Learning music is a joy in the present and an investment into the future. Music has a personal element of expression and aesthetic involvement enriching the routines of everyday life. Music learning improves many cognitive skills including problem solving, visual and motor abilities, self-awareness, self-management and project management. A person actively involved in learning music can experience successes in many areas of life as a result of the skills learnt or improved in this area. This is possible besides the long-term, continuing involvement with music.
Music also provides its own unique pleasures and opportunities. The ability to play an instrument offers a beautiful reprieve, relaxation and satisfaction when the demands of work and everyday life are tiring or pressing into one’s personal space. When lost in playing music, emotions can be expressed, happiness and peace can be experienced. For those who sometimes need to be alone, it offers quiet solitude. For those who need company, it offers something to share.
Music is also a legitimate area of profession. As a specialised skill, it opens as many doors as any other area of expertise. Some of these careers are summarised below.
This is the largest area for full-time employment in music. The school music teacher can be a specialist teacher or a classroom teacher with the extra skills to benefit their own students. As a specialist, the music teacher gives guidance to other teachers and directly teaches students in many school and age-group settings. A variety of instruments, activities and programmes make this an interesting position. Music teachers can instruct young children in movement, listening and basic music or teach demanding musical topics to senior students and conduct bands and choirs. The music programmes can be very important to local communities. The teacher needs to value the education system and have a university degree in education with a music major. Employment is readily available and positions usually secure with a teachers salary from $35,000 to $65,000 pa.
Lecturers specialise in one or two areas of music, such as history, theory, literature, composition, performance, electronic music, teaching processes. Lecturers are usually required to have a doctorate in their area of specialty and a proven professional history. Once in this position, hours are usually less demanding with a high salary, making for a good position to hold. Lecturers are also able to supplement income with private tuition at high rates.
Studio teaching is a diverse field. Private studios are often run in schools, from home, in shops, or in a group with other teachers. Private teaching is given to individuals or groups. The hours are often part-time, but are open to some choice by the professional. Studio teachers need to understand both the processes of learning and performing their major instrument. They need to care about people and their different cultures, have musical talent and want others to learn. Young people with 6th grade instrument qualifications are often employed at $16 per hour, working with beginners part-time. An independent teacher needs to have business management skills and preferably a diploma in education and in music performance. Salary is self-set, based on community context and experience, and ranges from $50 to $90 per hour. A well-established, private teacher earns around $30,000 pa, which is low for a double-degree but the work has many unpaid benefits.
Therapists work with disadvantaged or disabled people of many ages in many contexts. Therapists use music skills to improve the physical and mental well being of individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and private practice. They combine social and personal understanding, knowledge of needs and disabilities, and adaptable knowledge of instrument learning processes to enrich the experiences of clients. Therapists need performance background and a bachelor degree in music therapy, with internship. An average professional income is expected, with much work offered part-time.
Concert and other performance opportunities are very limited and income is usually supplemented by other work, such as private teaching. Work is available in concerts, on television, with ensembles or bands, as soloist or as symphony member. Dedication, stamina, perseverance and passion for music are essential qualities for success as a performer. Talent, ability to sight read, transpose and memorise and a large base of instrument repertoire are musical requirements. Experience, both professional and amateur, is as important as actual qualifications in securing a position. Earnings are usually once off and can range from a few hundred dollars to $40,000 for each performance.
Performers are offered positions by audition within the armed forces. Army routine and training are given, with only a 6th grade instrument qualification required for first level entry. Members travel and attend special events. Income ranges from $25,000 (6th grade entry) to $38,000 (8th grade entry) with free instrument tuition given. Normal service benefits are available.
Composers usually work by consignment, with once off earnings supporting income from other occupations. However, some composers are highly successful and able to depend on commissions or large lump payments. Composers create original works or arrangements for schools, television, movies, games, special occasions (private or national), etc. Superior knowledge of instruments, musicianship, theory and creativity are essential.
A host of occupations come under this banner, including retailer, publisher, manager, software designer, recording technician, newspaper critic, radio host, librarian, etc. Music knowledge and business skills are usually combined. Music is combined with a second interest or skill, such as journalism or computer engineering. Opportunities are common and incomes vary considerably.
A large and quickly growing area is involved in media industry with positions in composition and arrangement, scoring, sound mixing, copyright clearance, editing, etc and contexts include media stations, production facilities, and libraries. Productions include radio programmes, daily television shows, movies, computer games and every area of news or entertainment. This is a rapidly growing field with great opportunities and new experiences at different levels. Music interest and knowledge, project management and technology field specialisation are employment requirements. Diplomas are needed in some areas and incomes vary.