Careers in Music
The following is information contained in MENC Careers in Music brochure. It has been prepared to give an overview of music careers in ten areas and more than fifty specialties. Brief summaries of some careers are given here. It also contains some basic information about potential earnings, education required to enter the particular career, and the personal qualifications, knowledge, and skill you will need.
Music Teaching in Elementary and Secondary Schools
Clearly, the largest number of full-time music teaching positions exists in public and private schools. In preschools, kindergartens, elementary schools, and day-care centers, the music teacher provides guidance for activities such as singing, listening, playing instruments, moving and dancing, composing, and experimenting with music patterns.
Teachers, supervisors, or directors of music in middle, junior high, and senior high schools provide direction for choral and instrumental organizations, small ensembles, and musical theater productions. Music instruction in the secondary school also includes courses in general music, theory, music history, literature, and the related arts Music educators in the public schools may find opportunities for extra remuneration for service as conductors of church choirs, community music organizations, or recreational programs. In many communities, the music department of the public schools is the focal point of the community's musical life.
Music Teaching in Post-Secondary Schools Music teachers at institutions of higher education usually are expected to specialize in one or two areas, such as music theory, music history and literature, music education, musicology, performance, electronic music, composition, conducting, or music therapy. The salaries for college or university music teaching vary considerably with the type of institution and its location. In many cases, college faculties are recruited from people who have had successful professional careers as performers or as music teachers. A college music educator, however, usually must have earned at least a master's degree in music. A great many institutions require a doctorate. The music programs in institutions of higher education constitute one of the main sources of music standards and performances.
Private/Studio Teaching: The studio of a private teacher may be located in a home, school, office building, or music store. Those who teach in the home are self-employed, whereas others have a business relationship with a school or store. Many self-employed music teachers teach only part-time due to other responsibilities. Satisfactory teaching arrangements sometimes can be made with the various types of schools that need individual music instructors.
Salaries and Requirements for Teacher/Supervisor
- Public school (approximate earnings $17,000-$45,000)
- Parochial school (approximate earnings $16,000-$35,000)
- College, university, conservatory (approximate earnings $18,000-$70,000)
- Private school, studio (approximate earnings $5-$60 per lesson)
- Supervisor, consultant (approximate earnings $20,000-$50,000)
- Administrator, university (approximate earnings $30,000-$100,000+)
Personal Qualifications: Music talent, Ability to work with people, Ambition to continually study and improve, Be inspiring, convincing, patient, Enjoy people and desire to help them learn.
Knowledge and Skills Required: Broad cultural background, Extensive knowledge of music, Performance skill on one instrument or voice, Ability and skill in teaching people, Administrative ability necessary for supervisor and self-employed studio teacher.
Recommended Precollege Training: Completion of high school, Ability to read music, Some performance skill on one instrument or voice, Study music in school or privately, Keyboard skill.
Minimum College Training Required: Public School: teaching certificate, bachelor's degree, College, university: doctoral degree or equivalent training, All others: degrees not always required but the equivalent training is necessary.
With increased awareness of the rights of children and adults with disabilities, the importance of trained music therapists has increased. These highly skilled individuals combine music, teaching, and therapy to help persons with disabilities improve their physical and mental health. Emotional stability and insight are essential for competent therapists.
Music Therapist (approximate earnings $16,000-$70,000)
- Hospitals: general, psychiatric
- Outpatient clinics
- Mental health centers
- Nursing homes
- Correctional facilities
- Private practice
Personal Qualifications: Music talent and skill, Ability to work with disabled people, Human understanding and insight, Emotional stability. Knowledge and Skills Required: Skilled and a versatile musician, Knowledge of behavioral and physical sciences, Facility on piano, guitar, or other instruments, Skilled in adapting music, Knowledge of instruments and voice. Recommended Precollege Training: Completion of high school, Ability to read music, Some performance skill on one instrument or voice, Study of music in school or privately, Keyboard skill. Minimum College Training Required: Bachelor's degree in music therapy, including six-month internship.
To many young people, music performance as a career means giving concerts. The glamour of becoming a concert artist attracts many people, but opportunities for a career in music performance are very limited, and great perseverance and stamina are required for success. In addition to solo performance careers, there are performance opportunities in chamber music, folk, rock, and pop music, as well as free-lance concert and studio opportunities. Performance careers differ widely and depend a great deal upon the instrument played and the performance medium. Most performers combine their activities with other careers in music. In general, concert performers pay their own travel and management fees.
Salaries and Requirements for Music Instrumentalist
- Armed forces: bands, orchestras (approximate earnings: base pay)
- Symphony orchestra (approximate earnings $300-$1,200 per week (22-52 weeks)
- Dance band, nightclub (approximate earnings $350-$700 per week)
- National TV (very limited) (approximate earnings $1,500-$2,500 per week)
- Small ensemble (approximate earnings $50-$4,000 per concert)
- Concert soloist (very limited) (approximate earnings $1,000 per concert)
- Rock or jazz group (approximate earnings: great variance in income)
- Clinician (approximate earnings $0-$1,000 per day)
Personal Qualifications: Musical talent and skill, Ability to work with people, Ambition to continually study and improve.
Knowledge and Skills Required: Specialized skill in one or more instruments, Fluency in sight-reading, transposing, improvising, Skill in ensemble playing, Knowledge of instrumentre literature.
Recommended Precollege Training: Completion of high school, Ability to read music, Some performance skill on one instrument, Experience in high school orchestra, band, or small ensembles, Solo experience.
Minimum College Training Required: Degrees not always required but the equivalent training is usually necessary.
Salaries and Requirement for a Vocalist
- Church choir soloist (approximate earnings $30-$500 per performance)
- Community choral group (approximate earnings $200-$3,000 yearly )
- Radio, TV shows (approximate earnings Local: $75 and up per show Network: $125 and up per show )
- Dance band, nightclub (approximate earnings $225 and up per week)
- Concert choral group (approximate earnings $80 and up per performance)
- Opera chorus (professional) (approximate earnings $350-$750 per week)
- Opera soloist (very limited) (approximate earnings $350-$8,000 per performance)
- Concert soloist (very limited) (approximate earnings $350 open)
Personal Qualifications: Musical talent and skill, Ability to work with people, Ambition to continually study and improve, Excellent voice, Showmanship. Knowledge and Skills Required: Specialized skill in singing and interpretation of songs, Knowledge of choral music techniques, Knowledge of foreign languages and vocal literature, Skill in sight singing and memorizing, Practical facility at the piano. Recommended Precollege Training: Completion of high school, Ability to read music, Background in piano, Some performance skill in singing, Experience in singing groups. Minimum College Training Required: Degrees not always required but the equivalent training is usually necessary.
A career as a church or temple music director or organist combines music performance and teaching. Most musicians for religious institutions are employed part-time, although large congregations may employ a full-time music director or minister of music. In addition to being competent performers, church or temple musicians must understand music composition,transposition, and arranging, and must be familiar with the theology and liturgy of worship.
Salaries and Requirements of Church/Temple Musicians:
- Choir director
- Minister of Music
- Choir soloist
- $7,800 to $44,500 part-time (less than 30 hours per week)
- $27,500 to $59,300 (full-time)
Personal Qualifications: Musical talent, Commitment to learning, playing and teaching religious music, Ability to work with and motivate people, Well-organized.
Knowledge and Skills Required: Organ performance, Conducting and voice pedagogy, Sight-reading and open score reading, keyboard transposition and improvisation, History of music and liturgy, Knowledge of languages, especially Latin and German.
Recommended Precollege Training: Completion of high school, Ability to read music, High-level keyboard skills (organists), Foreign language study.
Minimum College Training Required: Degrees in organ or sacred music not always required but equivalent training and professional certification necessary, Foreign language study, Choral and instrumental techniques.
The music industry is broad in scope and encompasses retail, wholesale, manufacturing, importing, exporting, publishing, recording, repair and rebuilding, tuning, and other businesses. Persons who are successful in the music industry have education and training in both music and business. Many new businesses have grown out of recent developments in the world of computers. State-of-the-art products and services in the music industry are providing new, exciting, and profitable business opportunities.
Salaries and Requirements for Music Industry (approximate earnings: according to the wage and salary scale of each industry; varies widely)
- Publisher or editor: music books, periodicals, music software
- Manufacturer, importer, wholesaler: instruments, accessories, electronics, recordings, computer software
- Music software programmer
- Manager, booking agent
- Music dealer: management/sales
- Newspaper critic, reporter
- Tuner technician, instrument repair
Personal Qualifications: Ability to work with people, Interest in music and business.
Knowledge and Skills Required:Specialized skill and knowledge in one or more of the music industries; varies widely.
Recommended Precollege Training:Completion of high school, experience in one or more of the related music industries.
Minimum College Training Required:College degrees not always required but recommended especially program in music/business, Technical careers: at least 2-3 years training or apprenticeship is usually necessary.
The television and radio industries encompass a wide range of careers, including composition, scoring, production, editing, clearing copyrights, and licensing. Career opportunities are available at television and radio stations, production houses, postproduction facilities, and a host of related organizations involved in producing and distributing programming for television and radio. Society is increasingly dependent on the media as a source for news, information, entertainment, cultural and performing arts, and leisure activities. The proliferation of cable networks has greatly expanded the number of outlets for video productions and the need for related personnel. Television and radio are growth industries that offer many opportunities for those with appropriate backgrounds, technical skills and experience, and perseverance.
Colleges and public libraries offer opportunities for trained music specialists with knowledge of library and research techniques. Music librarians are involved in research and reference, indexing, cataloging, selecting materials for purchase, and community relations. Skills in handling computerized information are increasingly important. Some opportunities for music librarians also exist in radio, television, and motion pictures.
In addition to the careers in music mentioned above, some opportunities exist for musicologists, music business attorneys, architectural acoustic consultants, and arts administrators. In the publishing industry, most large newspapers and magazines and many smaller periodicals hire a music reporter or critic who combines knowledge and enjoyment of music with a writing or editing career. Other careers include music historian, biographer, and Iyricist. Reflecting dignity and prestige, each of the music careers brings satisfaction and happiness to the lives of countless people. Thousands of persons in the United States find great pleasure through music as an avocation. A number of the occupational areas described in this brochure are carried out on a nonprofessional basis, particularly in small communities.