A degree in music history could be the career path for you if you’ve always been fascinated by music, its history, and cultures. Imagine turning something you had a passion for in high school into a career you can enjoy for the rest of your life. Before you begin your journey, you should be aware of what a music degree in history is and what it may entail.
The study of music history, or historical musicology, is one of the most important aspects of musicology, which examines the development of musical art and culture over time. It is closely related to other arts, the history of general culture and history, as well as the entire development of human society as a whole, combining elements of philosophy.
Historically, music scholars study the way musical and musical-historical facts are related and the role music plays in society. Studying music history means gaining an understanding of the history of music from all over the world, including all eras, styles, and genres.
It is important to keep in mind that music history requires scholars to be well-versed in many areas of the music world. This includes not only music theory and history but also music in and of itself and including the ability to read and perform music.
Music majors are generally skilled in an instrument and usually perform in school ensembles. Most majors in music history, however, concentrate on an area of music other than music production.
- Music supervision for film, television, video games and advertising.
- A&R, talent scouting.
- Manage a theater, club or performing arts center.
- Work in the programming or education department of an arts organization.
4 jobs I’ve gotten with a music degree
What can you do with a music history degree?
Here are 15 jobs that you can pursue with a music history degree. For the most up-to-date salary data, please click on the Indeed salary links below:
Primary duties: A transcriptionist creates written documents based on the words and sounds of audio recordings or live events. They often specialize in creating text documents for a specific industry, such as the medical field or business development.
A transcriptionist with a background in music history may find employment opportunities transcribing sheets of music based on recordings of music or live musical events. They can listen to a piece of music and accurately identify and record on paper various elements of that musical piece, such as the notes and melody. Other transcriptionists familiar with music history may decide to transcribe the words from performances related to music, such as operas or plays.
Primary duties: A musician plays one or more musical instruments. They may play for live musical events, recordings or both. Many musicians specialize in performing a genre or style of music such as musical theater, classical, rock, pop or country. Some musicians may give solo performances while others might perform with a band or orchestra. Responsibilities can vary based on factors like their chosen instruments but may include practicing regularly while alone or in a group, auditioning for jobs, learning new musical pieces and helping with song arrangements.
Primary duties: A recreational therapist helps their clients by combining enjoyable or artistic activities with therapeutic principles and techniques. Recreational therapists may work with clients who are in recovery from injuries, have disabilities or want to improve their emotional or mental health.
These therapists often specialize in supporting their patients with a certain type of recreational activity, such as visual arts or sports. Recreational therapists with a background in music history may prefer to specialize in drama, music or dance therapy. Responsibilities include evaluating a patients unique needs, devising individualized treatment programs, using their recreational tools to help clients cope with their wellness challenges and documenting a clients progress.
Primary duties: A theater manager oversees the operations and personnel at a theater. They often manage the overall administrative and financial responsibilities of the theater, such as handling budgets and meeting with key stakeholders like board members. Theater managers may also supervise some artistic aspects of their theater like choosing the plays or musicals for the upcoming season or corresponding with prospective artists to feature. Other job duties might include negotiating contract terms with artists or their estates, allocating resources such as props or staff, writing grant proposals or hosting fundraising events.
Primary duties: A writer composes written pieces of content such as newsletters, books or articles. Professional writers often focus on creating content for a specific industry like health care or marketing. Writers with a background in music history may become experts in writing about the music industry such as current music trends, new albums or recent shows they attended. A professional writer familiar with music history might also specialize in writing about the performance arts.
Some writers may work full time for a specific company while others might find employment opportunities as freelancers or independent contractors. They typically handle all stages of the writing process including researching, outlining and revising their pieces. Other duties may include using search engine optimization strategies (SEO), adhering to industry standards for publications, advertising their services and proofreading for minor errors like typos.
Primary duties: A composer creates original music compositions. Many composers specialize in a particular musical genre like classical or show tunes or industries that use musical arrangements, including the film and television industry. Some of these professionals may also create musical arrangements, meaning that they take existing songs and change the orchestration such as by adding instruments.
A composer may use musical instruments or digital music software to help them with the composing process. Other duties may include collaborating with a lyricist, applying for jobs or commissions, working with musicians to record music and staying up-to-date on the latest trends in their chosen industry or musical specialization.
Primary duties: Curators develop and organize collections of art pieces or artifacts to arrange for display at museums, galleries, studios, historical societies and other venues. They help devise ways to convey the significance of their arranged art or artifacts to the public such as through careful arrangements or explanatory placards. A curator with a background in music history may specialize in curating exhibits related to music, drama or dance.
Some curators may work full time for a specific museum or other organization while others might find jobs temporarily such as for traveling or limited-time exhibitions. Other responsibilities include negotiating contract terms or acquisitions, writing grant proposals, identifying or maintaining records of items and marketing exhibitions to the public.
Primary duties: A music executive is a leadership role within a record or music production company. They oversee one or more aspects of music label management such as finding new recording artists, marketing upcoming albums, producing new or renovated albums, negotiating contracts or planning tours for musicians. Other duties can vary based on their specialization but may include hiring or training employees, setting up studio recording times, applying for copyrights and supervising mass production.
Primary duties: A professor teaches students at the college or university level. They also often conduct innovative research within their field through the support of their academic institution. Their responsibilities can vary based on their type of professorship but may include delivering lectures, leading classroom discussions, grading tests or essays and meeting with students individually.
Professors with backgrounds in music history often become professors within this field. Professionals familiar with music history might also consider professorships in related academic disciplines like music theory, drama, dance or performance.
Primary duties: Librarians choose, organize, record and help people effectively use resources in a library. They may work at a range of library types, including public, museum or university libraries. At smaller libraries, a librarian may manage multiple aspects of the library, such as administration and technology, along with many library resources, like books and films. Larger libraries, however, often hire librarians who specialize in a type of media or in a specific field. A librarian with a background in music history may want to work at a library where they can specialize in working with different audio types.
A librarians specific duties can vary based on their specialization but may include cataloging resources, responding to user inquiries, helping patrons develop research skills and auditing library materials.
Primary duties: An education specialist helps educators or school administrators develop or modify class curricula, educational standards and academic strategies. Their goal is to help find ways for students of all backgrounds to learn more effectively and achieve educational goals. Educational specialists may work directly with teachers or at a higher level such as for a school district or educational board.
Some education specialists may assist with improving strategies and curricula for all academic disciplines while others might specialize in one or more fields. An education specialist with a background in music history might specialize in optimizing techniques, lessons and objectives related to arts education such as music, visual arts, creative writing and drama courses.
Primary duties: Archivists analyze, research, appraise and organize historical documents or artifacts. Their goal may be to figure out the importance of the artifact or to connect it with other historical pieces or facts.
Some archivists specialize in a specific historical era while others may focus on a specific type of artifacts such as manuscripts, photographs, maps or films. Archivists with a degree in music history may prefer to specialize in audio recordings. Specific duties can vary based on their specialization and type of employment but may include initiating public outreach efforts, determining the best way to preserve historical artifacts, updating databases and helping people retrieve artifacts from their collections.
Primary duties: A director of public relations oversees the personnel, operations and campaigns related to public relations, meaning the public perception of their company. They design their businesss overall strategy for communicating with the public and guide other public relations staff members in advertising or corresponding while following this strategy. A director of public relations also typically builds and develops relationships with media correspondents such as journalists. Other duties may include handling their departmental budget, designing press releases, giving PR reports to key stakeholders and analyzing data related to PR to figure out ways to optimize campaigns.
Primary duties: A music teacher is an educator who specializes in teaching students about music. Some music teachers may provide their students with an overview of musical genres, principles and arrangements. Other music teachers might specialize in a particular musical genre, historical movement, technique or instrument, such as teaching students about classical music or how to play the piano.
Music teachers may find full-time employment at a school or teach students privately. Responsibilities can vary based on where they work and what they specialize in, but they may include conducting rehearsals, keeping track of student progress, helping students learn to read music and arranging performances for their students.
Primary duties: A historian is an expert in people, places, events and trends from the past. They conduct in-depth research through strategies such as examining historical artifacts, reading old documents and visiting historical sites. Historians often present their findings to the public through academic writings or lectures. They may find employment at universities, research facilities, museums or archives.
Most historians specialize in a certain historical period, such as the medieval era or WWII. Historians also may specialize in an aspect of their chosen historical era, like the time periods economic trends, literature or politics. Historians with a music history degree may prefer to specialize in the musical trends and compositions from a specific historical era.
8 more jobs you can do with a music history degree
Here are eight additional jobs that you might consider pursuing if you have a degree in music history:
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What jobs can you get with a music ba?
- Agent and Business Manager of Artists, Performers, and Athletes.
- Audio and Video Equipment Technician.
- Audio-Visual and Multimedia Collections Specialist.
- Library Assistant.
- Library Technician.
- Music Historian.