and cello for the last four. I have gotten better at both instruments and my level on the oboe is outstanding. I have recently changed into private school and they don’t have orchestra so I have not played my cello as often and I had to learn how to play barry saxophone for marching band which only took me a week to learn the basics and actually play it. My main passion is playing the oboe and I have never had another person in school play it. I want to learn professionally how to play it and then teach music at a school but I don’t know where or how to start. I’m asking you guys if you could help me in this difficult task that I’m confused about how to begin.
Wow, sounds like you need to find a new oboe teacher! If there’s not one at your school, can your music teacher there help you find someone at a local college or in a local symphony who can take you on as a student? If not, let us know where you are and we’ll see if we know of anyone who teaches oboe near by.
We’d also recommend you look at summer music programs where you can focus on the oboe. We post summer camps and programs starting in December, so please visit often to learn about various programs. In the meantime, check out Interlochen Arts Academy here on MajoringInMusic.com. They have both a boarding arts high school as well as a summer arts camp where you can study oboe in a highly supportive environment.
Well my teacher is able to help but I’m already paying a lot of money for school and books, so I can’t pay an oboe teacher right know. I will look for the summer programs but I never actually have attended one before. Thank you for your advice it’s very helpful. I want to ask one more question. Where could I find a great website or place to buy a decent or professional brand oboe ?
Be sure to check our Summer Music Camps and Programs page starting in mid-December. Programs will be added throughout the winter and spring, so keep checking.
For advice on purchasing an oboe, you might try contacting an oboe professor at any of the music schools on MajoringInMusic.com to see what they suggest.
I recently graduated with a music degree (Vocal Performance, with some conducting coursework) from a small liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere (in rural South Dakota to be precise). My Alma Mater is known in it’s respective state, and 3 neighboring states but that is about it. I want to do something with my degree, but due to my mediocre GPA (2.9 Major and 2.4 Cumulative – long story involving double majoring, and some personal crises), I was unable to go gain entrance into the Teacher Education program, and I know graduate school is out of the question (both in and outside of the field) due to my mediocre GPA, and the fact that I went to a school almost nobody’s heard of. I have no idea what I can do? Most sites say to talk to the school’s career center (we have 750 students, so we ironically have a career center that only seems to care about finding summer jobs for students than helping anyone find a career), or to get in touch with Alumni. My only problem with getting in touch with Alumni is that the Music Program disappeared for 30 years between the early ’80s and when I began the program in 2010 (JuCo transfer), plus the fact that the only thing Alumni Relations Department cares about is begging us for money. They don’t care if we have a job, or want to be put in touch with fellow Alumni – they just want to reach their hands in Alumni pocketbooks! So I’m in a bind. How do I find a job that allows me to either perform, conduct, or teach. In rural S. Dak. there is not much demand for Private Voice Instructors (and I don’t have super strong piano skills to be able to teach private voice). What options are there for a guy with no outside of class experience, and a low GPA, who’s been out of school six months? How to I find something? I’m desperate for work.
Hello, have you considered contacting a larger university with a stronger music ed program to see if there are some courses you could take there to gain the credentials needed to teach in your state? For instance, you might try looking at this link: http://www.sdstate.edu/tll/teacher-cert/
We also suggest you think about how the transferable skills you gained as a music major degree can be used in a different field. But it sounds like you may need to relocate to a city where there may be more job opportunities.
Finally, we suggest you check out this article: 7 Things Music Ed Majors Can Do When Facing the Job Market. It’s full of relevant information for anyone thinking about becoming a music educator.
Hello. I am recently a junior in high school. I absolutely love music. My main passion is the piano. I recently have playing the clarinet in my schools top bands, I have also played the piano, in my school jazz bands as well. I volunteer at my local hospital in music therapy, each week. I also teach piano as well. I really want to do music in collage. But what should I go into? I love teaching music, but I also love performing, and I want to do more in composing/theory as well. I have been asked to perform many instruments in school plays and concerts. I absolutely love learning new instruments. I would like to know what I can do to start preparing for the right collage, and what classes should I take right now?
It sounds like you’re getting great experience in several areas of music. Does music therapy appeal to you as a career? If so, check out the articles about music therapy here on MajoringInMusic.com. You’ll need to be proficient in piano, guitar, and voice if you want to go in that direction. Regardless of what area of music you enter, you’ll be required to take music theory. And you’ll always have the option of performing no matter what field you pursue for a career. We suggest you look at “Prepare to be a College Music Major” to learn more about how to get ready for your next steps.
Hello. I am a highschool student and I am trying to figure out what I want to do college wise. I have a passion for music, teaching, composing…etc. I’m a sophomore currently. I want to know what kinds of classes I should take now if I want to get into a music school. Do music schools prefer students who have lots of experience the music field, or do they prefer kids who are well rounded? I would like to know what I want to peruse now so I can start preparing.
Great question. We’re impressed that you’re looking ahead the way you’re doing. Schools tend to prefer both: music proficiency and well-roundedness, with conservatories leaning more toward the proficiency end. This is also a great question to ask schools you’re interested in. You can start by looking at the list of schools on MajoringInMusic.com. In fact, you can ask them questions directly from their pages on the website.Tom Hynes, a professor at Azusa Pacific University, has written an excellent article, Prepare to be a College Music Major. We suggest you read it and then, if you still have questions, we’re happy to hear from you again. We also recommend that you look at attending a summer music program. It’s a great way to hone your talent without the pressure of school, as well as a chance to be with other people your age with similar interests and passion. Check out our Summer Music Camps & Programs page and note that we’ll be updating it beginning in December.
Thank you. You definitely answered my question and I have one more. If I want to be a music teacher for the college level, what kind of schooling would I need? Is there a general age requirement? Would I have to stay in school for an extended amount of time?
To teach at the college level, expect to need a doctorate. You may get away with a master’s degree at a 2-year college, but more and more they’re looking at candidates with their doctorates, too. Look at the graduate degree programs at the schools participating on MajoringInMusic.com to get a sense of what doctoral students are required to do. Note that a number of graduate programs prefer that you get experience teaching before you apply to graduate school. We’ll be adding new content about graduate school soon, so stay tuned!
What kind of experience in teaching are they looking for? I’m currently a music teacher at an elementary. ( I teach my primary instrument, flute, to sixth graders) would they be more looking for teaching to older and more advanced musicians? I could do lessons with other high schoolers.
Thank you so much for you advice! It has been helpful and greatly appreciated!
Glad MajoringInMusic.com has been useful to you! As for your question, we’re not sure what you’re looking for. Can you be more specific? In the meantime, do check out this article: 7 Things Music Education Majors Can Do When Facing the Job Market.
More specific? Well, you said experience in teaching would be beneficial. I have some experience teaching. I currently teach flute students at the elementary level. But, I am also capable of teaching other high schoolers flute as well. Would that be good to do? Is teaching older, more advanced musicians something that would be looked at as better than teaching unexperienced elementary students? Sorry if I was unclear.
Thank you so much for answering all my questions! You have been so helpful 🙂 thank you
If your goal is to teach on the college level, then you’ll want to gain experience in teaching older students as well. See if you can find a college music program that will help you connect with a middle school or high school where you can assist with bands, ensembles, and/or private lessons. If you become a music ed major, you’ll gain an array of teaching experiences that will prepare you to go out into the world to teach and then apply to graduate school.
Hello!! I’ve been playing music since i was 8 between the piano and the clarinet. I quit the piano because i just didn’t have enough time to practice but I’ve stuck with the clarinet. Since I started marching band in the 8th grade I’ve absolutely loved it, Everything about it. But now that I’m a senior it’s not as fun for me anymore and I kind of dread going to band practice everyday, I’m not sure if it’s because my director is crazy or what but I love music, I’m not 1st chair in the band but I’m very good, and I want to major in music but right now I’m reconsidering because it’s just not fun right now. What should I do to know if I’ll get tired of music in college or if it will respark my interest. Do you recommend learning a new instrument, or.. I don’t know but I would love to hear an opinion. Thanks
Hello there! I am currently in college and I am working on a BA in music. Cello is my main instrument but all I know is I want to play it. I don’t know what else to do with it nor exactly know what’s out there or even what I would like. I also don’t know how much of a paycheck this gives me.
What are you interested in? What would you like to be doing 40+ hours a week once you graduate?
You’re smart to recognize that a career in music takes more than just passion for playing your instrument. You can be a performer and work in other areas of music too, such as arts management, education, music school admissions, music therapy, music industry, and much more. Sure, you’ll need additional skills and knowledge. It will be helpful to also get some hands-on experience by doing volunteer work and internships in areas you’re interested in. And talk with your primary teacher, other mentors at school, the American String Teachers Association –– that’s what they’re there for. College is a fantastic time for exploration!
Hello. I am extremely interested in furthering my education in creating, and preforming electronic/trap music. I live in Oklahoma, but I’d like to start my music career and education in Newcastle, England. What’s the maximum amount of years I can go to college for music? Being single and wanting an apartment, would a music degree be enough to keep me financially stable with extra money left over to spend on myself? Music is everything to me and I can’t imagine my profession being anything else.
The best advice we can offer you is to check out the area where you want to live and work to see if there are sufficient opportunities and venues for your music. You can spend your life studying music; the real questions are: how long can you afford to go to school and what do you want to go to school to learn? As for working in music, so much of your success will depend on a combination of your musicianship, performance skills on more than one instrument and genre, flexibility, and networking abilities. By the way, if you’re the guitarist we listened to on YouTube, you’re already on your way!
Hi, I’m living in Iran and I’m so interested in music. I also play piano and I write lyrics for my own interest. I’m planning to emigrate to England or Scotland or somewhere else with good musical education. I want to know where to go besides if I choose sound engineering as my first career. Can I expect to have a well-paid job or should I change my mind? Also I was wondering If I could have MBA and sound engineering both at the same time because I’m scared about failing at music. My last question: does sound engineering have any job offers near dj-ing but not exactly dj-ing, because the idea of being a dj freaks out my family because they think I should be more than that. But I really love music so any suggestions will be appreciated. Btw, the grade of my diploma is 19.30 out of 20. THANKS
Anyone who goes into music as a profession does so because there’s nothing they’d rather do. They’ll tell you that they didn’t pursue a career in music because they were looking to make a lot of money –– they did it because they had to. No other career was as compelling. We’re going to ask some of the schools on MajoringInMusic.com to weigh in about your question, but in the meantime, we suggest that you get some experience in the areas you’re interested in. Observe a sound engineer at work, volunteer for a company involved in the field. See if it’s what you really want to study and do. Also explore what you’d want to do with an MBA degree. We’ve noticed that the business school at the U of Reading in the UK is just launching a music industry-based MBA degree, but based on what you’ve written, we’re not sure that’s where your passion lies.
Rachael - Leeds College of Music
With an incredibly strong Production offering we have over the years produced students who work as engineers, producers and technicians. In addition, we produce music journalists, teachers, event planners, music photographers, music PR specialists, record label starters or employees in other industries. The commitment and integrity required to successfully complete a music degree is reflected strongly in graduates. Discipline and passion are important factors for any employer to consider, and music is a real and immediate indicator of these.
Leeds College of Music
Is there an advantage/difference to getting a degree in Music Industry/Business vs a general Music degree? I’m looking for colleges and universities with Music Business degrees, and there aren’t many. If you get a music degree would you still get the same qualifications to work in the music industry/business?
My boyfriend is in a community college obtaining a music degree and will be transferring to a four year college next year. He is still unsure what he will do after he graduates and I have told him to intern and volunteer to figure things out, but he doesn’t know where to start. Where would I find internship opportunities? He enjoys composing music on his computer and he plays different instruments (mainly guitar). He has said that he would like to compose music for games, but it seems like the companies I have looked at don’t have a position for this. I assume they hire freelance musicians, but I’m not sure. Please any advice would be appreciated.
Internships should be relevant to one’s specific career areas of interest. If scoring for the gaming industry is his goal, then your boyfriend will want to pursue one or more internships with gaming companies in addition to other music industry companies. Whatever school your boyfriend transfers to should have resources including faculty support and internship contacts for him pursue. He should start talking with the school as soon as possible to see what kind of assistance they can provide.
Hi. I am a senior in high school. I can sing, Very well actually.. Not to sound prideful. But I have won numerous competitions in singing around the nation. I want to work at Disney world! But I want to go to college for music ! What would be my best choice? What all goes into majoring in music? I can kind of play piano… I play by ear… I can read music… But playing it at the same time is hard for me! I just need advice on what to do.. Time is running out for me!
If you have any interest in pursuing vocal music, it’s worth getting with a singing teacher as soon as possible to start getting ready for auditions. You can always decide not to major in music once you get accepted or even while you’re in school. Summer is a great time to start preparing your repertoire as well as to look at schools you may want to apply to. Check out Cynthia Vaughn’s article, “ABC’s of Voice Degrees” on this website for helpful information.
We also suggest you look into a summer job at Disney World or into their College Program so that you can learn first-hand whether this is where you want to work once you graduate.
Let us know what you decide to do!
You’ll find that most professional musicians continue to perform, whether they become professors or work in other areas of music. You may have to hone your time management skills but yes, it’s definitely possible!
As for transferring, that’s a different matter. It’s important to first determine what’s missing where you are, whether you can get it there, and if not, why not. Reapplying and re-audtioning take time and energy, so you want to make sure it’s the right move before heading in that direction.
hello my name is cheyanne, i will be a junior in high school this year and i was thinking about what i wanted to do after high school. i want to major in some sort of music but i dont know what i would do after college i play the clarinet and i dont really see any options for me what do i do?
You’re at a great time in your life to start exploring careers that will allow you to pursue and practice what you’re passionate about. People who work in music will tell you that the only reason to major in music is because you just can’t imagine yourself doing anything else. If this describes you, then start learning about the many careers you see listed in this article and read the linked stories about people working in these fields.
Zoom in on any career options that sound interesting and exciting. See if you can learn more about them by talking to people in those fields, shadowing
them for a day, doing volunteer work where you can get more insight into what really goes on behind the scenes. Perform often and wherever you can. If you become a music major, you’ll want to take every opportunity to perform, get internships, and gain experience in areas you’re drawn to.
Students who are passionate about music but can’t identify what area of music to pursue often find the music programs at liberal arts colleges to be a good fit. Check out Majoring in Music at a Liberal Arts College for more on this.
The fact is that a music degree offers so much more than so many other areas: learn more about the transferable skills an undergraduate degree in music provides.
I have a question. I want to become a vocal coach and I want to major in music. If I get a Masters in Music will that better my chance to become a vocal coach? How do I start to teach? I was thinking independently or joining something?
We’ve asked faculty and admission officers at a few music schools to weigh in regarding your question. So please check back often!
Note that while not everyone who teaches or coaches has graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree in music education, most have. You have more latitude if you teach in your own studio. But if you plan to teach in a public or private K-12 school or college program, you are likely to need at least a master’s degree (and certification to teach in the state where you reside). College programs are more likely to require a doctorate in the field in which you want to teach.
By the way, you might find this article useful: 7 Things Music Education Majors Can Do to Make Themselves More Employable
Hello I’m about to get my bach in business of music and a minor in audio engineering. Can you tell me what jobs I will be eligible to get with those two degrees? I’m not 100 percent on the audio engineering but I’m getting it because I like to record myself and will want to record others for fun and ultimately make my own beatz. And will a masters in business of music open more doors or should I just stick with a bach?
What’s your passion? Why did you go into music business and do your reasons still hold?
Hopefully you’ve had a chance to work in one or more internships over the course of the past four years. A lot of connections are made through them for future job opportunities.
As for the business end of music, depending on your training and skills, you may be in a position to work for a talent agency, music festival, record company, concert promoter, instrument or music tech company, music publishing company, booking agency, or tour/road manager. If you’ve got a good background in social media, you may also be able to apply it to work in music business.
How are your entrepreneurial skills and can you see yourself launching and running your own business? Your school may offer seminars and workshops for alums that you can build your skills through and an alumni association to network with.
Consider attending a NAMM Conference to meet lots of professionals in your major and minor fields.
You’re smart to have done a minor as well –– that should open some doors. You may be in a position to offer to work with high school students preparing their prescreens and auditions, students auditioning for festivals and competitions, etc. If you haven’t already interned at a recording studio, consider the hands-on training you’ll get there.
If you haven’t yet visited MusicianWages.com, do. You may find some very useful tips on the site.
I’m currently in high school about to graduate and go on to the collegiate era of my life. I plan on getting an AA in music at a community college and furthering it at a university. My question is where do I start after that period? I know there are session musicians which are essentially musicians for hire but how would I make a steady career out of it? I play a myriad of instruments but guitar is my strong suit.
Please read the article, Community College for Music Students. It will help you figure out the best ways to use your time at community college and save you time and money.
Networking will be an important part of your education wherever you go. There are lots of articles on MajoringInMusic.com that talk about this but you can start with this: Your Music Life Team: Real Social Networking, written by a well-known bluesman and guitarist.
Take a look around the Tips for Musicians and Career Paths tabs on the top navigation bar of MajoringInMusic.com You’ll see that entrepreneurial skills and flexibility are essential to success.
Let us know how things go!
Hello, would you be able to guide me if I wanted to teach in a school setting… what would be the best option for me?
What grade level do you want to teach? Or are you considering teaching on the college level? What kind of music are you drawn to teach? What instrument/s are you currently proficient on and plan to study? Consider doing some volunteer work in different settings if you’re not sure about your answers to these questions. See if you can shadow teachers of students of varying ages or at least sit in on their classes. Look for music schools that will get you out in the field early on, as a freshman or sophomore. It’s important to get as much on-the-job training as possible before you are at the point of student teaching. Also check the licensing requirements in your state as well as other states where you might want to live. These may inform your choice of music schools.
Also look at joining student chapters of national associations relevant to your instrument and career goals –– these will help you network with people and resources important to your career success.
Well I really never knew that there were so many, this will make me feel more secure when in school.
Career musicians are involved in music because its their passion, and they can’t imagine doing anything else. That said, most have had to work in a variety of areas of music – and sometimes outside of music – as their careers got underway. They emphasize the need for flexibility, as well as an ongoing openness to new ideas and pathways. These days, entrepreneurial skills are essential in any area of music – you might check out some of the articles under “Career Paths” on MajoringInMusic.com, including “Music as an Employable Major”, and “Music & Entrepreneurship.” And if you haven’t already done so, check out “Playing Music on a Cruise Ship.”
I have to ask, how high is the need for music entertainment? I’m a guitarist and pianist, and I enjoy playing these instruments and working with them, but I am worried if the number of job openings in music is low. But likewise, thank you for all the different jobs I can get with this degree.