How to Become a Musician or Singer
Those who work as classical musicians or singers may pursue a degree in a field such as music performance.
Musicians and singers typically do not need formal postsecondary education to enter the occupation. However, those pursuing careers in some genres, such as classical or opera, may choose to earn a bachelor’s or higher degree. Musicians and singers need extensive training and regular practice to acquire their skills.
Musicians and singers typically need no postsecondary education to enter the occupation. Musicians and singers of some genres, such as classical music and opera, may pursue training that leads to a bachelor’s degree in a field such as music theory or performance. To be accepted into one of these programs, applicants typically are required to submit recordings or to audition in person and sometimes must do both.
Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles. In addition, they teach methods for improving instrumental and vocal techniques and musical expression. Undergraduate voice programs also may include courses in diction. Courses in a foreign language may benefit students who intend to perform in that language. Some business courses, such as marketing, may be helpful for learning about the self-promotion often required for professional musicians and singers.
Some musicians and singers choose to continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts or music.
Musicians and singers need extensive training and regular practice to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to perform music professionally. They typically begin singing or learning to play an instrument at a young age by taking private lessons and school classes. As they advance, they may participate in music camps, festivals, or fellowships.
As with other occupations in which people perform, advancement for musicians and singers means becoming better known, finding work more easily, and earning more money for each performance. Successful musicians and singers often rely on agents or managers to find them jobs, negotiate contracts, and develop their careers. Some musicians and singers advance to leading musical groups or becoming section leaders in an orchestra. Others may advance to become music directors and composers.
Dedication. Auditioning for jobs can be a frustrating process because it may take many different auditions to get hired. Musicians and singers must be determined to continue auditioning after receiving rejections.
Discipline. Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must practice and rehearse consistently to improve their technique, style, and performance.
Interpersonal skills. Musicians and singers need to work well with a variety of people, such as agents, producers, and conductors. They must be able to build connections and create good working relationships.
Musical talent. Professional musicians or singers must have superior musical abilities.
Physical stamina. Musicians and singers who perform on stage or go on tour for weeks or months must be able to endure frequent travel and irregular performance schedules.
Promotional skills. To build a fan base, musicians and singers need to promote their music and performances through local communities, word of mouth, and social media.