Listening to the Sound of Music – Education and Career Options in Music

Global Ed

It was Albert Einstein who famously said, If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” If you are in ac-chord (pun intended) with this sentiment, then this article is for you.

In this composition we’ll look at:

  • Careers in music and associated myth
  • Types of Degrees Offered
  • Countries to Consider
  • Renowned Music Schools to look into


It is not as off-beat (this one was unintentional) as you think it is. If you have found your creativity and passion for any form of music, then why not consider a career in it too? Universities across the world are offering formal degree courses in the discipline of music. This stands apart from the shorter certificate/ diploma courses. It is an opportunity for you to channel all your enthusiasm for the creative arts into lucrative future options.

But before we jump into the where and what of it all, let us bust some preconceived notions about entering the music industry.

Myth 1: You either become super-famous or you are totally ignored.

Let us give this idea some credit. Not everyone can become the next Michel Jackson. But, fame does not directly translate to success here. The music industry, or any creative field for that matter, is built on hundreds of on-stage and off-stage roles that work synchronously and each of them contributes significantly to a production. Choosing to be a sound engineer, a music teacher or a historian who curates and studies music for instance are careers that bust this myth wide open.

Myth 2: Spotlight all the time.

Nope. Certainly not the case. When you are looking for a career in this field, you typically begin by deciding whether you want a performing or a non-performing role. There is no pressure of spotlight if you go into composing, event planning, or even music therapy. Even with performing roles, different stages have different intensities and you still get to choose the intensity of the spotlight.

Myth 3: Full-time employment is not an option.

Also no. These myths have risen because of limited and skewed perceptions of the field. As music teacher or lecturer, sharing your passion with the future generations will, in all likelihood, be a full-time job. You could also find carve your niche in journalism, working as a music critic with a newspaper or a magazine. You could get into the legal/ admin side of things and work with copyrights and publishing. You get the point. If you are seeking full-time employment, it is available.

Myth 4: If you love it, you will do it for free.

It is easy to brush off this attitude as plain annoyance. But it is built out of a cultural stigma that abuses an artist’s love for the art and believes that art is just a hobby. Don’t let that wear you down. Making a career out of a something you love does not diminish your love for it. Exposure is great, but it is not going to feed you.

Myth 5: You will be out of touch with the “real world”.

Untrue. Depending on your specialisation, you might study technology, psychology, musical theory, business administration, pedagogy, or any of the “real world” things. Will you space out like a normal person? Probably. But your career will very much be rooted in the real world.

The bottomline is that, like with any other field, choices abound. For all you know, your ideal career choice is hiding behind all conventional options. And, when it comes to careers in fine arts, it makes sense for you to research and figure out options even before you start looking at courses.


At the undergraduate level, there are four main options:

  • B.A – Bachelor of Arts. This is you general arts degree where you can choose to major in Music and pick a different minor. BA courses are typically more theoretical. So, in addition to performances, you can also expect composition, music history and theory.
  • B.Mus/ BM – Bachelor of Music. This is the most popular choice if you have decided to enter the field. It goes in-depth into performing, composition and specialisations. You will find this degree being offered by conservatories, full fledged art schools or universities with a significant music department. It doesn’t give you a lot of scope to bring in courses from other departments.
  • BFA – Bachelor of Fine Arts. This is probably an average of the first two courses. It is more intense than  BA but less than BM. You can choose your area such as composition or music theory and specialise in it.
  • B.Sc Music/ Sound Technology –  Bachelor of Science in Music. It is an interdisciplinary program wherein you get to combine your love for technology and music. If you see yourself in a recording studio, or as a sound engineer, or working in post production, it is an option to consider.

Most of the universities/ art schools also offer the corresponding Masters programs should you choose to continue into advanced studies.


Unlike your tech courses, there is no one scale of reference that can adjudge different music courses across the globe. As art is culturally entrenched, each place can offer you something new that another place cannot. That said, here are some of the top choices abroad, in no particular order.

  • Austria
  • The UK
  • Japan
  • Italy
  • The US
  • France
  • Spain
  • West Africa


Trying to rank universities and art schools based on their music programs will not be an ideal representation because of the differences in courses, cultures and specialisations. More importantly, despite the rankings, your music must find a space that is conducive to it. So, instead of rankings, what follows is a list of some of the most popular schools to pursue to degree in music. Each of these schools has its own admission requirements and criteria, which you will have to ensure before applying.


If you are a lucky soul who has figured out your passion this early on in life, you owe it to yourself to pursue it to the fullest. Career opportunities abound at different levels and you can set the tone (had to end with another pun) at which your artistry can grow. In addition to your artistic expertise, you will also enhance your communication skills, creativity, team work, acceptance of others and emotional wellbeing. And, there is no dearth of career options. Maybe, a formal degree in music is worth considering.  The world is waiting for your song.

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