Careers in Music: Composing, Conducting, Teaching and Performing


The Pepper team has had the opportunity to interview many amazing musicians about their careers. We’ve rolled up some of our favorite clips about different career paths in music. These videos would be great to share for student reflection and writing assignments around career paths available in the music industry. We invite you to share the interviews with your students and hope the material is helpful to you!

Student Reflection Ideas: Please comment on the post if you have other ideas to share with teachers! 

  • What is the goal of this career?
  • What seems to inspire this person about his or her career?
  • What does a normal day probably look like for someone in this career? 
  • Does this person usually work alone, with others, or a combination?
  • Do you think they have to travel for their work?
  • Do they consistently work with the same people, or is networking with new people a focus of the job?
  • What are the requirements to be trained for this career?
  • Would this career be something that would interest you? Could you see yourself doing this as a career? Why or why not?

Composing for Choirs

Eric Whitacre – Discovering the Golden Brick
Bob Chilcott – The Discipline of Composing 
Rollo Dilworth – Listen To the Sound of My Voice  
Mark Burrows – Advice for Composers 
Sarah Quartel – Connecting with Composers
Joseph Martin – The Journey of Creation
Patrick Hawes – The Gift of Composing
Ola Gjeilo – Composing from Nothing
Roger Emerson – Advice to Composers 
Cristi Miller – Imagination to Composition
Michael John Trotta – Becoming a Composer
Andy Beck – Composing for Your Needs 
Andy Beck – Advice & Mentorship
Keith Getty – A Global Songwriter
Lloyd Larson – Develop the Art of Arranging 
Joel Raney – Composing: Where the Music Meets the Message
Paul Mealor – Composing for Royalty 
Randy Vader – Putting Voice to Eternal Things

Use the arrow to scroll through the videos:

Composing for Instruments:

Wynn-Anne Rossi – Composition – Finding Your Voice
Larry Clark – The Masters Wrote for Children; So Can You
John Mackey – The Composing Process
John Mackey – Composing for Band
Brian Balmages – Composing Organically
Joel Raney – Composing: Instrumental Works


Col. John R. Bourgeois – The Inside Voice
Greg Gilpin – It Was Always What the Song Said
Paul Mealor – Conducting Emotion 
James Jordan – The Grammar of Conducting 
Mark Hayes – Finding the Choir’s Identity


Greg Gilpin – Advice from an Editor
Mary Lynn Lightfoot – Advice from an Editor
Mary Lynn Lightfoot – Developing Composers… and Friends!
Larry Clark – What Is Excelcia Music Publishing?
John Mackey – Self-Publishing
Col. John R. Bourgeois – Bourgeois Editions

Teaching Music:

Rollo Dilworth – Why I Pursue This Art
Sarah Quartel – What Our Students Need
Roger Emerson – Building Young People Through Music
Pepper Choplin – Teaching Choral Music
Cristi Miller – The Magic of Middle School
Tracy Harris – Master Classes & Live Events 

Performing on Broadway and in Hollywood:

Deke Sharon – Pitch Perfect: A Cappella Goes Hollywood
Deke Sharon – The Sing-Off: A Cappella Takes Over TV
Amanda Jane Cooper – Giving Yourself to the Role 
Amanda Jane Cooper – For Parents of Creative Children

Instrumental Performers:

David Kim – Being a Concertmaster
David Kim – The Language of Audition
Col. John R. Bourgeois – The U.S. Marine Band: A Witness to History
Tracy Harris – Following Your Passion
Tracy Harris – Enjoy the Journey 

April Is Jazz Education Month!

Pat Martino – Here and Now
Christian McBride – Being a Musician or an Artist
The DIVA Jazz Orchestra – Jazz with Pepper 
Arturo Sandoval – Jazz with Pepper
Eddie Palmieri – Jazz with Pepper
Dave Liebman – What It Is 

Kathy Fernandes
Kathy Fernandes
Kathy Fernandes is Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for J.W. Pepper. With her background as a school band director, studio teacher, and ongoing experiences as a flutist and mother of three musicians, Kathy is immersed in music. She continues to be involved in education by teaching middle school-aged students at her church and also serves on its Pastoral Council. Kathy advocates for a healthy musical culture by serving on the Board of the Music Publishers Association of the United States, as an industry representative for the American Choral Directors Association and through participation on the Corporate Advisory Council for the National Association for Music Education and the Support Music Coalition. Kathy is Secretary of Corporation for J.W. Pepper’s Board of Directors, is a Forbes Communication Council member, and is a former member of the Key Executive Group for the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. This is a great resource, thank you. If you are planning to expand it, I would love to see some interviews with music technicians, recorders, and producers.

    • We’re glad you found the list to be helpful, Jamie. Thanks so much for your suggestion about what other types of interviews you’d like to see. We’ll look into adding people who enjoy these careers and let you know if we highlight anyone who is an expert in these areas.


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