Is College Necessary for a Music Career?

Becoming a Music Teacher

Far and away, the most popular music profession in the country is music education.

Teaching music can be extremely rewarding for the right individual.

If you are a musician now, don’t you remember who first taught you music?

Imagine being able to give that gift to dozens of people.

It can be one of the great professions.

However, unless you are planning on only teaching privately outside of any institution, you will need a degree.

Public K-12 institutions typically require their teachers to have degrees in music.

And, it is almost always a requirement at the university level. VERY FEW professors do not have a degree – they would have to be unbelievably accomplished to get a job without a Master’s or Doctoral degree.

Being a Solo Musician, Songwriter, or Independent Professional

This is the one that many people think has a large grey area.

It is technically true that you don’t need a degree to make it as a solo artist or independent professional.

However, it is for these kinds of careers exactly that a degree is entirely useful.

When you are starting out your first 5 years as a professional, where do you make your first contacts?

How do you establish a network of other professional musicians?

Where can you find a mentor who is also successful guiding you through this landscape?

After all, would you rather do everything on your own and make every mistake in the book, or would you rather study under a mentor who is successful and can show you the way towards success?

Now you are starting to realize why nearly everyone that did not go to school don’t make it.

These are some of the intangibles that a college education bridges the gap in.

College introduces you to many of the people that will help you in your own career.

Even myself, as someone who ended up as a professional college consultant instead of composer, still utilize, on a weekly basis, very valuable contacts I made during my undergraduate degree at University of Michigan.

Without a college degree, many musicians do not even know where to begin…

Maturity and Growth

If you are reading this and have already gone to college, how different were you before college vs. after college?

You would say probably pretty different, and for the better.

Outside of all the technicalities of whether a degree is necessary, simply going to college is entirely beneficial for someone’s social skills and growth.

Learning to collaborate with other people, working in team settings, getting a well-rounded education…

These are beneficial for anyone’s soul.

(In fact, here is a recent article about why it is good to be a music major).

Other Music Professions – Setting Yourself Apart

Music therapists, managers, A&R reps, entertainment attorneys, film composers, jazz performers…

I can tell you that over 97% of these people have degrees in music or a related field.

One of these jobs, music therapy, has very important requirements to obtain licensure, including getting a degree in music from an AMTA (American Music Therapy Association) approved school.

Bottom Line

I subscribe to the belief that if you really want something badly enough, you can find the wherewithal to go and get it regardless of your background.

Whether or not you have a college degree should not stop you from pursuing what you want to pursue in your life.

THAT SAID, having a music degree makes everything a whole lot easier.

If you want to establish specific contacts, connections, etc. in the music industry…

Or get an employed position in music…

Having a music degree gives you the foundations for a future doing the one thing you love beyond measure.

Featured Image by Ben Gesoff via Flickr Creative Commons

One Response

  1. Larry Weintraub January 7, 2019

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