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Music Arts

Prepare for a career as a professional musician by developing your talent and building business skills.

Three men sit alongside each other and play their guitars.
Start Date:
September
Typical Length:
2 Years
Credential:
Diploma

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Overview

This program was designed to give you an advantage in your career as a professional musician. You'll leave this program with the skills you need to become a successful musician and excel in the industry. You learn:

  • Musical performance and theory
  • Ear training
  • Ensemble practice
  • Music-related technologies
  • Essential business skills
  • Grant and proposal writing
  • Music-related technologies
  • Marketing

You will participate in a capstone project to gain real world performance experience at a variety of different venues. From understanding the roles of managers, agents and other industry professionals play to applying the skills you learn in the field, you 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 employment – in a field related to your program.
    • Opportunities are full-time work placements that last 12 to 16 weeks.
    • 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 Canada.
  • 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 this competitive market.

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.

2023-24 programs

Program delivery may be subject to change based on Public Health guidelines.

September 2023

Campus Location Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Ivany Campus Dartmouth Full time In person Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements. Seats available
Marconi Campus Classes at Eltuek Arts Centre Full time In person Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements. Seats available

Admission requirements

  • High School Graduation Diploma or equivalent.
    • International students – High school diploma equivalency and English language requirements vary by country. View details
  • Qualified applicants will be invited to a performance-based audition in order 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 Ivany Campus and Marconi 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 2022-23 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional. 2023-24 tuition will be announced in the late Spring.

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 the business skills, industry knowledge, and the connections needed to advance your career in music. 
  • Continue your studies at university – This program includes courses that count towards a university degree. Find out more

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 2050 - Music Business I: Live Performance
This course will introduce learners to the current landscape of the Canadian music industry. It will convey a broad understanding of the various functions that exist within the industry and how they interact with the artist and each other. Learners will gain a basic knowledge of the mandate and scope of the organizations which support the music industry with a focus on how these organizations relate to revenue generation and collection. After a general overview of the industry and the artist’s place within it, the course will shift focus to the live performance industry, introducing learners to all related business, marketing and logistical components. It will review the roles and responsibilities of all participants from artist to agent to venue owner and how they fit into the overall touring picture. Learners will be taken through the A-Z process of strategizing a tour, identifying opportunities, negotiating contracts, overseeing and implementing related marketing initiatives, the logistics of touring and the financial settlement of shows.

BART 2060 - Music Business II: Essentials
Through a combination of lectures, research and guest speakers, this course will introduce learners to the fundamentals of the world of business. It will identify the skills necessary for successful entrepreneurship and will introduce the importance and basics of business planning and financial forecasting. The fundamentals of MS Excel and the practical application of spreadsheets in the organization of a music business will be explored in depth. This class will provide the nuts and bolts knowledge and resources necessary to launch a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Topics will range from record keeping to government reporting.

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.

BART 3050 - Music Business III: Product Development
This course will familiarize the learner with the process of preparing recorded product for the marketplace. It will outline the roles and responsibilities of the people involved in the project and how all parties interact during that process. It will review the financial aspect of recording from budgeting to funding to settlement and will provide detailed information on contract and license requirements as well as the registration of all existing rights. The course will identify the various usage formats for the final recorded product and will instruct the learner in how to achieve those formats. It will also assist the learner in understanding the relevance and requirements of the visual element of the project. After examining the process of recording music, learners will be introduced to the business of song-writing and publishing and the roles of both writers and publishers in the context of the bigger music industry picture. The course will explain copyright basics and licensing by examining specific royalties and revenues streams and the registrations required. Learners will learn about the various types of publishing deals, their terms and conditions, and how they can advance a writer’s career. Emphasis will be given to the self-published writer and how they function in the world of publishing.

BART 4050 - Music Business IV: Artist and Career Development
Through a series of lectures, research and guest speakers, this course will examine many facets of the development of the artist’s career. From artist management contracts to band agreements to recording contracts, the various legal partnerships in the music industry will be explored in depth. Learners will gain a broad knowledge of the different types of label, distribution, and aggregator deals available including the services provided under each deal and the most common industry royalty computations. Learners will understand the many steps that need to be taken to make the best of an independent release, and will be able to critically analyze the state of the music industry to better cope with the changes that lie ahead in their careers.

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 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 Basics II
This course is designed for the non-keyboard major and it will give the learner a clear understanding and command of basic keyboard technique. Keyboard majors who do not have a background in the language of jazz theory, will find this course very helpful.

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 2300 - Music History I
This course outlines the history of western classical music with a study of the six principle eras and a survey of the contributions of the defining composers of each era. The survey will include discussions surrounding individual works, relevant historical background, thematic/stylistic development (i.e. musical complexity, feature instruments, defining characteristics etc.), biographical information and terminology, as well as social and environmental conditions/influences. Distinction will be made between sacred and secular traditions. In addition, a suggested listening library will be established to expose learners to a wide-variety of repertoire, reinforcing the course themes as well as providing ‘era recognition’ test material.

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 world of recording. Techniques will be discussed on how to manage industry standard software applications for composing, song writing, and demo purposes. An emphasis will be placed on home recording techniques. Introduction to microphone techniques, software recording, monitoring environment, mixing, and final mastering will be discussed.

MART 3300 - Music History II
This course outlines the history of Jazz Music from Ragtime to Modern Jazz as well as a discussion about its origins. For organizational purposes the history will be divided into seven broad categories or eras to be studied, understanding that there is significant overlap both stylistically and chronologically. With each era a concentration will be placed on the defining artists, their biographical information, best-known works and, where relevant, their influence on subsequent artists. In addition, relevant historical, social and economical matters will be discussed and surveyed. As well, a suggested listening library will be established to expose learners to a wide variety of repertoire, reinforcing the course themes as well as providing ‘era/artist recognition’ test material.

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 4006 - Applied Live Sound
This course introduces the learner to the basic principles of live sound systems needed for the performing musician. An emphasis will be placed on hearing safety at the beginning of the course. Learners will learn to design, setup and utilize small PA systems and monitors for live events. Learners will become familiar with appropriate microphone choice and placement and will also learn the importance of the correct procedure for cable wrapping. Basic crossover concepts and basic repair of PA systems and cables will be covered in this course.

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.

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