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Music Major, Finding the Right Fit with COVID-19

starqueenstarqueen 4 replies1 threads New Member
edited October 19 in Music Major
Hello everyone,

I would really appreciate it if anyone would be willing to read this and give me any feedback or advice. I'm currently looking at Yale, Notre, Dame, Princeton, Indiana University Bloomington, and the University of Iowa.

Long story short, I was struggling to decide whether or not I wanted to study music in a conservatory or music school, or whether I wanted to go to a regular university/college and get a BA in music. I finally decided I would rather just go to a regular college or university.

With COVID-19 I haven't been able to get a feel for each college. The places I have gone, I haven't really fallen in love with. I know I have until January to write my essays but I would really like to apply early to my dream reach school, and I can't decide which one this should be, or if I should add more schools to my list that I haven't considered.

GPA: 4.442
SAT: 1480 (750 R/W, 730 M)
6 AP courses (I've gotten a 3, 4, and 5, and the other three AP tests I still have yet to take)
Extracurriculars:
Singer-songwriter, three complete albums available on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
Violinist, concertmaster of high school orchestra
Pianist
Showchoir, section leader (sophomore and junior years only)
National Honor Society

My intended major is a BA in Music, although I'm also interested in Creative Writing, French/Italian, and Religious Studies. In college I'm interested in being a part of an orchestra and hopefully in studying abroad as long as it is not a financial problem. The orchestra does not have to be stellar, because I am a relatively new player (I began freshman year) and therefore would probably struggle to even get into an orchestra full of outstanding players.

My family most likely does not qualify for need-based assistance, but we don't make so much that it would be very easy to simply pay full tuition at Yale, for instance.

Can anyone talk about music at these schools? Also, are there any more schools that I should consider? I realize my list is relatively short and also a bit of a strange collection. I can explain more about why those particular schools are on my list if need be.

(In the past I've also looked at Duke, Vanderbilt, Brown, Carleton, Colorado College, Northwestern).

Thank you so much for reading!
edited October 19
13 replies
Post edited by Erin's Dad on
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Replies to: Music Major, Finding the Right Fit with COVID-19

  • merc81merc81 12157 replies207 threads Senior Member
    edited October 17
    Schools from your tentative list such as Indiana University and Yale seem like nice selections for the study of music as well as for your general academic interests. Within a short list, you've established a strong foundation. Nonetheless, you might want to continue to research colleges in the ample time that remains until you submit your applications.

    Also, are there any more schools that I should consider?

    Oberlin. Has recently expanded its music programs to include a greater number of B.A. students.

    Kenyon. Excellent for humanities, creative writing and performing arts.

    Wesleyan. Eclectic arts atmosphere, strong in music.

    Hamilton. Excellent for creative writing and Romance languages. Flexible curriculum supports cross-disciplinary study.

    Skidmore. Strong in music and other performing arts.

    Smith. Excellent music opportunities. Flexible curriculum.

    Lawrence and St. Olaf. Worth researching for their music opportunities.
    edited October 17
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  • parentologistparentologist 286 replies37 threads Member
    Bard college. Like Oberlin, they have both conservatory and liberal arts college. I think it's a mandatory 5 yr dual degree.

    I do think that you should hurry and apply to a reach early decision. The school you want to apply to early decision/action, might allow you to also apply early action to public schools - and when looking for merit aid, it is very strongly recommended that you apply by the early action deadline in order to be considered for merit aid. From your list, that would be Yale or Princeton for early decision. However, unless you are an underrepresented minority, a recruited athlete, or a legacy, I think they are long shots for you (as of course they are for everyone). I do think that you will get into the other schools you've mentioned.

    You should take a look at the SUNY schools. They have conservatories at Potsdam and Purchase, that are together with liberal arts colleges. Also, you should take a close look at other flagship state U's that have music schools. Hopefully, a strings/voice/songwriter student or parent will see this and give you some advice. I only know about my own kid's instrument (not strings). But we considered I think over a hundred schools, and although every school would have one teacher for kid's instrument, I think that it's more likely that you would find violin taught at every conservatory.

    BTW, if you are interested in getting merit aid, and possibly interested in music ed, take a look at U Hartford and Hartt school. It's a really lovely conservatory. Academically, they have a few good departments, rest is just okay. And you'd probably get a very substantial merit scholarship there.
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4289 replies27 threads Senior Member
    On the finances, it is important for you and your family to determine whether you are eligible for any need based aid.

    Full pay will cost roughly the same, at Yale, Princeton, and ND, so if Yale is too pricey, then so too are Princeton and ND. If your family is full pay but cannot afford to actually pay that (my kids were in that position as well), then the focus of applications should shift to schools where a student would qualify for merit awards to reduce the cost of attendance. Iowa and IU both give merit for stats, so the amount of the award is fairly predictable. Both are great, Midwest research institutions, with lots going on. IU's Jacob School of Music means that a student can a music-rich experience, though as best I understand, those performance opportunities will be limited to Conservatory students, not College of Arts and Sciences students.

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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2418 replies19 threads Senior Member
    I'd add Tisch @NYU( Clive Davis or another University depending on your interests) . While I totally understand not wanting to go to a Conservatory per se, I also don't think the schools you have listed are particularly strong in music. There are many programs which offer both an academic experience in a liberal arts school AND a strong music program.
    You might need/want the professional connection your would get at a school that has a specific arts program in music ( of the type you wish to pursue).

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  • merc81merc81 12157 replies207 threads Senior Member
    What happened to your schools of early interest, such as Northwestern and Vanderbilt?
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  • starqueenstarqueen 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you for your suggestions, @merc81!

    At Northwestern and Vanderbilt there are music schools within the university that are not just departments for the music major. Blair at Vanderbilt and Bienen at Northwestern seem difficult to be able to get into and I would be competing with conservatory-level musicians for orchestra spots and lessons. Vanderbilt does not seem to have a BA in music.

    I know that Indiana has the very prestigious Jacobs School of Music, and also does not offer a BA in Music, but it's my state university and also extremely close.

    With Duke, Brown, Carleton, and Colorado College, I would still be open to considering them, however I'm unsure about CC's block plan and Brown's Open Curriculum. I'm not sure how I would feel about the small size of Carleton and CC, and at Duke there doesn't seem to be a large musical/artistic culture (from what I've heard) and I also don't know about how I'd feel about living in the South.
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  • merc81merc81 12157 replies207 threads Senior Member
    edited October 17
    I'm unsure about . . . Brown's Open Curriculum
    You could create your own core curriculum at Brown with select courses in areas such as religious studies, history, classics, government and literature. Beyond that, colleges with notably flexible curricula tend to be simultaneously accessible — i.e., most courses are open to most students, irrespective of major. A motivated student who values freedom in course selection may find highly desirable aspects in a curriculum such as Brown's, while finding no significant disadvantages.

    For an additional suggestion, look into the University of Rochester, which offers a top-notch music program in its arts and sciences college, mostly, but not entirely, separate from that of its renowned conservatory.
    edited October 17
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  • merc81merc81 12157 replies207 threads Senior Member
    edited October 17
    I'm not sure how I would feel about the small size of Carleton and CC
    Consider the advantages that schools purely focused on undergraduates may provide. Note, however, that Carleton appears to offer the second best music program in Northfield.
    edited October 17
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  • starqueenstarqueen 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you so much @parentologist ! I'll take a look at Bard, the dual degree sounds interesting.
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  • starqueenstarqueen 4 replies1 threads New Member
  • starqueenstarqueen 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks @merc81, I didn't even realize that Rochester had a BA outside of the Eastman School.

    I'll look more into Brown and the Open Curriculum, it definitely would be helpful in helping me explore my many areas of interest.
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  • merc81merc81 12157 replies207 threads Senior Member
    If you do find that you like the freedom inherent to Brown's curriculum, then also consider other colleges with similar flexibility, such as Smith, Hamilton, Amherst and Grinnell, as well as URochester for its "cluster" approach.
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  • compmomcompmom 12167 replies82 threads Senior Member
    edited October 19
    I would suggest you read the Double Degree Dilemma essay close to the top of the music forum, for ideas on the different ways to study music.

    Are you thinking you would not get in to a BM program, but want to major in music for a BA? (It is actually possible to get a BA in music without touching an instrument, by the way- at least in many places.)

    If you want a BA in music, which is essentially a liberal arts degree with 1/4-1/3 classes in music (A BM is 2/3-3/4 classes in music and involves audition, usually) then you MAY want to avoid schools with BM programs, because the best teachers and opportunities go to the BM students. That means avoiding some of the schools that have been mentioned already, and two on your own list.

    There are exceptions to this, including Oberlin, which has enhanced its Musical Studies BA and their access to conservatory benefits, as someone mentioned. Bard's Conservatory requires a double degree but obviously the college doesn't, so some music students may be in the college to avoid the double degree. You would want a "low wall" between college and conservatory.

    You might want to look at the Colleges that Change Lives website. https://ctcl.org/ Clark University has a good music BA program. Look at Tufts, a great option for you- which has a wonderful music department (also a double degree program with NEC but that wouldn't affect your experience.) Vassar would be another good choice. Sarah Lawrence or Bennington are small and artsy. Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan as suggested by others ("Little Ivies").

    You do need some safeties, I think.

    We really don't know much about what else you might want. Urban/rural, small/large, liberal arts college or research university, "vibe" ( artsy, multi-faceted, diverse, cooperative vs competitive) etc.

    We also don't know your other interests. Is it possible you could end up studying something else?

    Open curriculums help you explore and would also offer more space for music classes beyond the curriculum that is required. Yale has quite a few distribution requirements- another thing to look into at schools.

    So just to repeat- do NOT assume that your musical experience will be better at a college that has a conservatory/BM program. It is important to research whether or not BA students suffer from (or in a few cases benefit from) the presence of BM students and faculty.

    In many cases you want to avoid schools known for good music BM programs, paradoxically.


    ps Princeton has a performance certificate and study abroad at the Royal Academy, but if you look deeply at schools you will find similar opportunities.

    pps Ivies give financial aid to families with incomes of $150k and even higher in some cases, which you probably know but....I know that Clark offers merit aid. State U's may too.

    edited October 19
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