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Why Study Music?

Should I Study Music at GCSE or A-level to Help my Career?

It’s a good question! Believe it or not but some of the most talented and successful musicians in history couldn’t even read a single note of music! Ok ok, if you want be a concert pianist, play in an orchestra, or even be a conductor - it’s a very different ball game. You'll need some training and qualifications.

However, not everyone who studies music ends up as a musician or a performer; there are lots of other career choices to explore….

What Skills will I get from Studying Music?

Studying music can give you a great mix of social, technical and business skills, which can all help in acquiring the seven skills that define employability; put together in the working towards your future joint report  by the National Union of Students and the Confederate of British Industry.

Dr Robert Adlington, associate professor of music at the University of Nottingham points out that: “While some of these skills are acquired by students of all subjects, for example, team work, good communication and self management, music students have an edge.

“The experience of organising, hosting and performing in events that are open to the public provides them with skills beyond those on other programmes, requiring knowledge of customer awareness, or interaction with the public, for example.”

In the words of Albert Einstein: “The greatest scientists are artists as well". Music is kind of like part art, part science! Which means it will help you build your problem solving, research, planning, analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as develop your creativity.

Not to mention discipline, composure under pressure, time management, communication, team and individual working ability - all gained from practice and performing. You might also learn technical skills through using computers, equipment and software to create and record music. 

What Careers is Music Good for?

Music graduates have a wide range of career options available to them both inside and outside the industry, including: performer, teacher, administrator, songwriter (we think it's one of the greatest jobs out there), conductor, composer, recording engineer, manager, promoter, or music publisher. The range of roles can seem quite endless!

There are also more jobs than ever in music business related areas, such as: careers in digital marketing, social media, PR, technology, label services, ticketing and merchandising. It is also common to find music graduates in consultancy, finance, banking, music therapy and legal jobs.

Read our interview with Claire Waterhouse who is a full time professional musician.

What Subjects does Music go with?

Music complements a range of commonly required A-level subjects like Maths, Physics, English and Biology. These are also known as ‘facilitating subjects’, and selecting a good mix can help keep degree choices wide open.

What Degrees and other Qualifications do I need to study Music for? 

You can choose to study music at degree level at either a university or conservatoire. Most universities will require you to study Music A-level or equivalent like Music and Grade VII/VIII for more traditional courses. But a Music Technology A-level may not meet university requirements. Some universities also require at least one essay-based subject such as History or English.

If you study Music at GCSE or A-level, this can be a good foundation for vocational courses in music technology and jobs in sound recording, audio engineering, studio facilities or music production. 

Where can I Find out More about Studying Music? 

CUKAS – Conservatoires UK Admissions Service

Check out our Performing Arts career zone. 

Other Subjects in our Why Study? Series: