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Choosing Your Music Degree: What Type of Music Degree Should You Pursue?


So you want to study music? Be ready to be overwhelmed by the choices available. Where should you study? What music degree and major should you take? What choices are there? What career paths are available upon graduation? These may be just some of the questions you have in mind.

Now, stay calmed and don’t get overwhelmed. These types of dilemmas are actually common among a lot of students. Although you can always pick up where you left off if you pursue a wrong music path, it is not wrong if you want to maximize your time and leave no second wasted. Thus, it is important to know the types of music degrees available and make the right university and degree choice.

Which then brings us back to our topic: what are the different types of music degree programs available and which one should you pursue?

In retrospect, try answering the following questions as your guide:

  1. What degree should you take that is most suitable for your chosen career path or end goal?

  2. Which school or institution are you considering?

  3. How much will you be spending on your studies?

  4. What are your fallback or secondary options?

5 Different Types of Music Degrees

Choosing Your Music Degree: What Type of Music Degree Should You Pursue?

Before moving on, note that the universities or institutions mentioned are subjected to their own programs’ changes and if there is a program that you are interested in, you should enquire from the school’s website for the most updated information.

This list will provide you with a general idea on the music choices available. So let’s take a look.

1. Music Performance

Choosing Your Music Degree: What Type of Music Degree Should You Pursue?

Music Performance Degrees are ideal for students who want to pursue a career in live music performances such as playing in a Symphony Orchestra in orchestra concerts. You will be learning about classical music and training yourself to always deliver professional quality performances.

Part of mastering music performance will include your overall ability to wow an audience as you perform. Since you will most likely be working with a whole orchestra for several years in your career, you will also be socializing and learning with them as you join as one comprehensive structure. And of course, expect that you will be allotting hours and hours to practice and perfect your piece.

If you’re planning to work in an orchestra and pursue classical music, or be a studio musician (in a more ‘modern’ context), a degree in Music Performance will be your best choice.

2. Music Composition

Choosing Your Music Degree: What Type of Music Degree Should You Pursue?A degree in Music Composition generally has a core course structure similar to Music Performance degrees, especially within the orchestral paradigm. This degree can also be taken as an area of focus. Just to illustrate, you can take up music theory and performance as core courses and take composition courses as your major. Sound Design and Audio Engineering are common majors under this program.

As the title has already implied, you will be trained to compose musical pieces by learning about all the prominent music writing styles from different music periods. By studying such, you will acquire a perspective on the evolution of music, And ultimately, you’ll be able to tweak, adapt, and create your own unique music writing with the aim of being carried over for generations to come. Through music composition, you have the opportunity to put down roots through the music you create.

This degree is perfect for you if you aspire to be a classical music composer or a studio song writer in music or entertainment industries.

3. Music Education

Choosing Your Music Degree: What Type of Music Degree Should You Pursue?

Degree programs in Music Education generally have the widest scope in studying musical styles and vocal or instrumental instructions. Usually, students are given a teaching certification upon completion of the program.

Students with a degree in Music Education can become music professors and instructors in educational and musical institutions. They can also choose to pursue a career on becoming an orchestra or band director.

4. Music Business

Choosing Your Music Degree: What Type of Music Degree Should You Pursue?

Music Business degree programs focus on the business paradigm of music or entertainment industries. Here, students will be trained to work on music promotion schemes, concert marketing techniques, general business management, and record label development.

People from this program play a significant role in the music industry even as of today as they find ways to let music prosper in different enterprises. A great example is pop music, the most known genre among the masses.

If you want to take part in letting music grow throughout the world’s progressive economy or you want to pursue both business and music through an interdisciplinary approach, consider taking a degree in Music Business.

5. Music Therapy

Choosing Your Music Degree: What Type of Music Degree Should You Pursue?

Much less well-known as compared to the above programs, Music Therapy degrees train students to use music to ease or aid people in their mental or inner struggles. Here, you will learn the socio-psychological aspect or paradigm of music and how you can apply the dynamic methods and principles of Psychology and Music. 

Music therapists utilize music to aid in the treatment of conditions, ranging from dementia to post-traumatic stress disorder. This makes the program ideal for people with a little background on psychology or sociology. So if you want to help people through music, then you may achieve a fulfilling career with a degree in Music Therapy.

Remember that it is normal to feel overwhelmed when choosing the right program for yourself. Just take one step at a time. Establish what you really want first, and I’m sure everything that comes after will be easier.

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