Musician Training Programs and Education Requirements

Musicians typically learn their trade through extensive training and hands-on experience. Many musicians begin playing instruments and learning musical styles at a young age. A formal education is not required to be a musician, though it can lead to networking opportunities in the industry. Typically, musicians work part-time or irregular hours during nights and weekends.

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Musician Training Programs

Musicians have unique training requirements that rely on significant instrumental training and hands-on experience. In addition to pursuing a music degree, most musicians practice with other musicians in order to hone their skills and learn more about musical performance and composition. Those who do attend school often have a technical advantage over musicians without a formal education.

As employment opportunities in the music industry can be inconsistent, many musicians seek part-time jobs in other industries. Musicians have to submit demos or perform auditions to obtain work, and competition is high. Musicians spend much of their time writing music, composing songs, recording albums and rehearsing with other musicians. Individuals in the music business must also have the physical strength needed to routinely perform on stage.

Formal Education

In general, musicians are not required to have a formal education. Most musicians find employment opportunities through extensive practice and hands-on training. However, a music degree program can teach musicians to better understand the fundamentals and the finer points of music and musical composition.

Associate of Arts in Music

An associate's degree program in music prepares students to work as musicians with music groups, choirs, symphonies or music production companies. Coursework allows students to practice instrumental music and read complex music and music literature. Students learn to apply musical theories to all types of music, including jazz, rock and classical music. Typical courses include:

  • Music theory
  • Music composition and production
  • Ear Training
  • Instrumental instruction
  • Music history

Bachelor of Arts in Music

A bachelor's degree program in music provides advanced coursework in musical theory, composition, production and conducting. Students learn to play various instruments and, if desired, take vocal training courses. A bachelor's degree program in music may include courses on:

  • Advanced musical composition
  • Classical music training
  • Physics of music
  • Applied vocal training
  • Music literature

Job Experience

Musicians are not required to have a specific amount of job experience. When pursuing opportunities with musical venues, musicians must often submit musical demos or perform an audition. Job experience may lead to greater musical skills, more contacts and more opportunities, but there is no standard amount of experience required to be a musician.

Licenses and Certifications

Musicians do not need to be licensed or certified. Employers evaluate musicians based on musical abilities and knowledge of musical styles. Musicians who have a diverse knowledge of musical theory and production techniques have the best opportunities for employment. Potential employers typically rely on musical demos and live stage auditions to award jobs.

Workshops and Seminars

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) holds conferences and workshop for all types of musicians. The AFM has chapters in several states, cities and regions of the country and those provide various training and networking opportunities for members. These conferences typically have guest speakers and musicians, as well as information sessions for beginning and advanced professionals. The AFM also collaborates with smaller organizations to set up pensions and funds for musicians.

Professional Development

Career opportunities often increase as musicians become gain more experience and notice. Organizations like the AFM, the Freelance Musicians' Association (FMA) and the Recording Musicians Association offer resources and information on the music industry, entertainment promotion and marketing, copyright issues and unions for musicians. Each organization offers newsletters and contact information for a variety of essential musical resources.

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