A musician performs for the purpose of entertaining. Some musicians work are also composers who write music for other musicians or for the television, radio, film, theatre, advertisements, computer games and other inductries where music is needed.

The nature of musicians’ work can vary considerably, depending on the field of specialisation:

Composers: write or improvise musical compositions, thus translating their own creations of melody and harmony into musical signs and symbols for others

Music performers: study and rehearse music scores carefully until they can be played perfectly before appearing in public as soloists, accompanists or members of orchestras. Performers might also be required to tune instruments to the proper pitch and may play from memory or from sheet music.

Conductors: study the selected music and prepare to conduct a band or orchestra.

Music teachers: give lessons either at a training institution such as a school or privately.

Musicians may specialise in the type of music played, such as classical or popular music. They may also specialise in the type of instrument or instruments played. Some musicians perform solo while others play in a group or orchestra. Some musicians specialise in teaching.

Personal Requirements

  • musical aptitude and ability and enjoy music
  • creative and versatile and have initiative
  • manual dexterity
  • willing to spend many hours practising
  • physical stamina and be able to concentrate for long periods of time
  • self-disciplined and patient
  • willing to travel sometimes

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

Grade 6 or 7 in Practical Music, according to the examinations laid down by UNISA, the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music, or the Trinity College of Music, is also required.

What to Study

Study of an instrument should begin at an early age, through private lessons or through school.

Degree: BMusic, BA Music or BMusic Musicology - UP, NMMU, UNISA, UFS, US, NWU, UCT, UV, RU, Wits.

The BMus degree takes 4 years to complete and the BA(Music) degree takes 3 years to complete. Musicians interested in teaching careers can combine educational training with music. by following a BMus(Ed) degree.

Diploma: N.Dip: Music - TUT The duration of these courses is 3 years full-time study.

Certificate: Popular Music - SW Gauteng TVET
Various bands provide in-service training provided that the person can play an instrument and read music. An audition would be necessary for admission.

No special licensing is required as only well-trained and qualified musicians would be considered for teaching posts in schools, universities of technology, colleges, universities and conservatories. Musical career opportunities for qualified and talented people are also offered by the National Symphony Orchestra in Johannesburg, and the Durban and Cape Town Orchestras. The Councils for Performing Arts also offer good opportunities for such musicians.


  • National Symphony Orchestra, Johannesburg, and the Durban and Cape Town Orchestras
  • military bands of the defence force, police, prisons services
  • provincial councils for performing arts
  • television, broadcasting and film companies
  • symphony orchestras and other musical ensembles
  • recording companies
  • colleges and universities, as lecturers
  • restaurants
  • self-employment, in own band or group or on a freelance basis

Further Information

South African Society of Music Teachers
Executive Officer
South African Society of Music Teachers
Postnet Suite 21 
Private Bag X025
Lynnwood Ridge, 0040  
Tel. 082 673-0532

Getting Started

  • perform in public as often as you can
  • form a musical group or get together with other musicians
  • make an appointment to speak to a musician about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations

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