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Career and Education Opportunities for Music Composers in Chicago, Illinois

For those living in the Chicago, Illinois area, there are many career and education opportunities for music composers. There are currently 3,050 working music composers in Illinois; this should grow 16% to about 3,530 working music composers in the state by 2016. This is better than the national trend for music composers, which sees this job pool growing by about 10.0% over the next eight years. Music composers generally write and transcribe musical scores.

Music composers earn about $19 hourly or $41,250 per year on average in Illinois and about $19 per hour or $41,270 annually on average nationally. Incomes for music composers are better than in the overall category of Musical Entertainment in Illinois, and better than the overall Musical Entertainment category nationally. Music composers work in a variety of jobs, including: creative director, record producer, and songwriter.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including thirteen within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as a music composer. Music composers usually hold some college courses, so you can expect to spend a short time training to become a music composer if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Music Composer

In general, music composers write and transcribe musical scores.

Music composers apply elements of music theory to generate musical and tonal structures, including harmonies and melodies. They also decide on voices and tone balances required to produce the effects desired in a musical composition. Equally important, music composers have to experiment with different sounds, and types and pieces of music, using synthesizers and computers as needed to test and evaluate concepts. They are often called upon to write changes directly into compositions, or use computer software to make changes. They are expected to score compositions so that they are consistent with instrumental and vocal capabilities such as ranges and keys, using knowledge of music theory. Finally, music composers develop original musical forms, or write within circumscribed musical forms such as sonatas or operas.

Every day, music composers are expected to be able to note differences between sounds as they change tone and volume. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for music composers to talk with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of film or television music. They are often called upon to study films or scripts to establish how musical scores can be used to generate desired effects or moods. Somewhat less frequently, music composers are also expected to write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.

Music composers sometimes are asked to copy parts from scores for individual performers. They also have to be able to accept commissions to generate music for special occasions and transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to deal with particular musicians. And finally, they sometimes have to transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to deal with particular musicians.

Like many other jobs, music composers must be reliable and believe in innovation and creative thought.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Actor. Play parts in stage, television, or motion picture productions for entertainment, information, or instruction. Interpret serious or comic role by speech, gesture, and body movement to entertain or inform audience. May dance and sing.
  • Art Director. Formulate design concepts and presentation approaches, and direct workers engaged in art work, layout design, and copy writing for visual communications media, such as magazines, books, and packaging.
  • Artistic Director. Audition and interview performers to select most appropriate talent for parts in stage, television, or motion picture productions.
  • Camera Operator. Operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.
  • Choreographer. Create and teach dance. May direct and stage presentations.
  • Dancer. Perform dances. May also sing or act.
  • Film or Videotape Editor. Edit motion picture soundtracks, film, and video.
  • Fine Artist. Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of mediums and techniques.
  • Music Director. Direct and conduct instrumental or vocal performances by musical groups.
  • Musician. Play one or more musical instruments in recital, in accompaniment, or as members of an orchestra, band, or other musical group.
  • Singer. Sing songs on stage, radio, or motion pictures.
  • Writer. Create original written works.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Music Composer Training

Trinity Christian College - Palos Heights, IL

Trinity Christian College, 6601 W College Dr, Palos Heights, IL 60463-0929. Trinity Christian College is a small college located in Palos Heights, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,404 students and an admission rate of 94%. Trinity Christian College has a bachelor's degree program in Music Performance which graduated one student in 2008.

Elmhurst College - Elmhurst, IL

Elmhurst College, 190 Prospect Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126-3096. Elmhurst College is a small college located in Elmhurst, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,315 students and an admission rate of 69%. Elmhurst College has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree.
  • Music Management and Merchandising, bachelor's degree.

DePaul University - Chicago, IL

DePaul University, 55 E Jackson, Chicago, IL 60604. DePaul University is a large university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 22,554 students. DePaul University has 4 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and post-master's certificate which graduated thirty-one, thirty-four, and five students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree and master's degree which graduated six and one students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Management and Merchandising, bachelor's degree which graduated 2 students in 2008.
  • Music, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree which graduated 7 students in 2008.

Roosevelt University - Chicago, IL

Roosevelt University, 430 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605-1394. Roosevelt University is a medium sized university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 7,708 students and an admission rate of 43%. Roosevelt University has 5 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and post-master's certificate which graduated zero, zero, and six students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree and master's degree.
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology, master's degree.
  • Voice and Opera, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and post-master's certificate which graduated zero, zero, and one students respectively in 2008.
  • Music, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree.

University of St Francis - Joliet, IL

University of St Francis, 500 N Wilcox St, Joliet, IL 60435-6188. University of St Francis is a small university located in Joliet, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,334 students and an admission rate of 60%. University of St Francis has a bachelor's degree program in Music Performance.

North Park University - Chicago, IL

North Park University, 3225 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60625-4895. North Park University is a small university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,255 students and an admission rate of 30%. North Park University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree.
  • Voice and Opera, master's degree which graduated 3 students in 2008.

Saint Xavier University - Chicago, IL

Saint Xavier University, 3700 W 103rd St, Chicago, IL 60655. Saint Xavier University is a medium sized university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,307 students and an admission rate of 71%. Saint Xavier University has 4 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Religious/Sacred Music, bachelor's degree.
  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree.
  • Voice and Opera, bachelor's degree.
  • Music Management and Merchandising, bachelor's degree.

Lewis University - Romeoville, IL

Lewis University, One University Parkway, Romeoville, IL 60446-2200. Lewis University is a medium sized university located in Romeoville, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,536 students and an admission rate of 71%. Lewis University has a bachelor's degree program in Music Management and Merchandising which graduated one student in 2008.

Wheaton College - Wheaton, IL

Wheaton College, 501 College Ave, Wheaton, IL 60187-5593. Wheaton College is a small college located in Wheaton, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,915 students and an admission rate of 62%. Wheaton College has 4 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree.
  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree.
  • Music Management and Merchandising, bachelor's degree.
  • Music, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree.

Northwestern University - Evanston, IL

Northwestern University, 633 Clark St, Evanston, IL 60208. Northwestern University is a large university located in Evanston, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 20,128 students and an admission rate of 27%. Northwestern University has 7 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Religious/Sacred Music, master's degree and doctor's degree.
  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree, master's degree, post-master's certificate, and doctor's degree which graduated one, zero, four, and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated one, zero, and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated one, zero, and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Conducting, master's degree and doctor's degree.
  • Voice and Opera, bachelor's degree, master's degree, post-master's certificate, and doctor's degree which graduated zero, zero, two, and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Music, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree and master's degree.

Christian Life College - Mount Prospect, IL

Christian Life College, 400 E Gregory St, Mount Prospect, IL 60056-2522. Christian Life College is a small college located in Mount Prospect, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 45 students and an admission rate of 67%. Christian Life College has an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree program in Religious/Sacred Music.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary - Evanston, IL

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2121 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201-3298. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is a small school located in Evanston, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 362 students. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has a master's degree program in Religious/Sacred Music which graduated two students in 2008.

Concordia University - River Forest, IL

Concordia University, 7400 Augusta, River Forest, IL 60305-1499. Concordia University is a small university located in River Forest, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,185 students and an admission rate of 58%. Concordia University has a master's degree program in Religious/Sacred Music.

CERTIFICATIONS

AmSAT Certified Teacher: Certified Alexander Technique Teachers have completed a 3 year, 1600 hour course at an AmSAT certified teacher training center.

For more information, see the American Society for the Alexander Technique website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.