Many schools offer fully online courses or certificate programs that can help students prepare for careers in the music industry or improve their skills as music educators. Distance education programs allow them to download lectures and course materials at any time, although there are deadlines for completing their assigned lessons. A computer with an up-to-date operating system and a high-speed Internet connection is a must, and students may need to download special software for recording and listening to music.
There are several majors that offer music courses, such as music education, music technology and music therapy. Online courses cover many areas of music training, including music theory, conducting and musical score analysis. Some schools say students must be enrolled in a degree program to take these courses. Courses usually require a semester to complete, and credits can often be applied to a degree program.
Certificate programs in music technology teach students to operate equipment and utilize software for recording production. In addition to learning to use Pro Tools production software, the program may include courses in music business principles such as artist marketing and concert promotion.
Music education certificate programs are designed for individuals who teach music in schools or through private lessons. They learn to incorporate technology into their lessons and explore multimedia strategies for teaching. Most programs require that students have at least a bachelor's degree.
Students may undertake distance learning coursework in music in order to update their professional credentials, pursue a music industry career or enhance their abilities as musical performers. Courses commonly available online cover music areas such as music theory, the history of music, global and non-western music, musical score analysis and conducting techniques. Most institutions award credits for individual music courses and may count them toward departmental degree requirements for students enrolled in certificate or degree programs at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
Prerequisites and Requirements
Students may need access to audio recording equipment in order to document performances for assignments. Some schools allow non-degree-seeking students to enroll in a course only if there are open slots after degree-seeking students have completed their enrollment period.
Many distance courses cover theoretical or cultural topics related to music. Possible topics include:
- Global music perspectives
- Music theory
- Musical experiences
- Musical score and form analysis
Certificate in Music Technology
Certificate programs in music technology prepare students to use the techniques and equipment employed in the commercial production of music, as well as the channels through which music products are commonly marketed and promoted. Programs may focus on industry merchandising, digital distribution, Pro Tools recording software, music publishing or concert promotion. Some certificate tracks may concentrate on audio technician training or media management and administration.
Coursework may survey popular music trends, recording artists, industry practices and relevant recording technology. Common topics include:
- Audio mixing
- Music marketing
- Music laws and contracts
- Music publishing
- Popular music survey
- Studio operations
Certificate in Music Education
Certificates in music education are pursued by elementary and secondary music teachers, private music educators and conductors. These programs may prepare students to use computer technology in music education, research in music education, multimedia teaching strategies, voice instruction and choral instruction. Additional instruction may cover cultivation of music literacy and construction of educational lesson plans.
Prerequisites and Requirements
Some programs require applicants to have a minimum level of music teaching experience. Transcript and GPA requirements may also apply.
Courses for music education certificates focus on improving music educators' pedagogical abilities and helping them to more effectively engage their students. Topics may include:
- Choral pedagogy
- Computer technology for music education
- Elementary-level music education
- Multimedia approaches to music education
- Research in music education
- Vocal pedagogy
Students with a certificate in music technology may pursue positions at music studios, record labels, marketing firms or other businesses. Possible titles include:
- Audio technician
- Concert promoter
- Film and video producer
- Music producer
- Studio engineer
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies conductors as a subset of musicians, singers and related workers (www.bls.gov). From 2014-2024, this general field was expected to see 3% growth in total employment.
In May 2015, the median annual wage for all music directors and composers was $49,820. At that time, most were employed by schools, religious organizations and performing arts companies.
Continuing Education Information
Related graduate degree programs may offer the Master of Music (M.M.) in Music Education or Music Therapy. Like the certificate programs, many of these degree programs can be completed entirely online.
Depending on a student's career focus, there are several online certificate programs available; aspiring producers can earn a certificate in music technology, while teachers can opt for a music education certificate program. There are also standalone courses in fundamental music concepts and graduate degree programs available online.