Music degrees and earning power

12th October 2010 | Daily Life, Musings | 0 comments

Bemused by all the talk about university degrees and their supposed link to salaries. Lord Browne’s report seems to assume that if you go to university you will inevitably have more earning power than non-graduates in the years ahead. In the performing arts, however, I have never found that my university degree has the least influence on concert fees. No concert promoter has ever asked me whether I have a degree, no audition was ever dependent on my having a degree, and having one has never enabled me to negotiate higher wages. The same is true of all my friends who went from university into the arts – music, theatre, painting, craft work, creative writing.

I probably use the analytical skills and the historical awareness I learned in my degree course every single day, and arguably I’m a better musician because of those skills, but a degree has been irrelevant to my earning power, such as it is. For years after graduating I made barely more than I had as a student, and in the world of chamber music the financial outlook has never been rosy. For many of us in the freelance world there is no link between a degree and an income.

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