Sacred and Religious Music

If you believe that music can serve a higher purpose and attending worship services is an important part of your life, a career in sacred and religious music may be right for you. Keep reading to learn more about career and education options for sacred music specialists.

Is Sacred and Religious Music for Me?

Career Overview

You can find sacred and religious music degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If you were to earn a bachelor's degree, you could pursue a career as a church musician. Potential job titles include church choir director, organist, singer and music director. There is also the option to continue your studies in graduate school or enter a seminary, depending on your personal goals. Further education could lead to scholarly or church ministry positions.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of musicians and singers in general was projected to increase by 5% between 2012 and 2022. In May 2012, musical directors and composers earned a mean hourly wage of $25.68. That same year, musicians and singers made an average hourly wage of $31.94. (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Sacred and Religious Music?

Overview of Educational Programs

Formal education in sacred and religious music can help you establish a solid foundation in worship traditions and trends, as well as practical skills associated with your area of focus, such as music conducting or accompanying. Performance-based auditions are often necessary to apply to music degree programs.

Undergraduate Programs

A Bachelor of Music program in church or sacred music may allow for concentrations in keyboarding, instrumentals or voice. In addition to aural training, the core curriculum can include the study of music theory, history and literature. You'll also study the history and styles of worship, choral music and congregational song. An internship may be required, which can provide you with the chance to learn about the behaviors, skills and traditions associated with sacred music.

Graduate Programs

Non-denominational graduate programs can lead to a Master of Arts in Sacred Music and include the study of international worship styles, Old and New Testaments, cantoring and improvisation. Recitals or other performance events are common graduation requirements.

If you decide to pursue a Master of Music in Church Music, you may be able to specialize in church and music ministry, composition, conducting, performance or research. Advanced coursework might include the study of church music throughout history, such as the Middle Ages or the Romantic Period, as well as topics in comparative liturgies or the history of American church music. Dual degree programs that culminate in a Master of Music and Master of Divinity degrees may also be available.

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