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Going Further - Music College and University

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 18 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Music Lessons Music College University

You may find that you love music, love playing, and want to do more with it all. The question, of course, is what are the possibilities? Becoming a professional performer is difficult - there's so much competition. But there are a number of career options with music, from teaching to therapy and beyond. What they require, however, is some kind of formal education at either a music college or university.

What You Need To Get In

For Music College, you can either apply through UCAS or CUKAS, depending on the type of degree you wish to take. You will, of course, need to audition on your instrument, and at the very least, you'll need to have passed Grade 5 in the Board tests - although, if you're serious enough to consider Music College, you should probably have gone higher, even to Grade 8.

In addition to an audition (if for some reason you can't get to the college to audition, you can send a videotape), you'll also undergo an interview, and receiving an offer from the college will be dependent on the two.

For a music degree at university, the application process is the same for any other university place, although you'll also be required to show proficiency on your instrument to Grade 5.

The Courses

What you study depends largely on the course you take. Music colleges tend to emphasise either performance or composition as specialities, and you can even take a degree in jazz (in Newcastle there's even a folk programme, the only one of its kind in England). These prepare you to become a professional musician, or you could take a degree in music production, qualifying you to sit on the other side of the board in a studio.

University courses are more academic, and you'll learn more about the history of music, as well as continuing studies on your instrument. But again, there's a wide range on offer, with courses in the psychology of music, or music technology.

Wherever you study, as long as you complete the course satisfactorily, you'll emerge with a B.A. in some music-related discipline.

What to Do With Your Degree

A degree is wonderful. It shows you've undergone a lengthy course of study and completed all the requirements. But once you have that piece of paper, just what can you do with it?

To be honest, it probably won't help you find a job as a professional musician - that depends more on talent than anything else. But it can stand you in good stead for music-related jobs. There's also post-graduate work, for a Master's or Ph.D., which can take you into academia, teaching at college or university.

Many who obtain degrees go on to teach. However, this requires another qualification, such as the QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) or PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education). With those you can apply to teach in schools, or you can teach your instrument privately (or both).

If your goal is music therapy, you'll need to obtain an M.A. in music therapy, after which you can work either privately or through the NHS, education or Social Services.

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As you point out, a qualification in music won’t help you obtain a job just on its own. You will, in most cases, need to supplement it with something else. In most cases, though, you’ll obtain a music qualification because it’s what you really want to do, not for any career path – and that’s probably the best way to approach all education.
john - 26-Sep-12 @ 10:35 AM
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