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Jazz musicians getting into Ivy League

piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads 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?
edited December 2017
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Replies to: Jazz musicians getting into Ivy League

  • sherpasherpa 4731 replies93 threads 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.
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads 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?
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  • sherpasherpa 4731 replies93 threads 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.
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads 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.
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  • sherpasherpa 4731 replies93 threads 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?
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads 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.
    edited December 2017
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  • sherpasherpa 4731 replies93 threads 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!”
    edited December 2017
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads Junior Member
    @sherpa thanks for your input, I guess I’ll see what happens this year :)
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  • Rabitlover100Rabitlover100 2 replies1 threads New Member
    I am top jazz player in all of georgia. I got into all ivys last year. lmk if you have questions
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads 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.
    edited December 2017
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  • piper787piper787 6 replies0 threads 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.
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads Junior Member
    @piper787 congrats! Why didn’t you send any recordings? I already sent recordings to Yale.
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  • piper787piper787 6 replies0 threads 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.
    edited December 2017
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads Junior Member
    @piper787 I wouldn’t regret it, you got into Yale after all .
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  • thebetterhawkeyethebetterhawkeye 104 replies7 threads 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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  • mrtadashi1mrtadashi1 21 replies14 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2017
    I'm a jazz musician myself, I play drums and bass. I haven't won any national awards, but my school sponsored my jazz band for an Africa Tour...we had 16 shows and a couple of jam sessions at colleges in Cape Town. I also have performed with grammy award and nominated winners..I got invited to a National jazz conference, and performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

    I have a 3.6/4.0 GPA, 34 on ACT, 720 Math level 2, and 1490/1520 PSAT scores..do I have a chance?
    edited December 2017
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  • piranhavatorpiranhavator 195 replies38 threads Junior Member
    @mrtadashi1 we seem to be in a similar situation. I was deferred from Harvard but who knows about the other ivys. I guess anything is possible; I think our acceptances depend on the needs of the institutions to which we are applying. For example, if Yale wanted to expand their jazz program, perhaps they would let in several jazz musicians.
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  • classclown22classclown22 3 replies0 threads New Member
    edited January 2018
    This is such a strangely accurate correlation! Last year we had one senior in the jazz band and he went to Harvard. The year before we had one that went to Notre Dame. This year we have two, including myself, and one got into Princeton, the other to Dartmouth. 3/4ths of jazz band seniors in my tenure have gone to the Ivy league, that's crazy. I think that Jazz band is one of the best ECs actually because it shows a very artistic side-- the jazz part-- and a dedicated hard worker side-- the band part.
    edited January 2018
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  • SminitriousSminitrious 28 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Too bad my school didn't have a jazz band until this year. :((
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1022 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I don't think it's jazz specifically. I think kids that have stuck and practiced music long enough to get to an advanced level stand out. I know advanced music students who've gotten into highly competitive schools with slightly lower stats. My teens go to a very large music school in a major metro. Plenty of strong jazz kids have a classical background as well.
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