Section 10.G: Continued Graduate Study, Career Opportunities for Music Majors

Music Student Handbook

Section Contents

Continued Graduate Study

The following information is provided for students who plan to pursue graduate studies after graduating from Gustavus. In addition to your academic record and achievements, persons writing recommendations for you are often asked to comment on various other factors including:

  • Motivation for Music Study: genuineness and depth of commitment
  • Maturity: personal development, ability to cope with life situations
  • Emotional Stability: performance under pressure, mood stability, constancy in relating to others
  • Interpersonal Relations: ability to get along with others, rapport, cooperation, attitudes toward supervision
  • Empathy: sensitivity to needs of others, consideration, tact
  • Judgment: ability to analyze a problem, common sense, decisiveness
  • Resourcefulness: originality, skillful management of available resources
  • Reliability: dependability, sense of responsibility, promptness, conscientiousness
  • Communication Skills: clarity of expression, articulateness
  • Perseverance: stamina, endurance
  • Self-Confidence: assuredness, capacity to achieve with awareness of own strengths and weaknesses

Career Opportunities for Music Majors

Composition

  • Description: composing, arranging, orchestrating, or copying music for band, choir, orchestra, chamber ensemble, soloist, education, radio, television, film, etc.
  • Preparation: college degrees are very important due to the experience, contacts, and resources the college environment provides; however, if degrees are not required, equivalent experience is; composers often establish positions as professors which would require a doctorate; popular music groups require knowledge of styles and media; planning for life based on personal initiative; significant amount of composing; developing a portfolio
  • Personal Qualifications: skilled and knowledgeable in theory, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, instrumentation, and notation; a desire to compose, entrepreneur (organizer, risk taker, manager), communication skills, commitment to lifelong learning and personal improvement; patience; experience with MIDI; knowledge of artistic world and publishing and recording industries.
  • Salary and Benefits: varies greatly; commissions, royalties, contracts, and benefits associated with personal business enterprise: arrangers are paid by the page and size of an ensemble ($26 per page to $1, 000 per song); jingle writers (potential for hundreds of thousands of dollars); solo instrument ($1, 000 - $10, 000), string quartet ($7, 000 - $12, 000), full orchestra ($5, 000 - $20, 000), concerto ($12, 000 - $25, 000), choral ($1, 000 - $10, 000), full length opera ($30, 000 - $100, 000), symphony copyist ($7, 000 - $10, 000 for thirty-minute symphony)
  • Competition: highly competitive
  • Advantages: creates enterprise which reaches others and inspires; critical acclaim; significant opportunity for substantial income
  • Disadvantages: possible lack of salaried income; criticism of work; lack of work
  • Types of Careers: composer, arranger, orchestrator, copyist, librarian
  • Additional Information: Music Educator Journals and College Musician magazines

Education

  • Description: all types of music instruction; elementary and secondary schools; colleges and universities; conservatories; trade schools; private studios
  • Preparation: bachelor’s degree in music require for teaching positions; masters and doctorate required for college; teaching certificate from state in which employed
  • Personal Qualifications: skilled and knowledgeable musician; desire and skills to teach; people person; commitment to lifelong learning and personal improvement; inspiring, patient, administrative, and organizational skills important
  • Salary and Benefits: salaries based on years of experience and degrees as well as location; public high schools ($17, 000 - $45, 000), private high schools ($16, 000 - $35, 000), community college ($25, 000 - $45, 000), state university ($27, 000 - $60, 000), private university ($25, 000 - $70, 000), private studio ($5 - $90 per hour); benefits may include health, insurance, retirement, tuition remission, etc.
  • Competition: competitive because there are fewer music teachers per school than in other areas; changes are affected by demographics
  • Advantages: tenure award (3 years in schools and 6 years in colleges); significant personal awards from teaching others; teaching environment; summer vacation
  • Disadvantages: salary is not competitive with other fields; significant time requirement outside of regular school day; teaching environment; summer vacation; budget cuts witch result in elimination of music positions because some view as not curricular
  • Types of Careers: elementary and secondary music teachers (vocal, instrumental, classroom), professor (specializations include music education, theorist, historian, musicologist, conductor, performer, librarian, therapist, church musician, electronic/computer specialist, composer), arts manager, private studio, tuner/technician
  • Other Areas: administrators, supervisors, chairpersons, consultants (contracted or salaried at $20, 000 - $75, 000)
  • Additional Information: Music Educator Journals and College Musician magazines

Music Industry

  • Description: music manufacturers, publishers, music computer software companies, periodicals, music dealers, managers, instrument repair, public relations, marketing MIDI technology, recording technology, recording engineers, music unions, radio, television, film critics, tuner/technician, music law, grant writing, National Endowment for the Arts, foundations, etc.
  • Preparation: college degrees, if not required, are recommended due to the experience and preparation needed; depending on the area, degrees or experience in computer science, theatre and business are recommended; trade or professional school training (instrument repair, tuner, technician, recording engineer), possible apprenticeship
  • Personal Qualifications: interest and experience with music; strong interpersonal relationship, writing, speaking, organizational and administrative skills; specialized skills or knowledge
  • Salary and Benefits: varies greatly based on particular occupation; depends on unique qualities of your contributions, determined by industry pay scale; ASCAP and BMI are agencies which police TV and radio stations to collect fees for the use of music (a composer can earn $60, 000 in performance fees for a Top-10 single and $100, 000 for a number-one record)
  • Competition: based on particular occupation
  • Advantages: based on particular occupation
  • Disadvantages: based on particular occupation
  • Types of Careers: instrument developers and designers; music computer software programmers and designers/testers; music researchers; writers/critics; music store manager; salesperson; artist manager; booking agent; concert hall manager; recording engineer; sound mixer; acoustician; publisher; editor; media positions; newspaper; disc jockey; tuner/technician; instrument repair; grant writer; guide/host for concert hall or museum; music law; licenses and copyright lawyer; contractor; promoter; music manufacturer; clinical/representative; arts administrator; musical theatre director; music societies and clubs; accrediting agencies; program annotators; ASCAP and BMI
  • Additional Information: Music Educator Journals and College Musician magazines

Performance

  • Description: instrumentalist, vocalist, conductor (band, choir, orchestra, chamber, opera, musical theatre), soloist (education, radio, television, film, recording studio)
  • Preparation: college degrees are very important due to the experience, contacts, and resources the college environment provides; however, if degrees are not required, an equivalent experience is (may emphasize conservatory style training); performers often establish positions as professors which would require the doctorate; planning for life-based personal initiative; significant amounts of performing; develop portfolio
  • Personal Qualifications: mastery of instrument/voice and knowledge of repertoire (may also require performance skills in a variety of styles/media), skills as soloist and ensemble member, desire to perform, entrepreneur (organizer, risk taker, manager), strong music reading skills, communication skills, commitment to lifelong learning and personal improvement; patience; knowledge of artistic world and publishing/recording industries
  • Salary and Benefits: varies greatly; armed forces (base pay); symphony orchestra (community: $100 or more per performance; major: $300 - $1, 200 per week or more), dance band ($350 - $700 per week), TV ($1, 500 - $2, 500 per week), concert soloist ($300 - $40, 000 per performance), conductor (varies greatly to hundreds of thousands); recording contracts offer significant salary, studio musicians sessions ($165 for TV, $195 for film, $210 for recording), contractors and concertmasters earn double scale and section leaders earn scale-and-a-half; some can negotiate triple scale, soloists earn additional pay; benefits may include health, insurance, and retirement
  • Competition: highly competitive
  • Advantages: creative enterprise which reaches others and inspires, critical acclaim, significant opportunity for substantial income, recording, touring
  • Disadvantages: possible lack of salaried income, criticism of work, lack of work; often a need to find other work to support career
  • Types of Careers: solo concert artist, ensemble member, conductor, studio musician, recording artist, church musician, organist (must be familiar with theology and liturgy of worship)

Revised: July 28, 2006