What motivates you to play an instrument or sing? Does making music feed your soul? Do you dream of being a professional musician one day? Or maybe you know about the cognitive, academic, and social emotional benefits of music?
Whatever the reason, we have good news: Studying music helps prepare you for a successful career—whatever that career may be. Let’s explore 7 ways that musical instruction can successfully impact any career.
You’ve supercharged your brain.
First, we need to talk about the science. Studies show that learning music increases brain power and functionality, improves math and language skills, and boosts short- and long-term memory. There’s no career in which a strong brain won’t benefit you!
Musicians spend hours upon hours practicing reaching a goal set by your teacher, ensemble director or, often, yourself. You might be trying to hit a certain note or fine-tune a new piece, but—whether you know it or not—you’re also learning how to set goals and achieve them. Being goal-oriented and willing to put in the hard work to reach those goals is something that will benefit you in any industry and impress any manager.
You’re a life-long learner.
Musicians are always striving to be “better”. You hit your initial goal, but now you’ve set a new goal and are already planning out the steps to achieve it.
“Learning how to teach myself was 100% instrumental,” Merit alum, tubist, and corporate account manager for HP, Boz Bell, shared in an interview discussing how his musical training supported a successful career shift into business. Picking up on nuances while playing and seeking opportunities to play with friends and share critical feedback with each other are experiences that set Boz up to be a life-long learner.
You have an eye for detail.
You know it’s the small things that make all the difference—a small correction to rhythm, pitch, or a hand adjustment can make a BIG impact.
After countless hours spent refining your musical skills, you’ve become more detail-oriented, and this useful skill extends to other areas of your life as well. You can be trusted to produce high-quality work and you approach tasks methodically in order to consistently reach your own high expectations. You might find that your coworkers and peers come to you when they need to be sure an important project is in tip-top shape.
Meredith Barber, Vice President for Development & Marketing at Merit and former opera singer, shares: “Studying music arms you with skills that you may not even realize are valuable outside of the practice room or concert hall. When I first started in business, the hiring manager at a major financial firm told me they tend to hire folks with music backgrounds—they know they can count on our work ethic and attention to detail!”
You have presentation skills.
After performing in front of your classmates and audiences, small and large, you know how to get up in front of a crowd. This experience translates into strengthened presentation skills and the ability to speak off-the-cuff. Don’t doubt yourself if you still get nervous (professional musicians and CEOs do too!)—just remind yourself that you’ve done this countless times before.
You know how to ask for help.
Knowing when to ask for help and not being afraid to do it is a life skill a lot of people struggle with. It can be intimidating—but not for you. You know the value of getting help from the experts in order to grow and reach your goals.
Working with private teachers, ensemble directors, masterclass artists, and your peers didn’t only make you a great musician, it also taught you how to take advice or constructive criticism and quickly apply it.
Every musician has been in a situation when something doesn’t go as planned. Maybe your string breaks or you need to change your rhythm on the fly to keep pace with your fellow performers.
In summary, no matter what career you go into, you’re going to be prepared to do it well. And, best of all, you’ll always have your music.
BONUS TIP! Don’t forget to share your music background when applying and interviewing for jobs. Giving concrete examples of the life skills music has taught you is sure to have an impact on hiring managers.