Top music schools which offer a clear route to the heart of the industry

Success in the modern music industry isn’t as difficult as many people think. For the tens of thousands of new music graduates entering the industry each year, there are plenty of employment opportunities to suceed. Some play in orchestras and ensembles, others work for major music firms, while others work with the latest music technologies, and those are just a fraction of what’s on offer.

Others choose to work in fields such as marketing, broadcasting and publishing, and students always have the choice to remain in the field of education – whether as students, researchers or teachers, where they will be able to continue playing and being directly involved in music after graduation.

That’s the dream for most sudents, to find employment doing what they love at the heart of the music industry, whether is playing with an orchestra, working in a studio, or even recording some of their own work. And, often, success comes down to choosing a good music school. If you dream of working at the core of the industry, here are four key points to look for when searching for the right music school:

Contemporary is key

Not only should the modern music school provide industry standard music studios and cutting-edge equipment, it should also have a firm focus on the latest trends in the music industry. For the modern music graduate, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the latest developments in how we play, produce and consume music.


Image courtesy of Edinburgh Napier University


While it is important to understand the history and origins of music, grasping how these apply to today’s music industry is an essential skill for graduates breaking into the industry.

The right connections

Those who succeed in the music industry are often those who make the right connections during university or college. A good music school will create an environment where you have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with experienced musicians and industry experts.

Classes should be taught by experienced academics with long-standing links to the local music scene, while students should get hands-on interaction with working professionals at every opportunity.

It’s all about the music

The best music schools are often those that do everything they can to help its graduates succeed at the heart of the industry. Schools and departments should cover all genres and be committed to producing the best performers, composers and researchers of tomorrow.

Schools should provide the one-to-one attention that will allow budding musicians to flourish, and be committed to their further development long after graduation.

Location, location, location


Musicians playing in the street in Santa Cruz, California. Image via Wikipedia


Faculty, facilities and modernity are all essential in a top music school, but often it is location that makes the difference between a good graduate and a great graduate.  From the artistic street festivals of Edinburgh, Scotland, to the rich musical culture of California, USA, students should choose a location where they can be sure of a lively music and artistic scene that will allow them to collaborate, to learn, and to grow.

Choosing the right music school can hinge on a variety of preferences, from your chosen instrument or genre to your preferred career path and location. Here are five music schools in the UK and US that offer a diverse range of programs and will place you at the heart of the industry after graduation:


Located in Scotland’s beautiful and historic capital, Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Arts & Creative Industries offers budding musicians an excellent range of undergraduate and postgraduate education options.

Edinburgh Napier places a firm focus on creativity and community while delivering a contemporary music education. All programs look at music and the industry from a contemporary standpoint, emphasizing what is happening in performance, composition, and the music industry today over the abstract study of music’s past.


Image courtesy of Edinburgh Napier University


The School offers a number of full-time undergraduate programs for young musicians, including the BA (Hons) Music (Popular), the BMus (Hons) Music, and the BSc (Hons) Sound Design. Students also benefit from the schools excellent graduate outcomes, as for example, 100% of BMus students and 90% of BSc students are employed or in further study within six months of graduating (Unistats).

Edinburgh Napier prides itself on excellent employment rates among graduates, with many going on to work at the heart of the industry in Scotland, the UK, and beyond. Edinburgh Napier music students are regularly awarded or shortlisted for national and international prizes.

Students also get to experience Scotland’s most vibrant and artistic city. Home to a number of major festivals – including the famous Fringe – Edinburgh is an ideal study destination for musicians and other artists looking to study, collaborate and work with likeminded people.


Founded in 1917, Manhattan School of Music (MSM) has been offering degrees in classical and jazz performance and composition at bachelors, masters and doctoral levels for almost a century.

If you want to study music in the US, this is one of the most enviable places to do so, placing you right at the heart of New York’s arts and music scene. Some of the world’s finest musicians have taught and studied here, and the school continues to pride itself on creating a nurturing and supportive environment for its 950 undergraduate and postgraduate students.


A long-time pioneer of the arts in Canada, the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto (UofT) provides a wide selection of innovative performance and academic programs at the undergraduate, postgraduate and professional levels.


Image courtesy of University of Toronto Faculty of Music


Students can choose between courses in performance (Classical and Jazz), education, composition, history, theory, and world music. These are complemented by more innovative offerings such as music technology and music and health, creating a unique blend of the traditional and the modern.

Students at UofT Music are taught by the very best, with faculty coming from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, National Ballet of Canada and a number of other arts organizations.


The School of Music at Bangor University in Wales is renowned for the variety of options available to music students at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Budding musicians can choose from more than 100 modules to create a crafted education experience that sets them on the right path. The school offers two single honours programs at undergraduate level, as well as a number of joint honours options.

At postgraduate level the School of Music offers a number of taught Masters courses, and has a long-established international reputation for research in all areas of musical study. The performance of music is central to life at Bangor University’s School of Music, with students always encouraged to do what they love the most.


Image via Unsplash



Founded in 1884, the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California is consistently ranked among the top music schools in the US. The Thornton School divides its programs into three broad areas – Classical Performance and Composition, Contemporary Music, and Scholarly and Professional Studies.

It is particularly well known for its programs in orchestral studies, opera, jazz, early music, and composition.

Graduates go on to work at the very heart of the music industry, finding positions with orchestras, ensembles, recording studios and music industry firms around the world.

Feature image via Unsplash

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