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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

Why study music?

What exactly does a music degree involve? We explore the different types of music courses on offer at universities.

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If you want to work in the music industry, a music degree will equip you with the essential technical and creative skills you need to launch your career. Whether you want to be a performer, producer, composer, or you want to work in marketing or recording, a music degree will set you on the right path. Music graduates are also qualified to work across a range of other sectors such as in film and TV. If you feel passionate about music and want to explore this further, keep reading to find out more about what to expect from a music degree and why it might be the right course for you.   


What is music?


Music is important and meaningful to many people around the world and so we don’t need to go into its definition here. However, there may be areas of this subject that you have not yet explored or even heard of before. A music degree will consider different genres such as jazz, classical, pop, etc. providing you with a broad knowledge of these different styles. As music is a wide-ranging discipline, there are many specialisations you can choose from, many of which are offered as degrees:



Have you thought about studying music in the USA? Take a look at the following universities offering music degrees for inspiration:



What types of music degrees are there?


What you will cover in a music degree will depend on the type of programme you choose. There are several types of qualifications, each with a unique focus:


Bachelor of Music (BM)


This type of course is offered at universities and conservatories, concentrating on performance, theory, and composition. You can choose from a variety of BM courses depending on your interests such as:


  • Keyboard
  • Guitar
  • Brass
  • Strings
  • Jazz


During a BM degree, you will gain in-depth knowledge of your chosen genre, helping you to develop your expertise and skills. For example, some courses offer business modules to teach students more about the industry. During a BM, you will also have the opportunity to perform your compositions which is an excellent experience to help you improve. 


Bachelor of Arts (BA) 


A BA in music is generally not performance-based but tends to focus on theory, musicology (history of music) and composition. 


Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)


Generally considered a more in-depth programme than a BA but less than a BM. Typical BFA courses include music theorymusic composition and music performance.


Bachelor of Science (BS)


Suited to students with an interest in sound engineering, recording technology and/or music business. For example, a degree in sound design is often regarded as a BS.


Want to find out more about these courses? Check out the following universities in Canada offering music programmes:



Study music at the postgraduate level


If you wish to further your musical education and specialise in a particular area, you may want to apply for a master’s/postgraduate course once you have completed your undergraduate degree. You can choose from one of the following programmes:


  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Music (MM)
  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA)
  • PhD


What will I learn during a music degree?


What you learn will massively depend on the type of music course you choose to pursue. For example, if you want to study for a bachelor of music in guitar, your time will be heavily spent on learning about the theory and performance of guitar. If you choose to study music as a more general degree at the undergraduate level, then you can expect to cover some of the following modules:


  • Music of the world
  • Composition
  • Performance
  • Orchestral technique
  • Music psychology
  • Music and communities
  • Sound recording
  • Jazz studies
  • Opera studies
  • Music in film
  • Music and identity
  • Music therapy
  • Musicals


Many music degrees will also offer plenty of opportunities for students to perform outside of lectures to gain more practical experience. Music departments may also offer networking events to encourage students to form connections with people in the music industry which is useful for both performers and non-performers particularly during the final year when students will be looking to gain work experience.


You should also gain experience of working as a team during a music degree, producing, composing, and performing with a group of your classmates which is an excellent skill sought after by employers.


Want to study music in the UK? Check out the following universities offering music degrees:



What to do after a music degree?


If you want to be a musician, you may want to work part-time while performing on a freelance or contract basis, particularly when starting. Becoming a musician is no mean feat. The industry is competitive, and you’ll need to be highly motivated and talented to succeed.


However, as you know, there are many roles that music graduates are qualified for. Whether that’s, marketing, administration, composing, teaching, engineering and so on, a music degree will provide you with the necessary and useful knowledge of the industry. Typical employers include:


  • Schools, colleges, and universities
  • Music production companies
  • Opera companies
  • Music touring companies
  • Charities
  • Film
  • Gaming 
  • TV


In fact, in the UK, 69.9 per cent of music graduates are in employment within 15 months of graduating while 7.4 per cent continue to further study (Graduate Prospects 2021). This gives you an idea of what you might want to do after finishing a music degree but of course, it depends on which country you choose to reside in after your studies as to the opportunities and work available. 


Expected salary for music graduates


If we use the UK as a reference point, the average musician salary is around GBP 29,000 per year. However, a musician’s income can vary widely depending on the availability of gigs/concerts. If you form part of an orchestra, you can expect to be paid a more stable income which in the UK ranges from GBP 35,000 to GBP 55,000 (Graduate Prospects 2020).


Music producer – GBP 25 to GBP 55 per hour but up to GBP 200 per hour with experience 

(Graduate Prospects 2020).


Orchestra conductor – GBP 1,000 to GBP 3,500 per concert (My Job Search 2020).


Sound engineer – GBP 20,000 to GBP 40,000 depending on experience and size of the studio/ GBP 150 to GBP 250 per day.


Music teacher – GBP 29,641, on average (Payscale 2021)


Music director – GBP 37,859, on average (Payscale 2021)


So now you know a lot more about why a music degree is worthwhile from employability to promising salary expectations to gaining industry-relevant knowledge. 


You’re now ready to find a programme that is perfectly suited to you! Let our course matcher tool help you.



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