Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Musical Careers – Options & Pathways

During a recent conversation with a group of teenage students, I realised that many of my students are unaware of the wide range of careers available in the music industry. I have some students who are passionate about pursuing a career in music, but who don’t have either the desire or the skills to be a performer or private instrumental teacher, and many students who don’t have friends or parents in the music industry are largely unaware of the range of career possibilities.

In the past few years, students of mine have continued on to the following careers in music –

  1. Composer
  2. Performer
  3. Classroom Music Teacher
  4. Private Instrumental Teacher
  5. Sound Engineer (live sound)
  6. Studio Engineer
  7. Artistic Administrator
  8. Music Journalist
  9. Musicologist

Most of these students have undertaken University degrees, specialising in their chosen field, however there are a few who have followed different paths to success.

How do you learn the necessary skills, learn about the industry, and meet the right contacts without tertiary study? One method that a few of my students have used successfully is mentoring.

Students have approached businesses in the industry that they are interested in, and have asked to spend a week with them doing work experience. This is the fastest and most relevant way to gain knowledge of your local music industry and to make a great impression with prospective future employers. This is something that can be done during holidays prior to leaving school.

Other students have approached individuals who are at the top of their field and have met with them to discuss career paths. Most people will be flattered that you respect their work enough to approach them, and will readily meet with you and share their knowledge. Also remember that most people love to share their own story so you will most likely find out valuable information about how they started out and how they forged their way in the industry. This is also a great way to learn what not to do from someone who has already made the mistakes and learnt all the lessons!

Studying a musical instrument requires pro-active, self-disciplined students, who have excellent attention to detail. These skills, coupled with the many others that are gained through the study of music, are transferable to a wide range of professions. So take some time to educate your students on the wide range of careers available for those who wish to engage with music in their profession, and the variety of different pathways that can lead to a successful career.

What musical careers have your students chosen, and what paths did they take to become skilled in their profession? Please feel free to leave comments below.

About the Author

Nicole Murphy
Nicole Murphy is a pianist and composer residing in Queensland, Australia. She has been teaching both piano and composition privately and in schools for over 8 years, with students currently ranging in age from four years to eighty-five years. She holds a Bachelor of Music (Honours Class I) from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and is currently working towards a Masters of Music. As a freela... [Read more]

1 Comment

  1. Marilyn Johnson

    This is an excellent topic, as it covers an area in which music teachers and students often need more information. I would add other possible careers, such as Music Therapy, Instrument Repair, Sales and/or Administrative positions in retail music stores, recording companies and publishing companies. Businesses who serve the music community often employ musicians.

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