The Colburn School or San fransico conservatory??

June 29, 2006 at 01:28 AM · Does anyone know about The Colburn School or San fransico conservatory?

How's that school? I have no idea about that.

If anyone knows.. let me know about that school's details..!!

Replies (27)

June 29, 2006 at 02:52 PM · Colburn School has a conservatory division. Although it is fairly new, the faculty list is quite impressive. I believe Robert Lipsett teaches there, and possibly Alice Schoenfeld too.

If you get in Colburn, the tuition is waived!

Also Colburn is across the street from Walt Disney Hall, the home of Los Angeles Philharmonic. And Colburn has a fairly new facility. If you need more information on Colburn, you can visit their website at:



June 30, 2006 at 05:45 AM · Colburn is a very good school. Its comparable to the any conservatory. I know some people that would be just as happy getting into colburn as they be to get into curtis.

June 30, 2006 at 03:42 PM · I can only speak as an observer, not a musician, but I've attended a few of the San Francisco Conservatory's chamber music performance class (where all students/faculty attend and different teachers offer feedback). I was soooooo impressed by the dynamics and energy of the staff. Ian Swenson, Axel Strauss, and Mark Sokol, to name a few, seem like phenomenal teachers and musicians. All the faculty were breezy and friendly with the students, the 2 hr class was great fun to watch, and the feedback to the students was thoughtful and incisive. Perhaps all classes of this kind tend to be that way in any conservatory, and I'm sure each conservatory has its illustrious faculty, but these folks very much impressed me.

The school focuses more on chamber music than training soloists, it would seem. They've just left their site of thirty years to move to San Francisco's Civic Center, close to Davies Hall and Herbst Theatre. All new facility (I think...) - sure to be a dynamite place.

And as for living and breathing in San Francisco - well, forgive my bias, but it's one of the greatest meeting points of city and culture, nature and scenery, that you'll find anywhere in the world.

June 30, 2006 at 06:51 PM · Axel Strauss is a brilliant violinist and a great teacher...look for his album of Mendelssohn Leider ohne Worte (arr. Hermann) to be released by Naxos in February :-)

Why not schedule an itroductory lesson? See if you like it?

July 2, 2006 at 02:18 PM · Heifetz had Frank Lloyd Wright design a teaching studio for his home in Beverly Hills CA. I believe that's where he did all his main teaching. That small building was completely dismantled and reassembled in the new Colburn building, and violin lessons are now taught inside it by Lipsett. Quite an amazing structure. Just an aside on the Colburn.

July 5, 2006 at 12:46 AM · yeah its strange I hear a few people talk about culburn school and its supposed to be a top notch school, but I have never met anyone who went there? its kind of strange like a brilliant phantom ship, but this might be because it doesnt have the timeline history that other conservatories have.

July 10, 2006 at 01:38 AM · If you're talking about the conservatory division (for colburn), Robert Lipsett's the only violin teacher on faculty. I think ms. Schoenfeld teaches in the pre college division though.

July 10, 2006 at 03:14 PM · A student of mine went to SF conservatory and loves it and the teacher Ian Swenson.

July 13, 2006 at 02:38 AM · Colburn's conservatory division is pretty new but it is definitely a great school. It is very competitive to get in, they usually only have about 4 violin spots open every year. I've heard some of the violinists play and they are amazing. Definitely a top-notch school.

January 16, 2007 at 10:21 PM · Everyone who studied with Mr. Lipsett at USC is basically a Colburn Student as well. Actually, more a Colburn student than a Thornton one.


January 17, 2007 at 04:32 AM · What do you mean by that, Vince? I don't know the details of Mr. Lipsett's studio, It seems to me that the experience of studying at Thornton would be pretty different from being at Colburn, even though you would be in a "Colburn studio." I mean, you're on the USC campus, you're playing in Thornton ensembles, you're taking serious liberal arts courses... right?

January 17, 2007 at 04:47 AM · well...

Delay did this, and some other teachers do as well. They isolate their kids so they tend to be more independent of school requirements. I'm sure even if a student of Mr. Lipsett dropped out of USC, he could get them into Colburn and get them a degree easily. You see what I mean? These talents don't even necessarily need a bachelors degree.

So, no, they mostly play in Colburn ensembles not Thornton ones, though there are some who just sit through orchestra.

That's my impression. Especially since you can get orchestral experience thorugh AYS.


January 17, 2007 at 07:40 AM · Vince,

That's an interesting notion, but the requirements (as it was explained to me) of both institutions are quite different. It's not like in the 70s when Ivan Galamian could get you out of doing anything else but practicing. USC isn't the same situation as Juilliard or Colburn... it's a university with a reputation to uphold. It's a fairly strong academic institution with a venerable Graduate Program. They're not going to cut too many corners for Johnny Paganini III just because he can do his fingered octaves perfectly every single time. At the end of the day, even their star football athletes have to pass, and in their cases, you're talking about kids who are essentially sports celebrities, and are responsible (ESPECIALLY in USC's case), for bringing in millions in revenue every year.

Secondly, the idea that there are people who don't need undergrad degrees is certainly very interesting. I can name 5 soloists off the top of my head who DID do undergrad degrees, and possibly even M.M as well. I think a lot of the stuff I had to do to get my BMus is totally absurd, but since some of the greatest violinists of this generation have earned degrees, it's hard to buy that some people just don't need one.

January 17, 2007 at 01:18 PM · That's interesting, but it raises the question of why you'd bother enrolling at USC in Lipsett's studio, if your education will have so little to do with USC.

January 17, 2007 at 02:14 PM · I don't really know -- probably because Thornton at least offers interaction with violists from McGinnes' studio and cello students of the other Schoenfeld and Ron Lenard.

Those viola and cello kids usually restrict themselves to Thornton.


January 17, 2007 at 02:17 PM · Colburn came into effect recently actually. Before they were a prep school and after the death of Mr. Colburn, the school inherited like 300 million according to an insider and applied for official .edu status.

I gotta say I don't know how politics, policies and things work, but I think the phenomenon of the "degree" came into play because of societal pressures to create well rounded individuals, not necessarily musicians.

If you look at teachers today, Lipsett, B.A. in music (Arts, not Music degree) from CSU Northridge? Midori, Artist's Diploma, same with Sarah Chang. Vamos, non-substantive music degrees from academic institutions - Juilliard Diploma. Delay the same, performer's cert/diploma. These degrees have few core requirements in comparison to the B.A./B.M. (look at G.E. requirements).

So, I don't think your argument Pieter, is totally sound. One set doesn't exclude the other by saying that it seems as though something is a function of a pattern found among a few.

Plus, U.S.C. in California, is not considered a very tough school. I know a not so good violinist with a 2.5 GPA from Ugrad that was admitted into the grad school. And this trend goes on further, the top California schools, Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, and Caltech, have no substantial music programs. UCLA percussion is the closest.

So I don't know -- the point is that USC was there first, and sometimes the first to come gets the students who's parents like the idea of their sons or daughter musicians going to an "academic" institution for higher learning with a settled reputation. Maybe that is why conservatories get better students -- more practice time, less pressure to fulfill requirements, less pressure from parents, greater talent to succeed. Dunno... but I'm sure Lipsett had to convince some parents to allow their violinist sons and daughters to transfer to Colburn.


January 17, 2007 at 04:15 PM · Vince,

I know exactly why you made the comment, and it does make some sense. A lot of what you have to do in university is a total waste of time, and in my opinion, being well rounded is something you have to do for yourself. I've often found that great performers are interesting people themselves, who enjoy the finer points of culture and arts outside of what is required by university. However, more recently, there have been several who have done the undergrad degree. In fact, a prominent violinist who used to visit this site was among them. We traded stories about we got through theory requirements, and he told me about all the BS he had to write in order to pass. Obviously what separates us is that he is a phenom and now has a big career, and I'm sitting in my boxers writing to you with no prospects but possibly getting very drunk tonight.

So, I agree with you and understand why Mr. Lipsett might disuade people from going to USC, but I also think that with universities emerging with top flight music programs, it's going to become more common for great artists to go through undergraduate boot camp.

January 18, 2007 at 06:29 PM · Conservatory is better or university? It depends on individual cases. I am not sure there is a blanket solution for everyone.

Having heard excellent violinists from both USC and Colburn, it is hard to generalize.

Heifetz and Piatigorsky taught at USC. So there is a strong tradition of string playing there. Sure, they are long gone, but still there are excellent players from USC. Colburn is a young and upcoming star- with excellent faculties and facilities, and many promising string players.

Although I went to USC, I have friends at Colburn who are outstanding young artists (they sure don't play like students!!).

A complete music education is still important to some people. Sometimes I hear performances that are technically sound, but has no meaning or mature musicianship behind it.

The biggest problem is that there are very few full time pre-college music programs. I can think of Interlochen, Walnut Hill, and North Carolina- that's it, maybe I missed out a few. Other are weekend programs, not full time.

For the few unusual cases, talented people like Lawrence Lesser and Peter Rejto (and other cellists... I am sure you can find a few violinists), they didn't even major in music.

And if you think university curriculum is a waste of time... it may or may not be true- but you can say the same about conservatory curriculum along that line of thought.

Those who think they can make a living playing the Mozart, Vieuxtemps, Sibelius Concerti usually get a wake up call- someone asks them to teach a theory class in addition to giving violin lessons at a college. Or even conducting an ensemble.

Sure, I understand that undergraduates have to do all kinds of things before they get to their instruments. There is not enough time of the day to practice. I remembered that I had to practice like mad in the summer and winter vacations to catch up.

Just say no to anything but the violin? I wish the world is that simple. One better insure that million dollar arms and fingers.

One has to be versatile to survive in the classical world. Whether it is conservatory, university, or no education at all...

January 18, 2007 at 09:03 PM · Here is an entry from Wikipedia on USC, it is ranked 27th by US News and World Report of all universities in the United States.

We joked that it was called "University of Spoiled Children" before. And the university took this comment to heart, they actively recruited students with lower social-economic-status (SES)and of different backgrounds. One of the most exciting things about studying in an university is that you get to meet people outside of music.

January 18, 2007 at 09:38 PM · Well, it's not a matter of a school being good academically.

It's a matter of it being a California school. If it were located in any other state, by all means, it would be the top school or super highly respected.

When you have Caltech, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD stacked on top of you, it's hard to stand out in the minds of students. Even some of the Claremont Colleges (Pom. and HM) are greatly considered over USC.

It's a relative matter... But I'm very certain that California is very lucky to have Thornton as well as Colburn, and of course SF Conservatory. Though we can't rival Curtis or Juilliard or NEC's dominance, their (Cal music schools) existence and good work educating future musicians make a great difference in California.


January 18, 2007 at 10:04 PM · Vince,

I think that a lot of that is just imaginary.

California has a lot of money, so there's a lot of potential. I think in the next 20 years we'll see some major figures come out of places like USC and Colburn. When you have people like Midori (USC) and Robert Lipsett, and a school that pays all tuition and expenses, there's an enormous amount of potential there. Colburn I'm sure will eventually become synonimous with excellence in the same manner that Curtis has.

January 18, 2007 at 11:06 PM · A lot of it is not whether it is a California school or not, it's in your head.

Michelle Kim is the Assistant Concertmaster of New York Philharmonic. She went to USC, studying with Robert Lipsett at the time. Yes, she went to Juilliard too. But she was an excellent violinist before even entering Juilliard.

Michael Tilson Thomas also went to USC. And he has a job as the Music Director of San Francisco Symphony.

There are good, average, and bad players in most schools. I think you are just obsessed with the names.

January 19, 2007 at 12:09 AM · I'm currently working on my Bachelor's of Music degree at a state university. The school's not famous at all, but I love studying with my teacher, and I love having smaller classes (my String Pedagogy Class and my String Literature class each had only two students, and we each got a lot of individual attention). I've had a good experience so far, although living in a town which is basically just one huge festering 24-hour party is starting to wear me down.

January 19, 2007 at 04:42 AM · Before I take my sabbatical -- I said academically. Musically, obviously it is superior. I have great respect for USC, that's where my teacher went to school.

I was referring to the academic reputation.

And no, it's not in my head, it's in everyone's head. hehe.

And yes Amanda, I agree... it is what you make of it -- a teacher is a personal thing, and the right teacher for YOU, can be virtually anywhere. Even on here.


January 20, 2007 at 03:15 AM · Whether or not it is as high academically as the other California schools has no baring on a comparison between Thornton and Colburn persay. Yes, Thornton is going to have more academics classes, but who cares if it's not as good as UCLA academically? Parents and students who like the idea of a "well-rounded" education, whether or not it is neccessary (a different argument for a different time) would love Thornton because it is a university setting. Few of the other California schools have music departments that are as highly respected. So, if you weigh the idea of a superior music education and a really great academic education, regardless of whether it's top in the state or not, will be motivation enough for many people. And I know several people that have studied with Mr. Lipsett at Thornton and Colburn. The Thornton students do get to feel like they are part of USC. Many of them have chosen to go on to study at the other school for further degrees.

I think, back to the original argument, that either school would be great. It depends on whether or not you work well with the teacher you pick at whatever school you find. There have been phenomenal teachers that have taught at lesser known schools and that have produced many great artists. Then you have to look at other factors such as the school's atmosphere, it's ensembles, financial aid (always high on my list!) and other such things.

Good luck with your choices- take lessons with teachers at both schools and do research around campus. I'm sure you'll know which one is right for you.

January 20, 2007 at 04:08 AM · "Everyone who studied with Mr. Lipsett at USC is basically a Colburn Student as well. Actually, more a Colburn student than a Thornton one." Vince V

That is a huge assumption to make. Readers beware!

January 22, 2007 at 01:34 AM · Well, it's not an assumption. And readers don't beware... If you want to study with Lipsett, you basically have to become one of his kids and you basically follow him where ever he goes (This is direct info from some of his more successful students). So being a teacher at both schools and now only at Colburn, I think it is safe to say that his students are more partial to the idea that they are Lipsett students rather than students at USC. Now that Lipsett is the master teacher at Colburn, it makes it all the more clear that they belong directly to a community, and that is Colburn.

And I'm not arguing anything about the UCs or Stanford or Caltech.

I was just saying that a lot of students are at USC already because it was there first and because parents like the idea of a well rounded education over COLBURN, not anything else.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine