Is a Music Composition Degree Right for You?

If you have a passion for writing music using classical instruments or singing and songwriting, then an online bachelors degree in music composition could be for you. Music composition students take courses in music history where they analyze various impactful musical genres, such as classical, jazz, and rock music. They also learn about influential classical musicians, such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel, among others.

Studying the social influences behind these musical styles and composers allows students to draw inspiration for their own music. Through performance courses, students with an instrumental or vocal talent sharpen their skills and are challenged to perform in recitals and develop their own original pieces. Music composition degree programs also focus on music theory, so students have the technical knowledge to create compelling, original music.

Advice for Earning Your Music Composition Degree Online

If you are considering an online degree, you should know that very few online bachelors degree programs in music composition are offered entirely online. Performance courses must be completed on campus, where you can receive face-to-face training with music instructors and professors. Also, students must report to campuses to effectively participate in group ensembles and take applied music lessons.

General education classes and lecture-based courses can still be completed online for more flexibility, but you can expect to report to campus on a regular basis. Students should consider online programs that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), an organization that holds online music degree programs to strict standards of quality.

Required Courses

Online music composition degree programs typically include general education courses, but focus on major coursework that builds the foundation for composition. Some courses will be completed on-campus, like conducting, practicum, and recital classes. Most music composition curricula will include variations on the following classes:

  • Aural Comprehension
  • Music Theory
  • Music History
  • History of Performing Arts
  • Private Composition

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition include:

Musicians and Singers

  • Expected Growth: 10%
  • Average Hourly Wage: $34.26

Musicians and singers make a living by performing publicly. Some work as studio musicians, while others perform solo acts or as part of a band or music group. A bachelor’s degree is not required to work as musician, but a music composition degree can expand your knowledge of musical genres and styles, sight-reading, performance and technique, and theory in order to make you a stronger song writer and artist. The figures above were gathered from the BLS

Music Directors and Composers

  • Expected Growth: 10%
  • Average Annual Salary: $53,370

Composers write music for movies, musicals, commercials, theater productions, and even other artists, while music directors lead music programs and performances at theaters, churches, colleges, and more. A music composition degree provides the general theory knowledge required to succeed as a composer in particular, but it also provides coursework in conducting, music history, and aural skills to succeed as a music director. The figures above were provided by the BLS.

High School Music Teachers

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $59,125

High school music teachers instruct choir, orchestra, and marching band groups that include students from all grade levels. They are responsible for conducting, teaching music theory concept, performance technique, and more. Demand for high school music teachers may be lower than high school teachers for other subjects since high school usually have only one teach for each music organization at the school. The figures above were provided by the BLS.

Producers and Directors

  • Expected Growth: 11%
  • Average Annual Salary: $99,270

Music producers work with artists, ensembles, and bands to refine their sound and enhance their overall performance. They may also modify scores and songs, to improve its marketability, sound, or key. Overall, producers must have a well-trained ear in order to help artists produce the best final result. In some cases, music producers provide management services, hiring talent for backup or accompaniment, and book recording space, as well as work with sound engineers on final production. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Postsecondary Teachers

  • Expected Growth: 17%
  • Average Annual Salary: $80,615

Postsecondary teachers in music composition work in music departments at colleges and universities where they teach courses in composition and theory and continue to pursue academic research interests. Competition for faculty positions can be high, as most postsecondary teachers are well-respected members in their field and are usually required to hold doctoral degrees in a related discipline from top institutions. The salary and growth figures above were provided by the BLS.


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