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Best jazz guitar faculty/schools

jazzschoolnonojazzschoolnono 4 replies2 threads New Member
edited August 9 in Music Major
Currently a HS senior narrowing down my college list. Looking to major in jazz guitar. As is true for nearly every instrument, I'm realizing the faculty is one of the most important things to look at. Below is a rough and preliminary list I have. Obviously places like the New School and NYU stand out for faculty and resources, but any insight on faculty or personal experiences at the other schools (or any others that aren't on the list) would be greatly appreciated!

Elmhurst University
Willamette University
The New School
Whitman College
Oberlin Conservatory
Carnegie Mellon
Williams College
Northwestern University
edited August 9
9 replies
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Replies to: Best jazz guitar faculty/schools

  • compmomcompmom 12082 replies82 threads Senior Member
    edited August 10
    If you are not limited to the West Coast, as your original post implied, check out Hartt , Ithaca, and SUNY Purchase (Jazz Studies).

    You are not interested in freestanding conservatories, right? How does the New School fit in with that and your desire for a "college-y" campus?

    You have a mix of BA and BM programs. Are you applying to both? (The Double Degree Dilemma essay can help with this.)
    edited August 10
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  • jazzschoolnonojazzschoolnono 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Haha, yeah sorry for confusion, I am still all over the place and to be honest haven't fully decided exactly what I want yet. Depending on the school, I would be applying to either the BA or BM program, not a dual degree. Also yes, I am not as interested in free standing conservatories (because I like the idea of having that safety net of other options down the road) but places like the New School obviously have huge advantages, so I'm exploring those options as well. Thank you for the suggestions!
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1221 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited August 10
    I wrote the message below than had to take a call...so am posting it after your comment above. Note that it covers some of the same ground but may be useful...at least I hope!

    I'm not a jazz parent but I will let you know that often when students are looking at schools and interacting with faculty they will be asked this question "what other schools are you looking at?" This may come up on applications as well. Some people don't want to disclose the other schools as they think it may hurt negotiations or acceptance. I really think that the faculty is trying to figure you out and your educational emphasis.

    Your list does not say JAZZ! It seems to be a mix...like Jazz maybe but I'm very attracted to some academic schools too. That's OK. But it may give some faculty at a selective music conservatory pause...as the spots you are applying for are coveted and limited. On the other hand, some more academic schools (without selective music programs) may want a really great jazz student and be happy to welcome you. Of course, you need to be sure it has a good jazz guitar professor and good program.

    As pointed out above, the New School is looking for MUSIC students. The experience will be very different from...say...Williams. So that's a disconnect. You could say....heck I just wanted to put one conservatory on there...just to see. That's OK. But @compmom and I are having the same reaction to the list. It's a bit scattered.

    I think @compmom gives some sound advice about looking into the BA vs BM. Read the thread she recommends.

    Schools that have selective music and academics are Oberlin, Ithaca, Lawrence, St. Olaf. However I am unfamiliar on Jazz at these programs. @compmom gives some other candidates too.

    And...if you don't know about the jazz faculty of a school, just email the music dept. It really is the best and quickest way to get information.
    edited August 10
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 327 replies1 threads Member
    Check Frost (U-Miami) and U-North Texas if you are expanding far from West Coast. They are more “college-y” than The New School to me.
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  • compmomcompmom 12082 replies82 threads Senior Member
    Great advice from @bridgenail. Just want to add that it is okay to apply to both BA and BM programs and decide after acceptances. (My own kid did that actually.) It just helps that you have reasons for doing so, which you might :)

    You don't indicate an interest in academics so much as a preference for a "college-y" campus and atmosphere with integrated housing and social experiences with non-music students. Are academics a priority for you?

    Willamette is a BA, has a jazz ensemble. Whitman is a BA with a jazz track (but still 2/3-23/ classes non-music). Williams is BA with rigorous academics.

    Carnegie Mellon has a BFA with 80% classes in music, but it looks mostly orchestral. Has a jazz ensemble.

    Oberlin is BM or BA (or double degree) and just what you seem to be looking for. Elmhurst has both BA and BM including BM in Jazz Studies. NYU has a BM in Jazz Studies. New School too but not college-y in terms of campus. Northwestern Bienen has Jazz Studies.

    So mixed bag but you may have your reasons for these preferences. Good luck!
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  • jazzschoolnonojazzschoolnono 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Great advice! Thank you, really appreciate it. It definitely is a mixed bag, and I hadn't thought about that being a potential turn off for places like New School, great point. Acedemics aren't a huge priority for me, I really want a program where jazz will be the focus (perhaps contrary to how my list made it seem, haha). Does anyone have any advice on the social aspects of the New School? I know my classes and everything would be strictly music, but it does have a large-ish student population for a conservatory, so I was thinking it would still give me that community/social aspect and experience like a more tradition college would, but am I wrong?
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  • compmomcompmom 12082 replies82 threads Senior Member
    I think you are right about New School.

    It does sound as if you might want to concentrate on schools with a BM program, generally conservatories at colleges (or freestanding) or schools of music within a university.

    In addition to Oberlin, NYU, New School, Northwestern/Bienen, Elmhurst,maybe Carnegie Mellon (BFA), here are some other examples:

    https://www.ithaca.edu/academics/school-music/faculty-staff (scroll for guitar)
    Lawrence https://www.lawrence.edu/conservatory/areas_of_study/jazz_improvisational_music
    SUNY Purchase

    The thing you have to research is whether the jazz programs include guitar. Most of the guitar programs are classical but some classical guitar faculty may teach jazz guitar. But for you the jazz studies programs should include guitar so that you can perform!

    This is easy to find at the New School https://www.newschool.edu/jazz/guitar/
    I have run out of time but Berklee and NEC might also have it.
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  • compmomcompmom 12082 replies82 threads Senior Member
    Berklee https://www.berklee.edu/guitar
    NEC https://necmusic.edu/jazz
    USC Thornton https://necmusic.edu/jazz
    MIami Frost https://jazz.frost.miami.edu/
    Manhattan School of Music https://www.msmnyc.edu/programs/jazz-arts/

    While Berklee, Manhattan and NEC are freestanding, they are in an area of their respective cities where other schools are nearby or even abutting, so a college area.

    I'm done!
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1221 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited August 11
    I can't speak to the social aspects of The New School. I think that it would be good for you to contact the school directly (email is fine) and ask if there is a student that you can text or email or talk with. Schools do offer these "student ambassadors". The MORE that you can talk directly with the school and students, the better information you will find. Note: it can be "scary" to contact the school or student...but honestly schools/students like it!

    A general comment from me (no expert) would be that all schools will give you a "student community". I think that it's more the physical environment and academic offerings that will differ. There is not a right or wrong...it's just would you prefer the main focus being music alone. Would being a city be exciting or overwhelming? Or are you interested in having more variety in academic offerings and/or student body (not all music)? Would a traditional campus (with some sporting events for variety) be preferable?

    It's OK to not know for sure right now. My D had many small LACs and then one big U with conservatory (this was noted by one professor - why that one big school? - she had an answer). At first my D liked the smaller environments. It was during auditions that she started shifting to the big environment (feeling small was too small). So it's OK to have some variety...as there is still a lot of time bx now and decision time. Still you should be able to answer "why" a school is on your list.

    Keep working your list! You have lots of good schools to check out...and feel free to contact the schools with your questions. It will get you the best answers.
    edited August 11
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