“But I already know how to play,” you might say when asked if you want to study music. “Why spend money on a degree?”
It’s true – earning a college degree is a cost, and it can certainly be an expensive one. But more than anything, a college degree isn’t just a cost; it’s an investment, and making that investment can result in better returns from your career later on for a lot of reasons. No matter what instrument you play, getting a music degree can help to broaden your career and set you up for greater success, including financial success. Here are five reasons to get a music degree.
Whether you complete a one-year certificate in music or earn a licentiate or doctorate, the study of music will deepen and broaden your understanding of how music works – and this will carry over to your professional practice. Knowing music theory can help you write better guitar parts; studying piano can help you become a better composer; taking a class in orchestration will help you understand how instruments and voices work together as partners. Your practical music skills will expand – and your performance and composition will improve.
Greater Professional Opportunity
Anyone can start a band, but not everyone can access professional work as a music educator, composer, or ensemble director. For that, you need a credential – and earning it will open doorways into greater opportunities in performance, education, and composition. Many higher-paid opportunities in music, including session work, are only made available to degree holders – so if you want to cash in on these opportunities, the investment of a degree in music is a must.
Most music degree holders at least dip their toes in the three main areas of musicianship – performance, education, and composition. From teaching at a music academy to composing video game soundtracks, a degree is a requirement. Session work, especially, is often the meat and drink of musicians, and while not all music studios require session musicians to have degrees, the ones that do are often given first preference. Often, they are also given higher pay – especially if they serve as session organizers or leaders. Overall, you’ll make more money – even if you just finish an associate’s degree in music.
A great many well-known and successful acts met while they were studying music at college or university. Attending school for a music degree will result in a lot of connections between you, your classmates, and even your professors – people you may well wind up working with later on. If the sort of work you want to do involves working with other musicians, music school is a proof-positive course to forming working relationships with other skilled musicians.
Have you always wanted to learn how to play the Japanese taiko? The Finnish kantele? The Chinese pipa? The Brazilian cavaquinho? Do an exchange program. Most colleges, universities, and conservatories offer exchange programs to students, offering a unique opportunity to study the music systems and instruments of nations around the world. These exchange programs can lead to travel opportunities post-study, as well, as you will form academic and professional relationships while you’re abroad, just as you will at your home institution. Studying the music of other cultures will not only broaden your perspective, it will often broaden your professional horizons later on.
While earning a music degree is not a requirement just to learn and play an instrument, it is a vital step to reaching greater realms of opportunity and financial success throughout your career. Whether you study at a famous conservatory or a state college, the investment of a music degree holds its value well.