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What kind of education would be needed to seek a career in the field of music?

Would I have to go to college, grad school, or does simply a high school diploma work in this case?

Thank you comment icon What's your dream? Let's begin with that. Are you eager to become a music teacher at a school, offer private music lessons, or explore the world of music therapy? Which music style sparks your interest? Would you prefer teaching a particular instrument or embracing the whole world of music? Rachel Arteaga

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Will’s Answer

Hello Albree! One thing about the music industry that is a bit different than most industries is that education is outweighed in importance by experience itself. There's a saying that "you can never have too much education", though, so I think it really boils down to personal preference. For myself, I chose to further my education specific to music business, and because of it, I've seen an influx in opportunities coming directly from the curriculum, professors, etc. but again, it's entirely up to you and your ability to find experience that is tailored to what you are looking to experience in the music industry itself.
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Paul’s Answer

In music, experience will win over education every time. However, to be a talented and versatile performer, you will want an education in a number of areas - music theory, performance, composition, etc. The more you can learn, the more that knowledge can be applied to your experiences.

That education can come in a number of forms. It can be a formal school setting, a one-on-one instruction, or simply being a voracious reader.

Oh, and don't forget to learn about the business, too. I've seen far too many musicians get taken advantage of because they don't understand contracts or copyrights, etc.

Good luck!
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Katherine’s Answer

If you want to make a career out of playing music, you don't necessarily need a college degree.
If you want to teach music in schools, you'll need a bachelor's in music education at the very least.
If you want to go into music production, experience counts the most, and it can help a lot if you can get that experience and knowledge in a collegiate setting.
Music therapy is also a very successful track you can pursue, music industry/business as well.

There is so much more to the music industry than performing, you just need to figure out your angle.

Katherine recommends the following next steps:

Look into programs offered at a state college or community college (you don't need to go to a fancy expensive school to be successful in music- you can get an associate's in music and transfer somewhere else to get a more specialized bachelor's as well)
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Katherine’s Answer

I loved a couple instruments from the time I was a toddler, and one of my biggest interests was making my own live music, so when I was picking a career/way to support myself, I had been playing and volunteering to accompany choirs and church services and so on for a few years, and people who knew me just always came to me asking for help with specific one-time projects or to teach one student; so I acquired an eclectic bunch of things to do, and just did whatever work came my way, starting at age 16 (for pay), and more always came. As long as I attended concerts in my community or joined a community or church choir or gave a discount to current students I was teaching if they would find me more students, or made profiles on Thumbtack or Lessons.com and got leads sent to my phone and email on a regular basis, I could choose to follow up with any leads and say yes to any requests and opportunities that came my way--weddings, funerals, house parties, etc. Make friends with singles who are going to get married so they'll have you for the reception :) or join a church so they'll think of you when they need someone to play for funerals or services.

So in my own case, I wasn't sure if I needed, say, a college-level music education in order to make money--I read as many old books like biographies of composers and informational books like the ones by Gerald Moore, and subscribed to piano tuner's email newsletters and YouTube channels of musicians I liked, as anything, and just kept acquiring more music to learn and play of the kinds I liked, so my own sightreading skills and repertoire would grow. In the end I attended Charter Oak State College, and rather than even taking classes or a degree program that they offered in music specifically in some way, I designed my own major and acquired credits in music and other fields that I was essentially working in and gaining skills in through my own reading and hands-on working experience every day (business, psychology, etc.)

Depending what you want to do with music, and depending on what you've already done and what skills you have yourself, and depending what is a popular direction that music seems to be going or what your own musical interests are, there are many ways you could ultimately get to "have a career in music."
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Joaquin’s Answer

If you're dreaming of a career in the music industry, the type of education you'll need can depend on your personal goals and the specific journey you want to embark on. Let's explore some educational paths you might want to consider:

Formal Music Education:

Bachelor's Degree: Earning a Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) degree or a similar qualification from a respected music school or conservatory can give you a strong grounding in music theory, performance, composition, and music history.
Master's Degree: A Master of Music (M.Mus.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) in music can allow you to dive deeper into areas such as performance, composition, conducting, music education, or musicology.
Self-Study and Online Learning:

A lot of successful musicians have blended self-study, online courses, and tutorials. The internet is a goldmine of resources for learning music theory, production, and how to play instruments.
Private Lessons:

Private lessons with seasoned music teachers can turbocharge your skill growth in singing or mastering a specific instrument.
Music Production and Technology Programs:

If you're drawn to music production, audio engineering, or electronic music, consider exploring programs or courses that spotlight these areas.
Business and Marketing Courses:

For a thriving music career, it's handy to know the basics of business, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Think about enrolling in courses in these fields to effectively advertise and manage your music career.
Performance and Experience:

Hands-on experience is key in the music world. Join school ensembles, community bands, choirs, or orchestras to rack up performance experience. Start performing live at local venues, open mics, and events to hone your stage presence and bond with audiences.
Networking and Industry Events:

Going to music industry events, workshops, and conferences can help you forge connections and keep up with the latest trends and opportunities in the industry.
Apprenticeships and Internships:

Look for apprenticeships or internships with established musicians, music studios, record labels, or music organizations to gain practical insights and hands-on experience.
Remember, while formal education can lay a strong foundation, the music industry also prizes creativity, originality, and real-world experience. Many successful musicians have unique journeys that blend formal education, self-learning, and hands-on experience. Choose the educational route that matches your goals and dreams in the music industry.
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