Guest Post by Elaine Hirsch – Music Education Careers

Musicians and singers face extremely strong competition for jobs. On top of that, education budget cuts from elementary schools to PhD programs often hit music departments the hardest. Music education majors should plan on having a backup career choice, and maybe even earn a double major or a minor in another field to ensure their career prospects will be solid upon graduation. Most musicians have day jobs, since few musicians and singers can support themselves on performance alone.

Music Teachers

Many musicians and singers choose to supplement their income by becoming music teachers. For those who want to teach music in public elementary or secondary schools a degree in music will qualify graduates for a state certificate to teach. Elementary and secondary school teachers earn a median salary of $47,000 to $52,000.

For those who want to become college music instructors, a master’s degree in music will likely be required. College-level music instructors earn a median salary of $59,000. Another option for music graduates is to offer private lessons at local music stores, through local Parks and Recreation, or even online.

Recreational Therapists

Some music majors choose to diversify their studies to become recreational therapists. Recreational therapists use music, games, dance, and arts and crafts to improve the well-being of their patients. The median annual salary of recreational therapists is $38,000.

Musicians and Singers

For those who want to pursue careers in popular musical performance, it’s best to look for jobs in cities where recording studios and the entertainment industry are concentrated. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, and Chicago are the best places to find work in the music industry. Musicians and singers may also find salaried work with performing art companies, religious organizations, or in the US Armed Forces. Full-time musicians earn a median wage of $21.00 an hour.

Most musicians work part-time and are self-employed. The hours are typically evenings and weekends. Since the competition for long-term jobs is high, few popular performing musicians and singers have guaranteed full-time, long-term employment. For students of music education, performance is probably best left a supplement to a music teaching or other career.

Music-Related Professions

The following are other music-related professions music education students may be interested in pursuing:

  •  Accompanist
  •  Acoustical Engineer
  •  Arranger
  • Arts Council Director
  •  Band Director
  •  Church Music Director
  •  City Cultural Events Planner
  •  Composer
  •  Conductor
  •  Electronic Music Technician
  •  Film Scorer
  •  Fundraising Director
  •  Instrument Salesperson
  • Instrument Repairman
  •  Music Director
  •  Music Retailer
  •  Music Software Programmer
  •  Piano Technician/Tuner

In 2008, musicians, composers, singers, and other music-related employees held 240,000 jobs. It’s worth thinking of the many professions related to music and music teaching when facing graduation from a music education program. Music students of any kind should make backup career plans in related fields to support themselves financially in the event their primary plans need to be propped up or just don’t pan out.

 Elaine Hirsch is a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. She is currently working as a writer for various education-related websites and writing about relevant education-related issues.

Music Education Blog Carnival – November 2011 Edition

Welcome to the November Edition of the Music Education Blog Carnival. This edition features tons of great articles by old and new bloggers alike. Topics range anywhere from performance tips for the french horn to music pedagogy techniques. As always, if you like and article, leave the author a comment or insightful thought either here or on their specific article. Enjoy!

Music Advocacy

Karen French presents Dr. Thomas Moore: Educational Consultant Early Childhood Development posted at Dr. Thomas Moore, saying, “This article could also be used in the Music Education Category”

Music Education

Susie Ahrens presents An Interview with Tubist, Andrew Hitz (part 1) posted at For the Love of Tuba.

David French presents Songs with scrolling lyrics posted at Tanbur Music Education Blogspot, saying, “Songs with scrolling lyrics are a feature of TANBUR MUSIC EDUCATION LINKS. You can discover several that are unique to the website, together with related links.”

Eugene Cantera presents 6 Things I’ve Learned WhileTeaching Music posted at Discover, Learn, Play.

Yiyi Ku presents How much should I practice? posted at Yiyi Ku Piano Studio Murrieta Temecula CA, saying, “Piano, practice, teaching, lessons”

Natalie Wickham presents Congratulations on Brushing Your Teeth! posted at Music Matters Blog, saying, “Ever feel like you have to acknowledge every little accomplishment just to feed your students’ sense of self-worth and keep them coming back for more? This post highlights the importance of recognizing and praising true character to help students achieve greater success in all their musical pursuits.”

Music Pedagogy

Thomas J. West presents Teaching Chord Theory To Secondary Music Performance Ensembles – Thomas J. West Music posted at Thomas J. West Music, saying, “As part of a sequential curriculum in music education, my instrumental music performance students continually learn and practice written music notation. This begins with rote scale and arpeggio study. Once the students have become familiar with the first three key areas they are prepared to start talking about chord theory and simple harmonic progressions.”

Music Performance

Lisa Hood presents The 10 Best Diss Songs in History posted at ZenCollegeLife, saying, “If we’ve learned anything from musicals, it’s that emotions are better expressed through song.”

Allan Mathieu Perkins presents the Harmon Mute posted at The Oil Valley Hornist.

Music Tips

Susie Ahrens presents Play Louder Without Blasting posted at For the Love of Tuba.

The next Music Education Blog Carnival will be hosted by David Ahrens (@MrAhrens) at It’s not too early to submit your articles for next month. Just visit the submission page to add your article. If you’re looking for articles from past blog carnivals, check out the index page.

A special thanks to Dr. Joeseph Pisano for facilitating and maintaining the music education blog carnival!


November Music Education Blog Carnival

I am very excited to announce that MusicEdMajor.Net will be hosting the November 2011 edition of the Music Education Blog Carnival! The Music Education Blog carnival is a project of Dr. Joseph Pisano which seeks to offer music bloggers an opportunity to share their work. Each month, the blog carnival presents the blog posts of music, education and technology blogs from every corner of the web. Looking for some ideas of what to submit? Check out the categories below!


Bloggers can submit articles of a variety of concentrations including:

  • Music Advocacy
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Music Education
  • Music Performance
  • Music Software/Hardware
  • Music Technology
  • Music Tips
Articles can
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be of any aspect of the above categories.

Don’t Miss Your Chance!

To submit an article to the November Music Education Blog Carnival, just click this link. All you have to provide is a link to your post, your name and e-mail, and a short description of your post. It’s that easy!

Articles will be accepted through Monday, October 31st. Are you a teacher, musician, or music lover? Please consider contributing to this awesome music resource. If you have any questions regarding the blog carnival, you can Tweet me or contact me through the “Contact” page above.

Happy Blogging!

What type of Grad Program is Right for Me?

So you think you want to go back school to continue your education? It seems like a great idea(and it very well might be) if you take the time find the right fit for your situation. The purpose of this post is to get you thinking about what path you might choose. Look for upcoming posts that go into more depth on the 4 main ways to earn your Master’s Degree. [Read more...]

MENC Changes Name to NAfME

As many of you probably know, what was formerly known as MENC has changed its name to National Association for Music Education (NAfME). NAfME began as the Music Supervisors National Conference in 1907. The organization underwent a long line of name changes, first to Music Educators National Conference, and changing again to reflect the nature of the organization – MENC: The National Association for Music Education. In an attempt to clear up any remaining confusion about the name and purpose of the group, the national association completed their name transformation to reflect what we have today, National Association for Music Education.

I had the opportunity to speak with NAfME representative Elizabeth Lasko about this transition and other exciting development in the national organization. Check out the interview below!

What Is NAfME?

NAfME Website

NAfME Press Release: Building on the Past to Shape the Future of Music Education

Follow @NAfME on Twitter!

If you were part of the MENC Facebook group, be sure to “like” the new NAfME and NAfME Collegiate pages!

MENC Changes Name to NAfME


Special Thanks to Elizabeth Lasko for taking the time to do this interview with us!


Imagine it being mid-May and you just performed in your last high school concert EVER. All you could have played during your entire high school career has now come to a close.  What do you do until that late August date where you begin your new journey called college? [Read more...]

A Word from a New Editor

Hello readers of! As our new editor in chief has announced, the group of editors has grown! I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the team as the Graduate Editor. I decided to use a post to introduce myself and ask you for your input. I’m looking forward to helping in any way that I can. [Read more...]