I just finished my masters degree. Over the past few months, I have been finalizing my graduation plans. And because that can be hard for music students, I thought I’d share my plans to give you some ideas.
Whether you’re finishing your bachelors degree or have reached ABD status as a doctoral student, you need graduation plans. That way, you won’t end up in a low-paying, boring, non-music job.
But before I share my plans, you should know this post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure policy.
What I Did After Undergrad
If you have read this blog for a while, you may know that I graduated with my bachelors of music in May 2017. I decided to take some time off after college instead of just jumping into a masters.
While I believe that was the right decision, I regret not having much of a plan for after school. I applied to teach at a couple of local music stores, but neither store hired me.
Since I’d been blogging for a few years, I also applied to some writing jobs. But nothing came through there either. So in July, I took a part-time job as a cashier at a local dry cleaner.
After a couple months, I left that job and started working full-time for a local/regional bank. That job was actually pretty good, but a year in, I decided I was ready to leave and get my masters in music.
What I’m Doing After My Masters
I knew going into grad school that I did not want to make the same mistake again. So I started researching potential music and/or writing jobs that I could start while in school.
I got a few freelance writing gigs, and managed to pay my way through my degree working part-time as a writer and private teacher. But now that I am officially done, part-time isn’t going to cut it.
A lot of musicians can feel like they hit a dead end after graduation. You go from weekly lessons, classes, and rehearsals to almost nothing at all. Add the pandemic, and it’s probably even worse.
Here are my graduation plans to hopefully give you some ideas if you just finished music school or will be finishing soon.
I plan to keep writing for my various freelance clients. As of now, that makes up the VAST majority of my income. I write for a few content marketing agencies, and I plan on combining them to make up most of my active income for the time being.
As much as I would love to teach, perform, and arrange/compose full-time, I know it can take time to get there. So until I do, I am totally fine with relying on outside work.
It can be easy to feel ashamed about not using your music degree. But when I work as a writer, I use a ton of skills I learned in music school. I have to balance multiple projects at once, meet deadlines, and communicate with editors.
Create Digital Products
Another thing I plan to keep doing (but do more) is create digital downloads for other busy musicians. As a busy musician myself, I don’t always have as much time to practice as I’d like.
I’ve already created the Busy Musician’s Planner that you can download and use in your daily life.
I also plan on making more detailed practice guides for flute players and teachers.
Arranging music is also something I’ve become more interested in over the past few months. I’ve started selling some arrangements here and on Sheet Music Plus, so you can download more sheet music to use yourself or with others.
I also have plans to design and sell printable quotes and stationery pages for musicians. Whether you want to add a new poster to your studio or send out more professional letters, stay tuned for those to come!
I also plan on teaching flute more in the new year. Of course, this means teaching private lessons, but I also offer performance checks for more advanced musicians who need some feedback.
I’ll also be creating courses and lessons that you can follow at your own pace. That way, I can teach more people and offer more affordable lessons than I can with private, live lessons.
Private teaching was one of my goals for my masters. However, I have since learned that I prefer teaching in ways other than just traditional lessons. If you’re coming to that same realization, it’s okay, and you have options.
Of course, my graduation plans include playing flute and piccolo. I’d love to offer online concerts or recordings. Online concerts have become very normal, and I think it can be a great option for after the pandemic.
I also want to record music, for myself (such as my arrangements) or for others. So if you’re looking for a flute or piccolo player for a remote recording, feel free to contact me!
While I may not have as much time to dedicate to practicing, it is something I want to keep up with. Even if you’re going to be a music teacher or work outside of music, don’t let your playing go. Plenty of people regret quitting music.
Other Graduation Plans
If you’re graduating from music school, you may be wondering what you should do next. Of course, you can get some ideas from my graduation plans. But you can also look for other ideas based on your goals.
Either way, please don’t make the mistake I did in 2017. Have a plan so that you can execute it and become a successful professional musician.
Many musicians go straight from one degree to the next. Whether you’re finishing a bachelors or masters, you can go on to get another degree. You can continue to learn and hone your skills, and many graduate programs offer assistantships that can help pay for school.
However, getting an advanced degree in music isn’t for everyone. If you don’t want to teach at a college, you probably shouldn’t get a doctoral degree.
And if you want to start making decent money, any graduate music program may not be for you. A graduate degree takes a lot of time, and you may not be able to work enough to make the money you want.
Teach in a Public School
Of course, you need to have a music education degree for this option. But if you want to teach general music or direct an ensemble, you should look for music teaching jobs.
You will need to pass all of your exams to qualify for a teaching license. And you may need to be flexible with where you teach since many schools don’t have a ton of music teacher positions.
But if you went to school for music education, teaching in a public school is a great option. You can get a good, stable job. And not a lot of musicians can say that.
Audition for Performance Gigs
I don’t know if any orchestras or bands are holding auditions during the pandemic. But if you’re reading this much later and things have opened up, it is an option.
It can be an expensive option because you may need to travel to different states and spend multiple days at an audition. If your goal is to perform in a professional orchestra, you’ll need to do a few auditions.
You’ll need to practice a lot before you start taking auditions. And even then, there’s no guarantee of success. But if you can get through an audition and are the best, you may just get a good performance job.
Are you graduating from music school soon? What are your graduation plans? Let me know!