The title of music director is used in many different fields to describe widely varying types of jobs. Music directors work at high schools, city orchestras, radio stations, professional symphonies, and in the film world. Training to become a music director can likewise vary extensively, but nearly all versions of the job require music aptitude and skills for organizing musical performance.
One common way to become a music director is to attend college and study music education or performance. In most fields, music directors must be able to sight read music, play at least one instrument proficiently and have an understanding of composition and conducting. The basic skills needed to become a music director of almost any kind can be learned through a good university education in music. Additionally, as many music directors get their start teaching music to high school or even grammar school students, some also attend college to get a teaching degree or musical education degree.
Music directors in a school setting often run the band, choir, or orchestra. They are responsible for choosing selections to be played or sung, rehearsing the students, and setting up concerts or entering competitions to enrich the students' experience. To become a music director at a school, a teaching degree in music is typically required, although some private institutions will allow experience to substitute educational degrees. Music directors for schools typically enjoy working with young performers and fostering a love of music in a new generation.
In the film and theater world, a music director can also be known as a music supervisor, and may have varying responsibilities. In musical theater, the music director typically oversees the rehearsal of the singers and accompanying band, and may serve as the conductor during performances. In film, the music director may be involved in composition, but is often in charge of producing the score and setting the chosen score or soundtrack to the picture. In order to become a music director in film or theater, experience as a composer may be helpful, as well as an understanding of the industry and an ability to work well on deadlines.
Radio music directors are different animals altogether, and may require a background wholly different than any other type of music director. Typically, these professionals are in charge of getting the rights to use music, choosing which artists should be played, and managing the rotation of songs played on the station. To become a music director for radio, an understanding of radio technology is necessary, as well as an ability to find new artists and songs to play. One way to begin the journey to become a music director for radio is to volunteer as an intern at a local music station, or apply for jobs at local college radio stations.