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Why study music?

A degree in music gives you a unique insight into one of the oldest art forms in the world. You’ll have the chance to specialise and develop your creative interests. We give you a detailed look at what studying music is really like.

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If you’re looking for a creative, diverse and engaging degree that’ll challenge and reward you in equal measure, you might want to consider studying music. You’ll gain knowledge and skills to help you with a career in the music industry, but also in other sectors where the skills are transferable. You’ll have the choice of many specialisations and areas of interest, from performance to sound engineering. Music graduates are also prized for their innovative thinking and insights. We investigate what you can expect from a qualification in music, what you’ll study and the potential career paths you could take. 


What is music?

Music is a form of art that uses sound arranged in a sequence to express meaning and emotion. It’s characterised by harmony, melody, rhythm, and form. It can be produced by voice, instruments and electronic equipment. Music is also often referred to as a universal language and has been part of society and the human experience for millennia. 


Studying music will give you a unique insight into the creation and production of this art and help you discover areas you may not be familiar with. For example, genres such as jazz, electronica or world music. As music is a wide-ranging discipline, there are many specialisations you can choose from, many of which are offered as degrees, including:



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?

You have several choices open to you for a music degree each with a specific focus. What you cover and learn will depend on the type of programme you choose. Let’s take a closer look at the qualifications available. 


Bachelor of Music (BM)

A Bachelor of Music is offered at universities and conservatories, concentrating on music performance, theory, and composition. You can choose from a variety of BM courses depending on your interests. This can be the playing of an instrument or composing music for a particular genre. For example:


  • Keyboard
  • Piano
  • Guitar
  • Brass
  • Strings
  • Jazz


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


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. You’ll get a better understanding of the cultural role of music, its history and the technical elements involved in production. 


Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

A BFA is generally considered a more in-depth programme than a BA but less than a BM. Typical BFA courses include music theory, music composition and music performance


Bachelor of Science (BS)

This degree is 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:




Can I 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 degree once you have completed your undergraduate qualification. 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 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 and engineering
  • 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 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, or engineering. 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 
  • Television


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). 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. 


What can I expect to earn as a music graduate?

If we use the UK as a reference point, the average salary is around GBP 29,000 per year. However, this income can vary widely. 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). Some other roles and associate salaries include:


  • Music producer – GBP 25 to GBP 55 per hour but up to GBP 200 per hour with experience (Graduate Prospects).
  • Orchestra conductor – GBP 1,000 to GBP 3,500 per concert (My Job Search).
  • 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)
  • Music director – GBP 37,859, on average (Payscale)


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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