Musicians write, arrange, orchestrate, perform, record and conduct musical compositions.

Duties & Tasks

Musicians may perform the following tasks:

  • study and rehearse musical scores prior to performances
  • play music in recitals as an accompanist or as a member of an orchestra, band or other musical group, from score or by memory
  • make recordings for sale or promotion on compact disc or online
  • create accompanying videos for the music
  • provide musical backing for television commercials, popular recordings, radio, television or film productions
  • improvise, transpose, compose or arrange music
  • play under the direction of a conductor.


Classical Musician

A classical musician works to very high technical levels and develops a high standard of ensemble skills. Classical musicians must develop the ability to adapt to the demands of international conductors and soloists. They develop knowledge of classical, opera and ballet repertoire, and may undertake additional training at music schools overseas.


A composer creates musical compositions for films, plays, television, concerts and operas. Composers may specialise in one type of music or in compositions for particular instruments. They may write lyrics to accompany the music.

Conductor (Music)

A conductor (music) conducts instrumental groups such as symphony orchestras and large bands. Conductors may audition and select members of a group. They choose music to accommodate the group's abilities and to suit different types of performance events. Conductors become familiar with the complete musical score, conduct rehearsals, instruct players on their performances and try to make the best use of each instrumentalist's talents. They conduct performances in which they control factors such as balance, rhythm, dynamics and timing to create an effect consistent with their own interpretation of the score.


An ethnomusicologist studies music in its cultural context and seeks to understand the relationship between musical cultures. They may work as composers, performers, lecturers or researchers. They usually work within an academic institution such as a university, exploring, studying, researching and writing scholarly articles on music and musicians. Fieldwork in various regions of the world may be required, where they record music from a particular area, ethnic group or performing group.

Jazz Musician

A jazz musician often recognised for their superior skills in improvisation. Their ensemble skills are similar to those required in chamber groups.

Music Arranger

A music arranger transcribes musical compositions or melodic lines to adapt and modify them for particular performance formats, such as orchestras, bands, choral groups or solo performance. People with these skills may proceed to a number of jobs, including music teacher, music director, conductor or record producer.

Music Critic

A music critic is employed by media publishers to report on the performing arts. Local areas usually have part-time critics who report regularly on performances and visiting artists in the local media.


A musicologist interprets musical history and style. They generally work as lecturers.

Performing Musician/Instrumentalist

A performing musician/instrumentalist may play one or more instruments in recital performances. This may be in accompaniment only, or as a member of an orchestra, band or other musical group, including chamber ensembles. Musicians spend a number of hours each day in private practice to prepare music for rehearsals and performance. They may record backing tracks and programme electronic devices to be used in performance. Musicians may need to listen to and analyse music in either written or recorded form to build their repertoire. They also need to maintain and prepare their instruments for peak performance. They may compose and write music and lyrics, or combine and/or arrange music across a number of musical styles, including classical, pop, jazz, folk, country, show music and various forms of dance music.


A vocalist may work solo, with an accompanist or with bands, ensembles, orchestras or in concert opera. Work can be on a casual or permanent basis. Vocalists develop a repertoire and many specialise in a particular style or work on stage, radio and television. They may entertain as soloists, perform in a group or play an instrument. Vocalists need to train and develop their voice and capacity to sing, as well as develop presentation and performance skills. They need to understand music and be able to work with bands and orchestras.

Working Conditions

Musicians must be prepared to work irregular hours and spend long periods in practice and rehearsal. Some musicians work in areas unrelated to music to support themselves. Many professional musicians with experience in all styles combine music performance and music teaching careers in Australia.

Personal Requirements

  • musical skills
  • stamina to perform at peak level
  • self-confidence, motivation, dedication and determination
  • good communication skills
  • able to concentrate for long periods
  • mastery of one or more styles of music such as classical, jazz or pop
  • flair for entertainment.
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