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Career and Education Opportunities for Music Composers in Boston, Massachusetts

If you want to be a music composer, the Boston, Massachusetts area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. About 980 people are currently employed as music composers in Massachusetts. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 6% to 1,040 people employed. This is not quite as good as 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 $22 per hour or $46,200 annually on average in Massachusetts and about $19 hourly or $41,270 per year on average nationally. Incomes for music composers are better than in the overall category of Musical Entertainment in Massachusetts, and better than the overall Musical Entertainment category nationally. People working as music composers can fill a number of jobs, such as: music orchestrator, jingle writer, and copyist.

There are 151 schools of higher education in the Boston area, including fourteen within twenty-five miles of Boston where you can get a degree to start your career as a music composer. The most common level of education for music composers is some college courses. You can expect to spend a short time studying to be 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 Boston 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

Eastern Nazarene College - Quincy, MA

Eastern Nazarene College, 23 E Elm Ave, Quincy, MA 02170-2999. Eastern Nazarene College is a small college located in Quincy, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 993 students and an admission rate of 61%. Eastern Nazarene College has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Religious/Sacred Music, bachelor's degree.
  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree which graduated 3 students in 2008.

Dean College - Franklin, MA

Dean College, 99 Main Street, Franklin, MA 02038-1941. Dean College is a small college located in Franklin, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,321 students and an admission rate of 69%. Dean College has an associate's degree program in Music, Other Specialties which graduated six students in 2008.

The New England Conservatory of Music - Boston, MA

The New England Conservatory of Music, 290 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115-5018. The New England Conservatory of Music is a small school located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 724 students and an admission rate of 32%. The New England Conservatory of Music has 5 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, two to four year, bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated zero, twenty, two, four, and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, two to four year, bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated zero, one, zero, zero, and one students respectively in 2008.
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology, bachelor's degree and master's degree.
  • Conducting, master's degree and doctor's degree.
  • Voice and Opera, two to four year, bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated zero, eleven, two, zero, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Berklee College of Music - Boston, MA

Berklee College of Music, 1140 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215. Berklee College of Music is a small college located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,112 students and an admission rate of 44%. Berklee College of Music has 4 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, two to four year and bachelor's degree which graduated twenty-two and fourteen students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, two to four year and bachelor's degree which graduated twenty-nine and eighteen students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Management and Merchandising, two to four year and bachelor's degree which graduated two and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Music, Other Specialties, two to four year and bachelor's degree.

Anna Maria College - Paxton, MA

Anna Maria College, 50 Sunset Lane, Paxton, MA 01612-1198. Anna Maria College is a small college located in Paxton, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,333 students and an admission rate of 89%. Anna Maria College has a bachelor's degree program in Voice and Opera which graduated one student in 2008.

Gordon College - Wenham, MA

Gordon College, 255 Grapevine Rd, Wenham, MA 01984. Gordon College is a small college located in Wenham, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,700 students and an admission rate of 71%. Gordon College has a bachelor's degree program in Music Performance.

University of Massachusetts-Lowell - Lowell, MA

University of Massachusetts-Lowell, 1 University Ave, Lowell, MA 01854-5104. University of Massachusetts-Lowell is a large university located in Lowell, Massachusetts. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 11,931 students and an admission rate of 71%. University of Massachusetts-Lowell has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree and master's degree which graduated one and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Music, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree and master's degree.

Brandeis University - Waltham, MA

Brandeis University, 415 South St, Waltham, MA 02454-9110. Brandeis University is a medium sized university located in Waltham, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,347 students and an admission rate of 34%. Brandeis University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Theory and Composition, master's degree and doctor's degree which graduated two and four students respectively in 2008.
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology, master's degree and doctor's degree which graduated seven and one students respectively in 2008.

Longy School of Music - Cambridge, MA

Longy School of Music, One Follen St, Cambridge, MA 02138. Longy School of Music is a small school located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 214 students and an admission rate of 63%. Longy School of Music has 3 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, two to four year, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and post-master's certificate which graduated zero, four, six, and zero students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, two to four year and master's degree which graduated three and three students respectively in 2008.
  • Voice and Opera, two to four year, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and post-master's certificate which graduated zero, six, seven, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Atlantic Union College - South Lancaster, MA

Atlantic Union College, 338 Main St, South Lancaster, MA 01561-1000. Atlantic Union College is a small college located in South Lancaster, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 384 students. Atlantic Union College has a bachelor's degree program in Music Performance.

Boston University - Boston, MA

Boston University, One Silber Way, Boston, MA 02215. Boston University is a large university located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 31,669 students and an admission rate of 59%. Boston University has 6 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Religious/Sacred Music, master's degree which graduated 5 students in 2008.
  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated twelve, one, twenty, and three students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated one, two, and six students respectively in 2008.
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated one, two, and one students respectively in 2008.
  • Conducting, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated zero, four, and three students respectively in 2008.
  • Voice and Opera, bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated thirteen, four, thirteen, and two students respectively in 2008.

Hebrew College - Newton Centre, MA

Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459-2237. Hebrew College is a small college located in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 146 students. Hebrew College has a postbaccalaureate certificate program in Religious/Sacred Music which graduated one student in 2008.

Emerson College - Boston, MA

Emerson College, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116-4624. Emerson College is a small college located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,536 students and an admission rate of 37%. Emerson College has a bachelor's degree program in Music Performance which graduated three students in 2008.

Pine Manor College - Chestnut Hill, MA

Pine Manor College, 400 Heath St, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. Pine Manor College is a small college located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 472 students and an admission rate of 70%. Pine Manor College has a bachelor's degree program in Music Performance.

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LOCATION INFORMATION: Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts photo by Ahonc

Boston is situated in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. It has a population of over 609,023, which has grown by 3.4% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Boston, 136, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Boston are valued at $216,200 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, twenty-three new homes were constructed in Boston, down from forty-eight the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Boston are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, educational services, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 29 minutes. More than 35.6% of Boston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Boston is 8.2%, which is less than Massachusetts's average of 8.4%.

The percentage of Boston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.0%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Brighton Congregational Church, Leslie Lindsay Chapel and Universalist Meeting House are some of the churches located in Boston. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Episcopal Church.

Boston is home to the Metropolitan Water Works Pumping Stations and the Mystic Pier 1 as well as Schoolboy Stadium and Liberty Square. Shopping centers in the area include Legion Shopping Center, Longwood Galleria Shopping Center and Neponset Circle Shopping Center. Visitors to Boston can choose from Federalist Restaurant, Eco-Logical Solutions and Omni Parker Hotel for temporary stays in the area.