The importance of using every aptitude one possesses cannot be overstated; this is especially true for music. An idle aptitude turns potential from challenge to hindrance, and unused music aptitude seems a more personally upsetting waste of talent than that felt, for instance, by a high-graphoria executive who rarely has the time to do his own typing. Music, too, seems not to admit of solution by hobby: an aptitude in music demands a commitment from its possessor, more imperiously the stronger the talent.

Some advice from Johnson O’Connor

Thus, when on succeeding days many years ago two people received summary discussions of their results in the Boston laboratory, Mr. O’Connor urged both to use the aptitude each revealed in music. In the case of a young woman frustrated in her present secretarial position, who had played piano for fifteen years, the news of her musical gift was no surprise. In the case of a man about to undertake advanced business training, the presence of musical aptitude seemed incredible and he argued vehemently against its implications. Both examinees were objective in personality, indicating they would find success and fulfillment in personal contact with others, in management or business, not in the isolated life of the subjective performer.

To recommend that these individuals employ their musical abilities is easy. To discuss specifically the job or jobs in which the combination of objective personality and high music aptitude would permit happiness and achievement is not so simple.

The Foundation advances two principles relevant to the problem. First, do not accept a job for which you have no aptitude or little interest in the hopes of thereby working toward a dissimilar role in the same organization. For the young woman who had high music but low graphoria (clerical) aptitudes, this means not to repeat the mistake of secretarial work, even if she might in this way receive a promise of moving into another sort of job, one which would use her ability. Proper experience is always more important than the lucky break.

Second, remember that it is easy to move from subjective to objective roles, but almost impossible to move from objective to subjective fields. That is, the training one must have for occupations in which a subjective personality is an asset (such as medicine, performing, or law) will always prepare one for some sort of objective role (hospital administration, teaching, management) but one rarely moves from these objective examples to their analogous subjective roles.

This means that the objective, musically gifted person should seek specialized musical training in composition, music theory, or an instrument. Study in these fields will increase general vocabulary and specialized knowledge, both of which become increasingly important to success as one matures, and will enable one to work with musicians, the appreciative public, and other objective management in music or music-related fields. It may also yield more personal satisfactions: only with specialized training can the objective, musical person jot down the tune he hears in his head and perhaps reap from his own popular creation greater satisfaction and remuneration than from a year of salaried work.

With this advice and the prerequisites in mind, what sort of jobs are available for objective, musical persons? Dr. Robert L. Hull, former Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Professor of Music at the University of Arizona, suggested the following outline of professions suited to an objective-music combination:


  • Concert managers
  • Personal representatives of artists
  • Orchestra, opera, or allied musical organization managers
  • Impresarios, i.e. local concert managers
  • Musical directors for recording companies
  • Music or program directors for radio or TV
  • Music publishing companies
  • Music instructions manufacturers
  • Management of retail music stores
  • Editors for music magazines, journals, and book publishers


  • Concert agency representatives
  • Musical instruction salesmen
  • Salesmen for publishing firms


  • Classroom music teachers in elementary and secondary schools ( to a lesser degree in colleges and universities, since teachers at this level tend to be subjective)
  • Conductors of amateur musical organizations
  • Conductors of school and college organizations
  • Administrators in school or college musical programs

Acoustical engineering and design

Dr. Hull continued:

The average individual who finds his way into those professions listed under management, number one above, has no prescribed academic route to follow. Indeed, the great dearth of good management talent for all the organizations mentioned under number one may be due in part to this fact. Those who are concerned with salesmanship or manufacturing in music very frequently have the same problem. Those who enter the teaching or performing professions usually seek musical training through school and universities, often supplementing their training through private studies and/or conservatories. Those few who are in acoustical engineering usually go through the route of training in physics and /or electronics.

Some universities now are considering the development of programs which would help individuals who have high musical aptitudes and who will attempt to find employment in the above categories. These programs would be tailored also to accommodate those individuals with high management aptitudes who happen to have a great love of music, and therefore wish to go into music management.

To Dr. Hull’s helpful comments we would add that the field of speech and speech therapy may use the aptitudes for fine sound discrimination that we think of as music ability. (The author knows) two people in the field of speech therapy who are both musicians by avocation, and this combination of profession and hobby seems unlikely to be purely accidental.

Careers in the theater

Moreover, the theater offers many opportunities for exercise of musical talent. Theater management, production, and publicity all involve one in a musical milieu; and both summer stock and college theater groups offer the beginner the sort of experience crucial for a successful career. The frustrated but highly musical young woman mentioned earlier discovered during her conversation with Mr. O’Connor that she had numerous connections with the theatrical world, but lack of understanding of her own abilities had never permitted her to consider this direction. She left the Laboratory with a greater range of future possibilities before her, and the self-understanding necessary to choose wisely from among them.

Vocabulary and other aptitudes

The foregoing must be tempered by the realization that vocabulary level and other aptitudes are crucial for a career decision. The Foundation can now measure with reasonable accuracy nineteen different aptitudes, and these can combine in literally tens of thousands of ways to yield a unique aptitude pattern, only a few hundred of which fit recognizable vocations. The Foundation can point the direction one ought to take for fulfillment and satisfaction, but the individual must rely on himself to find or create the position that uses his own combination of abilities. 

Our March 2005 Bulletin #162 has two other articles those with musical aptitudes might find of interest: From Oboe to News Desk, an oboist’s story of her career transition, and A Note on Musicians, a brief report on the aptitude patterns of professional musicians tested in our New York office.

Are you ready to choose intelligently?

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