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Music (Composition and Theory)

WHAT IS MUSIC?

As a liberal or fine arts discipline, music involves the systematic study, teaching, composition, and performance of folk, classical, and popular music. As a branch of commerce, the popular music industry centers on music for entertainment: its performance, production, publication, and distribution.

WHAT COURSES DO YOU NEED TO TAKE?

There are a variety of paths to obtaining a degree in music. Depending upon the program in which you enroll, you can get a bachelor of arts in music, a bachelor of fine arts, a bachelor of music, a bachelor of arts in education, a bachelor of science, or a bachelor of music in music education. Regardless of the specific major area, the first two years of college study emphasize not only performance but also the composition and analysis of music throughout the range of western literature. In addition, aural (sight singing and ear training) and keyboard skills are typically studied. Other courses include conducting, arranging, ensemble work, and a concentration in the particular performance medium chosen. Requirements and electives are chosen from:

  • Composition and Arranging
  • History and Literature of Music
  • Contemporary Styles
  • Music Theory
  • Ear Training
Courses regarding the business of music:
  • Music Business
  • Music on Computer
  • Music Engineering
  • Music Management
  • Music Industry Financial
  • Music Technology
  • Management

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A DEGREE IN MUSIC?

If you are thinking about centering your career on music, you might ask yourself an important question: "What does music mean to me?" If your concept of music revolves around rock and its stylistic derivatives (i.e., the "music of today"), you might consider pursuing a degree in audio-visual production, media, business, or a related field and supplementing these studies with music electives. If, on the other hand, you view music as a body of great works of art from many style periods, then the traditional music curriculum may be right for you. College music study will help you determine your natural talent, your potential, and your priorities.

Whether you are pop- or art-oriented, however, one fact is clear: the profession of music is highly competitive. Your performance, composition, analysis, or other work will be constantly compared with that of others. While there is employment each year for the very best musicians, many of those who major in music wind up earning a living in another field. Leaders in business and industry have long acknowledged that music students are good at many things. They deal, individually, with abstract concepts (tone quality, musical phrase, and line) and also with the challenges of a group effort (bands, choirs, and orchestras).

In the next ten to twenty years, musicians will continue to find work as ensemble performers, teachers, and of course, employees of the music industry. The job outlook in public and private school music teaching (primary and secondary) is particularly favorable.

Reeves, D./Bradbury, M., MAJORS EXPLORATION: A Search and Find Guide for College & Career Direction, c. 1999 Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

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