Job type

Classical musician

£23k - £40k

Typical salary

34 – 36

Hours per week

Classical musicians and singers perform classical music in concert, or on film, TV, or radio recordings

More info

  • Requires high levels of musical ability, self-discipline, dedication and motivation
  • With experience, progress in an orchestra to principal player or section leader
  • Perform in different locations, like theatres, concert halls, other music venues, hotels and restaurants

As a classical musician, you might be a member of an orchestra, performing for audiences, or recording music.


  • Learning and rehearsing music pieces
  • Looking after your voice/instrument
  • Setting up your instrument before performances
  • Preparing for and attending auditions

You might also:

  • Compose musical scores
  • Combine playing music with teaching
  • Work in a related area like community arts or arts administration


Your earnings may be seasonal and you might work freelance. As a recording artist or well-known soloist, you could earn a lot more.The Musicians' Union has guidance on rates for employed and self-employed orchestral musicians, gigs and live engagements, session musicians, and musicians working in theatre.

You could perform in different locations, like theatres, concert halls, recording studios and other music venues, hotels and restaurants. You could also spend time travelling around the UK and possibly overseas.

You'll need

Classical musicians have high levels of musical ability, self discipline, dedication and motivation. You'll usually need to have learned at least one instrument and taken graded music exams including music theory.

You should get as much experience as you can of performing in public. You could do this by joining a youth or community orchestra, and by entering competitions.

It could also be helpful for you to join the Musicians' Union or the Incorporated Society of Musicians for access to training, events and networking opportunities. The Musicians' Union also has more details on how to promote yourself.

You could also develop your musical skills by doing a degree or postgraduate award in classical music, music composition or music performance. You'll train at a university or a music college, often known as a conservatoire. You'll usually specialise in one main instrument and study a second instrument. Some music degrees focus more on music theory than performance, so research the courses carefully to make sure they're right for you. You'll usually need to pass an audition and to have achieved a grade 8 in your main instrument of choice.


Many musicians work on a freelance basis and therefore earnings can vary, although many classical musicians can also get regular salaried work as part of an orchestra.

With experience, you could progress in an orchestra to principal player or section leader. You could move into conducting, or start your own ensemble.