Good academic schools with good music programs?

November 5, 2007 at 06:36 AM · I am currently applying for colleges, and would like to know what good academic colleges also have good music programs with good violin teachers who I can study with. I am not going to major in violin, but would like to keep playing. I was All-Virginia in high school and have some "skills" but not enough to where I could get into Juilliard and pursue a successful career as a soloist or core member of a top tier orchestra. However, I really want to pursue it to a degree in college and would like to know which schools have good programs.

Replies (21)

November 5, 2007 at 07:02 AM · Hi, here's a short list. I hope this helps!





Oberlin College(Ohio)


November 5, 2007 at 07:31 AM · Columbia, Northwestern... Stanford has the St. Lawrence quartet in residence but I don't think it's really a performance school by any stretch of the imagination.

McGill University in Canada is very strong academically also, with the country's best music program.

November 5, 2007 at 05:09 PM · Yale (Best music program of the Ivy League, but not a conservatory. You'll have to pursue that after Yale at Juillard or wherever)

St. Olaf (Academically, many high rankings in Priceton Review. Would be top-10 liberal arts college if located on the East Coast)

Rice (Southwest Ivy-caliber. Huge endowment means low tuition if you can get in)

Northwestern (Midwest Ivy-caliber)

Indiana (Not as good as others listed here academically but probably has the best music program for violin)

Note: Harvard has a superb duel-enrollment program with the New England Conservatory of Music

November 5, 2007 at 04:11 PM · Columbia/Juilliard dual program

NEC/Harvard dual program

Curtis/University of Pennsylvania dual program

Peabody/Johns Hopkins dual program

November 5, 2007 at 04:40 PM · Lawrence University

November 5, 2007 at 05:23 PM · Carlsen,

You're bit a behind the news... why would you have to go to Juilliard after yale? You do realize it's now a top music program, don't you? Ani Kavafian, and Hyo Kang are on the violin faculty, along with the Tokyo String Quartet.

The level of every Yale musician I've heard is as good as any conservatory on the planet.

November 5, 2007 at 05:52 PM · OK, I stand corrected about Yale. I AM behind the times and had not heard that news.

The last I checked (awhile ago), Yale's own website made very clear the limitations of the undergraduate music program and that the Masters program was the thrust of their efforts. I did not realize that they now have a conservatory-caliber undergraduate program.

And just to be clear, I think a great strategy for anyone actually wanting a job is to attend a good music program (either a conservatory or a regular university with a strong music program) AND then attend more violin study at a conservatory.

After all, you are competing against others with combinations like this: Curtis followed by Juillard. Do you want a job?

For example, I know of a violinist who went to Harvard and NEC and then more study of violin at Indiana. Another went to Eastman and then Juillard. Another went to NEC and then Julliard. Another went to Southern Methodist and then Juillard. They all have jobs. Would they without attending the second school?

So what's wrong with going to Juillard after Yale?

By the way, I am not an expert on this. I will defer to the opinons of others.

November 5, 2007 at 06:49 PM · there's nothing "wrong" with going to Juilliard. The implication is that Yale wasn't good enough. It is a master's program, but it's pretty much one of the best. Also, I never said anything about not attending a conservatory or a different school, that's your own idea. Pretty much everyone I know also does further study at the grad level.

Also, there was a fairly famous article that followed a few Juilliard grads, and it made it look quite bleak.

Juilliard hasn't been "the" place for some time. Ask anyone and places like NEC, and CIM are at the very least, as good as Juilliard. The world has changed a bit. You'll find that the level at the top few conservatories is now quite similar across the board, whereas before, it was different.

November 5, 2007 at 08:27 PM · I didn't know that Columbia has a good music program. Do you know more about it?

November 5, 2007 at 09:35 PM · For a starting list, the 2008 Kaplan Report (a book similar to the Princeton Review) includes a list of music conservatories and another list of regular universities that have strong undergraduate music programs. I think these lists are worth a glance as long as you keep in mind that it's just one book's opinon. It then profiles some schools. For example, it says that Oberlin has an outstanding conservatory and has the reputation for being extremely liberal. Southern Methodist, on the other hand, is presented as a somewhat conservative school where kids of Dallas business executives go to school, with fancy cars and formerly the reputation for rich Southern bells, etc. Again it's just one book's opinion, and it does not detail the conservatories, which are beyond the strictly-undergraduate focus of the book. You can find at your local bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble, maybe the library, and even at Target. Of course, this information is for us outsiders.

Some university music department websites are helpful. For example, Indiana's website boasts that Joshua Bell recently joined it's violin department faculty, and before that, Alexander Kerr.

I also find it interesting to look at the musician profiles of performers for major orchestras to see where they went and how they got to where they are. It's not surprising that nobody went to Barnsville County Community College.

By the way, in response to the question about Columbia, I think a previous post says that the DUAL-enrollment program of Columbia/Juilliard is good, meaning that you go to Columbia in New York for a regular undergraduate education while also studying music at Juilliard (also in New York) at the same time. Likewise, the dual-enrollment program at Harvard/New England Conservatory means that you attend Harvard in Boston for a regular undergraduate education while also attending New England Conservatory (in Boston) for music at the same time. Curtis, I believe is located directly at the University of Pennsylvania campus.

November 5, 2007 at 09:48 PM · Some good choices that haven't yet been mentioned are Bard, University of Southern California, Boston University, Carnegie-Mellon University, and the University of Michigan.

November 5, 2007 at 09:49 PM · By the way, T Carlsen, your claim that St. Olaf would be a US News top-10 liberal arts college were it located on the east coast seems a bit bold considering that Carleton, which is just down the street, is one. Not that it's not a very good school, but I think you may see prejudice where none (or less) exists.

November 5, 2007 at 10:44 PM · The comment that St. Olaf would be a top-10 liberal arts school if it was on the East Coast came from a college profile book I read. It is not my own thinking. I am simply forwarded this information for others to consider and judge as they please. The counter-argument to the "undervalued" claim is that being unknown can lesson any networking and other boosts it might otherwise give you.

Take all this with a degree of skepticism. These are just lists to use as a starting point. Think for yourself. Think, think think.

There are lots of good schools besides the "top 10 schools" where you can learn what you need to become successful if you have talent and work hard. Dawn Upshaw attended Illinois Wesleyan University and went on to become "one of the most consequential performers of our time," according to the L.A. Times, and a recent recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant."

By the way, my characterizations of Northwestern as Midwest Ivy-caliber and Rice as the Southwest Ivy-caliber are characterization I read in a book called "Hidden Ivies." Don't shoot the messenger.

November 5, 2007 at 10:41 PM · I'm in a similar situation, and I think Yale and the Columbia-Juilliard programs are your best bet/interesting.

November 6, 2007 at 12:05 AM · is the music program in Yale hard to get accepted into? The academics, duh. But since the music program there is really strong now... I wonder?

November 6, 2007 at 12:13 AM · It's probably as hard as Juilliard or NEC now, because it's free.

November 6, 2007 at 01:17 AM · Tufts has a great program... Brand new music program, and there is this 5-year BM/BA degree program with NEC that you can apply for

November 6, 2007 at 02:48 AM · University of Rochester has the Eastman School of Music which has many wonderful teachers.

Cornell University has a good music program for major and minors.

Syracuse University is okay...

University of Southern California Los Angeles has a lot of great teachers as well as California State University Northridge.

November 20, 2007 at 09:28 AM · RICE RICE RICE RICE RICE...

November 20, 2007 at 01:02 PM · The University of Southern Mississippi. USM has a large, professional level symphony orchestra that has performed with Itzhak Perlaman, Yo Yo Ma, Placido Domingo, Nadia Solerno-Sonnenberg, etc. The strings have many international students also. USM has been referred to as "The Harvard of the South."

November 21, 2007 at 02:48 AM · I hear Rice is solid academically, plus they have great music school.

I go to Indiana-- I'm not sure how easy it would be for a non-performance major to land a spot in a studio since the playing chops at this campus are incredibly high and usually reserved for music school majors. I do know of one person majoring in pre-med and taking lessons. (So it is possible!) Most often, non-performance violinsts study privately with graduate assistants at IU. You can also major in performance and an outside field at IU. Most people in this type of program major in business.

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