Music major

Tag: Music major

Information for becoming an Opera Singer

Interested in become an opera singer? Read on for all you need to know about the field and how to get one step closer to your dream of becoming an opera star. 

Job duties:

There are many job duties required for being a musician in general. However, here are some specific job duties for becoming an opera singer that stems away from just musical talent. First, you will need advanced sight reading abilities. Being able to sight read music efficiently is a crucial part in the music industry, and especially in advanced opera roles and chorus’s. Next you need knowledge of Italian, German, French and English diction. Thankfully, much of this training comes from your undergraduate and graduate school experiences, however you need to be sure you know how to read and pronounce these languages efficiently. Next you’ll need good time management skills especially in terms of practicing. Knowing your limits in the practice room and how to use your time wisely will help you immensely in the opera world. Finally, you will need advanced memorization abilities. Many operas can be up to four hours long so it is crucial to know effective ways of memorization in order to learn a role in a timely fashion. 

Where they work:

Opera singers work for opera companies and opera houses. Sometimes summer opportunities may arise where you work for smaller, non-profit opera shows and festivals. However, most of your time will be spent in an opera house. 

Working Conditions:

Rehearsals for opera performances are mostly going to be during the evenings. However, the rest of your day is often filled with practicing for your roles, finding auditions, and maybe working a second job. Some opera singers end up travelling a lot during their career, however, a lot also end up staying in one geographic area as well. It all depends on what you see yourself doing. Opera singers are also usually hired on a contract for a particular season. Oftentimes they have to re-audition for certain houses in order to renew their contract. 


In an opera company you often have a set number of people for a certain season you will be working with. Depending on the size of the opera company and also the demands of the repertoire for the season, you can be looking to work with anywhere from 40-150 people on the stage. Directors, coaches, and arts administration workers often stay the same for longer periods of time. However, many opera artists may come and go depending on their careers. 

Education and Training:

Opera singers are often at least required to have a Masters degree in a voice related field. You are then often expected to audition and participate in a “Young Artist Program” featured by an opera house. These programs are often pre-professional opportunities for upcoming opera singers to learn how to work in an opera house before fully committing to a contract. Young Artist Program’s often give a stipend to the artists in their program.

Pay and Benefits:

Depending on the opera house, opera singers can expected to be paid by the show and rehearsal, or by a monthly/yearly stipend. Opera singers range from making $60,000 to $200,000. Like most musicians, benefits are often times not included upon hire, especially within the U.S. However, Europe not only has an abundance of opera houses, but often times these singers are given benefits as well as paid a little more fairly (again, depending on the opera house). 

Job outlook:

Employment for singers in general are expected to grow by 7% in the next few years. This includes opera singers, so expect an increase in jobs, especially after the pandemic once musical performances are expected to be in high demand. 

Global Considerations:

Since there are many opera houses throughout the world, and oftentimes singers come from all over to audition for certain opera houses, the profession of being an opera singer is certainly open to international students studying music. Of course, since there are so many opera houses around the world and so many have different requirements, it is important to do your research in finding the house or company that will be the best fit for you. 

13 Things to do During Your 13 Weeks of Summer as a Music Major

Summer is right around the corner! For some musicians, it could be a great time to take a bit of a break and recollect after being burnt out from a busy school year. For others, including myself, summer is a chance to take advantage of this extra time and explore various opportunities that are available. Here are some of the things I would recommend:

1. Teach lessons

Summer is a great time to gain experience teaching private lessons. Get in touch with music directors, staff at music stores, friends, and family in the area to let them know you plan to teach and ask them to share your name and contact information to prospective students. This is a great time for you to get business cards made and network with others to get your name out there.

2. Take lessons

Get in touch with your high school private instructor or local orchestral musicians and see if they are available to teach you any lessons. I got in contact with various clarinet professors at schools I decided to apply to and did some travelling to take lessons with them. I would highly recommend doing this if you anticipate furthering your education with graduate school.

3. Work at your local music store

Many jobs at music stores can be full-time positions, but it is definitely worth a shot seeking out seasonal or part-time positions! You can learn a lot about different products available, gain valuable customer service skills, and stay updated on current music trends and events. This is a good chance to network too!

4. Work at a music camp for kids

This is especially beneficial for music education majors. Gain experience teaching music and working with kids of various ages and skill levels from elementary school through high school, depending on the program. You could have a significant influence on their musical futures!

5. Secure an internship

There are various internships available for musicians. Many of these may involve working with kids, as mentioned above, but there are many other exciting internships available that may focus more on arts administration if that is something that might interest you. Various symphonies and opera companies have development, marketing, and other internships available. This is another great way to network with others and possibly spend the summer living somewhere new!

6. Attend concerts

During the summer, there are numerous orchestras, wind bands, jazz bands, and chamber ensembles that will be putting on performances. Many of these are exciting pops concerts that take place outdoors and are often free!

7. Play chamber music with local friends

Do you have other musical friends or know of other talented musicians in your area? Hit them up and see if they would be interested in playing any chamber music together! This can keep you engaged with music and keep your rehearsal skills going.

8. Take church gigs

There are many musical opportunities available at churches for their weekly services. I occasionally get asked to perform clarinet for services, but if you have piano or organ experience, these skills are especially valuable. Of course, there’s always church choirs you can get involved with.

9. Do some research and listening

For the sake of my own enjoyment this summer, I started compiling and organizing lists of clarinet repertoire of essentially all possible solo and chamber music I can discover and I have since been going through and listening to all of it and giving them ratings. This is something that really interests me and it kept me quite entertained this summer while teaching me a lot of information that is very valuable for me to know. Projects like this or just listening music is a great way to spend time.

10. Attend a summer music festival

There are so many musical festivals available for all musicians whether they are for orchestras, operas, or chamber music. These are rather competitive to get into and can be very costly. But the experience and the skills learned at festivals can be invaluable and ones you might not learn during the school year. I can say from my own experience, it really sparked a high degree of motivation for me to keep improving and I met so many other great musicians that made me determined to improve.

11. Pursue other performance opportunities

Find performing opportunities for yourself. Find a venue to put on a recital or get a hold of food pantries, warming shelters, or nursing homes to see if you can come in to perform. Chances are they would all be thrilled to have a talented young musician performing!

12. Try something new!

Ever wanted to try a new instrument? Or maybe you want to try your hand at composing? This is the time to do it! Feel free to explore possibilities, take chances, and do something out of you comfort zone. A spark of interest for something could end up developing into a wonderful new passion (and can just be downright fun- I learned bassoon my senior year of high school and loved it!).

13. Practice hard and well

Although you might be gone for a couples weeks on a family vacation or might be busy with work or whatever else you have going on during the summer, don’t neglect practicing. Make sure to find time during your days to really get some high-quality practicing accomplished. Motivation can definitely be a struggle during the summer, but view this is a great time to really be productive and get a lot accomplished!

Abbey Atwater ‘19

Career Peer Educator