Choosing a conservatory?

March 31, 2023, 6:12 PM · This post is a bit of a brag, but also really a very legitimate question. My son applied to 5 conservatories and has been accepted to all of them with his first choice teacher at the places they let you choose. He's been accepted to Colburn, Curtis, CIM, Juilliard, and the professor has told him he will be accepted at NEC, though that is not official yet. He doesn't have all his financial offers in, but so far they are either full tuition or close to it, so financially all are possible.

I think I am more overwhelmed by this decision than he is (ha-ha), but nonetheless it is really tricky. In some cases he loves the teacher but is not as excited about the school, or he likes the teacher and school but not the location of the school.

Also, does anyone have experience with Curtis admissions? This one seems the most confusing because you don't rank your teacher preferences. He's received 4 emails from teachers since being admitted and is having a trial lesson with one this week, but we can't quite figure out how the teacher matching works.

Feel free to contact me privately if you don't want to post publicly (by clicking contact in my profile).

Replies (23)

March 31, 2023, 6:19 PM · Congratulations! We are still waiting for NEC too.
March 31, 2023, 6:36 PM · Congratulations! I'm sure you are very proud of your son. It sounds like he has an exciting future and will do great at any of these fine schools.
March 31, 2023, 8:20 PM · If he's got a clear preference for a particular teacher or set of teachers, I would think go for that, otherwise ... Go for the most famous one?
March 31, 2023, 9:22 PM · Amazing, wonderful and well deserved. The teacher and the city he wants to live in?
March 31, 2023, 9:34 PM · Aside from finding no reason to disagree with any of the foregoing, does he know any of the other folks that were admitted in his batch? People he knows from summer programs or master classes or such?
March 31, 2023, 11:18 PM · What an incredible young man you have, Susan! You must be so very proud. Congratulations!

This is a nice problem to have, isn’t it? If he truly has no preferences, I would do some sort of rank choice on various attributes, and see if that brings any clarity.

April 1, 2023, 12:02 AM · Congratulations!
Edited: April 1, 2023, 2:52 AM · In addition to these five conservatories, don't, on pain of death, forget Champion, Fifthroom, and Archadeck!
Edited: April 1, 2023, 7:11 AM · Thank you all. My son does know one of the other accepted students at Curtis, but she applied knowing what teacher she wanted to study with. My son applied with imposter syndrome, not expecting to even pass prescreen, let alone be accepted, so he didn't really contemplate the teachers until after acceptance.

Just got NEC info -- accepted with full tuition scholarship. Could it get even harder?

April 1, 2023, 7:58 AM · In a situation like this where it seems there is hardly a wrong decision to be made, I am a big proponent of trusting his intuition.
Edited: April 2, 2023, 8:30 AM · I have little to add and you sound like a lovely supportive parent (congrats to you too, it can't always have been easy ;) ). With all this wonderful 'low-hanging fruit', in agreement with Mary Ellen I would just be sure that the final decision is his. If he makes a non-ideal choice he has to deal with it, if you do ....

Might it be possible to do a school tour? You can learn so much from being there...

April 1, 2023, 8:14 AM · Mary Ellen is right.
More specifically, how he feels in lessons. Personal warmth and sense of support, presence of the teacher. The quality and kindness of the human that will be guiding them. Difficult, but trusting his gut feeling and going with it.
April 3, 2023, 4:33 PM · I think, once he's beyond teacher and peer preferences, he should pick the place where he's excited to spend four years of his life. I'd look more at the campus and near-campus area than the city per se, and especially consider the situation for practice rooms, since he's probably going to be spending an extremely high percentage of his day in a practice room.
April 3, 2023, 5:27 PM · It can be difficult to really get a sense of a teacher.

One statistic to look into is how many students of a teacher (or even better what percentage) end up with the type of job your son is interested in pursuing. (Read people's CVS and look for the teacher.)

April 4, 2023, 7:40 AM · I respect Mark's suggestion but I think it would be hard to turn that into a statistically valid study. If you want someone who has put a lot of students into salaried orchestras then you want the oldest teacher they have.
Edited: April 4, 2023, 8:46 AM · Congratulations!
I would choose the school based on the teacher. Clearly he is at the top of the current cohort of young violinists. Among the teachers he is considering, is there a DeLay-like broker whose recommendations everyone trusts? He can probably get whatever additional polish he needs from any excellent teacher; that's a certainty. But not everyone is well-positioned...

The disclaimer is that I (and probably nearly everyone else on this site) have no idea what's necessary for spectacular success at his level. I'm just guessing that having someone who can throw opportunities his way might be it is at the top of many fields.

April 4, 2023, 9:12 AM · Thank you all for your feedback! He made his decision this week and has decided to attend Curtis.
April 4, 2023, 9:22 AM · Congratulations to him and to your family as well! This level of achievement does not come from a vacuum.
April 4, 2023, 9:23 AM · Wonderful - please keep us updated on his progress. And good luck to him
April 4, 2023, 11:44 AM · So Great!!!
April 4, 2023, 9:20 PM · Congratulations! Things have probably changed since I was there, but I went to Curtis only knowing one of the teachers. And that one didn't have any openings in his studio, so they assigned me two teachers that I never would have picked on my own. They were wonderful, but I would say that my fellow students had more of an effect on me during my time there simply because I spent so much more time with them. If you want to message me, I'm happy to offer thoughts on the teachers that have contacted your son.
April 5, 2023, 8:34 AM · Thank you, Mr. Cole…we really appreciate the offer for info on teachers, but I think we finally have it mostly figured out. I definitely agree that the environment there is the key to success, and that is among the main reasons he is choosing to go to Curtis.
April 5, 2023, 3:57 PM · Congrats! What a big achievement for him :)

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