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LAC's for would-be conservatory students?

Maestro94Maestro94 Posts: 4Registered User New Member
edited November 2012 in Music Major
I am an orchestral trumpet player, and I have decided that a liberal arts degree is more important to me than a conservatory degree. I absolutely loved Yale (but I don't have a chance of getting in) and St. Olaf. I know that Lawrence is a good option, although I haven't confirmed that non-music majors may participate in the conservatory at Lawrence. Where else is there?
I ruled out Emory, DePauw and Furman because I really don't want to go to a school with a lot of fraternities.
I have heard that getting by in Oberlin's music department as a non-major can be difficult. Same applies to Carnegie Mellon. I don't want to be bound to a five year dual degree program at schools such as Oberlin, Rochester/Eastman, and Harvard/NEC. A faculty member at NEC told me that the Tufts/NEC program has an impossible schedule.The orchestras at Vassar, Pomona, MacAlester, and Colby don't seem up to snuff. Nobody at Occidental bothered to answer my emails. Are the orchestras for non-majors at Johns Hopkins and Rice at the conservatory level, or close? I will be more than happy at Yale, St Olaf, or Lawrence, but I've been having enormous difficulty finding other places with such flexible and prestigious music departments. Answers to any and all of these questions are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Post edited by Maestro94 on
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Replies to: LAC's for would-be conservatory students?

  • compmomcompmom Posts: 4,163Registered User Senior Member
    Maybe look at Bard College and Bard Conservatory. If you are in the conservatory, you have to do the 5 year dual degree, but music majors in the college apparently have a lot of opportunities, almost the same as the conservatory students. Spirit Manager knows a lot about this program and may come on to elaborate.

    You could also major in music at a college, or study something else, and continue to study privately with a teacher in the area of whatever school you choose-?
  • chemusicchemusic Posts: 523Registered User Member
    I second compmom's suggestion of Bard. We stopped by and heard part of a performance and they have built up a full orchestra there now. Have you actually heard the orchestra at Vassar? Eduardo Navega is a fantastic conductor and the orchestra is excellent. Many of the students over the years are conservatory level and turned down Hartt and Oberlin (those are ones I know of) to go to Vassar because they wanted the LAC experience. Also, the lack of distribution requirements makes it easier to double major at Vassar. I hope you have time to visit the schools and hear the groups in rehearsal or performance. When you are there, you will know if it is the right environment for you. We must have heard 20 college orchestras/musical groups over the years and it was worth the effort to get to campus to hear them. It became obvious where our sons wanted to be.
  • intparentintparent Posts: 12,869Registered User Senior Member
    I am not sure about trumpet, but my D is applying to Lawrence and wants to sing in the choir as a non-music major. They told her on the tour that she can definitely do that. I think they get that question a lot... I would suggest that you email admissions at Lawrence and just ask them that question. I am pretty sure they could answer or pass you on to someone who could describe what is avaiable and what the process would be.

    We got the same impression at Oberlin regarding choir, that she probably could not sing in a larger choir there is she is not a music major.

    Keep St. Olaf on your list for sure, they are a very musical place! Our kids' high school (private, independent, sort of a liberal arts high school) is sort of a feeder for them, and many of the more musical students end up there. And then there is sort of a loop back into the Twin Cities where musicians from there often end up employed here as well (not saying by any means that you couldn't be employed elsewhere!). Just that we happened to go to a great concert just last week by a group started by a couple of St. Olaf grads. :)
  • lmkh70lmkh70 Posts: 972Registered User Member
    Rice won't allow non-majors to take much music. My daughter is in love with Rice. They said at some point, she could take lessons or something. But, there is no chance for a minor or double major or anything.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Posts: 2,491Registered User Senior Member
    I don't know a lot about brass, mostly strings, but you might want to look into Case Western with the possibility of taking lessons through CIM or through Case but with a teacher from the Cleveland Orchestra.

    You might want to look into University of Pennsylvania (I know the school because I teach there and have written articles about the music department ), where you could potentially study with a Philadelphia Orchestra member and have your lessons count for credit, subsidized. Brad Smith, the conductor of the orchestra happens to be a trumpeter, so I imagine he would return your emails. You could also play in the PYO Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, which admits college-age students. If you are not adverse to the Philly area, also look into Swarthmore, where again your lessons could be subsidized and for credit.
  • trumpetguysmomtrumpetguysmom Posts: 108Registered User Junior Member
    S is currently at Lawrence studying jazz trumpet. One of the reasons he chose Lawrence is because its conservatory is the most "porous" of the ones we looked at. Lawrence encourages all students to play in Conservatory groups, and they have a special scholarship for kids who want to participate in music but don't want to major. S is a dual-degree student, trumpet performance with a jazz emphasis in the Con and Physics in the BA program. He's loving it so far. They just had their Jazz Weekend and they sounded great!

    Feel free to PM me if you want more info about Lawrence.
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Posts: 2,527Registered User Senior Member
    CIM/Case Western would be an excellent option for you- the trumpet faculty are also members of the Cleveland Orchestra. The physical layout of the campus is what makes a dual degree so much more "doable" there than at most schools, because the conservatory sits right on a corner of the Case campus so no academic class is more than a 20 minute walk or 10 minute bike ride (and there are buses that circulate too).
    Another to consider would be Baldwin Wallace Conservatory/University:one of their trumpet faculty is an Cleveland Orchestra member and the campus also makes it easy to get around.
    Both schools offer greatly reduced student tickets to concerts at Severance Hall and free attendance at open rehearsals and orchestra members and guest performers give frequent Master Classes. CIM is a few blocks from the concert hall so getting there is really easy. PM me if you want any more info about either school.
  • Maestro94Maestro94 Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    Ill definitely look again at Vassar. I visited before I realized that I was in love with music. My mom was a music major there. I Ioved the campus and the kids, but didn't get a chance to hear the orchestra- I had only judged based off of what other musicians had said. I never even thought about Penn and Case. I'll have to check those out too. My main concern with Case is that 1/3 of the students are in frats, and the impression is that they're more math/science oriented- I definitely need more info though. Not at all surprised about Lawrence, I'm definitely applying there.
    If it helps to know, I'm very interested in environmental science, history, economics, political science, law, math, and nature on top of my music. In terms of performance, I couldn't imagine not playing in an orchestra in college.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Posts: 2,453Registered User Senior Member
    The ivies in general seem to have good music programs for non majors (Yale, for example,, doesn't offer an undergrad BM degree but has a decent orchestra), Princeton does for sure, Columbia does and so forth. I know that they give weight to kids with music backgrounds, a lot of the kids coming out of pre college music programs like Juilliard and NEC end up at top level LAC's and Ivies, have been told by alumni recruiters that they are always looking to bolster their college music programs which for the most part are not aimed at majors from what I can tell and if they are pulling kids from the pre college programs in any kind of numbers (and they do), it means they likely will be at a decent level. At Columbia,you can go there and I believe on of their joint deals with Juilliard allows you to take private lessons there (there are different levels of that, there is also the joint program that let's you finish columbia in three years and get an MM from Juillard, which is different and a lot more difficult to get into..with the regular program you simply take lessons at Juilliard and maybe do chamber, while getting your normal bachelors from Columbia). I don't know if it still does, but when I went to NYU back in the dark ages they offered music lessons and orchestra for non majors.
  • BartokrulesBartokrules Posts: 219Registered User Junior Member
    One can be a Musical Studies major at Oberlin College. While the major is run jointly by the College and the Conservatory, it is a BA degree. One could then double major within the college. This is not the 5 year program which is a dual degree BM/BA.
  • quilllquilll Posts: 370Registered User Member
    Check out Kenyon. My daughter was very impressed by their music and excited by the opportunities she would have had as a non-major.
  • compmomcompmom Posts: 4,163Registered User Senior Member
    Just to clarify: do you want to major in music (a BA versus BM would usually not be a performance degree but would be an academic major with theory, composition, music history, ethnomusicology, technology in music and so on)? Or do you have a liberal arts major in mind and want to do music as an extracurricular and/or outside of school?
  • PianoMan12PianoMan12 Posts: 158Registered User Junior Member
    I go to Lawrence and my ensemble is made up of mostly non-majors. Plus Lawrence is just generally awesome, so I'd suggest it.
  • memakememake Posts: 558Registered User Member
    My advice is: think hard about what exactly you are looking to get from your college musical experience. Even the best orchestra experience is only a couple of hours once or twice a week. If that's all you're looking for, it shouldn't be too hard to compromise a bit on the level of the orchestra in consideration of all the other great things you're looking to get from a LAC. To be honest, even the best college orchestras are mostly not as fabulous as, say, a conservatory orchestra. If you're looking for a BA in Music, then you want to consider the strength of the department and faculty. If you're looking for people to play with in ensembles, then you're in search of a campus with a lot of musicians and music-love. It's going to be hard to beat Oberlin, and I would guess, Lawrence and St. Olaf on those scores.

    I didn't really understand what was keeping you from looking into Oberlin - that it's hard/impossible to be in the top conservatory orchestra if you're not in the BM program? That might be true, but there is a great deal more that you would have access to at Oberlin that relates to your musical life which is hard to find in such abundance elsewhere. (Notable exceptions already mentioned.)
  • Maestro94Maestro94 Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    I'm definitely undecided about my major, which certainly does not make the search easier. Should I get an undergrad degree in music, it would be a B.A. In music in addition to another Bachelor degree in the arts or sciences. Having the option of not majoring in music would be nice, as I really am not ready to declare a major. My main concern is keeping my options open, and to not make sacrifices, which is what makes Lawrence and St. Olaf so attractive. Now I will definitely be paying some attention to Oberlin, Bard, and Vassar. With the information that I have, it seems that I'll need to pay a visit to each of these schools. I ruled out Vanderbilt because the frats seem to be a big part of the social scene, although the school seemed wonderful otherwise.
    A- average, 9 AP courses and 2050/2400 1390/1600 SAT, so Ivy leagues are probably a little bit out of reach. Decent extracirriculars, volunteering and employment history, not including music. In terms of my music profile, I Have been in a comparable program to that of NEC or Juilliard prep for 5 years, now in an orchestra roughly equivolent to the top orchestra at one of those programs.
    So far the application list is definitely Lawrence, St. Olaf, and maybe Oberlin, Vassar, and Bard.
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