When you’re dedicated to music – as a craft, a career, and a passion – it can be extremely disheartening to be told you’ll never “make it” without a degree. If you’ve heard that message before, don’t fret! There’s a lot of naysaying out there, but you don’t need a music degree to do a lot of things that can move you forward in your musical endeavors.

Here are 5 times when many people think you need a music degree, but actually, you don’t.

1. Learning In-Depth about the Craft of Music

Learning about music as an industry, a craft, and a skill that must continually be honed and improved upon isn’t exclusive to the halls and sound-proof practice rooms of colleges and universities. “Self-taught” is a more and more commonly-claimed title for musicians these days, and those who claim it do so with a lot of pride.

Becoming a self-taught musician is all about immersing yourself in the craft you’re trying to learn: hanging out with musical people, doing musical things, working on musical projects, or reading musical books. Fully immersing yourself in the subject matter allows you to get a 360-degree view of the topic without the need for a formal degree course.

2. Getting a Job in the Music Industry

If you really want a job in the music industry but getting a degree isn’t an option for you right now, don’t let that stop your dreams. Create your own career ladder. Start out at a local record or instrument shop. Volunteer with music festivals that come through your city (or travel and volunteer if your hometown isn’t a big market for festivals). Take an unpaid internship with a music label. It may not pay in cash, but the experience, learning opportunities, and connections you’ll make can be worth much more than a college education.

3. Improving Your Skills as a Musician

Becoming a better musician isn’t all about sitting in the classroom and studying theory. A lot of what we focus on here at Musical U is practical application of music theories and learning how to sing and play better without a “formal” education.

They say that practice makes perfect, but the real magic happens when you combine continued practice with continued learning. Whether you take private lessons at a local music shop or learn online through mentors, digital lessons, or musical communities like ours, pairing new techniques with practice will help take you to the next level as an artist. No cap and gown required.

4. Helping Others Improve Their Skills as Musicians

If you have a natural or learned skillset (or a little bit of both!) in anything, you have the ability to teach. Maybe you are happy with your own musical talent and want to give back to others, but are worried about not being taken seriously without a degree. You can apply to be a judge at local music contests that your school district puts on or just volunteer to teach your friends how to play. You could also upload videos online to help people learn the basics from the comfort of their home.

5. Making Beautiful Music

Continuing to make and participate in beautiful music, thankfully, will never require a degree. Hum the melodies that come into your mind and play the chords that make your heart sing. Collaborate with other musicians and bring your unique sounds together to create something that didn’t exist before. People get caught up in worrying about credentials far too often. When it comes down to it, the only prerequisites for making meaningful music are creativity and dedication.


How do you bust the myth of needing a music degree to work toward your musical dreams? Share in the comments!