What to expect throughout the Professional Music program

This blog is the second of a three-part series of an interview I did with Noah Schwartz, the interim director of Ryerson’s newest undergraduate program Professional Music. This part will cover what students can expect throughout the program in terms of classes and skill development. 

The first part of the series focused on what exactly Professional Music is, so be sure to check that one out for more information about this brand new program. 


Jenna: What could a student expect during the first year of the program? What kinds of classes can they take throughout the degree?

Noah Schwartz: In terms of the degree, in general about 50% of it is electives so they can greatly shape their own experience based on their own interests and goals. The core curriculum is a combination of newly designed music courses and Creative Industries business courses. In first year, students will be taking two newly developed music courses which will be experientially focused.

two female students facing a wall with printouts and sticky notes, they seem to be discussing what is on the wall

They’ll be producing music, writing music and at the same time, they’ll be taking CRI 100: Creative Industries Overview to try to give them an academic and business overview of the industry. Then, they’re also going to have to take liberal studies courses. So, one liberal arts course and then also an electiveIn terms of the electives, another thing that I haven’t mentioned that’s interesting about the program is that it’s an interdisciplinary collaboration between three FCAD schools: the School of Performance, Creative Industries and RTA School of Media. Those three schools kind of serve as the directional pillars, so performance, media production and entrepreneurship and business. Students will be encouraged to maybe take an elective to consider one of those three interests, but they can actually take a wide variety of electives.


J: That sounds awesome. So what are some skills that students can develop in this program?

N: There’s a wide variety of skills, because success in the industry doesn’t look the same for every person. What they can definitely develop is discipline, project management, critical thinking, research skills, basic understanding of music production and composition, basic understanding of business principles and intellectual property. When it comes to the more developed and specific competencies, they’re going to have to self-select. If they choose RTA, they can develop skills in sound production or video production. If they choose Creative Industries, they can go more into business aspects like concert promotion, tour promotion or other kinds of Creative Industries courses, I know there’s a variety. They don’t have to focus on things like concert promotion if they want to do something with video games or fashion. We think it’s all integrated into music. Then in Performance, they would learn production management and the skills of putting on a live performance like lighting, ticketing, front of house, back of house-all that kind of stuff.


J: Seems like there’s a lot they can do!

Regardless of their stream, the idea of adaptability, resilience, critical thinking [and] creativity. A basic understanding of business, music production and composition is something all the students will get.


J: This is another question that you’ve kind of touched on previously, but in the Creative Industries program there’s a module called The Music Industry. How does Professional Music differ from The Music Industry module?

a woman standing in front of a whiteboard teaching a classN: I mean, many of the classes are the same. I’m teaching Business of Music this semester, which is in The Music Industry module. There’s a few classes I’ve taught like Business of Music I and II, Music and Brands, Concert and Festival Management, [and] all of those remain in the Music module. What will happen is students from the Professional Music program will be in those courses as well. So hopefully that will add to the courses, by making them richer and having more students with direct industry experience that they can share with other students. And then probably more and more courses will be added to the music module as we go forward. That won’t happen in the first two years, but it probably will after the third year because you can only update them once every two years.


J: I just started The Music Industry module this year, so I’m super excited to see where it goes.

N: I taught Music and Brands, and now it’s taught by someone named Charlie Wall-Andrews, who hopefully will be quite involved in the program. She’s a Creative Industries lecturer, but she’s also the executive director of the SOCAN Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the big performing rights organization in Canada. It’s people like her that we want involved in the program, who kind of are comfortably living in both the industry, teaching and doing research because that kind of holistic interdisciplinary perspective as well, even though it’s not the same for every person, kind of like having a variety of jobs seems to be the norm for successful people in the industry.


Wow! Professional Music seems to have some really great courses in its curriculum, even though as a Creative Industries student I might be biased. It seems like there are a lot of individual opportunities in this program. 

Check out the Professional Music website for more information! The program is currently accepting applications this fall for admission in fall 2021. 

If you have questions about the program itself, Noah Schwartz can be reached at noah1.schwartz@ryerson.ca for any questions regarding the Professional Music program. 

If you have questions regarding the application process or admissions, you can contact the Ryerson Service Hub.

Related Posts
nullgirl infront of laptop stressed