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Best College for Music (Performance and Academia) and still academically challenging?

amandakhamandakh Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
Hello! I'm looking for a college that is both academically challenging and selective, as well as strong in the music department (I want experience in composition and ethnomusicology, but also the preparation to pursue a performance career in the future should I choose that path). Specifically, I play the classical guitar (so if anyone knows anything about classical guitar at these schools, that would be wonderful...). The school should also have a decent English department since I intend to double major...

Out of the schools that I have applied to, which would you say is has the strong music department, both in musical academia as well as performance preparation? The schools are UPenn, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Brown, Haverford, George Washington, American U, Smith College, Amherst College, University of Rochester/Eastman Dual Degree, and Sarah Lawrence College.

I'm having a very hard time evaluating their music departments, since some rank highly for music, but only because of strong ethnomusicology/theory/composition/etc. and not performance necessarily). Any help is appreciated! Thanks!
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Replies to: Best College for Music (Performance and Academia) and still academically challenging?

  • rjkofnovirjkofnovi Registered User Posts: 10,362 Senior Member
    Michigan
  • musicamusicamusicamusica Registered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    go to the Music Majors forum.
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Registered User Posts: 2,819 Senior Member
    I recommend you head over to the Music Major forum for more info. However, you've already applied to schools. For the ones on your list, for classical guitar performance hmm- Eastman if they offer classical guitar?) - but other than that - schools known for strong adjunct music faculty on your list are Princeton and Sarah Lawrence. Yale only offers grad students for most music lessons- however, you'll have a lot of strong musical peers pursuing other subjects, and you might get a terrific grad student teacher. For composition on your list the ones known for the strongest departments are Yale, Princeton, Eastman, Harvard and possibly Sarah Lawrence and Smith. Brown has a strong electronic music dept.
  • musicamusicamusicamusica Registered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    edited February 2015
    OP..... did you already audition? Or is this not for performance?
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Registered User Posts: 2,819 Senior Member
    @musicamusica looks like the list only has one place which would require an audition - Eastman for the double degree. I imagine most of those schools don't even offer classical guitar for lessons (but could be wrong :))
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,243 Senior Member
    My daughter has a friend who attended UPenn (where I am affiliated in the English Department). He's a classical guitarist and studied at Curtis while at Penn. He ended up with a music Fullbright and has stayed on in Europe. I would say Penn's English department is pretty darn good, but then I'm biased.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,243 Senior Member
    edited February 2015
    Oh and Penn's music department, which is mostly musicology and ethno-musicology on the undergrad level, is also excellent. Thinking aloud, you could probably also do well at Princeton traveling to NYC or Philadelphia for lessons. I think Juilliard now has classical guitar. Of course you'd not start out in a degree program if you have not applied but would arrange lessons on the side.
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Registered User Posts: 2,819 Senior Member
    @Glassharmonica might be biased, but she's right about Penn's English department. One of the best anywhere. I wonder how hard it is, though, to get to study at Curtis.
  • amandakhamandakh Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Yes, the English department at Penn is one of the largest reasons that I applied there! I was very impressed by the faculty, resources, lectures, etc. You said that your daughter had a friend who was a classical guitarist, and that he studied at Curtis? Was he an undergraduate, and do you know if he had to audition there separately? Curtis has an extremely prestigious classical guitar department (even though it is relatively new). That is definitely interesting!
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,243 Senior Member
    @spiritmaster, one can always make arrangements privately with the teachers. @amandakh, I don't know the details of how he arranged his studies but I can try to find out. You should contact the music department at UPenn with questions. PM me with questions and I can put you in touch with someone at the department.
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,559 Forum Champion
    Have you looked at CIM/Case Western? Jason Vieaux is an amazing guitarist and teacher (he also teaches at Curtis where he helped found the guitar department. You can get a true dual degree with a BM from the conservatory and your academic degree from Case Western.
    http://cim.edu/conservatory/joint-music-program
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,863 Senior Member
    Oberlin might be good for you- double degree is available there too.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,243 Senior Member
    edited February 2015
    I think this poster has already applied to the above mentioned programs. He is a senior and is not looking for suggestions for where to apply, but rather solutions for how to continue his classical guitar studies while in college. I wanted to add that if he chooses Haverford, he could study in Philadelphia (as he could at Penn) and if he chooses Sarah Lawrence, he could easily commute to NYC (as he could from Princeton.) Even Philly to NYC is not difficult--the Bolt Bus is $10-$13 and takes 2 hours.
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,559 Forum Champion
    Thanks for the clarification, glassharmonica! That still leaves Jason Vieaux available as a teacher in Philly...
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,863 Senior Member
    All your schools are good academically. Check to see which, other than Eastman, have a performance component to their program. And check to see which have guitar faculty or are located in an area where a good guitar teacher is available. You can find all of this out by looking thoroughly at websites, with the possible addition of a phone call or e-mail to the music deparetment about guitar teachers. (When my daughter did this one LAC offered to find her one!)

    For instance, a few minutes on the Harvard website, which state that it does not have a performance program, nevertheless reveals that it does have some performance-based classes and will give credit for private study outside the university through independent study. Also, "Undergraduates receive Harvard College credit for participating in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, the HR Collegium Musicum, the Harvard Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society, and the Harvard Dance Project." It also offers a double degree program with NEC that you can apply for next year if you so choose. Finally, check the teachers available in the Boston/Cambridge area (Ellliot Fisk is at NEC, or was last time I looked.). Google them, meet with them, whatever helps.

    You can do this for each of your schools. It doesn't take that long. Classical guitar can be a little harder to ascertain than some other instruments. There are great teachers in unexpected places but also in the expected places :)

    Good luck!

    p.s. looked out of curiosity: Sarah Lawrence has a guitar ensemble, a guitar recital on the website, and a program in Italy that includes classical guitar but I had trouble finding who teaches https://www.sarahlawrence.edu/search/?q=classical+guitar
    Yale School of Music has a guitar program but you would most likely study with a grad student- though maybe not.http://music.yale.edu/study/degrees-programs/guitar/
    Juilliard has Sharon isbin. Not sure where Davis Starobin is- used to be Curtis I think.
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