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Degree Overview: Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) Degree in Music Performance

Majors Overview March 28, 2014

Those interested in an associate’s degree in Music Performance have a variety of options. Common specializations include music business and music performance.

Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) Degree Programs in Music Performance

Students enrolled in an associate’s degree program in Music Performance are usually provided with a foundation for continuing education by earning a baccalaureate degree. Students are trained in music performance, composition, history and theory. The National Association of Schools of Music accredits degree programs in the field.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a high school diploma; incoming students to Music Performance programs are generally expected to have a background in music, with some keyboarding and note-reading skills. Students enrolled in most programs are required to pass a keyboarding test and written exam, in addition to completing an audition in a performance area of their preference, before they are admitted to the program.


Coursework is aimed at expanding a student’s knowledge of music styles. In addition to being taught to read and write music, students are also imparted information about their music and about different cultures. Participation in performances or workshops may also be included. Coursework combines general education classes in various topics, including the basic sciences, history and English, in addition to music-related coursework on topic areas such as:

•Ensemble performances
•Aural music
•Music theory

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 10% has been projected for singers and musicians during the decade from 2010 to 2020 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). This field is expected to be extremely competitive with the best prospects likely to be enjoyed by outstandingly talented musicians and singers. In May 2012, singers and musicians earned an average hourly wage of $23.50.

Continuing Education

Graduates often choose to continue education by earning a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Music Performance. Others may opt for continued training from private trainers in their performance area.

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