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Musician And Singer Career

Career Description

A Musician plays one or more musical instruments. Many musicians learn to play several related instruments and can perform equally well in several musical styles. Instrumental musicians, for example, may play in a symphony orchestra, rock group, or jazz combo one night, appear in another ensemble the next, and work in a studio band the following day. Some play a variety of string, brass, woodwind, or percussion instruments or electronic synthesizers.

A Singer interprets music and text, using their knowledge of voice production, melody, and harmony. They sing character parts or perform in their own individual style. Singers are often classified according to their voice range—soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, or bass, for example—or by the type of music they sing, such as rock, pop, folk, opera, rap, or country.

Common Work Tasks

  • Use gestures to shape the music being played,  communicating desired tempo, phrasing, tone, color, pitch, volume, and other performance aspects
  • Direct groups at rehearsals and live or recorded performances in order to achieve desired effects such as tonal and harmonic balance dynamics, rhythm, and tempo
  • Plan and schedule rehearsals and performances,  and arrange details such as locations, accompanists, and instrumentalists
  • Consider such factors as ensemble size and abilities, availability of scores, and the need for musical variety, in order to select music to be performed
  • Study scores to learn the music in detail, and to develop interpretations
  • Produce recordings of music
  • Audition and select performers for musical presentations
  • Transcribe musical compositions and melodic lines to adapt them to a particular group, or to create a particular musical style
  • Meet with soloists and concertmasters to discuss and prepare for performances
  • Stay abreast of the latest trends in music and music technology

Other Job Titles

Musicians are also known by other titles, including:

  • Soloists
  • Composers
  • Talent Directors
  • Music Arrangers

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  Musicians need extensive and prolonged training and practice to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to interpret music at a professional level. Like other artists, musicians and singers continually strive to improve their abilities.  Formal training may be obtained through private study with an accomplished musician, in a college or university music program, or in a music conservatory.  An audition generally is necessary to qualify for university or conservatory study.

  Aspiring musicians begin studying an instrument at an early age. They may gain valuable experience playing in a school or community band or an orchestra or with a group of friends. Singers usually start training when their voices mature.  Participation in school musicals or choirs often provides good early training and experience. Musicians should have musical talent, versatility, creativity,  poise, and a good stage presence. Self-discipline is vital because producing a quality performance on a consistent basis requires constant study and practice.  Musicians who play in concerts or in nightclubs and those who tour must have physical stamina to endure frequent travel and an irregular performance schedule. Musicians and singers also must be prepared to face the anxiety of intermittent employment and of rejection when auditioning for work.


The median salary for a Musician is $20/hour. The top 10 percent earn more than $58/hour, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $7/hour. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of musicians and singers are:

  • Performing Arts Companies - $29.63/hour
  • Religious Organizations - $19.59/hour
  • Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events - $31.56/hour
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers – N/A
  • Amusement Parks and Arcades- $19.43/hour

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  10%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 20,000
  • Employment 2006 : 196,000
  • Employment 2016:  216,000
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