The Music major is a department within the College of Visual and Performing Arts .


Jazz Studies
Music Industry
Music Theatre
Music Education (Instrumental, Vocal)
Performance (Accompanying/Coaching, Instrumental, Vocal, Piano)

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Music is offered as a major and minor at JMU. The School of Music is strongly committed to the highest level of musical training. A significant emphasis is placed on developing professional level musicianship skills on both the undergraduate and graduate levels of study. The school is organized for the following purposes: to prepare students to teach vocal and/or instrumental music in public and private schools; to provide a specialization for students who wish to pursue music as a profession in performance, composition or higher education; to prepare students for opportunities and careers in the music business; to expose students to current technology used in the music field, such as computers, music instruction software, electronic devices and technologically advanced audio / visual equipment; and to provide for all students basic music study and opportunities for further musical growth, including preparation for graduate study. A concentration in Music Education prepares students to teach vocal or instrumental music in public schools. Students seeking teacher licensure must meet all the standards of the College of Education. The School of Music also offers minors in Music Industry and Jazz Studies. An audition is required to become a music major.

More About the Field 

Music has been an important part of the human psyche since beginning of documented history. Consider the pounding of primitive drums, the mesmerizing chants of our ancestors, the starkness of an electric guitar, or the beauty a flute concerto, all types of music has been and continues to be an integral part of the human experience throughout the world. Music inspires us, touches our emotions, soothes us to sleep, fuels us physically and nourishes our souls. It can’t be imagined what our world would be like without music, as such music is a necessity of life. A career in music, although competitive and consuming, can be immensely fulfilling. The major in music is demanding in many ways. An audition must be passed to enter, performance tests are given each semester of study to see that progress is sufficient, and much time is expected of majors in practicing their specialty and rehearsing in ensembles. Music theory is probably the most demanding course in the music major. Even so, it is a rewarding area of study, and the sense of accomplishment felt by music majors who apply themselves with dedication is great. Musicians are always challenged by demands to become better, more creative musicians.


The specializations in music generally follow concentrations in performance, teaching, the music industry, composition or combinations of these. The Performance emphasis is the most competitive and is often continued at the graduate level to gain more background. Teaching is multifaceted, offering elementary through college level possibilities in all areas of music. Theory and Composition is primarily done at the college level and requires an advanced degree. The Music Industry Emphasis offers an even greater variety of specialization, ranging from work in the broad area of the music business to entering graduate professional schools of business. Music Theatre is designed to prepare vocal music majors for the field of popular Broadway musical theatre performance as well as for careers in opera and operetta.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Music majors may pursue a second major but careful advising is necessary because the music curriculum is very demanding. Some possible minor combinations might include concentrations in Computer Science, Creative Writing, Dance, Film Studies, Gerontology, Human Science, Religion, or Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Successful characteristics for music majors begin with a high degree of skill development in voice or some instrument before attempting a major. This means nearly all of our students have been performing in one way or another for five or more years before college entrance.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Architectural Acoustic Consultant
  • Armed Forces Musician
  • Arts Administrator
  • Audio Engineer
  • Audio Visual Technician
  • Band Director
  • Banking Agent
  • Choir/ Choral Director
  • Church/ Synagogue Musician
  • Composer/ Arranger
  • Computer Music Researcher
  • Concert Manager
  • Conductor
  • Cruise Director
  • Disc Jockey
  • Editor
  • Entertainment Lawyer
  • Film Music Editor
  • Film/ Video Sound Designer
  • Freelance Musician
  • Instrument Restoration Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Assistant
  • Music Copyist
  • Music Critic
  • Music Department Head
  • Music Editor/ Producer
  • Music Industry Executive
  • Music Librarian
  • Music Promoter
  • Music Publishing Specialist
  • Music Salesperson
  • Music Software Programmer
  • Music Store Owner/ Manager
  • Music Teacher
  • Music Therapist
  • Musical Booking Agent
  • Navy Musician
  • Orchestra Education Manager
  • Orchestra Librarian
  • Orchestra Operations Manager
  • Performer
  • Professional Singer
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Recording/ Audio Engineer
  • Road Manager
  • Songwriter
  • Sound Mixer
  • Special Events Coordinator
  • Studio Musician
  • Symphony Project Manager
  • Synthesizer Specialist
  • Technical Arranger
  • Technical Communicator
  • Technical Writer
  • Theme Park Performer
  • USO Entertainment Assistant
  • Voice Teacher

Who Employs Graduates?

Amusement and Theme Parks, Armed Forces Bands and Orchestras, Children’s Theaters, Choirs, College & Universities, Commercial Theaters, Community Theaters, Conservatories, Clubs and Restaurants, Cruise Ships, Entertainment Firms, Industrial Shows, Instrument Manufacturers, Music Stores, Opera Productions, Production Companies, Public and Private Schools, Publishers, Radio Stations, Resorts, Rock or Jazz Bands, Record Companies, Show Groups, Symphony Orchestras, Television & Motion Picture Studios, and Touring Companies.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Practicum and internships are required in the Music Education and Music Industry curricula. The Performance concentration requires students to perform in a variety of settings on a regular basis. There are enormous opportunities for students who are or are not music majors. The following activities are open to all JMU students without an audition: Marching Royal Dukes, University Chorus, and Concert Band. The following is a listing of activities which are open to all JMU with audition or instructor permission: Brass Ensembles, Chamber Orchestra, Chorale, Clarinet Choir, Flute Choir, Guitar Ensemble, Horn Choir, Jazz Band, Jazz Chamber Ensembles, Jazz Ensemble, Madison Singers, Opera Theatre, Opera Theater Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, Piano Accompanying, String Ensembles, Symphony Orchestra, Trombone Choir, Trumpet Ensemble, Wind Symphony or Windwood Ensembles. The JMU Catalog provides a comprehensive listing of all musical and choral activities students are welcome to join. Students should contact the faculty coordinator of these areas for more information.  

View our list of  internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians
Directors – Stage, Motion Picture, Television
Musicians and Singers
Music Composers and Arrangers
Music Directors
Musicians, Instrumentals
A Day in the Life of a Music Executive

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to career@jmu.edu

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