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 http://www.davidahrens.us/soundeducation. 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!