Most graduate students who choose a music education program – one of the easiest online master’s degrees – plan to teach music in an academic setting. If you’re interested in this degree path but you’re not positive that teaching in a K-12 school or at the college level is right for you, you’re in luck. A master’s degree in music education can help you succeed in any number of other career paths related to music, and particularly to leading or connecting with others by way of music. Some of the jobs outside of academia that you might find with a graduate degree in music education include private music instructor, music director, music librarian and nonprofit musician.
Non-School-Based Music Instructor or Vocal Coach
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You can be a music teacher without being a classroom teacher. Studying music education at the graduate level helps you cultivate your skills in teaching pupils of different ages, a versatile set of skills that you could put to use giving private music lessons outside of the school setting.
As a private music instructor, you could be your own boss, setting your own hours and rates for lessons. The job flexibility of a private, self-employed music instructor is ideal for professional musicians. Musicians who work part-time often turn to giving music lessons as a way to round out their income and build in some job security, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. For-profit music schools also employ music instructors for private lessons, usually on a part-time basis that allows for a flexible schedule.
Rates for private music instructors can be as high as $50 to $60 per hour, although factors like location and level of technical musical achievement play a big part in determining your income potential.
If you would like to conduct a band, orchestra or choir without being tied to a classroom, a career as a music director could be an option for you. Music directors find work in concert halls, recording studios and religious organizations, the BLS reported. As a director, you would be responsible for leading the entire ensemble of musicians or singers to perform a piece of music in perfect harmony.
Conductors may work with large, prestigious orchestra companies or with a single church. Many music director and conductor roles are part-time, but they still require a great deal of commitment. Although you’re planning for a performance event, like a concert, a lot of time goes into practicing and rehearsing for that event over the weeks and months that precede it.
A master’s degree is expected for aspiring music conductors, the BLS reported. You don’t need a music education degree specifically, but a music education program often allows you to take classes in instrumental conducting, choral conducting and advanced conducting.
If your interest in music education isn’t limited to the teaching of technical skills, consider a role as a music librarian. Music librarians work in a variety of settings, from large research libraries to orchestra companies, radio stations and music publishers, according to the Music Library Association. The role of a music librarian is to organize, manage and find music – both recorded performances and written arrangements – in a collection. Be aware, though, that for many music librarian roles, you may need a formal education in librarianship, such as a Master of Library Science degree.
Unlike many other non-academic music education roles, music librarian is a job where you will usually work a more regular schedule. Music librarian roles can be part-time or full-time. Some music librarians also perform for the orchestra company for which they work.
If you want to use your musical gift to do some good in the world, working in a nonprofit music organization can help you combine these two passions. Many nonprofit music organizations focus on making the joy of music accessible to people who might otherwise not have the opportunity to learn – like at-risk and underprivileged children. Your coursework in creating educational music experiences for children of different age groups and in teaching the technical skills of musical performance provides a great background for jobs of this nature.
At a senior-level role in a nonprofit organization, you might work as a music program director, in which you design and develop the programming of the organization. Music program directors may also have responsibilities in organizational development.