Types of Music Majors

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Written By Tanya

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Problem is, students can get lost in the details about what music degree or major to choose and how they will be best prepared for their chosen career.

The degree options and majors in music vary from one college or university to the next. Some are very general while others are more specialized. Only choose the specialized ones if you know your career path.

These are the top music programs offered at universities and colleges today. You should be able pick the right one for you once you have a better understanding of the differences.

The Types of Music Majors, Degrees, and Programs Available in College

This is a list of all music majors offered at universities and colleges.

MUSIC

A bachelor’s degree in music is very broad. The university will determine the course of study.

The emphasis is more on liberal arts education than on musical performance. Music history and theory are often part of the coursework. You can also choose to take courses that are not related to the music department.

This degree program is ideal for people who are passionate about music, but fear that too many specializations could limit their career opportunities.

You can opt to pursue a special graduate degree in Ethnomusicology, Film Scoring or Music Production after you have completed your undergraduate music degree.

JAZZ STUDIES

Majors in Jazz Studies are likely to pursue a career as musicians or composers. These programs include music theory and performance, composition and pedagogy.

Popular jazz programs are highly selective and are extremely popular. Students are required to perform in campus ensembles and may be required to audition for the program.

ETHNOMUSICOLOGY

Ethnomusicology can be a graduate program but there are also a few undergraduate programs. Although traditional music is a part of the program, many programs also focus on Western music such as jazz and hip-hop, and how they influence culture.

Music history, world musical culture, music theory, composition and private instrumental lessons are all covered in the coursework. Some institutions offer fieldwork courses that include music documentary production or grant writing.

Ethnomusicology majors are required to speak a foreign language at school. You may need to take additional classes.

COMMUNICATIONS

A degree in Communications is a good choice if you are interested in working as a radio DJ or music videographer. These degrees are often focused on broadcasting, television, and radio.

Students can volunteer at or work on campus radio or TV stations, and intern at large media companies. Media ethics and law, sound or video editing, production, postproduction and writing for media are all part of the course.

MUSIC COMPOSITION

Music composition degrees prepare students for careers in music arrangement, composers, and orchestrators. Music history and theory, keyboard skills, conducting, and ear training are all part of the coursework.

Some degrees may also include coursework in recording technology, production, editing, or both. These are all essential skills to composers to bring their ideas to life.

FILM SCORING

There are not many undergraduate programs in film scoring, but there are plenty of graduate opportunities. Composition is an option for those interested in film scoring.

Film scoring courses cover all aspects of film composition for television, film, videogames, and documentaries. The course covers topics such as film music editing, arranging orchestration, production and conducting.

Many Film Scoring programs can be found in film hubs such as Los Angeles where students can work with professionals and learn from them.

MUSIC HISTORY & MUSICOLOGY

Although musicology and music history are two different disciplines, they can be taught and used together. Musicology is the scholarly study and analysis of music in the context of the humanities. Music history is the study and analysis of the history of music.

Research is a major component of this program, so degree programs are rare. Many students continue their education at the postgraduate level. Music theory and history, research methods and private lessons are all part of the course.

MUSIC BUSINESS

Business degrees are more focused on business than Arts Administration programs. This is a major attraction for those who want to become concert promoters, booking agent, or executive in the recording industry.

Most programs include both coursework and internships. This helps students to network and create career opportunities.

Classes include theory and music history, private lessons in instrument/voice, marketing, business management and entertainment law. They also cover recording technology, concert management and music publishing.

ARTS ADMINISTRATION

Although arts administration might seem similar to music business, they deal with completely different industries. Music business is the business side, while arts administration deals with non-profits.

Arts administration prepares for positions such as Director of Development, Symphony Business Manager, or Managing Director.

The classes include law, philanthropy and finance. Some schools will divide the administration classes equally while others favor the administration.

Colleges that offer music majors

It’s useful to be aware of all the music majors that you have the option to choose, but it is also important to understand the details of each school.

These are some of the most prestigious and respected schools in America with music programs.

  • Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University
  • Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University – Bloomington
  • Yale University

Click on any school below to view more information about their music programs. You can also request additional information from them directly so that you have a better understanding of how they work. [Edit: Tool removed]

There are many schools that offer high-quality programs and talented instructors. You can also choose to go to the most prestigious schools in order get the best value.

More music majors degrees

This list doesn’t include all the major music programs that you will find. To break down the list, we took a quick detour. We have more to offer that may pique your curiosity.

MUSIC THEORY

Many music theory degrees can be combined with composition studies. These programs offer private lessons in instrumental music and courses in music history, eartraining, and musicology. Graduates can go on to be orchestrators, arrangers or conservatory, college or music teacher.

CONDUCTING

This subject is not offered in any undergraduate programs in the US. The majority of programs are designed for music-related postgraduates.

Specializations in conducting include orchestral, choral, and band. In some schools, however, you might have to choose between instrumental or choral conducting.

Music theory, music analysis, and tonal analysis are the main areas of study. You will be able to conduct professionally with this degree.

MUSIC EDUCATION

Music education is for those who enjoy teaching music and not just playing it. Music education is a great option for people who are looking for stable work after completing their degree.

Music Education courses include many of the same courses as other music departments, with an industry-specific music education course and a student teaching assignment. Graduates can go on to become music tutors or music teachers in K-12 schools.

COMMERCIAL MUSIC

Commercial music programs tend to be more focused on current music genres like pop, jazz and R&B than the classical music focus found at universities.

Music theory will be taught and you’ll receive private voice and instrumental lessons. You’ll also learn about music marketing and entrepreneurship. If you are interested in the recording business, commercial music programs will appeal to you.

MUSIC PERFORMANCE

Music performance is the art of playing music professionally. Students can learn to play an instrument they prefer.

A majority of programs require auditions. Coursework includes private lessons, ensembles and music theory. Graduates can go on to be opera singers, session musicians or performers.

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

There are many names for music technology programs, such as Recording Arts and Audio & Sound Design.

You will learn about recording and production techniques and practices through coursework. You can also enroll in private lessons and music history.

Students have the option to volunteer on campus or work as sound techs at concerts, or as audio engineers at campus radio station. There are many career options available, including record producer, music producer and recording engineer.

MUSIC THERAPY

Music therapy programs follow the guidelines of American Music Therapy Association. These guidelines are essential for all courses.

Private instrumental lessons, composition, history and psychology are all part of the course. A minimum of 1200 hours are required for clinical training.

WORSHIP ARTS

Most worship arts programs are offered by Christian colleges, but there are also a few secular schools that offer them.

Private lessons, music theory, history, music technology, leadership, and worship literature are all part of the coursework. Majors in worship arts can go on to be choir directors, worship leaders, or performers.

Music majors have many career options

There are many music majors that you can choose from at a variety of schools. Music students have many options for degrees and universities to choose from.

Any of the music majors listed above could open up doors to a rewarding future and allow you to do what you love.

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