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Jazz guitarist seeking high level program on West coast/northwest areas

jazzschoolnonojazzschoolnono 4 replies2 threads New Member
I'm a jazz guitarist from California going into my senior year... starting to decide exactly where I'm applying to college. I want to major in music with a focus (or major) in jazz studies. I've found a lot of options far away from California and on the east coast, but I want some more in the northwest (Oregon, Washington, etc.) or California area.

USC and UCLA are not really my vibe.. looking for a smaller liberal arts college idealy. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

What I've found so far:
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Also looking at Cornish College of the Arts... they seem to be more visual art and theater/film focused but anyone know anything about their music and/or jazz programs?
11 replies
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Replies to: Jazz guitarist seeking high level program on West coast/northwest areas

  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6822 replies2 threads Senior Member
    U. of Washington and UBC are both quite good for music, but I have no idea how they are for jazz. They are both big.

    What is your budget? As a music major you would be best to avoid debt (which I would say for most other majors also).
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  • compmomcompmom 12089 replies82 threads Senior Member
    edited August 4
    I was going to mention San Francisco Conservatory, but the guitarist I know who thrived there was classical. The jazz program may have guitar, but I can' t find it on the site of the Roots, jazz and American Music program https://sfcm.edu/curriculum-rjam-undergraduates

    Other BM programs- you would have to look into details:

    University of Puget Sound School of Music has classical
    guitar https://www.pugetsound.edu/academics/departments-and-programs/undergraduate/music/at-a-glance/degree-nondegree-programs/

    University of the Pacific Conservatory is a possibility https://www.pacific.edu/academics/schools-and-colleges/conservatory-of-music/academics/degrees-offered.html

    These two are not BM program:

    Look at Lewis and Clark https://college.lclark.edu/departments/music/

    Pomona https://www.pomona.edu/academics/departments/music

    I suggest you contact these schools and ask. Often times a liberal arts type college will find you a teacher, and the BM programs may have jazz guitar, it's just hard to find on the site. The classical guitarist I know also plays jazz professionally.
    edited August 4
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  • aquaptaquapt 2531 replies54 threads Senior Member
    Pacific Lutheran may be one to look at https://www.plu.edu/jazz/

    And if you'd consider a more inland location (but still relatively easy to access from CA), consider U of Denver Lamont School of Music https://www.jazzatlamont.com/
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 327 replies1 threads Member
    SFCM / RJAM (Jazz program) has many jazz guitar students. And jazz guitar faculty is Julian Lage (Amazing). And a new Artistic Director is Joshua Redman from 2020-2021.

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  • thibaultthibault 275 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Generally speaking, SFCM is an extremely well-run institution. Can't say enough good things about the leadership and the faculty of SFCM.

    Look into it and see if it's right for you.
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  • compmomcompmom 12089 replies82 threads Senior Member
    Make sure to confirm affordability of course :)
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  • jazzschoolnonojazzschoolnono 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Awesome! Thanks all. Yeah, SFCM RJAM definately looks amazing. ISFCM does have a very small student body, and the campus looks pretty immersed in the city (which I'm sure is a positive thing in many ways) but wondering if anyone could speak to it being a good "college-y" environment? (relationships with peers, etc)
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 327 replies1 threads Member
    SFCM campuses are basically two nice buildings located in the middle of music / performance district. You would be surrounded by performing arts, great food culture and trendy cafe / stores. The area isn’t “college-y” environment at all. There aren’t other college students you would interact there.

    SFCM is a true conservatory with amazing guitar faculty (I can’t stop mentioning Julian Lage). Jazz students seem like a making a very good encouraging community. They sometimes perform at SFJAZZ Center.
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  • 2kidcollege2kidcollege 17 replies3 threads Junior Member
    You might look into Selkirk in Nelson, BC. It has a direct pathway (after two years & your associates) to Berklee College of Music in Boston. Even if you were to do the 2 year program is it reasonable and could be a back up option for you. Remember their prices are in Canadian and you have to convert to U.S..
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  • compmomcompmom 12089 replies82 threads Senior Member
    I suggest that you read the essay entitled "Double Degree Dilemma" closer to the top of this forum, that basically covers the different paths for study of music.

    I sounds like freestanding conservatories may not work for you if you want "college-y", unless they are integrated with a college campus with a BM program.

    First choose between a BM or BA, or double degree:

    A BM program would provide 2/3-3/4 classes in music and usually involves auditions. Since you want a small school (which would leave out larger university schools of music) you might want to look first at liberal arts colleges that have a conservatory on campus.

    Examples of liberal arts colleges with BM programs (Is there a reason you want West Coast only? )would be Oberlin (I know that Oberlin would have jazz guitar), Lawrence, Bard(not sure about Bard; and they require a double degree for conservatory students). Hartt at U. of Hartford used to have good guitar. I haven't checked recently.

    As I wrote before, there are options on the West Coast as well (see previous post).

    In all of these schools, check out the jazz program for guitar.

    Your other option is to apply to a liberal arts college for a BA (usually 1/4-1/3 classes in music, and no audition; you submit a music supplement with recording, music resume and music letters of recommendation). Often colleges will find you a teacher, if they don't have one (Middlebury and Williams offered this, as examples) and you can do lessons and extracurricular performance. You can also do gigs outside of school. Again, look at my previous post. Lewis and Clark and the Claremont Consortium (Pomona, Pitzer) might be possibilities

    I will mention that Oberlin has a "low wall" between conservatory and college and have enhanced the BA in Musical Studies to include more opportunities in the Con. That said, it sounds like you would prefer the conservatory.

    There are also double degree programs. For example, Tufts/NEC. But I will say I also love the Tufts music program for BA students and that would be true at many schools.

    You have some research to do. First look at liberal arts colleges with BM programs. Then look at liberal arts colleges with BA programs. Make sure jazz guitar is a major. Don't be afraid to email or call music departments to ask. Particularly about teachers, if that info is not available.

    You may find some surprises. For instance, tiny Bennington College had excellent guitar. Not sure if that is still true, but it is an example of a surprise you might find.

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  • jazzschoolnonojazzschoolnono 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Thank so much compmom, that's all really helpful. This week I'm going to reach out to some smaller LACs and other school about specific jazz guitar faculty, as that's often hard to find online like you said. Thanks again!
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