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Music and Singing Careers, Jobs and Employment Information

Music and Singing Career and Job Highlights

  • Musicians often have part-time schedules and irregular unemployment, so many of them supplement their income with earnings with other jobs.
  • Young children aspiring to become musicians begin early playing and studying an instrument.
  • Because competition for jobs is intense, the most qualified candidates are those with training in numerous instruments and the abilities to perform a variety of music genres.

Music and Singing Career Overview

Musicians, singers, and related workers careers’ include: playing musical instruments, singing, composing and arranging pieces, or conducting choirs or instrumental groups. Musicians, singers, and related workers perform independently or in groups to live audiences in nightclubs, concert halls, and theaters which hold operas, musicals, and dance performances. Even though the majority of these performers perform for live audiences, several perform solely for recording or production studios. Regardless of the situation, musicians, singers, and related workers practice a great deal, whether alone or with their band, orchestra, or other musical company.

Musicians usually achieve their name or professional standing in a certain genre of music or performance. However, some musicians who have are able to play more than one instrument, such as the flute and clarinet, and are equally talented at playing both; will have a wider range of employment opportunities. For example, someone who plays instruments may perform in a symphony orchestra, rock group, or jazz combo or work in a studio band over the course of a few days. Some play a variety of instruments including string, brass, woodwind, or percussion. They may also play electronic synthesizers.

Singers use their familiarity and knowledge in voice production, melody, and harmony to read music. They may take on a part or simply sing with their own style. Singers are frequently categorized according to the range of their voice; these include soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, or bass. They may also be arranged by their style of music; these may include opera, rock, popular, folk, rap, or country and western.

Music directors lead and preside over instrumental groups, such as symphony orchestras, dance and show bands, or ensembles as well as vocal performance groups, such as orchestras, choirs, and glee clubs. Directors are also in charge of auditioning and choosing musicians, selecting a suitable level of music, and directing practices and performances. A choral director specifically leads choirs and glee clubs and occasionally works with a band or an orchestra conductor. A director’s primary goal in his job is to attain harmony, rhythm, tempo, shading, and other important musical aspects among his performance group.

Composers write original and new symphonies, operas, sonatas, jingles for radio and commercials, soundtracks, popular songs, and other music. Using harmony, rhythm, melody, and tonal structure; composers document thoughts into music. A few composers use computer software to write music; however, most composers and songwriters try out new ideas on instruments and a paper and pencil.

Arrangers record and adjust musical compositions to fit orchestras, bands, choral groups, or individuals. Tempo, volume, appropriate instruments used, and other musical components are altered and organized to achieve the desired style. Some arrangers simply document changes by hand, while others used advanced methods with computers.

Music and Singing Training and Job Qualifications

Young children aspiring to become musicians begin early playing and studying an instrument. Performing in a school or community band, choir, orchestra, or musical group provides them with good training and experience. Singers typically begin training when they have mature voices.

Musicians require widespread and prolonged training to gain the necessary abilities and knowledge to interpret music. In addition to other artists, musicians and singers continually endeavor to push themselves as they explore various types of music. Several options for formal training include: private study with an accomplished musician, study at a college or university music program, or attendance in a music conservatory. For university or conservatory study, it is usually necessary to audition. Nearly 600 college-level programs in music are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Courses normally include musical theory, music interpretation, composition, conducting, and instrument or voice performance. Music directors, composers, conductors, and arrangers need substantial work experience and knowledge of these subjects.

Several colleges, universities, and music conservatories offer different degrees in music. A master’s or doctoral degree is typically necessary to be an advanced music teacher in colleges and universities; however, a bachelor’s may be all that is required to be a basic music teacher. In order to teach music in public elementary or secondary schools, individuals need a degree in music education, which qualifies them for State certification. Those who do not reach the standards to teach on public schools may choose to teach privately or recreationally in the community.

Musicians must have a wide range of knowledge about all music, but a strong interest in a particular type. This wider range of interest, understanding, and training can increase job opportunities and abilities. Especially when taken at a young age, voice training and private instrumental lessons can also promote the development techniques and improve one’s performance.

Aspiring musicians should have musical talent, versatility, originality, poise, and a good presence on stage. Self-discipline is vital as quality performance requires regular study and rehearsal. Furthermore, musicians who perform in concerts or nightclubs and those touring must be in good physical condition to endure repeated travel and a sporadic performance schedule. Musicians and singers try to perform without looking tired; therefore, preparation and practice are essential. They also must be geared up to cope with the stress of irregular employment and rejection when auditioning for work.

Musicians advance as they become popular and receive higher pay. Thriving musicians usually use the help of agents or managers to schedule performances, settle contracts, and develop their careers.

Music and Singing Job and Employment Opportunities

Musicians, singers, and related workers should expect intense competition. More individuals are interested in performing than there are available openings. Talent alone does not ensure success: several people begin as musicians, but depart from the profession as a result of hard work, demanding self-discipline, and long periods of irregular unemployment.

Through 2012, general employment of musicians, singers, and related workers is projected to expand about as fast as the average for all occupations. Religious organizations will provide the majority of paying positions. Self-employed musicians, who normally perform in nightclubs, concert tours, and other venues, should expect slower-than-average growth. Openings may come from a demand in growth or from the need to replace musicians who “call it quits” because can’t make a steady income as musicians or for other reasons.

Historical Earnings Information

In 2002, the median annual income of salaried musicians and singers was $36,290. The middle 50 percent received between $18,660 and $59,970. The lowest 10 percent received less than $13,040, while the highest 10 percent received more than $96,250. Performing arts companies had median yearly earnings of $43,060 and religious organizations had medium yearly earnings of $18,160.

In 2002, the median annual income of salaried music directors and composers was $31,310. The middle 50 percent received between $23,820 and $46,350. The lowest 10 percent received under $14,590, while the highest 10 percent received over $67,330.

Musicians who find success usually make much bigger figures than earnings above.