Music & College Question!

June 18, 2008 at 03:15 AM · Hello Everyone!

First off, I am going to be a senior, so college is right around the corner. I ideally would like to double major in mathematics and violin performance. The problem is that I am interested in top tier schools for my math degree but I don't think I'll get into their music programs (I'm sure I won't get in, actually). So, I was wondering if it is possible to attend two colleges simultaneously haha I know this sounds crazy, but, could I attend a top tier college for math while simultaneously studying violin performance at a near by, lower tier university? Any suggestions? Thanks for your comments! Much appreciated!

Replies (27)

June 18, 2008 at 03:33 AM · Hi Shelby,

A good friend of mine graduated from Eastman with a degree in violin performance and a degree in applied mathematics from the University of Rochester. You might want to consider that program.


June 18, 2008 at 04:09 AM · Sounds like a great idea. You'll have a new best friend named Sallie Mae!

June 18, 2008 at 06:50 AM · That Sallie Mae is actually a stalker. She followed me around for many years.

June 18, 2008 at 07:19 AM · "could I attend a top tier college for math while simultaneously studying violin performance at a near by, lower tier university?"

You won't have a problem finding a great math dept. and awful music dept. in a single school.

June 18, 2008 at 01:03 PM · University of Rochester has a music program at the River Campus, in addition to the Eastman School being part of U of R. SO you could be a math major/music minor at U of R, and access courses and lessons at Eastman, avoiding the issue of getting in to a great music school. Sue

June 18, 2008 at 02:54 PM · Johns Hopkins would be a good one to consider. It is strong in both.

June 18, 2008 at 02:51 PM ·

June 18, 2008 at 04:08 PM · CIM is on/near the campus of Case Western Reserve University. I think they share some facilities/programs, or they use to way back. Case is a fine engineering school so their math program is probably excellent. Art Institute majors can get credit from Case and vis-versa, so the Music school may honor the same arrangement. Possibly a minor degree in one or the other. See if there is a connection these days. This way you may have to work harder and longer but you could have a top tier degree without compromise in both areas. As far as a double major. I am positive it would take much longer, maybe years but why compromise your standards at this point in your life unless you are time constrained. CIM is very demanding as is Case. It would be a real stretch for a double major. There would not be enough hours in the day to do them 100% simultainiously as a major. Maybe you could juggle with alternate semesters/years or just take one as your minor.

Oberlin is a possibility, but more a liberal arts school with a fine music program. Maybe apply there and get your masters in Math at a top tier school. People I know from Oberlin get into some great graduate schools. There is also Berkeley in the Boston area. I would bet they have a deal with one of the many fine universities in that area. Regardless, you will need to have a super solid audition ready for any of the schools I mention not to mention top scores in math/SATs etc. No small task to prepare. Good Luck.

June 18, 2008 at 04:41 PM · My orchestra's resident prodigy is now attending

Vanderbilt studying pre-med and violin performance. She says both courses are very good.

June 18, 2008 at 05:15 PM · I knew a few people who went to MIT for both academics and music. A lot of the Boston schools can offer that flexibility.

June 18, 2008 at 06:37 PM · I believe University of Maryland, Michigan, and Carnegie Mellon have both good math and music programs. I also believe someone on this site went to Harvard and took private lessons from one of the many great teachers that reside in Boston.

June 19, 2008 at 12:36 AM · The conservatories (Eastman, CIM, Peabody) are very competitive. However, since you aren't too far from College Park, you might want to call a couple of the teachers over there, go have a lesson, and see what they think about your chances of getting in. I know that both James Stern and Dr. Fischbach (sp?) are very good. My son studied with Dr. Stern in high school and he is a very impressive teacher.

To get into Eastman as a performance major would be very difficult, but you possibly could go in as a music-ed major. The course requirements are very stringent, though, and you might be better off just taking lessons and majoring in math.

June 19, 2008 at 01:02 AM · Hi,

I believe this is possible. I think what Shelby had in mind is a very good math program and a less than good music program - the problem with the good schools (Harvard et al) is that they're all full of uber prodigy geniuses at everything so they have good music departments in addition to having good everything else departments! That said, I think above all you'd have to call the colleges in question and ask them about what you're interested in: if they don't have a double degree program already set up, would you be able to attend both at the same time anyways? I think it might be possible; some universities (e.g. Harvard and MIT) let students be enrolled in one while taking classes at the other: I don't know if this is exactly what you want but it seems to be a decent compromise.

I don't have very much experience with the names I'm about to mention, but it's worth a shot.

Stanford/UC Berkeley and SF Conservatory (That's one hell of a commute though)

For that matter, UC Berkeley probably has all the requirements you're looking for.

Harvard/MIT and Berklee College of Music or similar program


I don't know if that's the kind of thing you're looking for, but there you have it.

PS If you pull this off, let me know - that would be exciting to know this kind of thing is doable!

June 19, 2008 at 02:31 AM · St. Olaf College, a liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota, has an excellent undergrad mathematics programme. It boasts an incredibly high percentage of its math majors going on to prestigious schools for their grad studies. Two of its profs (Ostebee & Zorn) authored one of the best calculus texts ever written.

While St. Olaf is more renouned for its choral activities (e.g. the nationally televised Christmas special) than its orchestral activities, it does have a very decent orchestra for a college its size. It also has around 40% of its student body participating in musical ensembles. From your description of your violin abilities, I think that St. Olaf might provide sufficient musical opportunities and challenges.

June 21, 2008 at 03:44 PM · New England Conservatory offers a double major program with Harvard (and vice versa). Both are top-tier schools, ridiculously hard to get into, but rewarding in the end!

June 21, 2008 at 06:40 PM · you might consider going as a math major with a music minor, or as a math major who still takes lessons and plays in orchestra.

even if you aren't a music major, you could still probably take lessons with an adjunct faculty member or a master's or doctoral student and play in the university orchestra. at UMD (where i currently go to school), there are non-majors who take lessons and who play in the Rep orchestra, which is the orchestra for non-majors, which still plays great rep and has concerts in the main hall.

June 22, 2008 at 04:33 AM · If you're considering the University of Rochester and Eastman situation, you should know first that Eastman is very competitive, so maybe you should go for the University and just take classes at Eastman like someone suggested. Second, the U of R campus is a ways from Eastman (can't remember how far) but it might be inconvenient as far as transportation. It would be nice to go somewhere where you can get everything at the same place...just a thought :)

September 30, 2008 at 09:17 PM · Yes, St. Olaf has an excellent math department and excellent orchestras. There are two full symphony orchestras, so a player can aspire to the top one or, if less committed or talented, play in the second. At the spring concert, a senior chem major clarinet player was also a featured piano concerto soloist. He is going to Cal Tech for grad school this fall. The principal second violin won the national statistics prize in a competition open to both undergrads and grad students.

September 30, 2008 at 09:25 PM · are you just looking at math or also engineering?

I know U of I has a great engineering program but the music department is about average.

September 30, 2008 at 10:01 PM · (Shameless plug for my own school but) possibly consider Columbia? Our orchestra is quite good, many different teachers to take from in NYC (some for free through the school, plus whoever else is in NYC, and some program with Juilliard about whose details I am uninformed) plus a very good math department.

September 30, 2008 at 11:24 PM · Another shameless plug, but have you considered Boston University? Fantastic school of music, first rate violin faculty, plenty of opportunities... plus top-notch academics, including the math department.

September 30, 2008 at 11:33 PM · yes, but isn`t Spenser always doing shoot outs in the streets round there?

October 1, 2008 at 10:39 PM · I am actually in a similar situation right now. I have found that Swarthmore has a great math department while offering to pay for students to take lessons at Curtis. Stanford has a pretty decent orchestra. Vanderbilt has a great music department and math. As above mentioned Carnegie mellon offers a dual degree in math/science and music which can be done in four years.

October 2, 2008 at 01:52 AM · In reference to an earlier poster, yes, CIM has a double degree program. I'm at CIM doing violin performance and Case Western doing mathematical physics. Any music/math degree is going to be very intense. You must not value sleep much - you won't get any. =) If you're looking for a lower-tier music program which is easier to get into, Case has a music dept and a program that allows you to take lessons with certain CIM teachers while still earning your degree from Case. Of course their math/engineering is fantastic. Check it out.

October 3, 2008 at 04:54 AM · I graduated from Case Western Reserve as a music major. I would highly recommend it! I'm so glad I went there.... The academic level is awesome, and the arts culture in the area is vibrant. Although you definately don't have to be the best player to get in their music program, there are definately some good players there.

October 3, 2008 at 02:03 PM · Johns Hopkins has a good double degree program with Peabody - I think it's a prestigious program, definitely something to consider if you don't mind:

1. living in and commuting through a pretty sketchy neighborhood and

2. an extremely heavy courseload, about twice as much work as a normal Hopkins student (who themselves work and study around the clock).

Also Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, and Columbia/Julliard come to my mind but I don't know too much about their programs.

October 3, 2008 at 03:55 PM · You have received lots of good suggestions. One issue which is not clear from your question is what your career goal is: math, music or keep both options open. Your answer may make a difference. I suspect that there are more colleges with really good math departments than with really good violin performance programs (or access to them at another nearby school). You may need to give careful thought to this question. You should probably ask your teacher for advice.

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