Is a Music Major Worth It? Pros of a Music Degree

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 5, 2022 | Published November 25, 2021

Updated December 5, 2022

Published November 25, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're interested in pursuing a career related to music, then becoming a music major may be ideal for you. With this degree, you can receive a broad array of job opportunities that allow you to use your craft and hone your skills. Learning about this major can help you make a more informed decision about whether pursuing this degree path is the right option for you. 

In this article, we answer the question "Is a music major worth it?" by exploring details about the degree field, like the courses, types of majors and potential careers.


What is a music major?

A music major is a type of liberal arts degree for students who want to pursue a musical career. A student who becomes a music major explores a diverse range of fields, then may specialize in a particular subject. During their coursework, many students learn fundamental information about the history, theory and composition of music. This in-depth knowledge can help broaden their scope of understanding so they can pursue their chosen career as insightful and thoughtful professionals.

These students develop a diverse range of skills throughout their time in a music program, such as teamwork, creativity, organization, communication and commitment. As they learn to develop their competencies on an instrument, they may develop a deeper appreciation for music from a performance and technical perspective. A music major's specific experience in a university can also vary significantly depending on their university, courses and professors. No two music programs are exactly the same, so students can expect to learn unique teachings related to their chosen curriculum.

Related: 22 Careers for Music Majors


Why is being a music major worth it?

Being a music major is worth it if you have a passion for this art and can commit to completing your degree. There are many disciplines you can pursue as a music major, including performance-based professions and operational roles. Whether you aim to sing professionally on a cruise ship or teach choir songs to children at an elementary school, you can find many opportunities to express your musical creativity and find a fulfilling career. Choosing a unique specialization as a music major can also help you achieve your desired lifestyle and inspire others with your creative expression.

Here are some other reasons being a music major is worth it:

  • Confidence in your musical ability: As you develop and hone your craft, you can develop more assurance in your skill sets and a sense of self-worth, which can help support your efforts during a job search.


  • Meaningful friendships: Entering a music major program can help you develop friendships with like-minded and creative individuals. You might also collaborate with these individuals on a professional project after graduation.


  • Diverse musical disciplines: Programs often allow you to explore different musical instruments and subject areas, then choose a preferred specialization.


  • Networking opportunities: You can learn valuable wisdom and mentorship from professional musicians in your chosen field, including professors and guest speakers.


  • Performance opportunities: Music majors often learn how to present their skills to an audience, which may be especially helpful if you aspire to find a performance-related position. You can also gain musical inspiration from watching the presentations of your peers.


  • Music industry connections: Talent agents often visit music programs at universities to find new clients, meaning you might network with individuals who can help you book sessions in a professional recording studio and promote your projects.

Related: How To Become a Music Supervisor (With Steps)


What courses does a music major take?

The courses that music majors take usually vary based on their institution and specialized program. There are some core classes many students share, which can include:

  • Music history: This is a common course that teaches students about the historical events and developments that helped shape modern music in different parts of the world. Students who take this course can gain a deeper appreciation for musical arts.


  • Music theory: This course teaches students how to think critically and creatively about music as a type of language, including its structure and important symbols. Students may explore key practices, like what makes music sound appealing and how to develop a new musical style using these theoretical concepts.


  • Music composition: Students in this course learn how to create an original piece of instrumental or vocal music. They study the process of creating and writing their own composition, including all the technical components that make a song sound complete and melodically pleasing.


  • Music technology: This course teaches students about the diverse range of tools and equipment that professionals use in the production of music. It might also cover the necessary technologies for a successful performance, such as microphones, amplifiers and composition software.


  • Instrument performance: Most music majors focus on a particular instrument, such as a violin or their own voice. Performance courses give students the opportunity to enhance their skills with their chosen instrument by playing music for an audience at various points throughout a school year.


  • Elements of music: This course teaches students about the fundamental components of a musical composition. Some examples of these core musical elements include pitch, harmony, texture, timbre, dynamics, melody, rhythm, duration, form and tone.


  • Aural perception: This is often a fundamental course, as it can help students improve their ability to hear and interpret musical information properly. They may learn how to identify distinct sounds and effects accurately so they can determine how musical elements work together.

Related: Everything You Need to Know for How To Become a Music Producer


What are the types of music majors?

Here are some of the types of music majors you can pursue as a student:


Musical theater

This major combines techniques and principles of music, theater and dance to create a cohesive performance. Students who choose this academic path often take a diverse range of classes, including set design, singing, acting, piano and the history of musical theater. The exact courses these students explore may differ depending on a school's specific program. For example, some musical theater programs have additional specializations, like ballet or modern dance.

Related: What Does a Music Publicist Do? (Duties, Salary and Tips)


Music education

Students pursuing this music major can gain the knowledge and technical skills necessary to teach students in an academic environment. Most students gain general musical knowledge during their first year, but many focus on a specialization afterward, like a specific instrument or choral instruction. A music education major might also study music history and how to present that information in an accurate and engaging way.

Read more: How To Become a Music Teacher (Plus Skills and Salary)


Songwriting

A songwriting major learns how to craft compositions that include key musical concepts and express emotion. Students often study how to use different styles and genres and may focus on a particular option depending on their preferences. They can learn about standard songwriting formats and how to write lyrics that complement their musical compositions. Songwriting majors may also become familiar with instrumental techniques, recording software and trends in the music industry.

Read more: 13 Songwriting Jobs and Tips for Starting a Career in Music


Instrumental performance

This major serves students interested in pursuing a music-focused performance career, such as instrumentalists and vocalists. Students typically develop their performance skills over the course of a program and receive opportunities to improve their skills in a musical specialization. They can gain expertise in the technical aspects of their instrument, such as tone and pitch. Many performance students seek job opportunities in symphonies, orchestras, bands, opera houses or professional choirs.

Related: 7 PR Jobs in the Music Industry (Plus Career Tips)


Music business and management

This major teaches students about the business fundamentals of the music industry from an artist's perspective. Students receive instruction on how to address different financial and legal situations within the field. For example, they may become knowledgeable about applying copyright law to the music industry or ways to monetize recordings using an online streaming service. They can also focus on academic tracks like entrepreneurship, corporate management and music production.

Related: Music Careers: How To Pursue Them and Different Types


Music technology and audio design

Music technology majors learn how to use modern audio-manipulation software. Students can become experts in using technology to create original musical compositions. They often learn how to use a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), which is a system professionals often use to connect digital instruments, computer software and audio-recording hardware. These students can explore a diverse range of subjects in this major, such as acoustical engineering, track remixing and film scoring.

Related: 21 Jobs in the Music Technology Industry (With Salaries)


Music therapy

This specialized major teaches students about the interactions between music and neurobehavioral science. Students learn how to use musical sounds to help address the emotional issues of their patients, allowing them to experience psychological relief from a stressful situation. They often take courses on music theory, psychology and human development to support their knowledge of therapeutic techniques.

Read more: How To Become a Music Therapist


What can you do with a music degree?

There are many jobs you can get with a music degree, including the following. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided.


1. Music manager

National average salary: $43,034 per year

Primary duties: A music manager is a business-related professional who helps manage a musician's assets, meaning any compositions or promotional items they can sell. These individuals are often responsible for understanding intellectual property law, developing budgets and licensing procedures and ensuring the accuracy of all publishing information. They also assess each track to help handle any creative ownership concerns from other professionals. Music managers can find job opportunities in varied organizations, including television production companies, theater companies and performance venues.


2. Orchestra musician

National average salary: $46,882 per year

Primary duties: This type of professional plays a specific instrument within a large orchestra band. They typically focus on classical music and some examples of common instruments they play can include violins, cellos, flutes, bass, clarinets and pianos. During a workday, they often practice their skills alongside fellow orchestra members or record music for mass production. These professionals typically perform in a specialized auditorium and may travel to different venues or locations throughout their careers.


3. Music therapist

National average salary: $72,292 per year

Primary duties: Musical therapists are professionals who use sounds to provide emotional healing to patients. A music therapy session can vary depending on the techniques that the professional employs. For example, some music therapists might have their clients sing a certain song or play an instrument with a soothing sound. Other professionals might use their own musical talent. They can find job opportunities in a variety of institutions, including hospitals, mental health centers, nursing homes, schools and correctional centers. They can also open their own private practice to work with individual patients.


4. Music teacher

National average salary: $72,389 per year

Primary duties: A music teacher is an educator who teaches students key musical concepts, performance skills and creative expression. Many professionals have a specialization, such as instructing students on how to sing or play an instrument. They can teach multiple students in a classroom environment or instruct individuals during one-on-one tutoring sessions. Music teachers can work for schools, musical academies or nonprofits but may also offer private instruction to individual students.


5. Audio engineer

National average salary: $98,617 per year

Primary duties: Audio engineers are music professionals who help to produce sound recordings or live performance audio using modern technology. They often use skilled techniques to manipulate sounds and enhance them with unique qualities. They know how to adjust sounds using varied tools, such as equalizers, audio effects software, auto-tuning and mixing. Audio engineers can find job opportunities in recording studios, performance venues and broadcasting companies.

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