Selection of the correct music course is crucial. For some, the aim is to get into the music industry as a recording artist at a label or other connected role, others to play in a band or orchestra or become music teachers. The choices are wide and it can be daunting, knowing you will invest a good chunk of your life and money in something where you’re not certain of the outcome. It can feel like a gamble.
Apart from talent (this is a must) getting a job in the music industry requires skill and experience (if you are lucky enough to get a work placement or internship) in addition to a qualification. Budget is also an important factor while choosing a music course. If you play an instrument, some (like brass and wind) can be very expensive. There may well be continuous investment in your instrument as well as the private lessons while studying. If you intent to apply to a top institution which has links to the industry, be aware of the high fees charged.
Generally, most institutions look for a certain standard of performance of vocal and instrumental skills and sometimes composition ability.
Below are some ideas for how to proceed with choosing the best music course:
- Decide which area of the music industry you are interested in and passionate about.
Is it teaching/education, performance, production / technology or business related? Look at educational and industry directories that provide an overview of different sectors, job specifications etc. Also, view at any advice and guidance pages. If you plan to do a degree, the 2 main ones are a Music BA and BMus. You might find that some universities offer both a BA and a BMus course. While both of them are general music courses, the BA course normally follows a broader range of subjects, including more academic subjects like music history or analysis.
BMus courses, on the other hand,are more practical-oriented. They usually contain more performance and composition elements. You should compare the course details at individual universities for an exact comparison.
- If applying to a University or College, understand that they want the best candidates as much as you want to study there.
Therefore, do your research. When considering a University/college, consider:
- if you want to stay near your family or move as far away as possible
- big city or small town? What’s the social life like?
- look at how long the course have been established
- what are the entry requirement needed to be accepted?
- do they get visits by people working in the industry?
- are the current students happy with their courses there?
- what was the feedback from previous graduates to the course? How many of them got good jobs when they left?
- You can help yourself by applying to as many relevant ones as possible.
Be aware that competition for places means many music courses are over-subscribed. Also, there a large number of different music courses available at universities. If you’ve already decided your career path, it is worth considering a specialised music course. If you want to keep your options open, choose a general music course.
- Visit the institution offering the course and meet the staff and see the facilities.
Understand the nature of the courses you are considering by asking questions, particularly when applying for a specific course. Make sure you ask the following questions: