How do I Become an Orchestrator?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2018
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A person who wants to become an orchestrator may go to school to build skills that are necessary for this position. He’ll need in-depth knowledge of both composition and music theory in order to succeed in this field. As such, a person wanting to prepare for this career may earn a bachelor’s degree in music. As an alternative to a college education, however, some aspiring orchestrators seek training from other institutions that educate and train musicians, such as music conservatories. Earning a degree is advised, but not a strict requirement.

An orchestrator is a person who prepares music to be performed by an orchestra for a film, TV show, stage production or other type of performance. An individual who chooses this career may work for a movie studio, theater, concert hall, or opera house. Some orchestrators are also composers and write the music in addition to preparing it for performance. Others take a completed composition from another composer and prepare it for performance.


The typical preparatory route for a person who wants to become an orchestrator is high school and then college. In some cases, a person may earn an equivalent to a high school diploma, called a General Educational Development (GED) diploma, instead. It usually takes about four years to complete a college degree in music, and aspiring orchestrators usually opt for music majors, such as music theory or performance-related majors. No matter which major a person chooses, however, he’ll usually do well to take courses in music composition, history, theory, and production. Courses in film scoring may prove helpful as well.

An individual who wants to become an orchestrator typically needs certain skills and talents in order to succeed. For example, he should be very creative and have a personality that makes him easy to work with. He’ll need excellent communication skills because he’ll need to work not only with composers, but also with music arrangers and many types of musicians. A person in this field should also be detail-oriented. Reading, writing, and listening skills are important as well.

Some people secure their first orchestrator jobs by contacting film studios, theaters, and concert halls. An individual may even find work by searching freelance job listings. Some get work through contacts in the music industry or work their way up from performing music to orchestrating it. An individual who wants to become an orchestrator may even create a Web site through which to advertise his skills.



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