Music Colleges

June 17, 2005 at 03:33 AM · I am looking for advice, comments, information on the following colleges and their music programs. I'm researching this summer as a rising junior, for when school starts, where to send out my applications and really start working on this fall college audition repitoire.


-Shenandoah Conservatory (Virginia)

-East Carolina University (North Carolina)

-University of Maryland College Park

-North Carolina School of the Arts

-Duquesne University (Pennsylvania)

-Catholic University of America (Washington D.C.)

Anything you know about these colleges would really help me make my decisions and narrow my research! Also, any suggestions on other places to apply to would be a great help!

Replies (46)

June 17, 2005 at 05:22 AM · I think University of Maryland has MUCH to offer. I studied privately with Gerald Fischbach. He is a consummate professional and a gentleman to boot. His teaching methods are so finely honed that you almost smack yourself in the head and say "Now, of course! It's really IS that simple!"

The facilities are first rate, the campus is pleasant and safe, and there is SO much culture in the area. DC as a city has plenty to offer in terms of art and culture and U of MD College Park is only a 15 minute drive (light traffic) to the Smithsonian et al.

The string department is still catching up to the opera and piano departments but it is well on it's way.


June 17, 2005 at 02:35 PM · Duquesne has some very good students and offers some hefty merit scholarships.

NCSA is a solid school, but you should be warned that there is a big drug culture there.

Vanderbilt is worth looking into. Good violin faculty, excellent academics (though the non-music requirements aren't excessive), friendly environment in Blair, the music school.

Watch out for financial problems at out-of-state state schools. They have virtually no need-based aid available.

June 17, 2005 at 03:20 PM · Thanks!

Does anyone know anything about the 3 other colleges?

Also, I'm curious to know if Robert Gerle is still at CUA?

June 17, 2005 at 03:58 PM · Jude I can assure you that there is a huge "drug problem" at just about every university on this continent. That doesn't mean that it is completely possible to go your entire time without ever seeing any... University isn't highschool.

June 17, 2005 at 07:41 PM · Just thinking outside of the box. If you want to really contemporarize your skills/performance, check out Berklee School of Music in Boston.

-Ross Christopher

June 17, 2005 at 08:41 PM · Peter, the fact that there are drugs everywhere does not mean that there are certain places where they are more and less predominant, or are more and less socially acceptable. NCSA has a considerably larger problem than most places. Please don't be condescensive; I'm not trying to shelter anyone, but the NCSA drug scene is something that a prospective student has the right to know about.

June 17, 2005 at 10:15 PM · Jude I'm just wondering where you get this information from.

I'll be willing to bet that you could probably go to Arizona State for 4 years of undergrad and not once see a beer can. It has been consistently recognized as the #1 party school in the United States. You find drugs and alcohol, they don't find you.

It's pretty hard to quantify a "drug" culture. What the big deal? Kids comming stoned to class? Wake up, that's everywhere.

I'll guarantee you that studying in NYC or any other major city will pose far more of a threat than a bunch of stoners smoking grass between classes. No one warns anyone about street violence if they want to go study at Juilliard...

June 17, 2005 at 11:48 PM · I attend Shenandoah Conservatory (going into my third year as a violin performance major). I would definitely recommend it if you need a blast of technique. The entire first semester is devoted entirely to getting a good, solid technique. It's great if that's what you need (which I did, so it worked out great!) Shenandoah is a great place to study and I would heartily recommend at least applying to it (they are generous with scholarships if you have strong grades or are a strong player, and there are possiblilties of getting scholarships for both if you are strong in both areas!).

Having said that, I am looking at the University of MD (where both of my teachers here at SU got their DMAs) and CUA for grad school....

June 18, 2005 at 12:31 AM · That's an interesting concept. Usually teaching is done on an individual basis, even though every school has some sort of unifying premise. Are there big technique classes at Shanandoah or is every student just given a bunch of Schradieck to do on their own?

Roland Vamos says that he does not consider you his student until you've done the whole Schradieck book, HIS way.

June 18, 2005 at 01:34 AM · Wow... I'm embarassed to say I've never even looked at Schradieck. How do you pronounce the name?

June 18, 2005 at 01:56 AM · Northwestern and Boston University also have great music programs.

June 18, 2005 at 02:06 AM · Jude,

You've really never heard of it? I'm surprised, I thought it was about as standard as Kreutzer.

Pronounced SHRA-dee-ek


June 18, 2005 at 02:16 AM · Thanks everyone....

I'm really not the greatest player to ever get into Boston or Northwestern.

June 18, 2005 at 02:35 AM · Well of course each student is treated individually according to their strengths/weaknesses, but the first semester for EVERYONE here, regardless of teacher, is a comprehensive technique rebuilding (a la Galamian). We do Kreutzer, Schradiek, Yost, Flesch, and Gavinies. Then, second semester, the technique is applied to Kreisler/Corelli La Folia and (sometimes, if the student is ready) a piece of their own choosing. Then your lessons are based on what you want and need to play.

Both violin teachers here follow the same philosophy (surprise, surprise, they're married...) for the first semester/year, but after you are solid with basic technique, their individual nuances come out. It's really interesting for a student like me who studies violin with one and viola with the other to see their different philosophies once the student has a good technique and is tackling repertoire.

June 18, 2005 at 03:38 AM · Yes, I have heard a lot about the faculty at Shenandoah. That's why I've been drawn to it.

Does anyone still know any info about CUA out there?

June 18, 2005 at 05:01 AM · Preston, I've heard of Schradieck-- just never played it.

BU is a great program! Bayla Keyes, my future teacher there (when I arrive in the fall) is a particularly fine teacher; I don't know tons about the rest of the violin faculty, but Peter Zazovsky, Roman Totenberg, Malcolm Lowe, and several others are well regarded.

Maybe you could look into Ithaca College, Ryan?

June 18, 2005 at 05:42 AM · ah, I see. You should play them! They're great, not very difficult by any means but really great exercises.


June 19, 2005 at 04:30 AM · Although he is advanced in years, Robert Gerle continues to be a great teacher and a very warm person. His ability to demonstrate is unfortunately slowed by his Parkinson's.

June 19, 2005 at 08:10 PM · What is Jody Gatwood like as a teacher?

June 24, 2005 at 08:10 PM · Hi,

I just graduated from Catholic University and I studied with Jody Gatwood.

My advice: Go to CUA. Mr. Gatwood is so wonderful, patient, and is the best violinist I know (Player, teacher). He is not only a violin teacher, but literally, a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. I promise you will love him.

I just began lessons with Robert Gerle a few weeks ago, and it is too early to tell if we make a good match, but I am learning new things from him every lesson.

June 24, 2005 at 08:15 PM · Oops, I forgot to say that yes, Robert Gerle is still on the faculty, he only teaches from his house now.

Email me at:

if you have any further questions about CUA.

I saw you mention that you 'aren't the greatest player' and I think CUA is for you. Mr. Gatwood is the kind of teacher who doesn't just take amazing violinists (Like 90% of other music schools). He takes ones that need work, and are a challenge! So I think CUA might be good for you.

June 25, 2005 at 01:58 AM · Does CUA offer decent scholarships? I want to really be in D.C. more than any other place. Most of my family is there, and I need their support constantly emotionally, and musically!

I also know it's pretty hefty expensive first hand knowing the D.C. area like the back of my hand.

Maybe I should just e-mail you!

June 25, 2005 at 02:28 AM · Decent scholarships...

Let's see. I think

1) if you are Catholic you can get a scholarship

2) More instrumentalists get scholarships than say, music theater majors

3) If your grades are good, and you play a good audition, chances are you will get one.

4) You can get an academic scholarship too.

5) Don't forget to apply for scholarships given out during HS!

Sure, e mail me!

Better yet, come have a lesson with Mr. Gatwood.

He would be more than willing to hear you play!

March 18, 2006 at 10:14 PM · I'm going off on this again.

-Can anyone give me any info about Charles Stegeman @ Duquesne. What is he like as a teacher/performer?

-What is the string program like at Duquesne?


-How are the string departments compared to each other at University of Marland, College Park and Catholic University of America?


March 18, 2006 at 11:01 PM · The University of Oklahoma is going to be a big time school here in the next few years.

March 18, 2006 at 11:33 PM · Ryan,

Go with UofM if you're choosing between the two. Great teachers and great facilities and resident tuition (if you get resident status).


Why? Are you donating $100 Million?! ;)


March 18, 2006 at 11:38 PM · Oklahoma is going to be the Indiana of the...more western midwest.

March 19, 2006 at 12:44 AM · No, Jim, you're referring to the Northwestern Oklahoma University

March 19, 2006 at 01:31 AM · Technically, Oklahoma is in the Southwest. It's the in the northeast southwest, though.

March 19, 2006 at 01:35 AM · Illegal immigration has been forcing it to move in a northeasterly direction.

March 19, 2006 at 01:36 AM · Is it really true Brian Hanly is teaching @ Towson University in MD?

March 20, 2006 at 04:54 AM · One thing I seldom see discussed in the where should I go to college threads is money. If you are serious about a career in music, you can pretty well count on needing a master's degree. You will also need a professional quality violin and bow.

I see way too many people coming out of school with enough student loan debt to equal a large mortgage. They can't pay it, and they can't get out of it.

You might consider somewhere along the way if there is an in-state school that is good enough that *if you are good enough* will be able to get you into a top drawer masters program. An in-state student in Oklahoma can go to OU (recomended highly above) for a fraction of the cost of any of the schools on your list. That means more money for instruments and grad. school.

Have you considered someplace in-state?

Elaine Dowling

Norman, OK (home of the Univ. of Okla.)

I am an alumna, but not of the music school.

March 20, 2006 at 05:05 AM · hey, Elaine! Haven't heard from you in ages! how've you been?

March 20, 2006 at 05:46 AM · Greetings,

a Masters degree? Are you sure? Maybe it is just the difference between Europe and America?

The four years one typically studies at music College in Britain would only count as a bachelor degre eand the post graduate work that a small numbe rof people follow up with is not typically refrred to as a Masters degree. Nor do I think it should. I have a couple of MA`s in other fields and they made much higher demands of time in terms of years.

The money is certainly a big issue . But thta is also true for other qualifications these days. Most of the graduates I meet here in Japan cam over to pay off student loans.



But as you s

March 20, 2006 at 09:43 AM · I got out of OU scott-free with a degree. She has a good point. If you don't have a college debt, it can really change how you are able to live. You can do all kinds of things with your life when you have no debt to pay off. For most violinists, a state college with a good music program will offer everything that's needed.

March 21, 2006 at 02:38 AM · Please consider Grand Valley Sate University, where I teach. If you'd like to talk to one of my graduates who is now at Peabody, let me know. We give great scholarships and waiving out of state tuition is very possible and often done. My best advice is to get your Bachelors where you like the teacher and get your Masters for the name school.

Good Luck.

March 21, 2006 at 03:34 AM · Ms. Jenson,

I just wanted to say that I LOVE your Sibelius recording. I was completely blown away when I first heard it (and I've been blown every other time I've heard it!)

I only wish Grand Valley had a doctorate in Performance...I'd love to study with you.

March 21, 2006 at 04:40 AM · Buri, a Master's degree is very standard in the US. A healthy majority of professionals have them. (the MM is a two year program.)

March 21, 2006 at 11:19 PM · Greetings,

Jude, that`s very interesting. Does that mean that an American trained professional musician does a four year course (bachelor?) and then a further two years of study before joining the profession?

In general a British musician from the top colleges will only do four years or in special cases five. I was lucky because I could do a one yera orchestral trainign course after graduating. I don`t know if thta course is still fucntioning, money being so tight in British Arts these days.



March 21, 2006 at 11:21 PM · Hi Ryan,

Mr. Gerle passed away in November. It is very unfortunate, because he was one of the best teachers out there. As far as I am concerned, he was the only reason for a violinist to go to the Catholic U. Read his books and you'll get a glimps of why!

Jody Gatwood is a very meticulous teacher (very technical) but his playing, eventhough it sounds good, is very uncomfortable to watch. He is a person who composes his own etudes in 4th and 5th, because the Dounis, Sevcik and Flesh are not enough for him! (You get my drift.)

The CUA campus is very dangerous. It is in a REALLY bad neighborhood. People get mugged at a gunpoint on their way to their car. The music building is very old and they are only a few practice rooms. It has been a few years since I've been there, but I doubt that much has changed (for the better anyway).

University of Maryland has a very nice campus and they have good facilities. I have never studied there, but I worked with many musicians who have. They were all quite good. One of my acquintances, a former doctorate student from UM now teaches at the Peabody prep.


March 22, 2006 at 03:38 AM · Buri, yes, you've got it. Of course, at the very high and very low levels you find more people entering the profession after four years undergrad (bachelor's) work, but by and large, master's degrees are expected.

Under what circumstances do players do further study in the UK?

March 22, 2006 at 04:55 AM · Greetings,

thanks. These days I don`t know the answer to your question. But, twenty five years ago the Royal College of Music was only offering a small number of `5th years` which went either to the elite of that year (assuming they wanted it), or virtuoso students from abroad who wanted to study for a year with one of the greta players there at the time. I recall Jae Park with Rodney friend (he played the Khatachurian cocnerto with the Philarmonia during that year) and Johnathon Carney who I think is now the Baltimore concertmaster and is certainly clocking up some notable recitals (assumign its the same one...). But, the majority of players only expected to do four years. I say assuming they wanted it becasue actually one can get pretty tired of college/university during that time frame.

I think the expectation of 4 yeras max.

wa s

created in part

by the fact that grants were provided for most university subjects for four years (depending on parentla income)

and there was a generally attitude that everything was `the same` and takes four years to master....

We had -a lot= of orchestra at college but players were still basically unprepared to play in professional orchestras which is why the BBC funded the Orchestral Studies course I refer to in my previous message.



March 22, 2006 at 05:28 AM · Concerning Prof. Jody Gatwood who teaches at CUA, we were priviliged to have him on our faculty a few years back as a visiting professor. He is a consummate musician, a wonderful and thoughtful teacher, and a great person.

Dr. Bruce Berg

Professor of Violin

Baylor University

March 22, 2006 at 05:47 AM · Bruce:

I see that you are at Baylor. How is Steve Heyde doing? I studied with him while I was in Junior High School back when he was at West Virginia University. Please give him my best. Also, is Jeff Bradetich still teaching there? I did my undergrad work at Northwestern and he was the bass teacher there at the time. What a fantastic player/teacher.

Also, I studied with Jody Gatwood for several years during my masters work at Catholic University and I agree completely with your comments. He is very generous with his time, is a very fine teacher, and has a good studio at CUA.

I'm finishing up my doctoral work and had been studying with Robert Gerle since around 1994, when Jody went on sabbatical. As was mentioned above, Mr. Gerle passed away last year (late October) and I actually had the privilege of receiving his last lesson. Although the Parkinson's had made it very difficult for him to move or speak, his constructive comments were as sharp as ever. He was truly one of the great masters of the violin and will be missed terribly.



March 22, 2006 at 02:24 PM · I have never studied with Jody Gatwood, but I have only heard wonderful things about him. He is a very highly regarded teacher.

I did my Masters at University of Maryland, and I had a great experience. It is a very up and coming school with a lot of fantastic players and teachers.

March 22, 2006 at 08:23 PM · Ryan,

You might want to look into more than just the music performance program. What are the pedagogy classes like? Are there any music business courses or some kind of marketing courses you can take? Being a musician these days is not limited to playing your instrument well. You have to be able to market yourself effectively. So many talented musicans out there aren't making a decent living due to lack of business skills. While it is interesting and necessary to learn how to resolve this or that chord, it's not nearly as practical as being able market yourself, properly do your taxes as a self-employed person, etc. Being able to teach well is a plus too. Even if you don't want to teach full time, the extra income is handy. The teacher is the most important part of your choice, but make sure that the school has practical training to offer you too.


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