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A Career in Musicology

Ever heard of musicology?  Love music or love to play an instrument or sing, but don’t want to be an entertainer?  There are still plenty of career paths out there, like a career in musicology.

Meet Mandy Smith, the Education Programs Manager at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.  Mandy is in charge of all the Pre-K through 12th-grade music programming.  The Rock Hall offers all types of award-winning music education for toddlers to adults, including a “Rockin’ the Schools” and “Toddler Rock” programs.  Mandy delivers presentations teaching children and students about math, technology, English and music through the power of rock-and-roll.


“I go home from work every day completely satisfied. I wake up every Monday morning thinking ‘I can’t wait for this week.’”

On any given week, Mandy will teach about three “Rockin’ the Schools” music programs.  She may pop in to help out a couple of “Toddler Rock” classes as well.  When she’s not delivering presentations or teaching classes, then she’s working on something for the Rock Hall website or working on plans for a museum exhibit.

Part of her job is also giving tours.  She works with students from the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland who are taking a history of rock and roll class.  The class is held at the Rock Hall every week, so Mandy gets to share her knowledge of the museum artifacts and rock history.

Occasionally, Mandy also gets to play the drums or bass guitar for one of her classes or even rock out with one of her bands for a music event or concert held at the Rock Hall.

Skills Needed For A Career in Musicology 

If you want to have a career in musicology teaching rock and roll music, Mandy says more and more colleges are now starting to offer classes in rock history.  She also suggests you have a love of teaching and learning.  Having good people skills and communication skills are also important.  Mandy says it doesn’t hurt to play an instrument as well.

Mandy’s Background

Growing up, Mandy says she was influenced by her parents who both had a love of music.  Mandy’s dad was a big Rolling Stones fan and her mom named her Mandy after the Barry Manilow song. When she was about 12, she really became interested in playing music.  She learned how to play the bass guitar. In high school, she became a percussionist in the school band.  Mandy says over the years she really grew into her own love and appreciation of music, especially rock and roll.  That’s when she decided to go to college and major in rock and roll history and musicology.

What’s it like working at the Rock Hall?

For a music lover, there are many perks to working at the Rock Hall.  Mandy says whenever she needs to take a break from work, she just gets up and strolls around the museum.  Her favorite artifact in the museum to visit is Ringo Starr’s drum kit. She’s also met many famous music artists as part of her job. Recently, she met John Carter Cash as part of a music program to honor Johnny Cash.

Mandy says she also gets great inspiration from her fellow colleagues in the music department at the Rock Hall where she’s surrounded by several other musicologists as well.

Changing Career Paths

When Mandy originally went to college majoring in musicology she planned on being a college professor teaching music. But while she worked on her final doctorate degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, she landed an internship at the Rock Hall and her career path changed.  Mandy says the resources available at the Case Western Career Center helped her fix her resume, brush up on her interview skills and more so she could turn her internship into a full-time job at the Rock Hall.

To learn more about the Rock Hall and the FREE programs available to schools in Northeast Ohio visit: https://www.rockhall.com/


Mandy has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History of Rock and Roll Music (an individualized major program), Indiana University.

Master’s degree in Musicology, California State University.

Ph.D. in Musicology, Case Western Reserve University.

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