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Music Directors, also known as conductors, lead musical groups such as orchestras and choirs. They select music to perform, arrange performances and work with musicians to ensure that they perform well. They lead rehearsals and performances. They are often also responsible for many of the administrative details of leading the musical group. Music Directors work with a variety of different types of musical groups, including school bands, church choirs, youth orchestras, and performance companies, or may even work for a television or radio show.

Job growth for Music Directors is slower than the national average, as there is tough competition for a relatively small number of jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth of 3 percent in jobs for Music Directors and Composers by 2024.

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Music Director Duties and Responsibilities

To accomplish their primary goal of leading a musical group, Music Directors perform many tasks. We analyzed several job listings to identify these core Music Director duties and responsibilities.

Plan Performance Schedule

The Music Director coordinates and schedules all performances for their musical group. In cooperation with the organization for which they work, they develop calendar and coordinate with the appropriate contacts to plan and schedule performances. In the case of a Music Director for a radio station or television show, they coordinate music interviews and set up live performances for the show.

Select Music

Music Directors select and plan the specific music that the group or show will perform. They collaborate with the church, school, or creative team leaders to choose the appropriate music, and establish the right sound for any given production or performance. They also work to fully utilize the talents and skills of all members of their group to best display their abilities. Music Directors that work for a school or education organization plan activities and assignments to meet the overall learning outcomes of the course. Music Director of radio stations choose the music to be played during the show.

Rehearse and Train

Music Directors work with their musical groups to improve their skills and prepare for performances. They may teach courses to students, conduct one on one practice, and lead group rehearsals.

Lead Performances

Music Directors conduct live and recorded performances. They may also accompany these performances with an instrument of their own. Music Directors are often the public face of a music group and get recognition for the group's accomplishments.

Music Director Skills

Well organized and a strong leader, a successful Music Director is creative, tenacious and dependable. They have excellent interpersonal skill and shine in front of a crowd. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Music Director candidates with the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Music Directors with these core skills. If you want to work as a Music Director, focus on the following.
  • Experience programming and hosting music programs
  • Announcing experience, with clear annunciation
  • In-depth knowledge of music
  • Ability to use computers
  • Ability to effectively recruit, train and lead musicians

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Music Director toolbox and broaden your career options.
  • Proficient in at least one performance area, such as keyboard, organ, choral or voice
  • Willingness to travel and availability of reliable transportation
  • Experience in vocational church worship leadership

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Music Director Resources

We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Music Director. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.

On the Web

The Art of the Conductor

Conductor and Broadcaster Paul Robinson gives insight into the world of Classical Music directing.

Unity Worldwide Ministries

Links to many useful resources for church Music Directors.

Industry Groups

Conductors Guild

Provides scholarly articles, news updates, mentoring programs and job listings for musical conductors.

College Orchestra Directors Association

Offers resources and networking opportunities for Music Directors of university orchestras.

Music Director Books

The Creative Director: Conductor, Teacher, Leader

Provides insight into the practicalities and philosophies of directing music.

The Instrumental Music Director's Guide to Comprehensive Program Development

A helpful guide with useful solutions to many of the problems that Music Directors face.

Habits of a Successful Band Director: Pitfalls and Solutions

A howto guide for those interested in beginning a career as a Band Director.

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