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Grad school indecision

ChelseaRoseChelseaRose Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
edited December 2010 in Music Major
Hi, everyone! Both my mom and I found this forum to be really helpful when I was applying for my undergrad degree, so I figure this is the best place to help clear up some of the confusion I'm feeling about grad school. Currently, I'm a junior Music Ed major at SUNY Fredonia, with a concentration in horn, so I've been thinking a lot about graduate programs lately (especially since in this economy chances look slim that I'll get a job right out of school), and at this point I've narrowed it down to a Master's either in wind conducting or in horn performance. I'll know for sure what I want to do by the end of the spring semester, since I'll be taking an Advanced Conducting class, but right now I'm leaning toward performance. Do you know of any schools that are good for either of these programs? So far, I'm looking at UNM and Ithaca for performance, and U of Colorado at Boulder for conducting...but other than that I'm clueless as to how to go about this search. Any advice? Thanks!
Post edited by ChelseaRose on

Replies to: Grad school indecision

  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    If you go the performance route, you could ask your current horn teacher who they recommend in terms of your next teacher. Think about what you want to do musically after grad school and look for a teacher with a track record of producing successful students in that area. The school is somewhat important in that you want it to attract others who are playing at a very high level in the ensembles, but the decision about the teacher is key. Once you have it narrowed down, some sample lessons may be in order.
  • ChelseaRoseChelseaRose Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    I will definitely talk to my studio teacher, though we have extremely different styles of playing so I might ask the woman who stepped in for him while he was on sabbatical this semester, as well. She has a style more similar to mine, and she's pretty much threatened to stop speaking to me if I don't do the performance route haha. Basically she's my biggest supp
    As far as sample lessons, how bad do you think it will be if I don't get a sample lesson from some of them? After all, New Mexico's a bit far to travel for more than my audition...do you think I should spring for the extra trip to do the lesson, anyway? Obviously it's important to make a good impression as early as possible, but that's a lot of money...
  • violindadviolindad Registered User Posts: 933 Member
    While a trip to New Mexico may be expensive, the cost of your graduate degree is many, many times as expensive, and ultimately the true cost can't be measured in dollars, but should be measured in the years of your life you invest. You don't want to end up with a grad teacher that is a bad fit for you.

    You may be able to get a sample lesson when you travel for your audition; my guess is that most potential teachers of a grad student would want a sample lesson prior to accepting someone at that level. My son was successful at getting sample lessons during his audition trips at all three of the schools that he asked for a sample lesson. Given that UNM and Ithaca would have only a tiny number of graduate horn performance applicants compared to undergrad violin majors at the big schools, your chances of getting the sample lesson should be fairly good.

    In the unlikely event that you can't arrange a sample lesson during the days that you are at a far away school for auditioning, then consider going to the school in advance for the lesson: if the lesson makes it clear that you don't like the teacher, then you don't bother applying and have not spent any more money than you would have otherwise (and, in fact, will save money: no application fee and you can generally work a sample lesson around times when airfares are lower, whereas you usually have to do your audition at a time set by the school).

    If you do like the teacher and they like you, then there is a chance that, given your distance, the teacher might use the lesson in lieu of a formal audition (or allow a recorded audition, given that you have already met the teacher and been at the school).

    For a graduate performance degree, the teacher fit is very important. Is there any way you could attend summer programs that any of your potential teachers are involved in? The multiple lessons you would get at a summer program along with other informal interaction, possible ensemble coachings, and the insights of your fellow horn students gives you fairly comprehensive picture of the goodness of teacher fit.
  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    You might also ask that teacher from New Mexico if he or she has an upcoming performance or masterclass somewhere nearer to where you are. You may be able to arrange a sample lesson within a day's car ride or near a hub airport to which you could fly inexpensively.
  • ChelseaRoseChelseaRose Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    That's a great idea to see if the teacher from UNM is going to be in the area at some point. I know he does a lot of masterclasses and performances in the Midwest, which wouldn't be too far for me to go. You're right, though, that it would be worth the money to go down there for a lesson. I'll have to email him and see what he says. Thanks a lot!
  • violindadviolindad Registered User Posts: 933 Member
    If nothing else, having some email communication with the teacher puts you on his radar screen.
  • binxbinx Registered User Posts: 4,318 Senior Member
    Here's a nice article by John Ericson (teaches at Arizona) - Choosing the Right School | Horn Matters - A French Horn & Brass Site and Resource
  • musician34musician34 Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    Maybe you could see if the teacher would be willing to have a sample lesson over skype if they have a webcam and travel isn't possible?
  • ChelseaRoseChelseaRose Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    Binx, that article was great! The articles it linked to were even better...I feel a lot better about this now, I guess. :)

    The webcam is a great idea, too. I thought of possibly sending him a recording of my playing, too, as that's an option I talked about doing with Chris Castellanos (of Boston Brass) when they visited my school a month ago. It seems like it's a pretty normal practice for travelling professionals to do lessons that way, so I'm sure a professor wouldn't object.
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