Music as a career has always had misconceptions and stereotypes. It has been known that music does not lead to a steady flow of income or a structured career for a living. However these are extreme misconceptions. My favorite expressions are “majoring in music, how the hell are you going to earn a living?” or “Well music is one of those jobs either you make it or you don’t.” Here is my ultimate favorite expression that is said after hearing a performance, “That was good but what about a real job?”
A career in music is not “let’s go and put a band together and get a record deal.” That is the “artistic” end of music, which can lead to something big or not, but ultimately that is not a career in music. A career in music is no different than any other career. You go to college with a major and then find a job in that field. Simple and easy. A degree in music can lead to many types of jobs that bring in a regular paycheck. Some of these jobs are an audio engineer, music librarian, music teacher, secondary school and college, music critic, and even to the administration of an arts organization.
Many of these jobs require a musical background. The website www.careersinmusic.com lists countless jobs in music. Where does this begin? It begins with music lessons and the choir and band in Elementary, Middle and High school. These classes are now getting cut from school. So where are we going to have trained professionals to record music in the studio? If you speak to any audio engineer they all have learned a musical instrument and have taken band in school. The foundation of the skills needed to do their work. Of course what does their work bring? It brings us music when we listen to the radio, watch a movie, go grocery shopping, and listen to music at the office. Imagine yourself at work and not listening to music all day or going to the grocery store and not hearing music. How about watching a motion picture that has no music? Well this will become a reality if we do not have music in schools. It’s just like taking away English or Math from school. They are taking away the chance for a good career for something that is required for the survival of human kind.
Now let’s take a look at other careers. Many of the music students who have decided to focus their attention on playing become performers. They get a regular job playing in an orchestra or in the studio. They go to it like any typical job. They perform on stage a symphonic work, not for the artistic reason, but fact they are trained musicians who do their job and bringing home the pay. The studio musician plays the music you listen to while watching Harry Potter and other motion pictures. I guess we’re no longer going to have motion pictures with music since the option of playing in band is no longer there. So let’s get use to it, turn the volume off of your film and turn on the close capture to read the script.
Performance is not the only career in music. There are tons of background jobs that require a music education. A composer can’t compose music unless he or she is musically trained. A songwriter can’t write the next hit song unless he or she knows how to play the piano. How about that wonderful musical Wicked and Beauty and the Best that everyone loved so much. A composer wrote the music and a lyricist wrote the words. A conductor directed it and the musicians performed the music while the singers sang on stage. All these jobs are stemmed from learning how to play a musical instrument in grade school. It does not happen over night. These are trained jobs and they do it as a job. They punch a time clock just like everyone else.
There is even a union for musicians. I know because I am in the union myself. My last job was being the librarian for an orchestra. It is a union position and requires a lot of musical training. The job is the second most important job of an orchestra. The librarian puts together the music for the concerts. They order, purchase, and rent the music from various publishers. Then they put them in the folders and place the bow markings as indicated by the principal string players in each part. Oh and sometimes re-orchestration is needed in order to fit the budget of the orchestra. Not many can do this; only a trained composer can do it. I don’t think anyone off the street can be a music librarian. Only someone who has learned to play a musical instrument the studied music in college can do such a job.
So do you think learning music from k- 12 should be optional or required? Why take away an education that can lead to a career? As to music being a real career, well let’s see. Is music an option in the survival of our race? Take one day out of your life and do not listen to music at all. Do not plug in your ipod, do not watch a movie, and do not listen to music on your drive home from work. See how that works out. Oh and remember to plug your ears when you are at the next football came when the band starts playing music. I don’t think many can do this. Music is a part of our lives and as long as the human race exists music will be a viable profession like Law, Medicine, and many other service oriented career.