Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Music Education

For a more in depth look, visit the Music Education Careers page
If a student is interested in teaching music, the sooner they start participating in music activities and programs the better. Ideally, a student would begin participation in music programs at the elementary level, high school at the latest. The student who may be considering a career teaching music should be as active in school music programs as possible. Exposure to school music programs at various stages in one's development will provide a great foundation for any student preparing to continue his or her music training in college.
  • Elementary/Secondary — If you love working with children and are musically gifted, you cannot find a more rewarding, enjoyable profession than teaching. A teacher's day is often long, starting quite early in the morning and often ending in the evening, especially if there are concerts or rehearsals to attend. But the satisfaction one can get from helping students learn and understand the beauty and power of music can carry a teacher through the toughest schedule. Most music education programs expose teachers in training to a variety of music skills, not just in the area they may prefer or specialize in. Teaching at the elementary and secondary levels requires that a teacher be flexible and multi-competent in instruments as well as vocal techniques, as teachers are often required to teach vocal and instrumental music at this level. Teachers also need to understand the development of children, and so are introduced to child development courses during college training.  
    • Public School — You may be a general classroom music teacher in an elementary school, a high school orchestra director, or perform a combination of musical duties at a variety of grade levels. But despite the wide spectrum of specialties, all public school music teachers must be prepared educationally in the same manner, must compete in the same relative job market, and enjoy the same advantages and disadvantages of the career. 
    • Vocal Music Teachers work with individuals or groups of students, developing skills and techniques related to vocal performance. 
    • Instrumental Music Teachers work with students, either individually or in groups, teaching beginning, intermediate, and advanced technique classes, small ensembles, and band or orchestra rehearsal. These vocal and instrumental teachers work at the elementary level, the middle school level, and the high school level.
  • Higher Education (College Level)
    The role of a music teacher in the college or university is highly diversified. Within a department or a school of music there are teachers of performance, theory, composition, history, and education. In some institutions you will find further specialization in areas of church music, music therapy, commercial music, and other allied fields.
    • Professor
    • Associate Professor
    • Assistant Professor
    • Ethnomusicologist — Ethnomusicologists, simply stated, are translators between an audience or population (e.g., mainstream Americans) and foreign music or musics. They provide insights, understandings, and bases for appreciation of foreign music expression. Their translation may take many forms, including research, teaching, recordings with informative notes, films about an ethnic tradition, or even arts administration.
  • Private Studio — For those who love children and enjoy dealing with them on a personal level, private teaching offers great rewards. To be an independent music teacher, one needs to specialize in his or her major instrument. For the piano teacher, the suggested degree would be the bachelor of music in piano or piano pedagogy. The piano pedagogy degree offers the educational background, the opportunity to observe an experienced teacher working with classes, and the practical experience of actually teaching groups of children under supervision. This training proves invaluable when opening a studio.
  • Music Supervisor/Administrator — The job of music supervisor/administrator encompasses a vast number of tasks that will vary daily and that are unpredictable. There are as many descriptions of this job as there are people trying to fill the position. For example, in a district of twelve elementary schools, the tasks of the music administrator would be quite different from those in a district of 60 or more schools that have grades K-12. Another variable is the title used to describe the music administrator's position. Some of the most common are director of music education, supervisor, coordinator, curriculum specialist, and music consultant.
  • Librarian — A smoothly operating music library requires the coordination of numerous activities: circulation and retrieval of materials; answering reference questions and helping people locate information or materials; determining needs of library users and acquiring new materials; accepting and sorting gifts; budgeting; personnel management; cataloging and classifying books, scores, and recordings; maintaining the card catalogs; binding scores and parts; maintaining a collection of recordings; and servicing listening equipment. Depending on the size and type of library, these activities may be performed by one person or by a team.


For a more in depth look, visit the Performance Opportunities page
  • Instrumental, Pop/Rock/Jazz — Your background and education are important for a career as a performer of pop, rock, or jazz, but usually not as significant as talent, persistence, showmanship, and a little luck. Emotional maturity is another prerequisite and, of course, music training is definitely helpful. In pop, rock, and jazz the ear is and should be of prime importance; as a singer or instrumentalist, you should be able to execute what you hear. The musician who succeeds is the one who has mastered the technique of satisfying the particular audience he or she is aiming for, while not compromising his or her personal, unique vision and sound. Consequently, it is important that you expand your musical orbit by carefully listening to a wide variety of music, as these influences can provide ideas and inspiration for you.
  • Vocalist/Instrumentalist, Classical Music — Many music students in conservatories and universities are not made sufficiently aware of the practical aspects involved in making a living as a classical instrumentalist. The emphasis is frequently on competing on a soloist level with a view toward a glamorous career. In addition, however, theory, languages, academic subjects, and secondary piano should be required and taught on a high level.
  • Vocalist, Pop/Rock/Jazz — Most pop vocalists earn their living in a variety of music areas - concerts, recordings, club work, radio and television commercials, Broadway musicals, and even teaching. Versatility is absolutely essential in this career, especially to the vocalist who may not have the good fortune to gain star status. Performance situations are competitive, often demanding years of experience to gain a solid reputation and a high level of proficiency. A vocalist who sings reasonably well, can sight-read, knows all styles of music, and has a solid knowledge of music theory is going to be in demand.
  • Conducting — The career of a conductor can be associated with a wide spectrum of activities and responsibilities. At the level of the smaller community and metropolitan orchestras, the conductor may have to function as a jack-of-all-trades - raising funds, rehearsing, scheduling, and performing. As the orchestra increases in size, length of season, and budget, the conductor and music director tend to confine their activities to performing, programming, supervising personnel, and working in educational programs.
  • Band - Amateur or Professional — A band to play for a wedding, in nightclubs, resorts, cruise ships, cafes, bars, or any other concert venue is usually for entertainment purposes. This type of band would play all types of music. Bands may work in one venue for a long period of time or move from place to place. High level of energy and an ability to entertain is required.
  • Composer — Composing requires you to develop as wide a range of skills as possible in addition to your compositional training. A composer, like a conductor, should have a broad, eclectic music background: solid performance skill on at least one instrument, thorough training in theory and music history (subjects you may very likely be teaching, at least at the beginning of your career), a practical working knowledge of instrumentation - in short, an undergraduate major in music and as much graduate work in composition as you can afford. A number of institutions offer first-rate doctoral programs in composition. It would be a good idea to investigate the requirements and offerings of such schools. 
    • Educational Composer — The term "educational composer" is commonly used to describe one who composes performance music and instructional materials for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Performance music includes works for all media, including concert bands, orchestras, choirs, jazz bands, marching bands, and various smaller ensembles. Instructional material includes method books that teach instrumental and vocal techniques, sight-reading, solo interpretation, theory, and all other areas of musical learning. Both areas include works for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students.
  • Accompanist — A number of classical pianists have become famous as accompanists rather than soloists. Work can be found at churches, community theatres, universities, or any other educational facility. Place an ad in a local newspaper or University music building and contact local music teachers, students always need accompanists for auditions and solo performances.

Music Business

The term "Music Business" typically conjures up images of Rock & Roll stars, agents, and producers. While this is true, if you look further you will see that there are many different career opportunities to choose from in the music industry. Besides the well-known and coveted jobs of pop star, producer, agent, songwriter, recording technician, and even "roadie," the music industry also includes instrument manufacturers and repairpersons, publishers, those in retail music sales, and many more. Whatever your passion, the information here is designed to give you some insight into the options, and help get you started on your way to a successful career in the music industry. Here is a list of different career choices in the Music Biz:
  • Attorney, Music Business; Music Copyright — Music law as it is practiced today involves a heavy emphasis on copyright and contract relationships between creative people and users of music in popular and standard areas. Typical of a day's work are the negotiation of a recording artist contract between an artist and recording company, a long-term management or agent agreement, a termination or amendment of a previous agreement, a musical synchronization license from music publisher to motion picture company, and assertion through audit (in conjunction with accountants) of royalty claims of a composer against a music publisher.
  • Instrument Sales Representative — Although is it true that most positions in instrument sales require no music background but only selling ability, there is no denying that those who play music instruments, appreciate music, and possess the skills for production of music products have an advantage. Music instrument sales is one field in which a music background can be put to good use. Instruments used by grade schools, junior high, and senior high schools are sold best by a manufacturer's representative who is intimately acquainted with the school band and orchestra program. You don't have to be a music educator to be a good salesperson, but music education experience and skilled salesmanship are an unbeatable combination. You are, in effect, an educational consultant to the music dealers whom you contact. You can advise the local dealer on the kinds of products the school music teachers want. You can talk to educators about the qualities your product has over competitive lines. Before becoming a sales representative for a manufacturer, retail selling experience is valuable to get the feel of the retail end of the business.
  • Music Dealer Manager — Should have the ability to work with people and a commitment to the music community. A college degree in business or music business is not always required but is recommended. Computer skills and being business savvy will help in your success.
  • Retail Music Sales — A prospective employee for a retail music store should have sufficient music experience or training to be conversant with the majority of the standard repertoire and expert in one of its facets. This is especially true in those stores where one can expect to handle requests for many different instruments, vocal music, textbooks, and study scores. Areas of specific interest such as instrumental or vocal ensembles do not, as a rule, require such a wide range of knowledge.
  • Advertising Executive — Develops ad campaigns for record label products. A person entering this area must be creative, aggressive, have good sales skills and may have advertising experience in another area, as well as a strong knowledge of music.
  • Booking Agent — A booking agent works to find performing groups and soloists for events. To do so, they have good sales and communication skills, contract writing experience, and music industry knowledge. They will work with the talent's manager in negotiating fees at venues.
  • Personal/Professional Manager — Personal managers are hired to handle all facets of an artist's career. They are involved in the day-to-day decisions, business or otherwise, of an artist's claim to fame.
  • Business Manager — A business manager is hired to take care of financial affairs for musicians. A degree in accounting or management is recommended. Knowledge of negotiating, investments and tax law is needed to be successful.
  • A&R Administrator or Coordinator — The Artist & Repertoire Administrator works along with the A&R coordinator. In large companies, the A&R Administrators are responsible for clerical functions within the department, planning budgets for artists signed to the label, and working on the annual or semiannual budget for all artists' expenditures. The A&R Coordinator finds talent for the company to sign. A&R Coordinators search for new talent by visiting clubs, going to showcases, listening to tapes and demo recordings, and watching videotapes of acts performing.
  • Publicist — A successful music act requires a Publicist to handle press needs. Ability to have the artists published in the news as much as possible is required. Good writing and communication skills are also required. Publicists coordinate interviews and appearances for the artist when a new product is being released.
ASCAP's Guide to Resources in the Music Business - The staff at ASCAP has compiled a resource guide about careers in the music business.  


  • Music Therapist — A music therapist uses music in the therapy of human disabilities. Music therapists are most likely to be located in settings that normally employ other members of the helping professions such as physicians, clinical psychologists, social workers, and rehabilitation specialists. In these settings music therapists work either as team members or individually to assist their clientele to become healed, rehabilitated, or specially educated. Most music therapists do their work in hospitals, training centers for the developmentally disabled, rehabilitation centers, and to a lesser extent, public and private elementary and secondary school settings.
  • Speech Pathologist — Speech Pathologists help people who have speech impediments. The treatment process includes vocal training and exercises to work on repairing speech sounds. A speech pathologist will at times work with vocal therapists in treatment.
  • Voice Therapist — A voice therapist treats a range of different communication disorders. Vocal therapists help to restore a patient's to their normal daily voice. A therapist will work with respiratory exercises as well as vocal exercises. Knowledge of anatomy and respiratory function is required.


Religious musicians view their work as a music ministry to members of the congregation and the community they serve. Behind this premise is the conviction that the use and expression of music in church liturgy is more a matter of congregational celebration and less a matter of specialized groups performing for an audience. The church musician, therefore, should be well prepared with an appreciation for the life and mission of the religion he or she serves. Administrative ability, interest and skill in working with people (usually volunteers and amateurs), as well as knowledge about the field of religious music (including traditional and contemporary literature and forms of expression), are important.
  • Organ Player
  • Instrumentalist
  • Choir Director
  • Handbell Director
  • Cantor/Hazan — A cantor leads worship services in song. The typical liturgical form is "call and response." Usually a cantor is a part of the Reformed, Conservative, or Orthodox Jewish Synagogue/Temple Service, or Catholic or Christian Orthodox service.


Music Production

  • Producer — Producers usually work only with recording artists and record labels to create albums. Other types of media are also involved, TV, Film, etc. A producer oversees the recording process keeping in mind the expenses pertaining to budget as well as contract details. Selecting songs for an artist is usually discussed with the producer, who should have their own experience in performing, as well as musical knowledge, and an understanding of studio procedures. The music producer is compared to a film director in how they both create, shape, and mold a piece of music in accordance with their vision for an album.
  • Manager — The Manager solely does the responsibility of running a recording studio business. They are also responsible for scheduling acts to come in and record, the accounting for the studio, and marketing the studio to have musicians utilize the studio. The manager also acts as a contact between the clients and engineers to make sure everything is running smoothly and on schedule.
  • Recording Engineer — A recording engineer takes care of all operations dealing with the soundboard and the other electrical equipment used during a recording session. The engineer will oversee the recording session with supervision of the producer. Equipment set-up is part of this job, so knowledge of different sound and recording equipment is required. It is important that the product is compliant to the artist and producer's wishes.
  • Sound Technician — Those who are in charge of the high quality sound of a concert or other live performance are sound engineers. These technicians travel with the road crew to set up the equipment before hand and run sound checks once the artist is at the venue. Equipment knowledge and set-up is required to produce the best sound possible for the concert.
  • Mastering Engineer — A mastering engineer is in charge of taking recordings and completing the final product. The studio or band sends the audio to the engineer and the engineer makes the finishing touches such as equalization (EQ) and compression.

Music Technology

  • Performing Synthesist — An electronic music synthesist creates, modifies, and controls sound electronically. Although he or she generally uses a keyboard to do this, a synthesist may adapt and use almost any acoustical instrument to control a synthesizer. With some additional training, virtually any musician can, in effect, become an electronic music synthesist, opening up career opportunities in education, performance, composition, production, software design, and electronic hardware design.
  • Digital Audio Editor — A Digital Audio Editor works with sound designers, directors, and composers to create the audio we hear in TV and film. The music, spoken dialogue, and sound effects are edited on DAWs (digital audio workstations) in a monitored environment. Thorough knowledge of audio equipment and the properties of sound is required.
  • Sound Designer — A sound designer uses acoustic and electronic sound sources, along with pre-recorded sound effects, to help bring a client’s artistic vision to life. Audio files are mixed together in complex combinations, and when sound design is done correctly, it usually goes unnoticed by the audience.
  • Programmer — A Programmer uses different music sequencing notation software to produce MIDI keyboard/synthesizer tracks. They will work a piece of music to allow the composer and music editor a chance to hear the work first. Hiring a programmer is a frugal way to test the music for errors, as opposed to hiring an entire orchestra.


Music Publishing

If you're interested in this industry, acquire as much knowledge as possible of the various music skills and the various mechanical procedures involved. To obtain the latter he or she should seek employment in a music publishing firm that maintains its own production and printing departments and then observe, ask questions, and remember what is being done and how.
  • Author — Research is a large part of this type of work. Knowledge in instrumental pedagogy is required.
  • Critic — Music critics are a unique combination of journalist and musician. Their views are published daily, often providing quotations to be used as publicity for performing artists. They affect their audience both directly and indirectly by determining which artists will survive in the performance media and will therefore be available for the public to choose from, and directly by influencing choices the public makes, its understanding of performances, and its reactions to them.
  • Journalist — If you are contemplating a career in music journalism a major in music is not needed. You should address yourself to acquiring and polishing useful journalistic skills. "Music" is only the adjective, "journalism" is the noun, so major in journalism, English, humanities, languages, anything that will improve your word-handling abilities.
  • Editor
    • Magazine/Book — Someone contemplating a career in music journalism should not major in music. You should address yourself to acquiring and polishing useful journalistic skills.
    • Music — Acquire as much knowledge as possible of the various music skills and the various mechanical procedures involved.
  • Historian
  • Publisher — Music publishing involves choosing materials to publish, editing and proofreading music manuscripts, promoting serious performance, and nurturing composers. Everything else is common to any other business with similar marketing and distribution procedures.
  • Arranger — If you excel in music theory, orchestration, and composition, you could find yourself working as an arranger. An arranger is in charge of creating arrangements of a song for an artist or an ensemble to play. Main priority of an arranger is to create parts for each instrument and voice, while keeping harmonic structure and other music theory guidelines in mind.


Musical Theatre

  • Singer
  • Pit Musician
  • Sound Engineer — Must know basic electronics, tape machine maintenance, studio setups, remote recording experience. Must have knowledge of state-of-the-art equipment. Must be responsible for inventory control, assisting in scheduling, entertaining clients, etc. Hours are usually from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. Christmas will be off if nothing is booked. Starting pay is usually minimum wage.
  • Composer
  • Music Director — A music director is a part of the team involved in a musical theatre performance. The music director is in charge of all musical aspects including making sure the cast knows the music and each of their parts as best as they can. During the performance the music director leads a group of musicians (Pit Orchestra) in accompanying the performers onstage.
  • Arranger — If you excel in music theory, orchestration, and composition, you could find yourself working as an arranger. An arranger is in charge of creating arrangements of a song for an artist or an ensemble to play. Main priority of an arranger is to create parts for each instrument and voice, while keeping harmonic structure and other music theory guidelines in mind.


Instrument Making and Repair/Restoration

For a more in depth look, visit the Instrument Making Careers page
  • Instrument Designer — Although instrument making is called an industry, it is tiny in comparison with most other manufacturing industries. Consequently, the number of jobs in design and engineering is quite limited. Second, its products have nothing to do with convenient living; they are integral parts of a fine art and tightly bound by the traditions of that art.
  • Instrument Repair/Restoration — Before you can repair any instrument, you must know a number of important things about it: the materials of which it is made, its construction, special characteristics, and so on. A good understanding of the way the instrument is played and of its fingerings is also essential. A music repairman must know what specialized and common tools to use and where tools and supplies can be obtained.
For more extensive information and list, please visit our Industry Careers page.


  • Music Editor, Film & TV — To put it simply, a film music editor helps a composer put his or her music on a soundtrack. When a motion picture is put together, there are three items on the soundtrack that have to be synchronized with the visual portion: dialogue, sound effects, and music. One person works with the dialogue, another does just the effects, and the music editor takes charge of the music portion. The producer and composer run the film and spot the music (choose where it should appear) throughout the film. The music editor then breaks this down into separate cues and times each cue for the composer, who takes these timing sheets and writes the music. The music editor takes the composer's sketches and gets the necessary information from them to set up the film for orchestra recording. The orchestra records the score, the music is cut into reels, and it is then ready for a final dub.
  • Disc Jockey — A disc jockey in a radio station is responsible for introducing music, commercials, news, and traffic reports on-air. If you are one who has a personality, liked by others, and a good clear speaking voice, you might consider this career. A degree in communications, specifically broadcast communications, is the preferred degree.
  • Music Supervisor — A music supervisor is in charge of finding music for a film or TV show and meeting with the directors, producers, and composers to make a final decision.
  • Video Music — There is no single route for a young student who has his or her eye on this music business, but it seems that an ideal background would incorporate college-level study in several areas: music business (copyright law, promotion, marketing, production), television production, graphic arts, visual design, and communications. A working knowledge of computer programming also would be an asset in today's technological careers.



  • Arts Organization Position
  • Community Arts Manager — The basic challenge of the community arts manager is to integrate fully the arts into the social and economic fabric of his or her community. In a fiscal environment of competing priorities, the arts program must serve real needs and get a response from a strong constituency or it will not survive long. The manager must identify the various segment of a community, whether business, educational, youth, political, or religious. He or she must determine their needs and interests, and incorporate these values and needs into a viable program. The manager must, therefore, possess some working knowledge of governmental and community processes and be able to translate the benefits and the needs of the arts into concepts that are easily grasped by these community forces.
  • Performing Arts Administrator — Arts administrators are trained in one of the art forms: music, dance, drama, or the visual arts. The potential arts manager probably has organized events such as concerts, tours, performances, or guest lectures at one time or another. He or she has performed or worked in productions in school, in the home community, and most likely in a professional setting following undergraduate training. In school, the potential arts manager exhibited leadership ability and liked to work with groups of people to achieve common goals. At the same time, he or she could articulate well, could write clearly, and did well in mathematics. In addition, this person has come to see that he or she would be happier serving the arts as a manager, using creativity to improve those basic support systems that make it easier for the artist to produce the highest quality art on a regular basis.
  • Recreation Arts Coordinator — With the field of recreation virtually untapped, people with arts, music, and theater degrees have a place to go. Although the generalist still may coordinate recreation programs in some areas of the country, the tide may be turning in favor of specialization in arts administration. A department often works directly with community arts groups, acting as a catalyst for their efforts. Among the community groups or activities that a department of recreation can help sponsor are children's puppet theaters, countywide dance companies, countywide arts shows, local symphony orchestras, community theaters, and local music groups.
  • Community Development Specialist — Community development specialists coordinate efforts to cultivate the most benevolent forces in the community, develops and accumulates resources and makes these available to families according to their individualized needs. These efforts are guided by principles which are strength-based, family-centered, community-based and promote independence from the social service system.


Tours/Road Work

  • Road Manager — If traveling is what you love to do, you could become a road manager for a band. You will need to know about different equipment for set-up of concerts, sound and lighting equipment. A road manager also is responsible for handling any problems that may arise during the extensive travel schedule.
  • Sound Technician — Those who are in charge of the high quality sound of a concert or other live performance are sound engineers. These technicians travel with the road crew to set up the equipment before hand and run sound checks once the artist is at the venue. Equipment knowledge and set-up is required, to produce the best sound possible for the concert.
  • Tour Coordinator — A tour coordinator is in charge of making arrangements for the artist's lodging and other travel accommodations. Accounting knowledge is required as well as good communication skills.
  • Tour Publicist — A successful music act requires a Publicist to handle press needs. Ability to have the artists published in the news as much as possible is required. Good writing and communication skills are also required. Publicists coordinate interviews and appearances for the artist when a new product is being released.


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