Musicologist  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotMusicologist is a broad title for someone who studies music. Many work in universities and other post-secondary institutions, while others are found in libraries.

Some work in publishing and recording. Others work as musical directors. Those working as teachers provide instruction in musicology, music history and music appreciation.

dotThe number of jobs for musicologists in teaching is very limited. High numbers of job seekers apply for every posted position.

As musicologists retire, they're not being replaced due to low funding. Musicologist Dr. Victor Anand Coelho says that they receive 40 to 50 applicants for every job posting at his university. But he is hopeful that the situation will change for the better in the future.

dotMost musicologists in teaching educate students in topics like performance and music theory.

dotUniversity professors teaching musicology often don't have tenure nowadays. Marian Wilson Kimber, an assistant professor, notes that there is a trend towards using more and more temporary or part-time employees. Moreover, in smaller institutions, musical history courses are being taught by non-musicologists.

dotAnother trend occurring in the musicology field, according to Jim Zychowicz, chair of the American Musicology Society Committee on Career-Related Issues, is the movement towards the study of popular music, women's music, North American music and the music of other cultures.

dotMusicologists must be able to perform, be versatile and have a pleasant personality. Computer literacy and research skills are assets. The abilities to chair meetings, facilitate discussions and work on committees are also useful.

Wilson Kimber says diverse skills, such as teaching, performing or directing, will definitely enhance employability. These skills are especially important in small colleges or universities.

At a Glance

Share your knowledge of music through research and teaching

  • You need solid research skills
  • You must be able to perform, be versatile and have a pleasant personality
  • Most have a PhD