In our last post we gave a brief list of some careers that you can do with a music education. Not every musician is going to “make it big” on a TV competition. Those are once in a life-time opportunities. A music related career is a fantastic goal, but there is much preparation that has to happen before.
Music is one of the few fields that a student cannot prepare for in public school. In order to gain entrance into most university programs, one needs to have a Grade 8 level of music or higher. That’s about 10 years (or more) of private music lessons. Elementary and Secondary schools do not offer Grade 8 music.
If a career in music is something you are interested, here are some tips to help you excel!
1. Learn piano!!!! ~ Even if you end up falling in love with the French Horn in university, having a strong foundation in piano will make it easier to pick up another instrument. Make sure you take exams and get as high a piano Grade as possible.
2. Learn theory!!!! ~ This is SO important! Even if your lifelong dream is to become the next famous pop star, you need to know theory! Most famous singers don’t just “get up and sing!” They’ve taken lessons, learned theory, and know about music. You especially need to know theory if you want to write your own songs someday.
3. Start now!! ~ Maybe after reading the opening paragraph, you think it’s too late for you to have a career in music. It’s not! Start now and work hard. You can learn the skills you need.
4. Take private lessons ~ This may seem like a restatement of #1 and #2, but I am continually surprised at the students who think they can either learn on their own, learn from youtube, or learn enough at school. Here’s the truth… IT DOESN’T WORK and YOU CAN’T ! You need a teacher!
5. Learn to sightread ~ Many career opportunities depend on being a good sight reader, particularly accompanying, and being a church musician. This is true of both instrumentalists and vocalists. No one ever regretted getting better at sight reading!
6. Practice ~ Bottom line, getting good a music requires practice. Practice requires time. Start developing good practice habits when you are young, because even once you get that amazing job as a rehearsal accompanist on Broadway for the next production of Wicked, you will still need to practice!
7. Go to University ~ You’ve gotten Grade 8 piano (or higher) while in high school, consider majoring in music at University. This is an especially good idea if you are interested in performance. You will make connections there that will open doors to careers in the future. Universities also have excellent composition programs, so if song writing is your thing you can major in that!
8. Take any and every opportunity to perform ~ Whether it’s your teacher’s annual recitals, a showcase festival, a local competition, or a summer musical, take all the opportunities you can to perform while you are in private lessons. All these experiences culminate to give you a well-rounded musical background.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the preparation that could be made for a career in music, but it is a good reference point. Hopefully these tips will encourage more young musicians to consider making music their career choice in the future!