Music Art

The term musical arts refers to the study and practice of musical theory and performance. Read on to learn more about a day in the life of a musician, as well as the educational and employment options that can help you figure out whether a career in music might be right for you.

Is Musical Art for Me?

Career Overview

If music fills your day or you love spending hours playing a musical instrument, a career in musical art could be perfect for you. Musical art is the study of instruments, music history and theory, composition and conducting.

A Day in the Life of a Musician

The work environment of a musician can vary, and the competition for work is intense. Many musicians travel around the country, performing at night and on the weekends. Musicians fortunate enough to possess contracts with entertainment companies or symphony orchestras are able to enjoy more financial stability and may not be required to travel often. A vast majority of musicians must work multiple jobs during the day in order to perform at night. Those holding bachelor's, or preferably, master's degrees in music may be able to find employment teaching their craft.

Career Options and Salary Potential

As an aspiring musical artist, you may find a position as a music teacher, conductor or retail manager for a musical instruments and supplies store; opportunities in musical instrument fabrication and repair may also be available. Pay may vary according to your level of education, skill and experience. As a professional singer or musician, you may find the industry a difficult one to break into. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), musicians and singers in May 2012 earned a mean hourly wage of $31.94. That same month, music directors and composers received a mean wage of $25.68 and hour, or $53,420 a year. As of May 2012, art, drama and music teachers at post-secondary institutions earned a mean annual wage of $73,340 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Musical Art?

Undergraduate Programs

Many aspiring musicians begin their studies with a musical instrument well before attending a college or university, but a bachelor's degree program in musical art will prepare students for the intensive study required at the graduate level. In most degree programs for musical arts, students can focus on a specific instrument, such as the piano, guitar, harp, organ, strings, brass or woodwinds. Usually, voice and opera studies are also available, as well as the study of historical performance, jazz studies and orchestral conducting. Degree areas include concentrations in musicology, music theory or education, musical instrument repair and music management.

A Bachelor of Arts in Music program can offer an intensive curriculum in music history, theory, and performance. In addition to music courses, general education courses in history, math and sciences are often required as well. In some instances, the programs are designed so that students are able to pursue studies in other fields, such as business or political science.

Bachelor of Music programs concentrate on the study of composition, the music industry and performance. Some programs may allow students to study a specific genre of music, such as jazz. Students typically enter as music majors; after their first year of study, they choose their area of focus. Undergraduate programs can help students prepare for graduate school and more advanced studies in ethnomusicology, as well as music theory and history.

Graduate Programs

A Master of Music degree program will concentrate on either an instrument or music theory and history. Programs with a focus on performance will usually end with a final recital or presentation, whereas programs in history or theory will require a thesis. Students may also be able to study music conducting, pedagogy and music education.

A Doctor of Musical Arts program is usually offered with either a composition, performance or conducting emphasis. This is the highest level available for the study of music at the performance and intellectual levels. Many graduates choose to become music professors at post-secondary institutions, while some are able to build successful careers as performance artists.

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