What Is A Music Director And How Do You Become One?

A music director’s primary job is to lead and direct a band, choir, or orchestra. They choose which composition is played, train musicians in the lead-up to the performance, and make sure that everything is perfect. From synchronization between band members to the tempo, pitch, and so on. 

Beyond that, it is the band director’s job to hold auditions, collaborate with the production team, and take care of the administrative side. Music directors can also find themselves working in radio, TV, and movies.

  • A music director is responsible for the entire band/orchestra. They dictate which composition is played, trains the musicians, and keeps everything in check, from synchronization to tempo and pitch.
  • The median pay for a music director is around $62,940, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Naturally, more experienced music directors can make way more and even get paid by the hour.
  • To become a music director, you will need AT LEAST a bachelor’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting. Naturally, a master’s degree is better in all aspects. Lastly, experience and contacts in the field are crucial.
  • Music directors have to have a strong foundation in music. They should know how to play multiple instruments, know how to sing, and know music theory.
  • Additional skills a music director should have include the ability to multitask, be creative, be good under pressure, and have good verbal and written communication skills.

What should I study to become a music director?

Becoming a music director usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting. You may want to have a master’s degree, but experience and contacts in the field may be more important for you to make it in the industry. 

This would give you three crucial things. A deeper knowledge of the field, better opportunities for you, and making progress in your career a faster process.

How To Become a Music Director

Before you become a music director, you first need to have a solid foundation in music itself. Start by learning to play multiple instruments. It’s also beneficial if you know how to sing as well. Along with that, get into learning music theory. 

A big part of being a music director is familiarising yourself with the environments you might perform under someday. This includes choirs, musicals, and live performances. You will realize that there are different types of music directors. Once you figure out what kind you want to become, the path towards it becomes much clearer. 

Once you’ve set your sights on your goals, gain a formal education. A bachelor’s, then maybe a master’s, and even a doctorate. 

It’s also great if you can get real-world experience as a music director. You could start with small gigs and work your way up. It’s, honestly, invaluable. 

Examples of Famous Music Directors

The world has seen some incredible music directors over its history. Here are just to name a few:

The Difference between a Music Director and a Composer

Music directors and composers are often confused with each other since a lot of what they do overlap. However, they are not the same. 

The biggest difference between the two is that a music director cherry-picks a composition to be renditioned on stage. Whereas, a composer creates a piece of music from a blank canvas. 

A composer writes, arranges, and sometimes, even orchestrates his music, but a music director only chooses and orchestrates. 

Differences between a Music Director and a Music Producer

Again, a music director and producer can seem similar to a layman, but they, too differ in their roles. A music producer is in charge of the entire production of the music. This can include composing, arranging, recording, mixing, and editing. 

Producers work very closely with musicians, gathering and sharing ideas. A producer is involved in a piece of music from start to finish.  

What Skills Does a Music Director Possess?

Being a music director isn’t an easy job. They need to have a strong and assertive character to keep the whole thing together. Being a strong leader is important to take individual musicians and make them play as an ensemble.

A music director should be able to multitask, manage time to a tee, and make decisions under pressure. They need to be disciplined to maintain discipline and should always aim for perfection.

Since everyone involved in a musical project looks up to the music director, the latter needs to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. This makes managing a group less difficult.

On top of all these soft skills, having a deep knowledge of music theory and instruments is a music director’s bread and butter. If the director can discern between good and great, then the performance rises to their level.

What is a music director’s salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a music director is around $62,940 with less than 5 years of experience. Music directors are sometimes also paid by the hour, and on a gig basis as well. 

This number is just the median, though. More experienced and respected directors can earn quite high figures. 

What is the difference between a director and a musical director?

Directors and music directors often cross paths when working on TV or film projects. While the music director is in charge of every single bit of music in the project, the director is the supreme authority. A director works above the music director and has the final say on what stays and what goes. 


Being a music director is an extremely demanding, yet rewarding job if you have a passion for the craft. They need to oversee every aspect of a musical performance be it live or in the studio. 

A music director needs to present assertiveness, creative thinking, and an extensive understanding of music. They also need to be able to perform under strenuous conditions and possess great taste in everything from choosing the right song to the right musicians.

So if you think you have what it takes to be a music director, then all the best in your journey!