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Rock Vocals

brendansdadbrendansdad Registered User Posts: 57
edited October 2013 in Music Major
I'm developing a list of colleges and universities with music majors that offer a focus on rock and pop music vocals. Virtually all voice programs are classical/opera only or might also offer jazz vocals, but this list is specific to schools that have a full rock/pop track (not just a couple classes)...schools like Berklee, Tiffin and USC. Can you suggest others?
Post edited by brendansdad on

Replies to: Rock Vocals

  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,850 Senior Member
    Belmont School of Music:
    Commercial Performance Emphasis - Belmont University

    I don't know anything about this genre but have heard a few things here on CC!

    New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music http://www.newschool.edu/jazz/


    University of the Arts in Philadelphia?

    Another way to go might be:

    Bennington College Bennington: Music
    Bennington: Courses

    Sarah Lawrence Music Courses (note courses on post-tonal and rock music)

    or schools of that kind
  • SnowflakeVTSnowflakeVT Registered User Posts: 2,486 Senior Member
    Your best bet is to look for a school with contemporary music, which mostly has a base in jazz. You will not likely find a major in rock vocals, but at a school like Berklee and similar you can take many genres of music, including rock, as part of ensembles and other classes. Most music schools will have 1-2 years of core music classes that are based either in jazz or classical music, but that is important so that the ensemble partners all speak in "music" and not random terminology (keys, grooves, rhythms, etc.). Rock vocals is a specialty in itself ... there are ways to sing rock (and heavy metal) that are not as damaging to one's vocal cords, but you may be have seek out these vocal experts outside of a 4-year college program, but use the 4-year college program to learn how to write, record, compose and perform professionally, as well as learn more about the music business side of the profession.

    If your son/daugher is not a senior, another option to consider is a summer program that explores rock with other students of similar talent and interest. When my D did Berklee's 5-week, you could pick "rock" as a genre and that allowed students to dive into it more deeply. If the 5-week is too expensive or too long, many larger cities have Rock Camps, too, but maybe you've already done these.
  • electricbassmomelectricbassmom Registered User Posts: 218 Junior Member
    Frost has a contemporary music program. I think it is aimed at singer/songwriters.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    I am not into vocal music, but what I kind of wonder if it is worth studying rock/pop vocals as a major at the college level. I realize with some music schools (USC comes to mind) it can be about connections, but given the nature of rock/pop music it may be better to major in something else (perhaps even something like music business or recording tech or something allied) where you could talk things like music theory and so forth if you wanted to, and could study privately with a vocal teacher to improve the singing and protect your voice. I am not saying that to denigrate the work it takes to be successful at any kind of music but rather that if you don't need it, you may be able to apply yourself to something else in college, even music related, and get what you need privately.

    The reason I wonder about that is primarily because of how expensive college is. If you are talking about classical vocal (opera or other, whatever other is), given the kind of training required for that, learning to sing in multiple languages, theory and so forth, you aren't going to be able to do that without studying it as your concentration in school, it is a required hashmark for a lot of reasons, whereas rock/pop is a lot more 'forgiving' so to speak, and is the benefit of studying it in college worth it? While getting a music performance degree is something that can lead to a lot of paths, you also have the possibility of majoring in something in college that interests you/opens up doors for something else you could do if music doesn't pan out while pursuing your dream, something kids going into classical music in its various flavors cannot do, or at least not easily, thanks to the rigors of doing music at that level requires.

    Keep in mind that is a question more to think about, could be there are solid reasons to go that route that I am not aware of (again, I am speaking as someone who is no expert on vocal music).
  • LGSMomLGSMom Registered User Posts: 293 Junior Member
    Another suggestion is Columbia College Chicago
  • BartokrulesBartokrules Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    Make a list of some of the bands/singers that are your greatest musical influences and check their bios to see where they went to school. You may well find attendence at some of the best music schools, art schools, regular colleges and universities, or no post high school education at all.
  • kmcmom13kmcmom13 Registered User Posts: 3,915 Senior Member
    ^True. I can think of a few, eg. English majors, bio, etc. ;)

    If money isn't tight, you might want to check out NYU/Tisch's Clive Davis Recording Arts program -- one variant is meant for performers who also want to produce their own music.
  • jazzshreddermomjazzshreddermom Registered User Posts: 1,360 Senior Member
    In response to musicprnt's post, I had the same thought (is it worth it?). Once. But beyond the connections at USC (and by connections, I include those with other students, because I happen to believe many of them will have careers in music, if not performing - they are that special, from what we've seen), my son is learning about the industry, recording, mixing, composing - all kinds of stuff he wouldn't have had room for with a non-music major (he's a guitarist, not a vocalist, just to be clear, though).

    And to be honest, my son even had the same question when he started, since he only applied to jazz programs (and later switched). He wasn't sure studying "contemporary" music made sense. But then he asked himself "why does studying jazz really make sense?" Plenty of jazz artists don't even go to college.

    I guess I also feel better about the "pop" degree because I know it's coming from a top tier academic university. In other words, regardless of his major, he's getting a great education.

    Just another perspective.
  • K8sDadK8sDad Registered User Posts: 64 Junior Member
    Try University of Colarado-Denver. The band The Fray came out of that program (FWTW), and Denver is a great city - they have a generous out-of-state scholarship program as well.

    Alo, University of Denver has a Jazz & Commercial music major - their facilities are amazing.

    If you expand to jazz, as others have said, you will open yourself up to more options. Welcome to CC - and this crazy search process. It’s a wild ride!
  • kimwilliamsonkimwilliamson Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thanks everyone. I have continued researching this topic and soon will post a roster of rock voice colleges for US and UK. I've discovered a number of other CC posters are in search of same, so perhaps this 'Little List' will help others too.
  • SnowflakeVTSnowflakeVT Registered User Posts: 2,486 Senior Member
    Thanks, kimwilliams. I'd be curious what a "rock" curriculum looks like compared to jazz or contemporary or even classic.
  • brendansdadbrendansdad Registered User Posts: 57
    In jazz studies, you'll have courses like Jazz Arranging, Jazz Standards and Literature, and Jazz Theory and Aural Training. In contemporary voice, you have Progressive Rock Performance, Pop/Rock/Country Vocal Ensemble, Musical Theater Chorus, Singing with Soul. I am just grabbing from Ithaca's jazz program and Berklee's voice program as examples. Of course, Berklee's music college curriculum is so large and wide ranging it also has jazz offerings. But the point of my search is to find those few schools that offer a contemporary voice program that *can* focus on contemporary, non-jazz styles--as USC's program calls it, popular music. So one way to distinguish between a jazz voice program and a popular music voice program is, as you are training your voice in classes, are you usually singing like Chet Baker or Robert Plant?
  • brendansdadbrendansdad Registered User Posts: 57
    Here's the "Rock Vocals" Little List so far (there are a handful of other possibilities in the US and also a number in the UK I'm still researching) of popular music, non-jazz-focused, voice performance, degree programs:


    Berklee College of Music, Boston, Mass.
    USC, Los Angeles, Calif.
    U Colorado Denver, Denver, Colo.
    [email protected], Oklahoma City, Okla.
    Catawba College, Salisbury, N.C.
    Santa Fe College of Art and Design, Santa Fe, N.M.
    Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.
    McNally Smith College of Music, St. Paul, Minn.
    Tiffin University, Tiffin, Ohio
    Johnson State College, Johnson, Vermont
    Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Ore.
    UK: LIPA, Liverpool, England
    UK: Leeds College of Music, Leeds, England
    Down Under: U Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

    "Trade"-like schools:

    L.A. Music Academy, Pasadena, Calif.
    Musicians Institute, Hollywood, Calif.
    UK: ACM Guildford, Guildford, England

    I will be further vetting the above to make sure they truly fit, as well as I said certain other US/UK schools -- and, that's right, a couple in Canada, like Humber. I am trying not to gauge the programs -- I realize the difference just in faculty between a Berklee/USC-type program and certain other of the above is clear -- but instead simply ascertain if they are popular music, non-jazz-focused, voice performance, degree programs.

    Assistance appreciated! Just please keep in mind, if it's a program that says it is "jazz and...," it's jazz -- so not a fit. If it has a course or three in popular music, it is not a fit. If it's a culture, production or entrepreneurial program, it's not a fit. The program has to include all of the below:

    * voice track
    * performance based
    * degree (or certificate) program
    * with the huge majority of classes focusing on popular music (primarily rock and pop, but other contemporary styles like hip-hop, world, usw can be included)
    * and so has minimal or zero jazz required

    The degree does not have to be called a voice degree or performance degree; it's just that the majority of what your classes are in must be voice performance.

    So, given the above, schools that are not fits, for example, are: Denver/Lamont; Miami/Frost; Roosevelt/CCPA; Indiana/Jacobs; Northeastern; Rider; Manhattan School of Music; the New Schools; NYU Tisch or Steinhardt; U Cincinnati/CCM; U Arts; Cornish. Some superb programs there--but they and those like them are not degree programs that let you focus to the nth degree on 1. voice 2. performance in 3. popular music.

    Thanks to all past and future commenters!
  • shellybeanshellybean Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    brendansdad, if you do further research on Catawba, I'd love to hear what you find. They come up in my research from time to time. I would just love to know more about them.
  • brendansdadbrendansdad Registered User Posts: 57
    I know Princeton Review rates Catawba College quite nicely--plus, Catawba has a well-developed program in musical theatre (BFA, BA and minor), which could provide more opportunities for contemporary-oriented singers. There is a funny post on CC from a Catawba summer camper that described a real horrorshow (maybe a search here on "dead bats, decrepit dorm" would find it), but the students overall seem to like their college. Plus, In Tune Monthly rates Catawba as a best music program, and the description of the contemporary music program on the Catawba site makes it sound very dynamic=--sure, they all do, but this seems dynamic in a very effective way, getting the kids actively working and working together toward a career from day one. Now, as I noted before, if you compare the faculty list of a Berklee and the faculty list of most of the other 'rock schools,' well, Berklee is the Sorbonne, most others the local community college. By comparison. That said, if you compare Catawba's with a number of the 'others,' Catawba's is comparatively impressive. One thing I wonder about: If post-graduation a student is looking for a music-related jobs, and the student says "Berklee," well, nothing further need be said. In the music biz, that's like saying "Harvard." With many of the others....
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