How to become a Musician

Musicians write, arrange, orchestrate, perform, record and conduct musical compositions. A musician may perform a variety of tasks depending on their area of specialisation.

Personal requirements of a Musician

  • Musical skills
  • Stamina to perform at peak level
  • Self-confidence, motivation, dedication and determination
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to concentrate for long periods
  • Mastery of one or more styles of music such as classical, jazz or pop
  • Flair for entertainment

Education & Training for a Musician

To become a musician you usually have to complete formal training in a chosen musical field, although some musicians are self-taught. You may like to consider a VET qualification. Applicants may be required to attend an audition, interview or musicianship/music proficiency theory test. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Alternatively, you can become a musician by studying music at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and music are normally required. Applicants may also be required to attend an audition, interview or musicianship/music proficiency theory test. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Musician

Musicians:

  • study and rehearse musical scores prior to performances
  • play music in recitals as an accompanist or as a member of an orchestra, band or other musical group, from score or by memory
  • make recordings for sale or promotion on compact disc or online
  • create accompanying videos for the music
  • provide musical backing for television commercials, popular recordings, radio, television or film productions
  • improvise, transpose, compose or arrange music
  • play under the direction of a conductor.

Working conditions for a Musician

Musicians must be prepared to work irregular hours and spend long periods in practice and rehearsal. Some musicians work in areas unrelated to music to support themselves. Many professional musicians with experience in all styles combine music performance and music teaching careers in Australia.

Employment Opportunities for a Musician

Musicians work in a number of different areas. Many are self-employed or are engaged through agents. They may become music or singing teachers and set up their own practice or be appointed to the staff of a primary or secondary school, conservatorium, private music school or university. There are also careers available with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commercial radio and television stations and the Australian Defence Force, as well as in music librarianship, arts administration, music journalism, music and instrument sales, music and record publishing, music direction and musicological research. Employment for musicians may be affected by the level of government funding available, particularly for orchestras and opera companies. The level of activity in the hospitality industry may also affect employment opportunities.

Specialisations:


Music Critic

A music critic is employed by media publishers to report on the performing arts. Local areas usually have part-time critics who report regularly on performances and visiting artists in the local media.


Musicologist

A musicologist interprets musical history and style. They generally work as lecturers.

Future growth:

Stable

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 0.6%

NSW NSW 49.6%

NT NT 1.1%

QLD QLD 24.8%

SA SA 1.6%

TAS TAS 2.9%

VIC VIC 17.9%

WA WA 1.5%

Hours worked:

39

Unemployment:

Higher unemployment

Gender split:

Male 62.4%

Female 37.6%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 25.6%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 15.4%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 43.6%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 15.4%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 3.1%

20-24 - 7.6%

25-34 - 28.1%

35-44 - 16.3%

45-54 - 28.9%

55-59 - 7.3%

60-64 - 3.3%

65 and Over - 5.4%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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