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A career in music is one of the most rewarding and diverse occupations available.

Careers are readily available to those with the skills, knowledge, and tenacity to succeed as professional musicians. First, what you will find is that most music career fields involve music and some other skills set or knowledge base as many professional musicians hold more than one job. For example, many performers 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. Each section also spotlights APSU music department faculty in their various music career fields. Lastly, all of our music department faculty are well respected in their various careers and would be happy to talk with you more.

Have a question about a specific career path? Find the best faculty member to talk to here!

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 many 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.

Recommended degree concentrations for professional ensemblists:

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 concentrating in Liberal Studies with an Arts Entrepreneurship Minor is recommended.

Kristen Sienkiewiczk
Kristen Sienkiewiczk | Associate Professor of Horn, Associate Dean College of Arts & Letters
Dr. Sienkiewicz is in demand as a freelance and studio horn player in Nashville and the broader region. She can be regularly heard playing with orchestras from Alabama to Indiana, and as co-principal horn in Middle Tennessee's Gateway Chamber Orchestra.
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Jeffrey Williams
Jeffrey Williams | Assistant Professor of Voice
Dr. Williams is in high demand across the country as a featured soloist. He recently recorded Thomas Sleeper’s series of eight operas,Einstein’s Inconsistency. He also recorded the first opera for Twitter, #IsOperaDead, by Evan Mack which premiered January 20, 2015.
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Stanley Yates
Stanley Yates | Professor of Guitar
Dr. 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.
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APSU’s music education faculty are devoted music teachers, researchers, and conductors with several years of professional experience and numerous publications to their credit.

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 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 concentrating in Music Education is recommended.

Recommended degree concentrations for music educators:

Michael Chandler
Michael Chandler | Associate Professor of Music
Dr. Chandler taught music and movement to elementary school children in Texas public schools for 16 years where he was named Teacher of the Year at two campuses. Dr. Chandler has presented workshops in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for TMEA, TCDA, AOSA, and numerous state MEA organizations.
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John Schnettler
John Schnettler | Director of Athletic Bands
John Schnettler 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.
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Korre Foster
Korre Foster | Director of Choral Activities
Dr. Foster 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.
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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).

Recommended degree concentrations for pedagogues:

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.

Patricia Halbeck
Patricia Halbeck | Professor of Piano
Dr. Halbeck 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.
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Stanley Yates
Stanley Yates | Professor of Guitar
Dr. 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.
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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.

Recommended degree concentrations for music theorists:

These concentrations will prepare you for graduate school in composition or theory.

Jeffrey Wood
Jeffrey Wood | Coordinator of Theory and Composition
Dr. Wood has written and published extensively for various large and small ensembles.
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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.

Recommended degree concentrations for musicologists:

Ann Silverberg
Ann Silverberg | 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.
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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.

Recommended degree concentrations for pedagogues:

Music therapists use music as a therapeutic tool to address motor, communication, cognitive, social, and/or emotional needs. Music therapists work with clients across the lifespan in school, hospitals, mental health agencies, nursing and rehabilitation centers, or private practice. This is a rapidly growing field and APSU is one of very few schools in Tennessee to offer a concentration in music therapy!

Recommended degree concentrations for music therapists:

Music Therapy

Lauren Booke
Lauren Booke | Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Music Therapy
Ms. Booke is the owner and founderofIn Tune Music & Wellness,a private practice in Nashville, TN. Her private practice offers music therapy, adaptive lesson, and music lesson services to a wide range of populations including children with special needs, stroke rehabilitation, and Alzheimer’s/dementia. Ms. Booke has previously worked as an adjunct instructor and clinical supervisor at Belmont University. In that position, she supervised students in a variety of clinical settings including inpatient behavioral health, memory care, assisted living, refugee communities, and developmental disability centers. Her clinical work includes various settings around the greater Nashville area. She was the music therapist at Ascension St. Thomas Behavioral Health Hospital providing services on both inpatient units.Ms. Booke has also worked for the Music Cognition Lab at Vanderbilt University providing clinical services for various research projects. She was part of an interdisciplinary team that studies the effect of music on development in children with autism. Ms. Booke served as the music therapist at the Center for Courageous Kids, a summer camp providing services for kids with serious medical illness. She worked closely with staff to build the music therapy program during her two summers. Prior to starting her professional career, Ms. Booke completed an internship with Therabeat, Inc. working in an interdisciplinary clinic for children with special needs.
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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.

Recommended degree concentrations for those interested in Music Business:

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.

Recommended degree concentrations for those interested in Music Technology:

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.

Recommended degree concentrations for conductors:

Gregory Wolynec
Gregory Wolynec | Director of Bands and Orchestral Activities
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.
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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.

Recommended degree concentrations for those interested in Instrument Repair:

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.

Recommended degree concentrations for Music Librarians:

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.