How to Become a Music Arranger

A music arranger works with a variety of different solo artists, groups, orchestras, or choral groups to record and adapt a wide range of musical compositions to the appropriate style of music. Becoming a music arranger requires an in-depth knowledge of composition and musical styles, as well as musical arrangements and interpretation. Though no formal training is mandatory to become a music arranger, most employers prefer their musical arrangers have both proven musical training and a portfolio of work. Read the following steps to learn how to become a music arranger.


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    Learn how to play at least one instrument well. This will give you a solid foundation for understanding the interpretation and phrasing of compositions.
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    Try to create your own variations on existing pieces of music. This can be as simple as playing the vocal solo on your instrument at first, but as you become more experienced, it's a good idea to play with the arrangements of entire compositions to see the result.
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    Enroll in a 4-year music school or conservatory. You'll learn how to transcribe music, make your own compositions, conduct pieces of music, and make a wide variety of arrangements. The skills you'll learn at music school will be invaluable to the rest of your career if you make an effort to put theory into practice by actively participating in group projects, recitals and performances. Learning how to work with others is an important aspect of becoming a music arranger, as you'll need to both manage musicians and explain your musical vision, as well as listen to a client's wishes and musician's input when arranging compositions.
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    Create a portfolio of work. This will consist of recordings and transcriptions of your best arrangements. You can either create a CD with audio files of your best work, along with files of transcriptions; load them on a website and refer potential employers to the correct web pages; or both, so you're prepared for any preference. If you've worked on pieces that have been broadcast, always include a link to the production's website.
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    Decide what your specialty will be. Though many music arrangers prefer to work with musicians, others work for media such as TV shows or commercials to choose and adapt specific compositions for broadcasting, while yet others arrange music for large department stores. Choosing your specialty is extremely personal and will depend largely on what you enjoy, as well as where your talents lie. For example, if you're great at choosing arrangements to create a mood and mixing them seamlessly, you might enjoy creating audio music for stores, websites or customer service lines. Or if you enjoy creating from nothing, you might want to look into working with recording artists on new arrangements.
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    Apply for an internship in your chosen field. Typically, you'll work under an experienced arranger and assist her with her work. In some cases, you may be given a project to complete under her supervision.
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    Get a job as a music arranger. In some cases, you may be lucky enough to get a job at the company where you interned. Otherwise, look for jobs in music trade magazines and on job boards, as well as by sending out your resume to companies and organizations you like.
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    Advance your career. After an entry level position, a music arranger or mixer typically advances in her field by working for more and more prestigious clients, and on bigger projects. Salaries depend on your level of expertise and the type of clients you have. Like most creative professions, you can earn as little as $20,000 per annum, or millions of dollars if you work with A-list clients and companies and get your share of copyrights.

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Categories: Music Techniques