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Jazz musicians getting into Ivy League

piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
edited December 2017 in Ivy League
Do strong jazz musicians fare better than most with gaining acceptance to top universities?

I go to a highly competitive public high school and every year one or two (of the best) jazz musicians are accepted/matriculate to Ivy League institutions. Last year, my friend who had a 3.8 UW and 33 ACT got into Yale and my other friend with 3.8 and 2200 SAT got into Columbia and full tuition to USC, the year before that a trumpet player with a 3.5 UW GPA and low test scores got into UCLA (I know it’s not an ivy but it’s hard to get into), 3 years ago a pianist with a 3.9 GPA and 33 ACT got into both Princeton and Harvard, the year before that a bass player went to Yale and a sax player went to Columbia. The list goes on...

I have a 4.0 UW GPA and 35 ACT so my stats are on par or better than my peers. I am the best jazz musician at my school and the best high school jazz pianist within a pretty large area (3.5 mil people), and have won national awards (Youngarts & Grammy band finalist). Will this help me get into good schools this year or have my peers just gotten lucky?
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Replies to: Jazz musicians getting into Ivy League

  • sherpasherpa Registered User Posts: 4,648 Senior Member
    I don’t have statistics to back this up, but I expect that there is no correlation between a musician’s style/genre and college admissions.

    For what it’s worth, my son plays classical guitar and attended Princeton and his friend who plays jazz clarinet attended Columbia.
  • piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    @sherpa But couldn’t one make that argument that these schools are looking for balanced classes and fewer jazz musicians are in a position to be competitive for such institutions?
  • sherpasherpa Registered User Posts: 4,648 Senior Member
    @piranhavator - One could make that argument but I doubt there’s any empirical evidence to support the proposition that jazz musicians are underrepresented among qualified applicants.
  • piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    @sherpa it might be a different situation but a usc admissions officer told me that the GPA of incoming freshman jazz musicians were the among lowest of anyone in the school.
  • sherpasherpa Registered User Posts: 4,648 Senior Member
    @piranhavator - From your experience do you believe that, as a group, jazz musicians are a less academically talented than their non-jazz peers?
  • piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    edited December 2017
    @sherpa absolutely. Many of the classical musicians at my high school are top academic performers. Among the current jazz musicians at my high school, I am the only one that has a realistic shot at top-30 colleges. Out of school, I know a couple of jazz musicians with decent grades and scores but the vast majority get mediocre grades and scores.
  • sherpasherpa Registered User Posts: 4,648 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    @piranhavator - I’m surprised to learn your perspective. I only know a few jazz musicians, but all of them are really smart and successful, including an attorney who went to Northwestern, a geologist who attended Dartmouth, and the aforementioned Columbia graduate.

    If jazz musicians truly are a bit on the dim side this could work either for or against any particular applicant. As in “oh boy, another dummy” or “hey look, a smart jazz musician!”
  • piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    @sherpa thanks for your input, I guess I’ll see what happens this year :)
  • Rabitlover100Rabitlover100 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I am top jazz player in all of georgia. I got into all ivys last year. lmk if you have questions
  • piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    edited December 2017
    @Rabitlover100 given my stats and my commitment to jazz, do you think I’ll get into some top schools? Also, where do you currently study and how is the jazz program?

    Thank you for your help.
  • piper787piper787 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    (Yale '22, accepted) I've been playing clarinet, saxophone, piano most of my whole life in jazz. I didn't send in any footage or recordings, tho, I just wrote a lot about my playing in my essays. In those essays, I focused on my emotions, philosophical questions, and way music brings my community together.
  • piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    @piper787 congrats! Why didn’t you send any recordings? I already sent recordings to Yale.
  • piper787piper787 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    edited December 2017
    Thanks! Apparently it wouldn't really move the needle to do the recordings- my college counselor said from her experience that lots of artists, musicians, etc get in with out it. But I think they could definitely help, and I regret not sending any.
  • piranhavatorpiranhavator Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    @piper787 I wouldn’t regret it, you got into Yale after all .
  • thebetterhawkeyethebetterhawkeye Registered User Posts: 111 Junior Member
    I think it's more correlation than causation -- being good at jazz, especially improvisation, requires you to synthesize a lot of the theoretical aspects of music and turn it into something creative on the fly and in front of many people. A lot of those skills are transferable to what top schools are looking for.

    (Penn '21, jazz clarinetist/guitarist)
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