Musicians and Singers

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Also known as:
Accompanist, Baritone, Bassoonist, Bugler, Cellist, Choir Member, Church Organist, Clarinetist, Concert Pianist, Concert Singer

Video transcript

Music is a universal form of self-expression. For many, the joy of performing more than makes up for the sacrifices the art demands. We generally refer to those who use instruments as musicians and those who use their voice as singers. An ear for music often shows up early in life. While vocal training for singers doesn't usually begin until the voice matures, musicians can start learning at a very young age.

Whether musician or singer, specializing in classical music usually requires formal training, such as studying with a master instructor or getting a college degree in music. Many of those pursuing a career in the pop genre, on the other hand, are self-taught. Musicians and singers spend as much time as possible practicing, but they need a great deal of skill, tenacity, and sometimes luck, to make enough money to live on.

Often, it's a talent for self-promotion, rather than musical ability that leads to success, because in this business, you need to be heard to be hired. It helps to have some financial and business training to handle the bookkeeping and records involved in being self-employed.

Most work comes through auditions. There's a great deal of competition for paid musical jobs, called gigs. Work tends to be scheduled for evenings, weekends, or holidays. Even the most gifted artists may need to have a day job to support their aspirations. They often share their skills as teachers.

But even those who've been able to build a financially viable career in music, the routine of practice, rehearsals, and performances never ends. The road to becoming a success is long and arduous, and only the most dedicated earn a place at center stage.


Play one or more musical instruments or sing. May perform on stage, for broadcasting, or for sound or video recording.

Daily tasks

Audition for orchestras, bands, or other musical groups.

Make or participate in recordings.

Make or participate in recordings in music studios.

Promote their own or their group's music by participating in media interviews and other activities.

Play from memory or by following scores.

Play musical instruments as soloists, or as members or guest artists of musical groups such as orchestras, ensembles, or bands.

Provide the musical background for live shows, such as ballets, operas, musical theatre, and cabarets.

Practice singing exercises and study with vocal coaches to develop voice and skills and to rehearse for upcoming roles.

Seek out and learn new music suitable for live performance or recording.

Specialize in playing a specific family of instruments or a particular type of music.

Teach music for specific instruments.

Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
Fine Arts Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Foreign Language Knowledge of the structure and content of a foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
Communications and Media Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Philosophy and Theology Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.