a1 1Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK email@example.com
a2 2Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, 100 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G2 3DB, UK
a3 3Music Department, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
a4 4Leeds College of Music, 3 Quarry Hill, Leeds, LS2 7PD, UK
This article addresses the question of whether higher education music courses adequately prepare young musicians for the critical transition from music undergraduate to professional. Thematic analyses of interviews with 27 undergraduate and portfolio career musicians representing four musical genres were compared. The evidence suggests that the process of transition into professional life for musicians across the four focus genres may be facilitated when higher education experiences include mentoring that continues after graduation, the development of strong multi-genre peer networks, the provision of many and varied performance opportunities and support for developing self-discipline and autonomy in relation to the acquisition of musical expertise. Implications for higher education curricula are discussed.