How to Become a Music Director

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Musical is a complex field that involves a variety of vocal and instrumental performances. Highly trained professionals are required to provide direction for all types of musical ensembles. This is the job of the music director.

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What does a music director do?

Music directors direct vocal and instrumental performances by a variety of musical groups such as concert bands, choirs, orchestras, and other musical ensembles. They are responsible for auditioning and choosing performers and selecting the appropriate music for the ensemble. They consider a variety of factors to choose the music such as the size and abilities of the ensemble, need for musical variety, and availability of scores. They also provide constructive criticism and implement the necessary changes. Music directors are responsible for hiring conductors, composers, arrangers, and other related professionals. They plan and oversee rehearsals and performances and arrange specific details such as dates, locations, venues, accommodations, and transportation for performances. They often select guest performers such as instrumentalists or accompanists for specific events. They are also involved in budget planning, contract negotiation, and fundraising efforts.

What kind of training does a music director need?

Music directors typically need at least a bachelor degree in music, music theory, music composition, or other related field. Most music directors have either a master or doctorate degree and some have teaching credentials. Prospective music directors typically complete courses in music theory, music interpretation, conducting, performance, and management. Many music directors begin their careers playing instruments or in other entry-level positions and advanced to director positions as they gain the necessary skills and experience. Music directors often complete regular continuing education to keep their skills up to date, broaden their knowledge, and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a music director?

Employment of music directors is expected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 10% from 2008 to 2018 (1).

Job prospects should be good with strong competition. Music directors with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Some job openings will result from the need to replace music directors that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do music directors make?

As of January 2010, music directors with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $16,508 and $36,545. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $21,410 and $48,220 (2).

A career as a music director is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in directing a variety of musical ensembles. Music directors must have a solid understanding of many different musical styles and the ability to successfully direct a group of performers. Patience, detail orientation, organization, good problem solving skills, and good leadership skills are necessary characteristics. Music directors must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to make effective decisions under pressure.

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