| February 2015

Rock ’n’ roll. Jazz. Calypso. There are many different types of music, each with its own style. And just as musical styles vary, so, too, do occupations in the music world.

Musician and singer are popular choices for a musical career. But even if you can’t carry a tune, you can incorporate music into your work. Dancers, composers, and sound engineering technicians, for example, all work with music in various ways.

And for many, making music a career is a lifelong dream. “I started playing the piano at age 6 and fell in love instantly,” says Ciara McAllister, a pianist and music teacher in San Francisco, California. “I feel lucky to be able to make a living in music, my biggest passion.”

Musical occupations

Many occupations involve music, sometimes in ways you might not expect. And some of these occupations combine music with other interests, such as dance or technology.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Working behind the scenes, broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, maintain, and operate equipment to produce music for concerts, soundtracks, or radio and television programs.

Job titles and tasks vary. For example, audio and video equipment technicians use microphones, sound speakers, and soundboards to control the volume and quality of the music. Broadcast technicians use equipment such as transmitters and computer software to air radio and television programs. And sound engineering technicians use computer software to record, edit, and mix music.

Dancers and choreographers

Some workers interpret music through dance. Accompanied by music, dancers execute choreographed movements to entertain an audience. Most dancers are members of a company that specializes in a particular type of dance, such as ballet, modern, or tap. Dancers perform in a variety of settings, including cruise ships, theme parks, theaters, and other performance venues.

To prepare for performances, dancers spend considerable time practicing and rehearsing. They work with choreographers to learn dance moves and also may study new techniques, types of dance, or musical accompaniment.

Choreographers modify or create new dances to express an idea or tell a story to music. They choose music, audition dancers, and lead rehearsals. They may also assist with costume design, lighting, or other aspects of the performance.

To improve their skills, choreographers study new or different types of dance and music. They also may assist with a dance company’s administrative tasks, such as budgeting or scheduling performances.

Music directors and composers

Creating or supervising the performance of music is the job of directors and composers. Music directors, also called conductors, lead performances of orchestras, choirs, or other groups. They select musical pieces and guest performers or soloists. Music directors also audition new performers, attend rehearsals, and practice to improve technique.

Composers write original music and arrange existing music into new compositions. This music is used in a variety of ways, including live performances, movie and television scores, and advertising jingles. Some composers specialize in a particular style of music, such as blues or opera. To write music, composers use instruments or computer software. They also may work with other musicians, such as lyricists, to complete their compositions.

Musicians and singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. Some may specialize in one musical style, such as country or hip-hop.

Musicians and singers rehearse for performances. In addition, they practice playing or singing to improve their technique and style. They may also audition for positions in orchestras, choirs, or other groups.

Music teachers

Music teachers instruct their pupils in different areas of music—such as in playing an instrument, understanding music theory, or exploring music history. In schools, music teachers plan lessons and teach groups of students. They may also organize school concerts and direct student orchestras and choirs.

Private music teachers instruct individual students. Some work in their home or at a studio where students come for lessons; others travel to their students’ homes. Usually, these teachers specialize in an instrument or skill that they themselves have mastered, such as piano or voice. For each student, private music teachers create lessons based on that student’s ability. They may also hold recitals where students perform music they have learned.


1. Cboose a song you would like to learn to play or sing that is challenbging. Using good technique, phrasing, tone, rhythm, and dynamics. Read & Play all the signs and terms of the score. Share this information with your counselor

2. Name the five general groups of musical instruments. Create an illustration that shows how tones are generated and how instruments produce sound.

3. Do TWO of the following:
a. Attend a live performance, or listen to three hours of recordings from any two of the following musical styles: blues, jazz, classical, country, bluegrass, ethnic, gospel, musical theater, opera. Describe the sound of the music and the instruments used. Identify the composers or songwriters, the performers, and the titles of the pieces you heard. If it was a live performance, describe the setting and the reaction of the audience. Discuss your thoughts about the music.

b. Interview an adult member of your family or member of YCIS about music. Find out what the most popular music was when he or she was your age. Find out what his or her favorite music is now, and listen to three of their favorite tunes. How do those favorites sound to you? Had you ever heard any of them? Play three of your favorite songs for them, and explain why you like these songs. Ask what he or she thinks of your favorite music.

c. Join and play for six weeks as a member of a school band, choir, or other organized musical group, or perform as a soloist in public six times.

d. List five people who are important in the history of international music (including 3 (From your country of origin) and explain to your counselor why they continue to be influential. Include at least one composer, one performer, one innovator, and one person born more than 100 years ago.

4. Do ONE of the following:
a. Teach three songs to a group of people. Lead them in singing the songs, using proper hand motions.
b. Compose and write the score for a piece of music of 12 measures or more, and play this music on an instrument.
c. Make a traditional instrument and learn to play it.

5. Define for your counselor intellectual property (IP). Explain how to properly obtain and share recorded music.

6. Prepare a 10-15 minute presentation on why you are interested in Music. In sharing describe 3 ways Music influences culture, mood, and self-expression. Share what a musical score from any popular song, play or theatrical production, explain how to read the music and perform this song to the class.