Where Will My Music Education Take Me? | Arts Administration | Other Links

Where Will My Music Education Take Me?

Daniel J. Wakin's article "The Julliard Effect: 10 year's later," published in the New York Times, December 12, 2004 documents the career dramas played out year after year by music students enrolling in and graduating from schools of music in America.  Starry-eyed freshmen believe that everything is possible and glamorous careers as performing artists are waiting for them.  Upon graduation, however, the harsh realities of the highly competitive job market dash many career dreams.  Wakin's article notes that of the 44 Julliard graduates in 1994 at least 12 and perhaps as many as 20 have left music performance careers.  Others among the remaining students struggle to find enough performance opportunities to pay daily expenses and tuition debt.  True enough there were many successes among the graduates but it appears that over half of the graduates did not realize their career goals 10 years after graduation.

The choice of a college and indeed the choice of a major can be a defining moment for a student’s career.  Parents and students need consider carefully the cost of education and the opportunities that the education will open up.  Jobs for performers are highly competitive and tend to not pay as well as one would like.  In addition the education does not guarantee a performance position or career.  Many musicians not only complete a bachelor degree but continue their education in graduate school as well. All of this education comes with many thousands of hours of practice and commitment to music and the cost of tens of thousands of dollars. 

The good news is that some careers in music have great employment opportunities.  For instance, in music education there is a nationwide demand for qualified teachers.  In many states there were two or three job openings for every graduate from a music education program.  If you are interested in music education, and truly desire to be a teacher then this is an excellent opportunity for you.  You might wish to check out the opportunities at a music school near you or contact any of us supporting this website.  

The demand for creative and artistic thinkers is also high in our economy. Come to the realization that a music performance or liberal arts degree is more than training to perform faster, higher, and more musically.  Instead it is an avenue to creative thinking and a new way to understand of the world. Consider the university curriculum as a city comprised of many districts, each of which represents a body of knowledge, or a collection of comparable skills, or a viewpoint on our world. The best prepared students are those that are not localized to a district or two, but rather know how to travel throughout the entire city. For this reason today's music schools are seeking to graduate students who not only perform music, but write, talk, compose, and promote music. 

I highly recommend this book for your consideration as you contemplate your musical journey:

Angela Myles Beeching, Beyond Talent ( Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2005), 344 pages, available in hardback (list $65) or paperback  (list $18.95). Read review

Terry B. Ewell

Arts Administration

See videos, text, and a handout in the Bassoon Digital Professor.

Other Links

Careers for Flutists (and other musicians)
by Dr. Ed Lacy

Pursuing a Career in Music
by Doug Yeo, Bass Trombonist, Boston Symphony Orchestra