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Vocal Performance/Opera programs

YoungSpintasMomYoungSpintasMom Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited January 2011 in Music Major
I realize I am asking similar questions to other posts, but in the interest of trying to get the best info for my D, here's her situation. She is a junior in HS. SHe has been studying voice for over 3 years with a wonderful, well respected teacher. DD loves to sing (can't shut her up sometimes), but up until recently felt she was not good enough to pursue music. A lot of this comes, I think, from the fact that she does not a have a typical 17 y.o. voice. It is a BIG voice. Her private voice teacher has said the voice may develop into a spinta or else a lyric soprano. In other words, she does not sound like what most of her fellow HS sopranos sound like, and the voice is not necessarily what her HS teachers were looking for, possibly because it does not blend in with the "lighter" voices that seem more typical at her age.

She was following the typical musical theater route, both in school and in community theater, but in the past year realized that MT was NOT her thing. She wanted to do classical. With the guidance of her vocal coach, she auditioned for and was accepted into a chorus associated with a regional orchestra. She LOVES it, and loves the way her voice is developing doing this type of work (recent performances were Brahms Mass and the Messiah (can't get away from that one at this time of year...).

She has developed confidence in her voice, and now appreciates the "different' qualities it has. She was considering majors such as French and/or International relations. She has been made aware of the rigors and heartbreak that can come from pursuing a music career. But having myself gone through a number of career changes, who am I to judge?

I feel very strongly that she should get a BA rather than a BM, and that she should attend a college or university rather than a conservatory. My thoughts are that since a singer's voice really often doesn't come into its own until the mid 20's, she should major undergrad in something she loves (vocal performance), but have some basis for pursuing a graduate degree in something else if the voice does not develop as she hopes.

So, I would LOVE thoughts and suggestions on schools:

*She does NOT want music theater, instead she wants a good opera program.
*She would prefer a more urban setting.
*She may want to double major in French.
*She has ~3.6 GPA, and will have a few APs under her belt (inc. music theory)

Her voice teacher has talked about U Maryland. Thoughts on that school? How about Temple (we'd get in-state tuition there).
Post edited by YoungSpintasMom on

Replies to: Vocal Performance/Opera programs

  • sopranomom92sopranomom92 Registered User Posts: 1,339 Senior Member
    UCLA could be a good choice, though the double major might not be doable. It is a very difficult admit, but they do like big voices. It is a BA program, very strong opera focus. She might want to check out the Hawaii Performing Arts festival this summer--she will meet Juliana Gondek from UCLA, and get a sense whether or not it could be a "fit." Also, has she ever auditioned for the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices? Check it out: THE INSTITUTE FOR YOUNG DRAMATIC VOICES

    She'll get some great training there, if she gets in.
  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    Welcome to CC. First of all, tell your daughter to be careful with that regional orchestra chorus. I have known directors in such groups who knew far more about instruments than voices and were sometimes asking their singers to produce more volume than was healthy. The one she is in may be perfectly fine, but I worry that she may be encouraged to sing in a way that is more appropriate for someone ten or twenty years older. That can lead to a short-term increase in volume but create serious long-term problems. Your daughter is young and has plenty of time to work on the size of her voice if it is indeed destined to be large. Trying to push things in that direction before she is ready can end a career before it ever gets started.

    I suggest you search for some posts by the user lorelei2702 who is herself a professional singer and voice teacher. She has addressed many of the points that you raise.

    If you have not already come across them, might I suggest you read the first dozen or so posts in the thread


    It talks about a young bass player, but there are many issues addressed that would be the same for anyone contemplating a music major. One thing to note is the need for a good relationship with the applied teacher, which can be as important or more so than the way she feels about the school as a whole.

    Some schools you may want to research:
    Boston University
    Temple University (you are already on this one)
    Indiana University

    Her GPA may be a bit low for schools like Northwestern, Rice and the University of Michigan, but they may be worth a look if she can improve it and get really good SAT or ACT scores.

    The University of Maryland has a wonderful performing arts center and some very good teachers, but it is not exactly in an urban area. Washington DC is not all that far by car. The school is quite large, though, so be sure that is what she wants. With all large schools (including the ones mentioned above), and particularly the ones that have graduate students, it is sometimes hard for an undergrad to get cast in more than a chorus role in the operas that they produce. She should be asking about that when visiting or speaking with potential teachers.
  • srwsrw Registered User Posts: 1,480 Senior Member
    YoungSpintasMom, Welcome to the forum. You have a private message. To access look at the top right of your screen.
  • kmccrindlekmccrindle Registered User Posts: 1,650 Senior Member
    Extra note: BassDad is correct that schools like Northwestern, Rice and University of Michigan often attract students with higher GPAs than 3.6, but I did want you to know that technically, the "cutoff" for academic clearance in the school of music at Michigan is actually 3.0, so it's quite likely she would clear for audition. I don't mean to give the impression that it is not highly competitive; where all else is equal, academic performance does indeed weigh in to a degree. But I did not want you to be discouraged pre-emptively ;)

    If you can live with the very high Out of State tuition ($38 k approx) and the possibility that financial need might not be met, I'd be inclined to keep UMich in the mix since there are myriad alternate and highly ranked programs available.
  • MadDivetteMadDivette Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I am a high school student who is training privately in opera, and I am looking for a double-degree program. My plans seem similar to your daughter's, in that I want a back-up plan in case my opera plan fails. From my research, I have learned that many conservatories partner with universities to allow students to take classes at both. But, the partnerships are usually impractical, because it is difficult for singers to travel between the two schools without missing any classes. Curtis has one such partnership of limited success.

    Oberlin has its college and conservatory on the same campus, so students there can easily take classes at both schools. I have read accounts from students who say that this worked well for them. The college representative I met reaffirmed this, and said that many students who aren't even enrolled in the double-degree program take classes at the both schools. The Oberlin double-degree program takes five years, and students who graduate from it have a BA and BM.

    The University of Rochester also has a college and a conservatory, Eastman School of Music, but they are on two different campuses. The school has a shuttle bus travelling between the campuses, so students can get from one school to the other easily. This system apparently works well, too.

    I am still researching how well the state schools blend their opera and academic programs. I live in California, so I have been looking at UCs and CSUs, but I also am looking at SUNY-Purchase in New York.

    I hope this helps you and your daughter find more options for blending music with other careers!
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,633 Forum Champion
    Check your PM's!
  • don9992don9992 Registered User Posts: 343 Member
    If you'd like to get a really good handle on just how good your D is, I'd suggest auditioning for the Washington National Opera's Institute end. It's for high school students and will really give her an idea of how she stacks up against some of the best in the country. My D attended between her junior and senior years and it really was a determining factor in whether or not she would pursue her education in music. Here's the link: Washington National Opera - education - Opera Institute at American University
  • KatMTKatMT College Rep Posts: 4,171 Senior Member
    BA programs in Vocal Performance/ Opera may be few and far between... I am sure there are some... I know that Plymouth State University in NH has a BA in Vocal Performance (NOT an urban campus at all though :)). I am sure that many of the posters here will be able to suggest BA programs that may be more performance focused and in more of an urban setting.

    She may be able to achieve the same goal by attending a BM program on a university campus where she would be allowed to pursue a second major, and where the BM students are following a general education core of some kind outside of the VP major.

    For example -- I teach at James Madison U. and know of at least one student pursuing a BM in Music and a BA in another area of study simultaneously. I am sure there are others as well. I just happen to have this particular student in some of my theatre classes. JMU is not urban either... about 2 hours from DC... but I am sure that some other BM programs would allow students to pursue dual degrees.
  • coloratura_ascoloratura_as Registered User Posts: 169 Junior Member
    I second Oberlin. There are tons of students pursuing a degree in the college and in the conservatory. It usually takes 5 years but I know someone completing it in 4 1/2.
  • Georgia GirlGeorgia Girl Registered User Posts: 3,771 Senior Member
    The USC Thornton School of Music has a BM in Vocal Arts/Opera. This is a four year program. At USC there is much interaction among the students in the School of Theatre, Thornton and the School of Cinematic Arts.

    Students do complete the core curriculum as well as the vocal arts training. Here is some information regarding the faculty: (Faculty resumes are on the website).

    Department Chair---Elizabeth Hynes
    Ken Cazan---Opera Stage Director
    Brent McMunn--Opera Music Director
    David Wilkinson---Opera Coach

    Rod Gilfrey---Voice
    Gary Glaze---Opera and Oratorio
    Jonathan Mack
    Cynthia Munzer
    Vicki Muto
    Lisa Sylvester
    Shigemi Matsumoto--Adjunct Professor

    USC is need blind in admissions. There are merit scholarships as well as financial aid programs.

    USC scores for admitted freshmen in 2010 were Middle 50% SAT--2030-2240 and Middle 50% ACT 29-33. There were 1,397 high schools represented in the freshmen class.
  • badblondebadblonde Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
    my D is also a HS jr. with a dream of opera and (has been told over and over again by music pros) a wonderful gift...she has decided to forgo conservatory right out of HS for a great liberal arts college w/ excellent classical voice program. Instead of a double major (which will add at least 1 more yr onto undergrad studies), she will minor in another subject outside the school of music - possibly History, Classical Languages or Communications - all subjects she loves.

    Then if all goes as she hopes, she will go on to conservatory for grad school, and then (God willing) onto a career in the world of Opera.....but, if she doesn't get where she wants in the life of a performance artist (and we all know being successful in this line of work takes more than just talent i.e. time, place, opportunity, connections, luck, etc....) she will still have gotten a great liberal arts education with a non-music minor to change direction.

    She has discussed this with schools such as Rice, Oberlin, Indiana and Vanderbilt, who have all said 'no problem'....
This discussion has been closed.