You play piano, guitar, you sing, you compose music, you make music. And when you make music, you feel free.

Without music, life would be a mistake. --- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Music is an immortal secret language— like a purifying bath for your soul, cleansing away the chaos of everyday life.

And, even as a child, music was your inner voice. It was as if you heard something others couldn’t hear. Sometimes you danced to the music only you heard.

And you knew you weren’t crazy, because the sound was so beautiful. Because music always restored you, centered you, always healed you, made you strong again.

And that is why you are a musician. A singer. A composer. An arranger. A director. A teacher.

You always know who you are when you play your music, sing your music, compose your music, arrange your music, direct your music. And you spend tons of time practicing alone and with your band, your orchestra, or your choir. You play several different musical instruments. You learned several musical styles.

Whether you perform solo, or gig as part of a group— in a small club, in a church, or in front of live audiences in nightclubs, concert halls, and theaters— you love who you are.

How did you become this person? You were born with a gift, an “ear”.

How do you survive? How do you make a living?

man playing the sax

Many musicians specialize. Instrumental, vocal, directors, conductors, composers, arrangers, each does his/her own thing in music.

Each has his/her own training, and many have earned degrees, formal training to vastly expand their music knowledge and abilities.

Instrumental musicians play in a symphony orchestra, rock group, or jazz combo one night. They might work in a studio band the following day. Some play a variety of string, brass, woodwind, or percussion instruments or electronic synthesizers.

Singers use their knowledge of voice production, melody, and harmony to interpret music and text. They sing character parts or perform in their own individual styles. Singers often are classified according to their voice range—soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, or bass—or by the type of music they sing, such as rock, pop, folk, opera, rap, or country.

Music directors and conductors conduct, direct, plan, and lead instrumental or vocal performances by musical groups such as orchestras, choirs, and glee clubs. These leaders audition and select musicians, choose the music most appropriate for their talents and abilities, and direct rehearsals and performances.

Choral directors lead choirs and glee clubs, sometimes working with a band or an orchestra conductor. Directors audition and select singers and lead them at rehearsals and performances to achieve harmony, rhythm, tempo, shading, and other desired musical effects.

Composers create original music such as symphonies, operas, sonatas, radio and television jingles, film scores, and popular songs. They transcribe ideas into musical notation, using harmony, rhythm, melody, and tonal structure. Although most composers and songwriters practice their craft on instruments and transcribe the notes with pen and paper, some use computer software to compose and edit their music.

Arrangers transcribe and adapt musical compositions to a particular style for orchestras, bands, choral groups, or individuals. Components of music—including tempo, volume, and the mix of instruments needed—are arranged to express the composer’s message. Although some arrangers write directly into a musical composition, others use computer software to make changes.

band on stage

A good payday sometimes can be scored by gigs in recording or production studios for radio, TV, film, or video games.

Long-term on-the-job training is the most common way people learn to become musicians or singers.

Aspiring musicians begin studying an instrument at an early age. They may gain valuable experience playing in a school or community band or orchestra or with a group of friends.

Singers usually start training when their voices mature. Participation in school musicals or choirs often provides good early training and experience.

Composers and music directors usually require a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Formal training may be obtained through private study with an accomplished musician, in a college or university music program, or in a music conservatory. An audition generally is necessary to qualify for university or conservatory study.

In the US, the National Association of Schools of Music is made up of 615 accredited college-level programs in music. (Music theory, music interpretation, composition, conducting, and performance, either with a particular instrument or a voice performance.)

A master’s or doctoral degree usually is required to teach advanced music courses in colleges and universities.

A bachelor’s degree may be sufficient to teach basic courses. Worldwide, a degree in music education qualifies grads to teach music in schools.

Music sharing on the web has hurt the music business, as we all know. And yet new stars keep appearing. The great music is always being born!

Talented individuals skilled in multiple instruments or musical styles will have the best job prospects. But talented people often quit because they find the work difficult, the discipline demanding, and the long periods of intermittent unemployment a hardship.

Those who never quit— the talented ones with the depth of education and determination— are the musicians who most often become the stars we know today.

For those musicians, the sky’s the limit.

The magic inside them translates into the immortal music that we all love!

In the US, for general information about music and music teacher education and a list of accredited college-level programs, contact:

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