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Greetings MusicStackExchange,

I put my intention first (I'm in HighSchool, You might need this information to understand why I'm asking this question) : I wish to work with Orchestras and Hopefully get them to play my compositions, But doing a BA in Music is highly improbable.

I read up related topics in MSE BA with no prior Musical Education, Is MA / PhD necessary at all? and How Composers get their Work Performed

I realize that Orchestras are really really big time and having an MA will not necessarily mean that Orchestra will play my work, But still-

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Without BA in Music, Is it possible to Pursue MA in Music and continue with Other Music Stuff? I will either be doing Physics for B or Major Computer Science and Minor Physics.

1. What are the Course Credits required for MA if I can take them as electives?

2. Or is knowledge in areas covered in BA and completing prerequisites unofficially enough?

3. Will Trinity Diplomas like the FMusTCL suffice?

4. Are there online courses for this purpose and will these be considered when Applying for MA in Music.

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If all of these are valid options, I'd prefer going with 3. Mostly and taking 2. in the side too, because I can't be sure if the Required Courses will be there as Electives in the Universities I might be going for. I understand that the answer might vary from University to University, but I seek a general answer. Or if not MA, Is there anything else that serves the purpose? (I'm Trinity Grade 5 in Theory and 2 in Piano now and have IGCSE O Level in Music for which I did Guitar, Composition,and Theory Component consisted of (Not so Deep, Hardly Analysis) Analysis of Mendelsohn 5th and Overview of Latin American Music just in case these might shape the answer)

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    First decide whether you want a reliable job (physics) while attempting to compose. Even with multiple music degrees, 99.9% of all aspiring composers fail to get even a single piece published. It is not an easy life. – Carl Witthoft Feb 26 at 14:25
  • To whoever Downvoted the Question, Can I please know where I can Improve the Question? @CarlWitthoft, Yes I need a reliable Career (not job exactly) in Physics. By Physics I mean, BSc (Research) Course and not the BTech one. [Kind of Ambitious, but I'm working on all that I have to do for these two] – RishiNandha Vanchi Feb 26 at 14:45
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    This question is way too broad. You have many different question, a lot of assumptions need to be made to even start answering some of the questions and to several of the question don't have objective answers. – Dom Feb 26 at 22:29
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At least in the US, I can clarify that many schools, including conservatories, do allow Masters students that do not have Bachelors degrees in music. I've had Masters students whose Bachelors were in nursing, business, and even law. They tend to have a more difficult time navigating their Masters coursework since so much of the material is so new to them, but they have all gone on to do really great things in the musical world.

But ultimately, such a determination is up to the university itself. You would need to look into the schools you would consider for the Masters to see if they would be interested. Typically you will have to take an entrance exam of some kind to show that you can be successful in a musical program. Often there is both a theory exam and a music history exam to test your abilities, and in many schools doing poorly on these exams will remove you from consideration. And these exams are both in addition to the specifics of a program: an audition for performers, or a score submission (and perhaps analytic writing) for composers.

But like most things in music, it's not a piece of paper that matters, it's your skill. If you're good enough to get accepted into a Masters program in music, not having a sheet of paper (the Bachelors degree in music) typically won't hurt.

Which ultimately brings me to my next point: orchestras don't really care what your pieces of paper are, they just care about how good your music is. So don't think of the Masters as an entry point into having orchestras perform your pieces.

Instead, think of a degree program as an entry point into learning how the world of music works and how to network within that system. As Carl says, there are countless composers out there, and they're writing new pieces every day. Their pieces are performed because they've been working their way up the system: studying with famous composers, having their pieces performed by smaller ensembles (typically good ensembles at famous music schools), submitting their works and winning composition contests, slowly building a studio and a reputation of their own (which may demand a doctorate if you're teaching at a university), and landing commissions.

With that in mind, my suggestion is to be as active as you can right now so as to try and build a successful future as a composer.

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  • Thank You for the Answer Sir. I got your point - It's more about How good my Music is and not How good my Resume is and I can always build it from scratch like how you pointed out - Studying Composers, Smaller Ensembles, Compo Compos. One thing : You said that you've had masters students who didnt have Bachelor's in Music right? Is there anything more than I can know? Were they required to have any of these before joining - Diploma/Grades in Music/Thorough Knowledge of BA Materials? – RishiNandha Vanchi Feb 26 at 15:00
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You have to ask yourself what is the point of a degree. Music is one of those things that does not really need a degree. What one needs is knowledge and skill, and both of those things can be achieved through study with a skilled private teacher, lots of reading/research, and LOTS of practice.

The benefit of school is that these things can often be done at a faster pace because, instead of trying to do it on one's own, one is directed through classes and syllabi and must meet deadlines. Also, while going to school, classes become most of the focus of life rather than adding self-initiated study onto an already-busy life full of outside responsibilities.

A Master's degree in music does not necessarily make one more successful as a performer/composer. It is most beneficial if one's future goals are teaching (often requiring going on for a PhD if looking for work at a university), or if one needs the networking like Richard mentioned.

Graduate school is an enormous endeavor, and if you are not at a really competitive skill level to qualify for scholarships or fellowships, a very expensive one. At minimum, you will need to have the knowledge and skill level a student with a Bachelor's in music achieves, or expect to put in the time and expense to make up for what you lack.

If your goal is to get a Master's in music, make a plan on how you will learn the theory and history you need to be prepared and how you will develop your skills as a composer enough to pass an audition. Though private lessons are usually available to all students, most of the upper-level Music Theory and Music History in undergraduate programs are not usually open to non-music majors, and they all require prerequisites, so you will need find a way to learn those topics on your own.

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