Skip to main content Skip to site utility navigation Skip to main site navigation Skip to site search Skip to footer
NSCC collective bargaining: view updates
Menu

Music Arts

Kickstart your career with songwriting , performance, technology, and business skills essential for success in the music industry.

Two women are seen on stage playing their trumpets at an event.
Music Arts students play at NSCC's Spark Creativity event, a showcase of student talent from across the creative industries programs.
Start Date:
September
Typical Length:
2 Years
Credential:
Diploma

Apply Now

Overview

Musicians today have more opportunities than ever to create, perform and share their music to a global audience. This 2-year diploma program will help you unlock your potential as an artist by giving you the essential skills needed for success. In this program, you:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of music theory while honing your songwriting and live performance skills. 
  • Learn essential music technologies and develop entrepreneurial skills in marketing, self-promotion and grant writing. 
  • Record various projects in a studio setting with industry standard tools and software.
  • Participate in a music festival where you help to book, promote and perform at a variety of venues across the region. 
  • Gain an understanding of the roles of managers, agents, publishers and other industry professionals.
  • Graduate ready to launch your musical career with confidence.

Co-operative education

  • This program is eligible for an optional cooperative education (co-op) credit course between year one and two.
    • Co-op provides an opportunity for paid, full-time employment in a field related to your program.
    • Co-op takes place in third term and must be a minimum of 12 weeks and 420 hours.
    • Our co-op program follows Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) guidelines.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • You learn from experienced, award-winning instructors who have strong connections to the music industry in Nova Scotia and beyond.
  • Throughout the program, industry experts, alumni, and guest speakers are brought into the classroom experience.
  • The Music Arts program offers industry-standard practice rooms and rehearsal spaces.
  • Emerging technologies, for both live and studio performance, are incorporated into your learning in order to mirror the trends of the music industry.
  • The practical experiences and contacts you make are your edge to a successful entry into industry.
  • You collaborate on projects with peers that may include students from Professional Photography, Screen Arts, Game and Interactive Art, Digital Animation, Music Production and Engineering and Applied Media and Communication Arts.

Other info

  • You're required to take private music lessons (either with an existing instructor or through recommendation by NSCC) and are responsible for the costs incurred (they're not included in regular tuition fees).
  • Due to the ensemble nature of the program, qualified applicants may not be accepted on a first-received, first-qualified basis.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Ivany Campus
Dartmouth
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available
Sydney Waterfront Campus
Sydney
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available

Admission requirements

  • High School Graduation Diploma or equivalent.
  • Qualified applicants will be invited to a performance-based audition to demonstrate their musicianship. The audition helps ensure that you'll have a reasonable probability of success in the Music Arts program. Auditions take place at the offering campus. For details on what to expect at the audition, see the Music Arts audition requirements (PDF 104KB).

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.

Tuition

Tuition amounts are for the 2023-24 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
$3,620
Tuition (International):
$11,690

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • The music industry is a major contributor to the economic pulse of Nova Scotia and central to cultural life throughout the Maritimes. Graduates are ideally positioned to launch or enhance their own independent careers in the music business. Having achieved a high standard of musicianship and a comprehensive knowledge of business practice, graduates can enter the industry with realistic expectations and attitudes about a career in music and will be equipped with the tools to thrive.

Future study options

  • Completion of this program provides the admission requirement for the Music Business Graduate Certificate. This program will give you advanced business skills, industry knowledge, and connections needed to develop a successful and sustainable music career. 
  • Continue your studies at university – This program includes courses that count towards a university degree. Learn more about having your diploma count towards a university degree

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

BART 2020 - Live Presentation and Performance I
This course introduces the various elements involved in preparing for a live performance, including rehearsal techniques, stage presence, and audience engagement. Students will gain the skills and knowledge required to safely assemble and operate portable PA systems and the associated processes and documentation involved in live performance.

BART 3020 - Live Presentation and Performance II
This course focuses on the processes and skills required to co-ordinate and perform live music events. Students will continue to hone their live performance skills to a professional standard, and will explore various visual aspects of live performance presentation.

MART 1000 - Music Theory I
This course introduces students to the basic rudiments of music. Learners will notate various elements of pitch, rhythm, melody, and harmony on manuscript paper and explore common chord progressions and short melodic phrases.

MART 1001 - Ear Training I
This course introduces the concepts and practices of ear training for professional musicians. Students will listen to music to gain a greater understanding of musical structure and melody in both modern and historical contexts.

MART 1002 - Primary Instrument and Primary Instrument Workshop I
This course is designed to help the learner identify the musical skills and language needed to be a successful performer in today’s music community and industry. The learner will be introduced to a comprehensive plan of study that will ensure that the main areas of musical performance are all maintained. Learning paths will be set in place to ensure that study is focused in the theoretical/technical, physical/technical and interpretational/stylistic aspects of musical performance. Techniques for live and studio performance will be discussed and as well as repertoire development. The elements of music introduced in Theory and Ear Training will be explored and discussed during this course of study. The instruction for this course will be delivered by musician/teachers who are active members of our musical community, under the guidance and supervision of the NSCC music faculty. The faculty, learner and teacher will together fine tune the learning contract to reflect the learner’s particular area of specialization.

MART 1003 - Creative Ensemble for Live and Studio Performance I
This course is designed to introduce the learner to the musical skills and language needed to perform in a variety of situations. This will involve reading music as well as playing by ear, in live performance and studio session. Learners will be expected to perform at a level consistent with that of Primary Instrument 1002. The course will provide the necessary strategies and techniques to ensure the learner can adapt to the varying situational demands in today’s music marketplace. The elements of music introduced in Theory and Ear Training will be explored and discussed in ensemble classes. In the large ensemble and workshops emphasis will be placed on sight-reading to develop basic reading and scanning skills and the ability to play a variety of musical styles accurately. Small ensembles will provide a venue for the development of the learner’s musical strengths and area of specialization. These style specific groups will use public appearances and studio recording sessions to provide the venues needed to gain experience and develop confidence with performing on their instrument. Additional small workshops will provide master class environments, sectional rehearsals or workshops as needed. Learner participation in groups outside of scheduled times (including off campus) will be recognized as contributing to the learning outcomes.

MART 1004 - Keyboard Techniques I
This course is designed for the non-keyboard majors and will introduce basic concepts of keyboard technique, proper keyboard fingering, and posture. Along with acquiring basic piano voicings students will also start to compile a list of repertoire to draw on for performance purposes. This course will help facilitate arranging, composition, ear training, and theory assignments as well as gain a valuable understanding of proper keyboard technique.

MART 1006 - Creative Music Technology
This course introduces students to digital technology and MIDI to create arrangements of original and existing material utilizing computer-based music workstations.

MART 1010 - Songwriting I
This course introduces students to the fundamental processes and methodologies applied to contemporary songwriting.

MART 2000 - Music Theory II
Students will compose melodies over chord progressions using various harmonic and rhythmic concepts.

MART 2001 - Ear Training II
This course is a comprehensive ear training, practical study program that focuses on the elements of music that are most useful to the freelance professional musician working in the industry today. Musical examples from different styles and ethnical origins will be used to reinforce the concepts as they are introduced to the ear in both modern and historical contexts.

MART 2002 - Primary Instrument and Primary Instrument Workshop II
This course is designed to increase the musical skills and language needed to be a successful performer in today’s music community and industry. The learner will be able demonstrate a professional study method that will ensure that the main areas of musical performance are all maintained. The course will have technical focus on musical skills such as reading music, scale and repertoire development, while working on aspects of both live and studio performance. The instruction for this course will be delivered by musician/teachers who are active members of our musical community, under the guidance and supervision of the NSCC music faculty.

MART 2003 - Creative Ensemble for Live and Studio Performance II
This course is designed to continue the work started in Creative Ensemble 1003. Learners will be expected to perform at a level consistent with that of Primary Instrument 2002. The course will provide the necessary strategies and techniques to ensure the learner can adapt to the varying situational demands in today’s music marketplace. The elements of music introduced in Theory and Ear Training will be explored and discussed in ensemble classes. In the large ensemble and workshops emphasis will be placed on sight-reading to develop basic reading and scanning skills and the ability to play a variety of musical styles accurately. Small ensembles will provide a venue for the development of the learner's musical strengths and area of specialization. These style specific groups will use public appearances and studio recording sessions to provide the venues needed to gain experience and develop confidence with performing on their instrument. Additional small workshops will provide master class environments, sectional rehearsals or workshops as needed. Learner participation in groups outside of scheduled times (including off campus) will be recognized as contributing to the learning outcomes.

MART 2004 - Keyboard Techniques II
In this course students will practice techniques and explore chord voicings for use in modern and traditional arranging and composing.

MART 2006 - Recording and Sequencing for Multi Media
Students will develop basic recording skills using a digital audio workstation. Audio signal flow, MIDI, signal processing, and basic troubleshooting techniques will all be explored while composing and recording music for various multimedia applications.

MART 2009 - Funding and Career Development for Musicians
This course focuses on strategies used by artists to access funding for career development. It also covers the roles of artist manager, record labels and music publishing.

MART 2010 - Songwriting II
This course analyzes the production techniques applied to songwriting from various eras and genres. Students will construct contemporary melodies and make a demo for an original song.

MART 2011 - Marketing and Self-Promotion for Musicians I
This course introduces students to the tools, processes and technologies available to the modern musician for marketing and self-promotion. Students will explore branding and marketing plans in relation to musical artists.

MART 2012 - Marketing and Self-Promotion for Musicians II
This course focuses marketing strategies and working collaboratively with multi-disciplinary teams on projects and events.

MART 2500 - Capstone Project I
This course requires learners to help prepare, present and promote a Spring Music festival. Learners will further develop rehearsal techniques, individual practice and administrative routines to meet a set minimum hours in each category. Learners will also work with 2nd year learners to learn and demonstrate the skills needed to promote and present a series of shows. All aspects of this course should be accurate and well documented in a journal that will be presented at the end of the course. While many of the rehearsals and promotions are organized with help from the instructor, the goal of this course is the self-direction of learning.

MART 3000 - Music Theory III
This course focuses on the analysis and examination of chord voicing and compositional arranging techniques in both traditional and contemporary contexts.

MART 3001 - Ear Training III
The focus is on the elements of music that are most useful to the freelance professional musician working in the industry today. Musical examples from different styles, ethnic origins, modern and historical contexts will be used to reinforce the concepts as they are introduced to the ear.

MART 3002 - Primary Instrument and Primary Instrument Workshop III
This course is designed to deepen the knowledge on the learner's primary instrument. The learner will explore techniques to develop a personal approach to performance. The course will have technical focus on musical skills such as reading music, scale and repertoire development, while working on aspects of both live and studio performance. The instruction for this course will be delivered by musician/teachers who are active members of our musical community, under the guidance and supervision of the NSCC music faculty.

MART 3003 - Creative Ensemble for Live and Studio Performance III
This course is designed to continue the work started in Creative Ensemble 2003. Learners will be expected to perform at a level consistent with that of Primary Instrument 3002. The course will provide the necessary strategies and techniques to ensure the learner can adapt to the varying situational demands in today’s music marketplace. The elements of music introduced in Theory and Ear Training will be explored and discussed in ensemble classes. In the large ensemble and workshops emphasis will be placed on sight-reading to develop basic reading and scanning skills and the ability to play a variety of musical styles accurately. Small ensembles will provide a venue for the development of the learner’s musical strengths and area of specialization. These style specific groups will use public appearances and studio recording sessions to provide the venues needed to gain experience and develop confidence with performing on their instrument. During second year of study learners will be expected to take a more active role in the operation and management of each ensemble.

MART 3006 - Studio and Session Recording
This course introduces the learner to the recording process. Techniques will be discussed on how to manage industry standard software applications for composing, songwriting, and recording, with an emphasis on the home recording environment.

MART 4000 - Music Theory IV
Students will analyze various genres of music then use common melodic and rhythmic structures to compose and arrange. Diminished harmony, chord functions, extended tonality and song form will be used in performance ready compositions and arrangements.

MART 4001 - Ear Training IV
The focus is on the elements of music that are most useful to the freelance professional musician working in the industry today. Modern and historical musical examples of different styles and ethnic origins will be used to reinforce the concepts as they are introduced to the ear.

MART 4002 - Primary Instrument and Primary Instrument Workshop IV
This course is designed to prepare students to be professional performers in today’s music community and industry. Students are required to develop an independent study approach and encouraged to develop and create a performance approach through their primary instrument. The instruction for this course will be delivered by musician/teachers who are active members of our musical community, under the guidance and supervision of the NSCC music faculty.

MART 4003 - Creative Ensemble IV
This course is designed to align the learner with professional musical skills and language needed to perform in a variety of professional situations. This may involve reading music as well as ear playing, in live performance and studio session. Learners will be expected to perform at a level consistent with that of Primary Instrument 4003. The course will provide the necessary strategies and techniques to ensure the learner can adapt to the varying situational demands in today’s music marketplace. The elements of music introduced in Theory and Ear Training will be explored and discussed in ensemble classes. In the large ensemble and workshops emphasis will be placed on sight-reading to develop basic reading and scanning skills and the ability to play a variety of musical styles accurately. Small ensembles will provide a venue for the development of the learner’s musical strengths and area of specialization. These style specific groups will use public appearances and studio recording sessions to provide the venues needed to gain experience and develop confidence with performing on their instrument. Additional small workshops will provide master class environments, sectional rehearsals or workshops as needed. Learner participation in groups outside of scheduled times (including off campus) will be recognized as contributing to the learning outcomes.

MART 4500 - Capstone Project II
This course requires learners to prepare, present and promote a Spring Music festival. Learners will further develop rehearsal techniques, individual practice and administrative routines to meet a set minimum hours in each category. Learners will also learn and demonstrate the skills needed to promote and present a series of shows. All aspects of this course should be accurate and well documented in a journal that will be presented at the end of the course. While many of the rehearsals and promotions are organized with help from the instructor, the goal of this course is the self-direction of learning.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

SOUN 1014 - Introduction to the Music Industry
This course will identify and explore current and future jobs, trends and their potential for creating revenue streams and employment opportunities in the music industry. The aim of the course is to gain an understanding of the variety of professional positions in the industry and develop analytical skills, tools and processes to recognize opportunities in the ever-evolving landscape.

Apply Now

A headshot of Tim.
Tim Hatcher
Class of 2018
Music Arts was the perfect way for me to develop my existing skills while also gaining valuable musical knowledge. I finished the program with music business and production experience that was essential in building the foundation of my career.

Learn more about this program

Contact us

Share your details with us and we'll send you a program overview.

Required fields are marked with a red symbol (*)

Thank you for contacting us.
Your program overview is on the way. While you wait, feel free to browse our list of Programs & Courses or visit our Admissions information section.

Explore similar programs

To find other programs and career options that might be a good fit for you check out these areas of interest:

Top