NEC or Juilliard HELP ME

April 25, 2014 at 06:53 PM · Forgive my bragging but I really do have an enviable dilemma about where to go to school. I have been blessed to be accepted into both NEC and Juilliard, and I am stuck between the two of them.

For one thing, I do really like Juilliard, its in an amazing location which I enjoy massively and I'm quite happy when I've gone to visit. Though I haven't taken a lesson with the teacher, I have met him and I do really like him and his students are fantastic. In addition to that people, musicians and non musicians alike, actually take me seriously when I say I've gotten in there, which is quite nice. However, my current teacher warns me of the cutthroat nature of the students and worries that the nature of the students will crush me (as I am a rather sensitive person). Another musical mentor that I really respect says that a place like that is where people go to learn to become tough and independent. I also notice that people's experiences there are extremely varied from amazing to absolutely horrible.

NEC is also a wonderful school and the teacher there has been emailing me since February asking me to come. I haven't had a lesson with this person in ten years though I do love their playing. NEC has fewer complaints (also less reviews online) than Juilliard and I wonder if perhaps it would be better to have a teacher who really wants you rather than one who is rather neutral.

Finally the financial aspect of the whole thing is that I have scholarship at both schools but Juilliard has given me triple of what NEC has. My family could potentially pay for either though it is obviously a lot easier on everyone to pay what Juilliard is offering than what NEC is offering.

I really need some advice, I need to make this decision by May 1st.

Replies (20)

April 25, 2014 at 08:32 PM · If you don't have a strong preference for one or the other...go to which ever will give you the best financial outlook. No need to be in more debt when you're all done than you have to be...

Sometimes the most pragmatic decision is the best one...

April 25, 2014 at 09:43 PM · I'd do Juilliard.

April 26, 2014 at 01:51 AM · Both are very good. Which one do you see leading you best to the rest of your life? Which teacher do you see benefiting you the most? Which one opens you up to more possibilities? NY or Boston? Very different energies... You should have the answer inside you. The financial aid is nice, but only if it's a close choice. Otherwise, go with your heart.

April 26, 2014 at 04:12 AM · "However, my current teacher warns me of the cutthroat nature of the students..."

Does (s)he know them first-hand, or is (s)he remembering the way things were during his/her college days, or is (s)he just passing along a rumor? You *met* the students and liked them.

"... and worries that the nature of the students will crush me (as I am a rather sensitive person)."

You won't be the only "sensitive person" at Julliard or anywhere else. Most people are sensitive -- and especially musicians from my own experience.

"I also notice that people's experiences there are extremely varied from amazing to absolutely horrible."

This statement describes every institution of higher learning in the world.

April 26, 2014 at 01:15 PM · It's so hard to advise you, not knowing you and your not having mentioned the respective teacher's names. But if your feelings are so close, I'd advise Julliard.

I'm a New Yorker who graduated from Mannes and also briefly studied MSM and Brooklyn College. Several years after graduation I also lived in Boston for about a year. Boston is a fine town and it did me good to get away for a while. (And I couldn't care less about the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry!) The BSO is great, too. But the fact is that NYC is the most international of cities, with as much as 100 concerts and shows a week, and many opportunities to expand your horizons. Deservedly or not, the Julliard name has a certain cachet up to a point, which doesn't hurt. And the better financial aid that they are offering you is nothing to be sneered at. Chances are that you'll get more opportunities for networking and freelancing at Julliard and NY - though it's tough all over.

Ours is a very competitive business, which does not end at graduation; it only increases. Not everybody at Julliard is cut-throat and not everybody at NEC or anywhere else is not. You need to keep your sensitivity, but develop a thick skin as well, become a poet AND a warrior. Nobody ever became a successful soloist, orchestral player or freelancer by only being sensitive.

Finally, seriously consider getting a masters even if you're sick of school in 4 years. Get some training in a back up skill too, because the music biz is so tough - yet keep your dreams, also. Network and make a lot of friends. Today's say, bassoonist who doesn't seem as important as a hot fiddler, may become a contractor on Broadway one day.

Good luck, at let us know what you decide!

April 26, 2014 at 01:37 PM · As the parent of an aspiring violinist, I'm wondering if some of you could comment on a few issues that I think are raised in this question:

1) How important is it that the teacher have a recognized name and/or is one of the senior teachers at the particular conservatory?

2) How important is it that the particular teacher is very enthusiastic about taking this violinist on as a student, and is actively courting her to join his or her studio?

3) How much does it matter whether the young violinist is one of the "favorites" of the particular teacher?

Good luck with your decision, Helen. I'm sure that you will have a bright future ahead of you.

April 27, 2014 at 12:29 PM · Hi AJ. Some interesting questions. It's hard to generalize, as each situation is different. But here are a few thoughts:

1. As to a 'name' teacher, it depends. The most important thing is that the student make a lot of progress with a teacher. Sometimes that will happen with a 'name' teacher and sometimes it won't. Dorothy Delay had one of the biggest names ever in the business - both intrinsically as teacher, and as someone with connections to managers and conductors. In that case her clout sometimes helped - and if she had a favorite, she probably did go the extra mile. But so much is what the student brings to the table. Not everybody can be a Perlman, a Midori, a Sarah Chang. Many students came to Delay no doubt hoping to get the VIP treatment and were disappointed. Others felt that they didn't learn all that much from her. Many others swore by her. It's different in each case.

2. As to a teacher courting a student - that can be a good sign, and indicative of a student's talent. But it may also indicate that this teacher doesn't have many talented or very advanced students.

3. As to favorites, as I indicated in the example of Dorothy Delay, that can sometimes make a difference, and sometimes not. You won't know in advance about becoming or staying a favorite. As with any kind of relationship, a student/teacher relationship at the start, may have good indications or warning signs, but you can never predict entirely how it will work out, and it may do some good even if it's not long term. You can never can predict chemistry.

And again, so much is what a student brings to the table, with talent, hard work, good attitude, etc. As a teacher myself, I've often been reminded of the old adage, "you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink."

April 27, 2014 at 01:11 PM · From everything you said I think Julliard is the best choice. If Julliard is offering you more money they obviously want you more. You seem to like the teacher and his studio is talented and inspirational. There is nothing really cut throat about music school but you might feel pressure and challenges because you will want to fit in with the high level of playing in your studio. Both schools cater to their star students. Try not to worry about that and just make the most of your opportunity to learn and develop, and do it at a pace that is best for you. Your experiences will be personal and I would disregard what you hear from others.

April 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Helen - I was wondering if the reason you posted is that you are a bit scared of Julliard? But think of this; if you really don't like it you can always move to a less competitive school. However, it does not work the other way round.

I know your deadline is upon you, any closer to a decision?

April 29, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Either choice will offer benefits, and problems.

Raphael raised a good point about the difference between the two cities. Being a "New Yorker" is very different from being a "Bostonian," and even if you practice, study, etc., for the majority of your days, you still want an environment you are comfortable (or at least can tolerate) living in.

One reason the financial aid from Juilliard maybe be so much higher is the cost of living in NYC.

These are my (rather random?) thoughts. You can have a wonderful learning/living experience at either place. When you make your decision, make it as whole-heartedly as you can, and try not to have second thoughts until you've lived your choice for at least a year.

April 29, 2014 at 01:50 PM · I'm a complete beginner violinist, but I have attained middle-age, and thus can dole out some advice (that you may or may not want...)

Why are you attending a music school?

Just to study music?

So that you can become a violin instructor as a career choice, with an occasional wedding gig?

Or, are you aspiring to be a professional musician?

If you are aspiring to be a professional violinist, I would suggest that you can NOT be afraid of "cutthroat" environments, as that is what life as a professional violinist (and, in truth, most other professions as well) is all about. You will have to beat out the competition to get your future jobs. It doesn't mean that you have to be nasty or anything like that, but you will have to become acclimated to that sort of environment sooner or later and feel confident in yourself in that type of situation.

From reading your original post it seems that you prefer Julliard, yet are hesitant due to some reservations. If you want it, go and get it. Obviously, having been accepted to both schools you are a talented musician. New York is a big place, like no other. Having the opportunity to be there for a few years while you are young is an experience that may not come again.

Listen to what YOU, yourself truly WANT. Don't pay as much attention to the smaller, nervous thoughts.

April 29, 2014 at 03:13 PM · I would definitely go with Julliard. No reasons to have even more debts when you get out of school, not to mention the performance opportunities are a lot more plentiful in NYC than Boston. NEC is alright, but some things are lacking imo not to mention, there really isn't all that many performance opportunities outside school, which I think is invaluable to music students.

Every school will seem "cutthroat." You're going to find that any and everywhere for the rest of your life. And everybody has heard rumors of this or that school that paints it in a not-so-good light. :)

Also, about a teacher "wanting you" at NEC vs. one from Julliard, you yourself answered the question already. At that level, it's always a good feeling to be wanted but at what cost to your professional progression? If the teacher doesn't have a very good track record then there isn't much left to discuss.

A lot of teachers are good/great string players, but it goes above that to make a great teacher. My first year at the conservatory, my 'assigned' teacher had me all over the place and I barely learned much. It was not fun, to say the least. Great man, amazing violinist but his teaching style explained why he only had 2 students vs. other teachers studios lol. I then moved to another teacher and blammo, huge strides were finally made. Was polar opposites.

Finally, it's normal to be sensitive as a new freshman. Most are. Although you will run into those who have some of the biggest heads around, but then you'll develop thick skin and all will be normal to you. All part of growing up. NYC alone will do that for ya. ;-)

April 29, 2014 at 07:05 PM · "cutthroat" is only that if you choose to participate in unhealthy competition. If you're in a high-achiever's paradise, don't look at the competition as being against others, but to reach your own potential.

April 29, 2014 at 08:38 PM · Who would you be studying with at NEC? If Miriam Fried is the answer, I'd do NEC without a doubt! Juilliard was perhaps the best school in the 60's but now things has changed. And remember that living in NYC is quite more expensive than in Boston.

April 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM · In queens college my old teacher starts to teach Violin as a professor in September 2014. I don't know the school good, but the presentation online has a very appealing touch to me. The costs are much less, then somewhere else (around 13-15t$ a year). I will come there most likely in summer 2015 too, when I manage the financial part.

If you are a violinist, Lara Lev is a great teacher. I learned many things from her and she is top level and has top level students.

April 30, 2014 at 02:34 PM · Thank you everyone for your advice!!! I ended up choosing Juilliard.

April 30, 2014 at 04:17 PM · Bravo!

Chronya Pola!

Christos Anesti!

Etc, etc!


April 30, 2014 at 05:31 PM · Wahooo!!

Best of luck - and let us know how it goes...


April 30, 2014 at 08:31 PM · Yes, Brava! Or in Russian (of which I know maybe a dozen words) Maladetz! In Hebrew, Kol hakavod!

As I'd mentioned, I'm a New Yorker and if you need a word of advice once in a while down the line, let me know. BTW, can you now reveal who your teacher at Julliard will be?

May 1, 2014 at 11:52 PM · Congratulations! You could not go wrong with those great choices (but I'm glad you'll be at Juilliard.)

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