music conducting Degrees

Majoring in music allows conductors to learn the skills needed to become proficient at their craft. Music conducting involves learning to interpret musical scores in a symphony. The conductor will learn how to read music in various languages, understand the music on a deeper level and lead the orchestra through rehearsals and live performances of that interpretation. The conductor uses gestures and hand signals to instruct the musicians during the performance.

Each conductor will lead their musicians in an entirely personal way so that the same music can sound different depending on the conductor. The conductor makes his or her own adjustments to the piece and relays those changes to the musicians.

Before a performance, the conductor will spend many hours with musicians at rehearsals to be sure the entire orchestra plays the piece perfectly. The conductor must understand every instrument and musician in his or her orchestra. The conductor is the connection between the music, the musicians individually and the group as a whole.

Conductors can play classical pieces of music and interpret them in their own way for the enjoyment of an audience. They can compose their own pieces and translate that knowledge into a performance piece that can be played in musicals, plays, movies and television platforms. Conductors have the chance to win awards for their work in various genres. They don't have to conduct musicians playing classical works, but they can compose contemporary performances too.

Students considering a music conducting education should ensure that the school is accredited through the National Association of Schools of Music. Many schools only accept a limited number of students to their degree programs for music conducting. The student should keep this in mind when thinking about future training.

Master of Music Degree

Choral, Orchestral or Wind

The student must have taken courses in conducting as well as have experience in conducting and performing within an orchestra. The Master of Music Degree requires two years of study beyond the basic undergraduate courses, which are essential to being admitted to a Master's program. Students are required to audition for a space in the music program. Each school has their own audition dates and requirements for enrollment.

Students will graduate with knowledge in performance and conducting a professional orchestra at an advanced level. They will have deeper knowledge of historical and theoretical interpretations of various musical styles. Students will leave with an advanced ability to write and speak clearly in oral presentations and teaching environments.

Example of Courses Taken

  • Choral Conducting

  • Applied Music

  • Analytic Techniques

  • Music History and Literature

  • Advanced Instrumental Conducting

  • Piano Pedagogy

  • Musicology

Potential Careers

  • Conductor

  • Teacher

  • Performers

  • Composers

Doctor of Musical Arts

Students must have completed undergraduate work, but students have to take proficiency exams before acceptance into the program. There are a limited number of students accepted each year.


  • Music Research Techniques

  • Musicology or Music Theory

  • Choral Conducting

  • Orchestral Conducting

Doctoral candidates must take either the dissertation track or the conducting track. In the dissertation track, the student must provide a dissertation and conduct a recital based on the dissertation. The student will work closely with faculty and advisers who will grade them on the performance of the piece and the research dissertation provided. In the conducting track, the student must lead at least three performances or concerts, provide supporting material for the concerts and give lectures on the performance prior to the concert.

Potential Careers

  • Professor at a college or university level

  • Conductor

  • Performer

  • Music Technologist