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Classical musician

Alternative titles for this job include

Classical musicians, conductors and singers perform music in concert, or on film, TV, or radio recordings.

Average salary (a year)


Typical hours (a week)

34 to 36 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a classical musician

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations


You'll need a high level of musical skill and talent. To develop these skills, you could get a degree or postgraduate award in:

  • classical music
  • music composition
  • music performance

You could train at a university or a performance-led higher education institution known as a conservatoire. You'll usually specialise in one main instrument and study a second instrument.

Some music degrees focus more on music theory than performance, so research the courses carefully to make sure they're right for you.

At audition you'll usually be asked to perform several pieces of music of different styles. You'll also need to be able to talk at interview about your your artistic influences and your musical career aims.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels including music, or equivalent qualifications
  • grade 8 in your main instrument
  • to pass an audition
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

Direct Application

To apply directly to work as a classical musician you'll usually need to have:

  • learned at least one instrument from an early age
  • taken graded music exams
  • studied music theory

Other Routes

Many musicians start learning an instrument from an early age with a private music teacher or training provider.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music offers qualifications and graded music exams.

There are opportunities to train as a musician in the armed forces. You can find out more from:

More Information

Career tips

You should get as much experience as you can of performing in public. You could do this by joining a youth or community orchestra, and by entering competitions.

The BBC Introducing programme could be a way to get your music heard on the radio, if you're an unsigned musician.

It's common for musicians to showcase their music on networking websites, social media or send a demo to recording companies. The Musicians' Union has more details on how to promote yourself.


Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Musicians' Union or the Incorporated Society of Musicians for access to training, events and networking opportunities.

Further information

You can get more advice about working in music from the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • active listening skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • persistence and determination
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you may:

  • learn and rehearse music pieces
  • look after your voice and instrument
  • set up your instrument before performances
  • perform in front of an audience
  • prepare for and attend auditions

Working environment

You could work in a theatre, at a music venue or at a recording studio.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

Many classical musicians are self-employed freelancers.

With experience, you could progress in an orchestra to principal player or section leader. You could move into conducting, or start your own ensemble.

There are opportunities to teach in schools, colleges and universities or to do academic research.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a classical musician right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England


  • Start date: 01 September 2022
  • Location: CROYDON

Diploma in Commercial Music

  • Start date: 05 September 2022
  • Location: Bridgwater

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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