music degree
An innovative music education that prepares students for diverse careers. Source: Shutterstock

In this era of employability, where students are enticed by the prospect of practical experience that will allow them to survive in the real world, degree programmes are getting a makeover.

More universities are innovating their degrees, offering more opportunities to develop business expertise or technical education so students benefit from the optimum balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience.

And this shift is not limited to business degrees or STEM fields; Northumbria University in the UK has recently announced that it will soon be offering a “brand-new music degree” with a focus on employability.

According to a statement, “A brand-new music degree, which will give aspiring musicians the skills they need to succeed, will launch at Northumbria University, in Newcastle upon Tyne, in September next year.

“The programme offered by Northumbria is designed to allow access to Music in higher education to pupils who have not had opportunities to develop their passion at school, through the provision of a Foundation Year option.”

Interest in pursuing music education at university has recently declined in the country, with many music schools and degree programmes shutting down due to the lack of focus on music subjects in the English Baccalaureate programme, although the Department for Education has promised to reform music education in the UK next year.

Arming music students with the right tools for success in an increasingly competitive world, the programme will also incorporate training for apsiring instrumental and vocal teachers.

This is alongside traditional modules such as music history, theory and harmony, and performance – including one-to-one instrument or vocal tuition.

The statement reads, “In addition, they will include the business-related skills students need to forge successful careers as freelance musicians, such as tax and finance, contract management, copyright, and promotion and marketing.

“Working with Northumbria’s education department and the music hubs in the area, course leaders have designed modules in instrumental/vocal teaching that are embedded within the BA (Hons) Music degree at all levels.”

Students will also receive access to the Literary and Philosophical Society’s (Lit & Phil’s) historical library, as well as learning and performance spaces at Newcastle Cathedral which has a close relationship with the university.

The new Foundation Year and BA (Hons) Music degrees will be led by Northumbria University’s Founding Head of Music, Professor David J Smith, former Head of Music and Master of Chapel and Ceremonial Music at Aberdeen University.

Professor Smith said, “Northumbria’s new music degree has been created to meet the current need for creative graduates. Pressures faced by schools mean opportunities to study Music at A-level are disappearing.

“We are therefore aiming to do something different with our Foundation Year degree and reach out to those school pupils who might not have had the opportunity to study Music A Level but who are still passionate about pursuing a career in the subject.

“What makes our Foundation and BA (Hons) degrees distinctive is the way we prepare our students for their real-life work as musicians. In addition to performing and musicological studies, students will also learn how to teach their instrument and how to manage in their career as musicians and musical entrepreneurs.”

How a music degree can pave career paths

Receiving an education in music, particularly from Northumbria’s programme, can set you up for a varied career.

The music industry is growing steadily with the influx of technology and media, and there are many avenues for music students today.

According to Prospects UK,” There are many options open to you as a music graduate and you can choose to work in a range of professions inside and outside music.

“Having a portfolio career is quite common if you follow a music career and you may end up working on both a freelance and contract basis. For example, you could combine teaching with freelance performance work, as well as doing contract/session work on particular projects.”

Besides careers where a music degree is directly related, such as musician, sound engineer, or music teacher, you could also work in jobs like arts administrator, broadcast engineer, radio producer, theatre stage manager, and even marketing executive.

There’s never been a better time to pursue an education or career in music or the creative arts, as there’s been a notable shift in valuing the skills and mindset this type of degree instils.

As Prospects UK explains, “The UK music industry offers an array of job opportunities for those with passion, talent, tenacity and drive. Year-on-year the sector continues to grow – the latest music industry figures suggest it employed around 142,208 people and generated £4.4billion for the UK economy. If you want a career in music there’s never been a better time to turn your dream into reality.”

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