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Career and Education Opportunities for Music Composers in Portland, Oregon

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for music composers in the Portland, Oregon area. There are currently 600 working music composers in Oregon; this should grow 15% to 700 working music composers in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for music composers are expected to grow by about 10.0%. In general, music composers write and transcribe musical scores.

A person working as a music composer can expect to earn about $17 per hour or $35,500 per year on average in Oregon and about $19 per hour or $41,270 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Music composers earn more than people working in the category of Musical Entertainment generally in Oregon and more than people in the Musical Entertainment category nationally. People working as music composers can fill a number of jobs, such as: record producer, music writer, and creative director.

There are fifty-nine schools of higher education in the Portland area, including four within twenty-five miles of Portland where you can get a degree to start your career as a music composer. Given that the most common education level 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 Portland 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.
  • 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

Willamette University - Salem, OR

Willamette University, 900 State St, Salem, OR 97301. Willamette University is a small university located in Salem, Oregon. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,720 students and an admission rate of 66%. Willamette University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree.
  • Voice and Opera, bachelor's degree.

Portland Community College - Portland, OR

Portland Community College, 12000 SW 49th Avenue, Portland, OR 97219-7132. Portland Community College is a large college located in Portland, Oregon. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 26,657 students. Portland Community College has a one to two year program in Music Performance which graduated eight students in 2008.

Marylhurst University - Marylhurst, OR

Marylhurst University, 17600 Pacific Hwy - Hwy 43, Marylhurst, OR 97036-0261. Marylhurst University is a small university located in Marylhurst, Oregon. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,744 students. Marylhurst University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, one to two year and bachelor's degree.
  • Music Theory and Composition, one to two year and bachelor's degree.

Portland State University - Portland, OR

Portland State University, 724 SW Harrison, Portland, OR 97201. Portland State University is a large university located in Portland, Oregon. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 25,959 students and an admission rate of 80%. Portland State University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree and master's degree which graduated ten and six students respectively in 2008.
  • Conducting, master's degree which graduated 2 students in 2008.

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: Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon photo by Fcb981

Portland is located in Multnomah County, Oregon. It has a population of over 557,706, which has grown by 5.4% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Portland, 103, is above the national average. New single-family homes in Portland are priced at $194,700 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, six hundred forty-eight new homes were constructed in Portland, down from 1,205 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Portland are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 23 minutes. More than 32.6% of Portland residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 11.4%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Portland is 10.7%, which is greater than Oregon's average of 10.6%.

The percentage of Portland residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 45.7%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Charismatic Churches Independent.

Portland is home to the Barnes Yard and the Haig as well as Cottonwood Bay City Park and Wallace City Park. Visitors to Portland can choose from Motel 6, Shilo Inns & Resorts and Comfort Inn Portland for temporary stays in the area.