Choosing a music degree can be a stressful process simply because you are entering the world of higher education which offers a myriad of choices. Having various choices is wonderful but can also leave you feeling conflicted as you try to sort out all of your options.
First off, rest assure that music majors reap the benefits of their college degree. According to the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, music performance majors are among the most likely to work either full- or part-time as artists. Additionally, 82% of Music Performance, Dance and Theater majors have worked as professional artists.
As a rising musician, you likely have plenty of questions about obtaining your degree in music such as: how to get yourself ready, what university is best for you, and how do you apply? As you ask yourself these questions, know that there are answers and plenty of resources available at your fingertips to help you navigate the path of choosing a music degree, and ultimately a career. Here are a few tips on how to select from the many music education paths available to you.
Attending a Conservatory
Conservatories, also known as “music schools” are music institutions that specialize in the training, study, and research of music. They are very much competitive, performance-driven and student life revolves mainly around music.
Less competitive than conservatories, many universities offer music as a major. This means the music major has its own department for music and fine arts and may act as a subset of a university much like a school of nursing or business school. Students will be required to take additional general education courses in addition to classes required by the music major. These music departments are known to be typically less competitive than a conservatory.
Selecting a Degree Path
You may first begin your college degree path in music by selecting which degree you think suits you best. We should start by clarifying what a BM or a BFA are. The BM (Bachelor of Music) and BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) are generally four-year program degrees with curriculum that flows linearly and builds from day one. This means it might be difficult to switch out majors once you choose to go the BM or BFA path. Students on these paths will typically be required to give recitals during their junior or senior year.
Bachelor of Arts in Music (BA)
The BA is geared flexibly towards students who may not necessarily wish to pursue aspirations in performance or education or who don’t wish for a career within music. This degree is the shorter path and requires basic general education classes with a few music classes in upper-level courses.
Bachelor of Science in Music (BS)
A BS degree can range anywhere from one to four years and may go under a plethora of program names such as: recording arts, music technology, or production and engineering fo example. This degree is usually offered for those interested in the business of music, the music industry, engineering, and recording arts. Similar to the BA path, course work may involve music theory, music history, and some private lessons and would also be required to take some general education courses.
Bachelor of Music Education (BME)
A BME allows you the preparation needed to teach kindergarten through twelfth grade. You’ll have a wide variety of courses including child psychology as well as some private music lessons and method classes. It is a longer path to follow since you will need to fulfill degree requirements in several departments: the music department and the education department, in addition to general education requirements. Additionally you will have preparation for a state license which may very well influence your decision on where to attend school.
There are so many degree options in music and you have plenty of opportunity to choose from your interests and a variety of schools. You might be surprised at the diversity of music degrees available! TAFE music courses is also an option for finding a program that may work for you. A degree in music is quite rewarding. Perhaps this information will give you a sense of where to start when making your final decision about obtaining your music degree.