Musician Kaiwhakatangitangi

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

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Musicians may do some or all of the following:

  • play a musical instrument or sing to a high standard
  • study and interpret music
  • accompany singers and other soloists
  • compose or conduct songs or instrumental music
  • promote and market themselves or their band
  • perform in public places such as bars, concert halls and clubs
  • audition for parts in musical productions
  • make or take part in recordings
  • teach music
  • research, learn and rehearse music.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for musicians includes:

  • playing and composing music
  • performing to an audience
  • participating in music competitions
  • reading and interpreting musical scores
  • private or community courses in music
  • teaching music
  • marketing or promotion work.

Personal Qualities

Musicians need to be:

  • punctual and reliable
  • able to work well under pressure and accept criticism
  • able to work well in a team if rehearsing and performing with a group
  • dedicated to practising
  • able to keep time
  • confident about performing in front of large groups
  • persistent and determined
  • good at working with people and building relationships
  • willing to promote themselves to people such as club owners and agents.


Musicians need to have knowledge of:

  • how to play musical instruments
  • acoustics and tuning
  • how to compose and arrange music
  • recording methods and equipment
  • vocal and performance techniques, and correct breathing methods
  • basic music theory
  • business and marketing principles
  • the New Zealand music industry.


Musicians may work:

  • long and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends
  • indoors or outdoors in places such as theatres, clubs and concert halls
  • in conditions that are noisy, dark and hot
  • locally, around New Zealand, and overseas.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a musician. However, English, music and languages are useful.

Musicians may move into music therapy, education, publishing, promotion, and production roles.

Musicians can specialise in a number of roles, including:

Composers create new music or rewrite existing music for bands, orchestras, singers, plays or films.
Conductor/Music Director
Conductors and Music Directors direct the performance of musicians in an orchestra, vocal/choral ensemble, band or musical performance.
Instrumental Musician
Instrumental musicians play one or more musical instruments as part of a musical composition.
Singers perform as soloists or as part of a group to entertain an audience.
Songwriters write music and lyrics for songs, either for themselves or others.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a musician. However, a tertiary music qualification may be useful, for example:

  • a jazz performance degree is useful for becoming a jazz musician
  • a degree, such as a Bachelor of Music, may be useful for becoming a classical or contemporary musician.

Musicians also gain skills on the job through practice, training, rehearsals and performances.