Many people who want to develop their knowledge of music theory and their skill as performers pursue formal education in music at the bachelor's level. According to a 2015 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduates with bachelor's degrees in music earn a median starting salary of $49,000, well above the median for all other majors related to fine and performing arts.
An online bachelor's in music offers nearly all of the benefits of an on-campus program in a format more fitting for nontraditional learners. The following article covers what to expect from pursuing an accredited music bachelor's degree online in terms of skills and knowledge gained, possible career options, and salary expectations.
Many students with a passion for music choose to earn online music bachelor's degrees because of the convenience, flexibility, and affordability they offer. Distance learners can access course materials from any computer at any time within their own homes, an aspect of online programs that holds significant appeal for working professionals or students with familial obligations.
Online programs typically tailor to the diverse needs and schedules of learners by offering choices between part- and full-time study, accelerated and normal tracks, and asynchronous and synchronous course models. Through an accelerated program, a learner can earn the degree they seek quickly. However, many working professionals may be able to accommodate only a part-time course load.
Additionally, online programs often carry a lighter price tag than conventional on-campus programs. The lesser costs of online programs comes partly from a lower tuition rate for online credits and partly from the fact that distance students do not need to incur the same fees associated with housing, transit, or textbooks.
An online music bachelor's degree offers versatility, imparting skills and abilities that can translate to many industries and specialized careers. For instance, the critical thinking and writing skills that a music director or composer uses in writing or arranging various styles of music can translate to work in advertising or technical writing. A bachelor's in music can also provide a solid foundation for a graduate degree in music or another specialized field such as audio engineering.
A graduate of an accredited online bachelor's in music program possesses a diverse range of skills and knowledge applicable to a variety of careers that musicians with less education and training lack the knowledge or skills to pursue.
Music majors develop strong skills in active listening. Training a good ear involves monitoring one's own progress, applying feedback from teachers and peers, and digesting large amounts of music through concerts, recordings, and collaboration with peers. Developing active listening skills helps refine their abilities in auditory attention and hearing sensitivity.
A bachelor's in music program also cultivates skills in coordination, as playing an instrument correctly requires manual dexterity and arm-hand steadiness. A music major ultimately develops skills in critical thinking when figuring out how to best tackle problems such as transposing a piece of music to a different key. These critical thinking skills, combined with the fine arts and English language knowledge graduates acquire through this degree, play an essential role in working as a composer.
The knowledge of education and training that music majors cultivate equips them for future work as a musical director, therapist, or educator.
Music majors' versatile knowledge base and skills ready them for a wide variety of career paths and fields. Some of these careers, such as film composition, may appeal more to introverted personalities, while others, such as music therapy, may attract those with extroverted personalities. An online bachelor's in music can jump-start a career as a music educator, a choral director in a church, or a musician in a metropolitan symphony.
Church: Many graduates who hold music degrees work for faith-based organizations because of the huge role music plays in worship in nearly all major religions. They often work as music directors, coordinating performances for special events or weekly services.
Education: Often, graduates with bachelor's degrees in music work as music educators at the K-12 level. According to PayScale, music educators make a median annual wage of $40,741.
Symphony or Orchestral Music: A well-regarded metropolitan symphony or orchestra typically expects at least a bachelor's from all players. Some graduates holding a bachelor's in music may also find employment as music directors.
Annual Median Salary: $59,170
High school music teachers hold endorsements to teach music to children between grades 7-12. At this level, music teachers focus on nurturing the creativity of students who show an aptitude for music. They may oversee the school band or chorus or teach classes on higher elements of music theory, such as jazz band.
Annual Median Salary: $50,590
Music directors guide musical groups such as orchestras and symphonies through performances and recording sessions. Many music directors find work in faith-based organizations and schools. Composers write and arrange music, sometimes as stand-alone artistic works and sometimes as accompaniment for television, film, dance, and other forms of media.
Annual Median Salary: $53,920
Musicians and singers sing and play music for live audiences and in recording sessions. Some may write their own material, while others may rely on paid songwriters. There is no minimum required degree to become a musician, but a bachelor's in music can equip a musician with the music theory knowledge required to play in a large orchestra or symphony.
Annual Median Salary: $40,693
Music therapists provide therapy to individuals or groups through activities that include singing, playing instruments, listening to music, and even coaching patients to write their own music. The patients they work with often belong to target populations such as those with mental or emotional problems, people who are developmentally delayed, or elderly people.
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