While most musicians begin studying or learning about an instrument from an early age, others can quickly pick up an instrument and easily make it their own. Music degree programs are one way students can supplement or increase their existing knowledge and gain skills that can help them turn a love of music into a career, become a music teacher or simply gain the skills to jam with colleagues and friends.
The most popular music degrees
Online art degrees and certificates in music go beyond instrumental or vocal performance. Training in music comes at a range of levels, perfect for hobbyists and career-seekers alike. Many have trained over a life time through private lessons and instruction. When it comes time for a higher education, an audition is usually required to gain entry into a program or a conservatory.
Students can pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in music and can anticipate taking classes in composition, conducting, music theory, music interpretation and more. These types of skills can be helpful to those wanting to be an arranger, conductor, composer or other music-related professional. Bachelor's degree options are often available in music or music education. A bachelor's degree in music education typically allows graduates to teach K-12 or basic music courses at a college. However, to teach at a college or university, a master's or doctoral degree is typically required. This is especially true when it comes to teaching advanced coursework.
Benefits of online degrees in music
Online coursework in music theory, education, orchestration and more can help students gain familiarity with music-notation programs such as Sibelius and Finale. Students may choose to combine on-campus performance training with online education. Online schools offer training that can lead to a certificate in fields such as arranging, music theory, songwriting and more.
What to expect from a career in music
Instrumental musicians should have developed auditory attention, hearing sensitivity and manual dexterity skills. They will sometimes need to be able to play long pieces by memory. Anyone in the music industry should have a creative impulse and the desire to learn new things and improve their craft.
Some 240,000 people worked as musicians and singers or in related fields in 2010 in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nearly half worked part-time and some 50 percent were self-employed. Musicians find work in a variety of settings; this can include in nightclubs or at weddings or as part of a military band. Those who earn a salary are often employed by a civic, religious or professional group. Others make a career by becoming part of a well-known band, orchestra or other musical group. Advancement usually comes when a musician finds an agent to help negotiate contracts, work out performance dates and develop a career.
Mean hourly wages for musicians and singers working in the U.S. in 2010 were $30.22, according to the BLS. Competition is expected to be keen for musicians, however, because of the number of talented individuals looking for jobs. The BLS predicts that individuals who are skilled in a number of musical instruments or musical styles could have the best job prospects.
Music at a glance
- Associations to join: Music Teachers National Association, National Association of Musicians, Vocalists and Entertainers
- Projected growth for musicians and singers, 2008 to 2018: 8 percent
- Number of workers self-employed: 50 percent
- Top cities to work in: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Nashville