How to Balance Work and Music School

One of my biggest regrets from undergrad is not working and building my career while in school. Now that I’m in my masters, I won’t be making that mistake again. So that means figuring out how to balance work and music school.

Hannah B Flute | How to Balance Work and Music School

I’ll admit that it isn’t easy. If you have a full school schedule and a work schedule on top of that, you may need superpowers to get everything done.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t balance work and music school, though. Here are some of my tips and tricks for making it work!

Why Work in Music School

There are many reasons why you may need or want to work in music school. Whether your financial aid doesn’t cover all of your costs or you just want the experience, working in music school can be a good thing.

Here are some reasons for working in music school. But no matter your reasoning, just know you will need to figure out how to balance work and music school.

Earn money

I think we can all say we want to earn some extra cash. College is expensive, instruments are expensive, and sheet music is (you guessed it) expensive.

Any money you can make while in college is a good thing. You won’t have to take out as many loans, and you also won’t have to live on the strictest budget known to man.

Build experience

Whether you luck into a music job or not, you’ll gain some valuable experience at your job. If you get a job teaching music lessons or performing, you can put that experience on your resume.

That could help you get jobs after you graduate.

And even if your only option is to work at the local mall, that’s still more than some students have.

Out of your bubble

I don’t know about you, but I know if all I had going on was music school, I’d go crazy. Knowing how to balance work and music school can prepare you for life after college.

Because most musicians have to juggle teaching, performing, and other income streams.

The transition from student to professional won’t be as shocking if you already have some work experience.

How to Balance Work and Music School

In many cases, working in music school is a choice. But whether you work out of desire or necessity, you need to know how to balance work and music school.

Ideally, your job wouldn’t take away from your studies too much. Your job should be flexible enough for you to pursue both to the fullest.

In my case, I work as a freelance writer/editor and private music teacher. For writing and editing, I can do that work whenever and wherever as long as I finish a project before the deadline.

And as a private teacher, I set my own schedule and availability.

But your situation will probably be different. Here are some things to consider when learning how to balance work and music school.

Find the right job

We’re all different, so there’s no one right job for all music school students. Instead, you have to find the right job for you.

That could be an on-campus job either for the music department or elsewhere. A huge benefit to on-campus jobs is that they know and understand you’re a student.

Those jobs usually will be more willing to work around your schedule as a student.

But if working on campus isn’t an option, you can work off campus. You could teach private lessons, perform as a soloist or in a group, or do some other music job.

Piano students could play for other music students for their juries or recitals.

Still, you may have to take a non-music job. And don’t be ashamed if that’s you.

If you have to work a non-music job off campus, find one that understands your schedule and can work with you.

Consider your priorities

I’m not going to tell you what should be your first priority (hint, it’s your health), but I do think you have to decide what should come first: work or school.

Part of knowing how to balance work and music school is knowing when to put one on the back burner in favor of the other. Ideally, you would be able to take time off work to focus on music school.

But if you have to maintain an income, that might not be an option.

So think of what you can let slip: that could be social activities, or you could lower your academic load.

Know your limits

Some people seem to be able to go, go, go for days with no downtime. I am not one of those people. Every day, I need a good eight hours of sleep as well as some relaxation time while I’m awake.

I don’t like to be out too late if I can avoid it, so those late night gigs aren’t for me.

But your limits will probably differ from mine. Maybe you need a full day of nothing each week. Or perhaps you prefer to stay out late and sleep in.

Decide on what is best for you and know when to say no if something pushes your limits.

Set boundaries

Once you figure out how much you can handle, it’s time to set some boundaries. You could do this by turning off your computer at a certain time or not responding to emails after dinner.

Maybe you have to say no to weeknight gigs so you can rest up for school.

Or perhaps you can only work on the weekends.

Still, maybe you want a packed schedule during the week so you can save your weekend for personal stuff.

Weekends are your friend

Speaking of weekends, if you want to balance work and music school, you should be willing to work on the weekends.

Saturdays and Sundays are usually the best days for music school students to work. You don’t have rehearsals or classes to worry about.

And while you may have the occasional weekend concert, most weekends will only involve practicing.

Of course, you should take some time for yourself on the weekends, your days off school are the perfect opportunity to work.


Do you work as a music student? How do you balance work and music school? Leave your tips in the comments!


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