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Careers in Music

A career in music is one of the most rewarding and diverse occupations available. While some may tell you that there are few jobs available in the arts, the truth is that music careers are readily available to those with the skills, knowledge, and tenacity to succeed as professional musicians. This page is devoted to sharing some basic information about music careers as you consider whether or not you should pursue a degree in music. First, what you will find is that most music career fields involve music and some other skills set or knowledge base. You will also find that many professional musicians hold more than one job. Many performers, for example, sing or play their instruments in more than one ensemble, and teach private lessons on the side. Although this does not apply to all music careers, this was the case with Bach, Mozart, and Haydn hundreds of years ago, and this is the case for many musicians today.

Below, you will find a listing of common music careers. Rather than think of these only as music careers, think of them as broad music career categories, and each category contains multiple job possibilities. Click on each career title below to read more information about related job opportunities. Each link also spotlights APSU music department faculty in their various music career fields. As you read through this information, consider which music career is the best fit for you. Additional music career advising resources have been listed at the end of this website. This is not intended as an endorsement of these materials, just as an informational resource to help you make the best decision for you. Lastly, all of our music department faculty are well respected in their various careers and would be happy to talk with you more. Click here for music department faculty contact information.

The most well-known music career is Performance. Performing musicians are employed in opera houses, symphony halls, musical theatres, jazz clubs, and many other venues. There are also a lot of performers who work mainly in recording studios, recording commercials, movie soundtracks and background music for popular musicians. Also, each branch of the military has a wide array of performing ensembles that employ musicians. If you are interested in this career, a degree in music performance is recommended. Many 21st century performers do not audition for jobs in professional ensembles. Instead, they market themselves as recitalists, seek grants, and fund their own performing tours. If you have the desire to pursue this aspect of a performing career, a music degree in liberal studies with an arts entrepreneurship minor is recommended.

Dr. Kristen SienkiewiczDr. Kristen Sienkiewicz, Assistant Professor of Horn, is in demand as a freelance and studio horn player in Nashville and performs as co-principal horn in Middle Tennessee's Gateway Chamber Orchestra. Her brass quintet, Bala Brass, has performed nationally and internationally and is dedicated to promoting a new standard for the brass quintet genre. Bala actively pursues and premieres current repertoire that is engaging for audiences and performers alike. The quintet has released two CD's consisting entirely of such commissions and previously unrecorded works. Dr. Sienkiewicz has taught at the notable Boston University Tanglewood Institute in Massachusetts. At APSU she teaches horn and music theory.

Dr. Jeffrey WilliamsDr. Jeffrey Williams, Assistant Professor of Voice, is in high demand across the country as a featured soloist. He recently recorded Thomas Sleeper’s series of eight operas, Einstein’s Inconsistency (available on Albany records, iTunes, and Spotify. He also recorded the first opera for Twitter, #IsOperaDead, by Evan Mack which premiered January 20, 2015. His upcoming recording, The Death of Webern, by Michael Dellaria, is scheduled for release in late 2015. His professional website is http://jeffreywilliamsbaritone.com/

Dr. Sharon MabryDr. Sharon Mabry, APSU Professor of Voice has enjoyed an extensive career as a singer and as an author. Her most recent recording Modern American Artsong is available from Albany Records . She also recently authored The Performing Life: A Singer’s Guide to Survival (available from Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Company.

Dr. Stanley YatesDr. Stanley Yates maintains dual careers as APSU’s Professor of Guitar and well-known guitarist. He has published numerous guitar arrangements, teaching materials, scholarly articles, study guides and online lessons. His most recent releases include Guitaromanie: Period guitar arrangements by Ferdinando Carulli of music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Rossini (2014) and Concerto Spirituel: Concertos by Vidal, Doisy and Viotti (2011); and his most recent editions include Parisian Guitar Concertos by Vidal, Doisy and Viotti (2010), and the Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method (2008). His website is available at www.stanleyyates.com.

Music teachers work in public, private, or home schools, and teach students ranging in age from pre-school and elementary through adult learners; in bands, choirs, orchestras, and non-traditional ensembles. Currently, there is a growing need for guitarists and popular musicians to work as music teachers, mainly in urban schools that might have rock bands in the schools rather than, or in addition, to traditional ensembles. There are also a growing number of steel-pan bands, and other non-traditional school ensembles that need specially-trained music educators. Choirs are also becoming more diverse as show choirs and other acapella genres become more and more popular. If you are interested in this career, a degree in music education is recommended.

APSU’s music education faculty are devoted music teachers, researchers, and conductors with several years of professional experience and numerous publications to their credit.

Dr. Eric BranscomeDr. Eric Branscome is the Coordinator of Music Education and an elementary specialist. He taught elementary music in the Dallas area and currently directs APSU’s elementary music day camp program, Camp Granada. His publications include Essential Listening Activities, Essential Rhythm Activities, and Music Boardgame Workshop from Alfred Publications, and Music Career Advising from Rowman and Littlefield Publications. He has also published several articles on music education and music teacher preparation.

Mr. John SchnettlerMr. John Schnettler is APSU’s Director of Athletic Bands and a secondary instrumental music education specialist. He is in high demand across the country as a concert and marching band judge, clinician, and conductor. Prior to coming to APSU, he was a public school band director, and was involved in Drum and Bugle Corps as a performer, instructor, and consultant. He also works as an independent consultant for curriculum redesign, specifically concerning secondary instrumental music education standards and benchmarks. His writings appear in three sections of Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, a highly regarded volume for current and future teachers.

Dr. Korre FosterDr. Korre Foster is APSU’s Director of Choral Activities and a secondary vocal/choral music education specialist. He is often sought after to judge middle school and high school choral festivals. Conducting invitations have taken him around the world most recently to Paris for a series of American choral music concerts with the Académie de Musique. He has also been invited to speak about French Baroque music and rhetoric in Belfast, London, Salzburg, as well as at universities in the United States.  In addition to adjudicating and conducting his input was sought for the newest edition of Directing the Choral Music Program published with Oxford University Press.

Pedagogy is another aspect of music teaching that focuses more on teaching private lessons in homes, churches, or music stores, rather than in public school classrooms. There are specific certifications for some areas of pedagogy (Kindermusik for preschool music lessons, and Suzuki for strings instruction, for instance). If you are interested in this career, a B.A./B.S. in Music with a minor in business is recommended. This degree combination will teach you the musical skills to be successful, and the business skills to manage the taxes, billing, and other management aspects of running your own private studio.

Dr. Patty HalbeckDr. Patricia Halbeck, APSU Professor of Piano,  teaches studio piano, piano pedagogy, piano literature, accompanying, and class piano. She holds a Certificate from the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden-bei-Wien, Austria. As founder of the Austin Peay Community School of the Arts, Dr. Halbeck sustains a continuing interest in piano pedagogy and music/arts education for students of all ages and levels. She is active as a clinician, adjudicator, lecture/recitalist, accompanist, and solo pianist.

Dr. Sharon MabryDr. Sharon Mabry, APSU Professor of Voice has enjoyed an extensive career as a singer and as an author. Her most recent recording Modern American Artsong is available from Albany Records . She also recently authored The Performing Life: A Singer’s Guide to Survival (available from Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Company.

Dr. Stanley YatesDr. Stanley Yates maintains dual careers as APSU’s Professor of Guitar and well-known guitarist. He has published numerous guitar arrangements, teaching materials, scholarly articles, study guides and online lessons. His most recent releases include Guitaromanie: Period guitar arrangements by Ferdinando Carulli of music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Rossini (2014) and Concerto Spirituel: Concertos by Vidal, Doisy and Viotti (2011); and his most recent editions include Parisian Guitar Concertos by Vidal, Doisy and Viotti (2010), and the Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method (2008). His website is available at www.stanleyyates.com.

A music theorist is someone who analyzes and writes about music. A composer is obviously someone who composes or writes music. Most music theorists teach theory at the college level, or edit music for publishing companies. While some composers write symphonies, operas, and other traditional genres, many composers write music for commercials, television programs, movies, and an increasingly growing field of video game sound tracks. Most composers also teach theory to college-level music students so a graduate degree in music would be required. If you are interested in this career, a Bachelor of Music in Performance is recommended, mainly to prepare you for graduate school in composition or theory. At the undergraduate level, APSU offers a B.M. in Performance with a Specialization in Composition.


 

Dr. Jeffrey Wood is APSU’s coordinator of theory and composition. He has written and published extensively for various large and small ensembles. A sampling of his musical compositions and scholarly works includes:

“The Great War and the Challenge of Memory.” New Sound: International Journal of Music, Issue 44, 2015.
“Music and the War,”
in The Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social and Military History, six vols., Spencer Tucker, general editor, ABC-CLIO, 2007.
“The Music of World War II,” in The Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social and Military History, Spencer Tucker, general editor, ABC-CLIO, 2005.
Vocal works published with Classical Vocal Reprints

Every Night and Every Morn, CVR3450Dr. Jeffrey Wood, composer

Kriegeslieder/Songs of War, CVR3451
Июль 1914/Iyúl’ 1914/July 1914, CVR3452
Ombre/Shadow,
CVR3453
Lullay, My Child, CVR3454
Oliver Singing,
CVR3455
Weiße Falter/White Moths,
CVR3456
The Song of the Wandering Ængus,
CVR3457
Liebeslied/Lovesong, CVR3458
Four Deadly Serious Songs, CVR3459
Schlaflied/Sleepsong,
CVR3460
Abend/Evensong,
CVR3461
Einsamkeit/Solo Song,
CVR3462
Lied vom Meer/Sea Song,
CVR3463
Antico inverno/Ancient Winter
, CVR3464
my sweet old etcetera, CVR3465.

Musicology, the study of music, usually focuses on the historical development of music. Music historians most commonly work at the college level, teaching music history to college students. Some historians also work as music critics for newspapers or magazines, or write or edit music-related books and articles for publishers, websites, encyclopedias or related publications. There is a related field of musicology called ethnomusicology. An ethnomusicologist studies the musical styles from cultures around the world and then teaches and/or writes about world music cultures. If you are interested in this career, a B.A./B.S. in Music with a minor in history, sociology, foreign language, linguistics or international studies is recommended.

Dr. Ann Silverberg Dr. Ann Silverberg is APSU’s resident musicologist and ethnomusicologist. For the 2015-2016 academic year, Dr. Silverberg is in China on a Fulbright Scholarship, studying and writing about music of ancient China, with a particular focus on the traditional Chinese instrument, the guzheng.

http://www.apsu.edu/news/apsu-professor-ann-silverberg-awarded-fulbright-scholarship-research

A musician in this career field works at a church, synagogue, or other religious congregation as a music director or leader. Although some worship directors do not hold degrees in music, most have degrees in sacred music from a seminary or private, religious-based college. As a state school, APSU does not offer this degree. Instead, if you are interested in this career and plan to attend APSU, a Bachelor of Music in Performance is recommended. You might also consider a B.S. or B.S. in Music with a minor in ethical studies, philosophical studies, religious studies, or history.

 

Music therapists work in hospitals, clinics, schools, rehabilitation facilities, or other settings, using music as a therapeutic tool to help clients deal with medial, behavioral, physical, or psychological ailments. This is a fairly new and quickly growing career field, and music therapists are in high demand. For this career, a master’s degree is eventually required. As an undergraduate, a B.A. or B.S. in Music with a minor in psychology is recommended. Many music therapists also begin their collegiate training with a B.M. in Music Education. You will eventually be required to pursue graduate training and AMTA licensure in Music Therapy. 

For more information, visit the American Music Therapy Association at www.musictherapy.org

Also known as the Music Industry, this is one of the largest and most profitable music career fields. Music business can include anything from managing a music retail shop, to becoming a popular musician or recording artist. This field also includes musicians who manage concert halls, opera houses, recording studios, and those who work as agents, marketing specialists for musicians, technicians, and numerous other careers. If you are interested in this career, a B.A./B.S. in Music with an arts entrepreneurship minor, or a minor in business is recommended.

This career field is also called the Recording Industry. Musicians in this field design and run sound systems for large performance halls, convention centers, and professional recording studios. They also combine their musical and sound-engineering skills to design architectural structures with special acoustic properties, including concert halls, sanctuaries, practice and recording studios, rehearsal spaces, and related venues. If you are interested in this career, a BA. or B.S. in Music with a mass-communications minor is recommended

A conductor leads an ensemble through the rehearsal and performance process. Conductors work in professional instrumental and vocal ensembles, colleges and universities, churches, and in all four branches of military. Most conductors also serve as ensemble managers or artistic directors, teach, perform, or fulfill some other function within their own, or other ensemble. If you are interested in this career, a B.M. in Performance, or a B.A./B.S. in Music with an arts entrepreneurship minor is recommended. If you are interested in conducting public school ensembles, a B.M. in Music Education is required.

Dr. Greg WolynecDr. Gregory Wolynec, APSU’s Director of Bands and Orchestral Activities, also conducts the Clarksville-based professional orchestra, the Gateway Chamber Orchestra. This critically acclaimed ensemble is quickly emerging as one of the nation's premier chamber orchestras. Click here to learn more about the GCO and Dr. Wolynec’s role as the conductor and artistic director.

Anywhere there are instruments, there is a need for technicians to repair them. Repair technicians work in colleges and universities, local music stores, instrument manufacturing companies, and as self-employed technicians. Some technicians repair a broad range of instruments, while others specialize on one instrument family, or even one instrument. If you are interested in this career, a B.A. or B.S. in Music with an arts entrepreneurship or business minor is recommended. Through these programs APSU can provide the music and business skills to manage your own repair shop, and then connect you with local repair technicians for apprenticeships and additional career preparation.

A music librarian fulfills all of the same job functions as a librarian, but manages musical scores, journals, books, and recordings. Although most music librarians work in university libraries, many large community, public, or academic libraries hire a staff music librarians. Music librarians may also work for radio stations, managing large compilations of recorded music. Some music librarians also work as editors or manage collections of music publishing companies.  If you are interested in this career, a B.A. or B.S. in Music  with an English, or creative writing minor is recommended. Eventually, you will need to pursue a Master of Library Sciences (MLS) degree. More information is available from the Music Library Society at www.musiclibraryassoc.org/ 

If you are thinking about a degree or a career in music but need more information, there are a lot of resources that can help. A sample of music career books and online resources has been provided below. Additional career-specific information is also available on any one of the websites of the music professional organizations. As you search for more information, be cautious of music career resources that are written by non-musicians. Sometimes a high school guidance counselor will have career advising information that is written by non-musicians and these publications typically present a very limited and inaccurate portrayal of music career opportunities. Also, watch-out for materials that are labeled “music career” but really only focus on music business or the music industry. These materials will usually fail to mention pedagogy, music education, music therapy and many other careers that are not part of the music recording industry. Finally, watch-out for any music career resource that says “anyone can become a professional musician.” Life as a professional musician takes hard work, diligence, practice, and patience. It is not for the faint of heart and, usually, only the dedicated are successful.

For more information about music careers, we encourage you to find any of these publications in your local bookstore, on-line retailer, or website. Again, these are not listed as an endorsement of quality or accuracy. They are only included herein as additional sources of information.