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GoForth Journal

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Replies to: GoForth Journal

  • rockinmomabrockinmomab 224 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Also, I believe SATs change beginning March 5 which hopefully make them a lot easier than in the past. Suppose to start using vocabulary that is regularly used and no more writing. I agree with others about the timing being the biggest issue for my son also. We worked with a SAT prep coach briefly for that very reason.
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  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited February 2016
    IMO, two considerations when it comes to test scores. First is to meet minimums if there are any at the schools you're interested in. Michigan, Northwestern have them, but a 26 will satisfy. Sounds like Frost does. I'm sure others do, as well. Music schools admission offices were pretty straightforward about answering the question if the info isn't on their websites.

    Second is if he's going to go after any academic merits. For that, he needs to compete with the entire group of incoming freshman applicants. Most schools publish freshman profile data on their websites and my understanding is that you need at be at least in the top 25% for test scores (among applicants) to have a chance. For instance, at USC (for Thornton), the freshman profile for 2015 applicants shows that the "middle 50% ACT composite" is 26-32. That means you need 32+ to be in the top 25-percentile of applicants. Note that the mid-50% range for admits is significantly higher, 31-34, so realistically, you probably need a 34+ for those competitive big merits.

    All that said, we have several family friends whose kids are going to smaller LAC's with very good merit scholarships with ACT scores in the 29-30 range, so it's not as if you have to have those nearly-perfect super scores. At UNT, for instance, that 25% ACT threshold is a 26.

    For my S, we did a survey of the schools he was interested in, looked up the data and considered whether academic merits were a realistic goal. With Michigan, USC and Oberlin, it simply wasn't. So, he (happily) just let it go. He did retake the ACT and raised his composite score by 2 points without any prep. His GPA is around 3.7. His school doesn't rank, do weighted GPA's or offer any AP classes, but is considered a rigorous school. We're not expecting any academic merit awards but we're also not expecting his academic record to be the reason he's not accepted somewhere. Keep in mind that he's got a heavy-hitting list of conservatories and music schools that are all mostly just interested in his music. He does have really good recommendations from an English teacher and math teacher in addition to music teachers; I have no clue whether that makes any difference.

    ETA: Just want to add that, if raising test scores in order to go after merit awards is something your S decides he wants to do, I would focus on it THIS year, as a junior. Application due dates for music majors are earlier than most other majors, so it's like applying EA/ED to every school. He's going to be focused on pre-screens and applications in the fall and prepping for tests will understandably take a back seat.
    edited February 2016
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  • GoForthGoForth 804 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    I appreciate all the replies. I will add this note for some of the recent replies - I do not think S has a problem with the amont of time allowed in the standardized tests. I really don't have an analysis on what is up. I know that sometimes he will think that a particular answer is correct (especially the 'reading' type answers), and he could explain why he thinks it is correct, but it is not the correct answer. For example, from APUSH first semester final - what moreso killed the native americans, (a) blankets and beads or (b) alcohol? He chose 'a'. The answer was 'b'. He recalls the valuables that were traded away for beads, and he knows blankets from small pox victims were tarded to cause death. He feels 'a' is a good answer. I think there were many such judgement calls like that which were missed on that test. Maybe that is just the measure of his abilities and that is what they are. Or maybe there is a way to know what is inside the test-makers heads in order to see where they are coming from, and he hasn't heard that idea yet.
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  • compmomcompmom 10763 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Whether he takes the SAT, retakes the ACT, or neither, I think it is true generally that scores tend to go up the second or third time one of these tests is taken, either because it is now more familiar, the student knows how to pace himself, or because of knowledge gained in a class. Make sure he knows strategies (available online) such as skipping questions he is not sure of to finish off the ones he does know, and whether or not to guess.

    If he is applying to schools without academic merit possibilities, not worth retaking, I would think, but if he is applying to music schools within universities, scores will be more relevant, as you well know.
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  • dbandmomdbandmom 200 replies20 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think you just have to really know the schools you are applying to. I mentioned this on another thread...

    My D was not even allowed to schedule an audition at a couple of schools without having academic acceptance first. Music faculty had zero input on admission decisions to the school itself.

    At another few, she could schedule the audition, but the decision was not "held" until after the audition. So, had she not been admitted, she would have never had the opportunity to audition. Even if the timing had been different, and she had gotten to an audition before her academic decision, the process leads me to believe that the music faculty has zero input on the academic admission at these schools.

    That being said, a 26 with a solid GPA would have probably gotten you admission to most of the above schools. Scholarship money.....not sure. Most of the above schools, from what info I could gather, have much more money to give for academics than for music.

    Berklee was the only conservatory D applied to. I'm pretty sure they cared not one bit about D's grades and this is the only school that I figured she would have been better off by throwing all her energy into audition prep. Even so, they admitted over 2000 1st time, 1st year students last year and offered only 199 non-need based awards. She didn't have much of a chance at a scholarship here and we knew that. She was still thrilled to be accepted but regrets auditioning here first and without submitting any supplemental material.

    So, going down the list, that leaves only 1 school D applied to.....UMiami/Frost. The admissions decision is combined and held until after the audition. They said repeatedly that the U and the Frost had "equal" voices and that you would not gain admission unless the two were in complete agreement. So, I would be concerned about admission (regardless of audition success) if you fall below the "middle 50" for ACT (28-32) or below the average GPA (4.3 -I'm assuming that is weighted and on a 4.0 scale). UMiami being such a "sporty" school, I would imagine most of their bottom admits are reserved for exceptional athletes. Although, I'm sure Frost gets some "exceptions", too.

    So, the question to ask is "How much money do we need and where is it likely to come from?" The nice part about chasing the academic $ is it is much more predictable. My D can read people pretty well and she came out of one audition in particular and said " I could tell the one person absolutely loved me and the other couldn't have cared less about me. How is that possible?" Oh, it is!

    Scholarship $ is high priority for us and we don't qualify for any need-based help. Our current higher income level is fairly recent, so we have not had years to save loads of money. At the same time, the future of my job is uncertain, so we need to make our decision on affordability based on the possibility that my income could be greatly reduced or possibly non-existent for awhile.

    As for your question about AP's, I'm not sure. AP's are self reported, so it makes me believe they are not given much consideration. As a parent, I would have questions if my kid aced the class with no "struggles" and then bombed the exams.

    Hope this is all helping you! We are half way through it and it is still confusing and most days I'm still left questioning our decisions!

    Oh, and add my D to the list of just not having enough time to complete the ACT. After her PLAN test as a sophomore, she got back the booklet and her answer sheet and we could see she had nearly 100% accuracy on her answers until about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through each section. At which point she started making a few errors and then quickly all her answers just became "B". lol
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1036 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Congrats on a solid score! Woot woot. He will easily gain acceptance to many universities and conservatories with those scores. I hope you can celebrate with him.

    Super score that ACT! Many schools allow that. "Most" (I don't know who these people are) recommend taking it at least twice. My D had a score slightly higher. However she had a 30 or more on 3 subjects in 2 tries. She got two 30s and two stinkers each time - pulling that composite down. So in the end only science was ho hum. I thought "good enough" and ran with that.

    Efficiency - I'm with the comments concerning "get him in range" and then work on the music. Honestly getting a lot of academic aid (separate from talent) is a tall order even for kids with a 30+. It's highly competitive. I doubted my D could compete. She went to a school that produced 22 NMF her year (usually its 12 - 15). We were well aware of brilliant. And then near brilliant. And then gifted. And near gifted. And really really smart. Oh brother... My D got offered a lot of good scholarships wrapped up with the money from the music dept. At LACs she always got some academic money (and maybe it would have been more) but I believe the academic dollars were requested from the music dept to sweeten the pot. I firmly believe it was based on her musical talent and her SOLID academics - in other words there wasn't a reason NOT to assist her. I mentions LACs bc they were more verbal about what they were doing. And she had an excellent GPA with AP credits. Her school did not rank. Think real hard and discuss with your son where you can compete for money - is it test scores and/or talent. It should be some of his call.

    Her scores also did not reflect her school work. Two LACs commented on this. I just said I'm aware of that but everything else is strong and I know you look at kids holistically. I did not get into the whys (since I don't know them and frankly don't care). I had the attitude she is who she is and she doesn't need to be perfect. We built the search around her holistically.

    U of Miami - she was accepted. I know academic and music acceptance works separately. I still believe your son could be accepted there as long as he is in the range. It was clear from follow-up emails for my D taht the MT dept wanted her. She also got her largest scholarship there - all talent. Probably they knew she won't get academic dollars so they offered a good amt of talent (the only school that did this). Other similar sized scholarships were a mixture of talent and academic.

    I hope this helps!!
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  • GoForthGoForth 804 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    S went to a new-to-him kind of event - a Bass Festival. There were probably 46 mostly high-school-aged (and a few younger) upright bassists there for master classes, clinics, and so forth. Definitely there was more classical flavor to it than jazz, but both genres were represented. S had a nice classical master class (with a bassist whose YouTube videos I have liked a lot). Folks were surprised S had only been on the upright for just under a year.

    Seeing one of the area jazz bass professors in a clinic, S finalized some plans to make a college visit with him this month. He contacted the Jazz Studies director, the improv professor, and the bass professor to put together a plan for that visit.

    S has been asked to join in the orchestra branch of the youth group for which he currently plays jazz (for bass). It was a nice thought, but we think that any basic improvements that could be made by the orchestra group to S's basshood will likely not be as great as improvements that could be made by practicing more jazz. So, another fork in the road taken is noted here.

    S does seem to have been inspired by his ACT score to meet a challenge of studying and scoring higher. We have ordered the classic, even in out-dated, Red and Black books along with a few well-spoken-about specific books for some of the ACT sections.
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  • GoForthGoForth 804 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    S has received the results of an 'official' ACT practice test taken by juniors at his HS. His results were 31 in math and 28 in the other 3, making a 29 composite. He said he spent more time on each English and Science question, and he speed-read in the reading parts so he could spend more time thinking about the questions. This was good. Being that he currently is sitting at a 26 real score, and being that he will only re-test in September and October, then wait on his scores, is S at any risk as far as turning his application in later than he should? That is, some people talk about turning in the app early to be in the better scholarship money time window. Others say that last-minute apps have not cut them out of scholarship money. I am thinking that music programs don't encourage early decision stuff anyway because the auditions need to happen. So, in summary, are we perfectly fine applying after all the scores come in, say in late November, or would there be a reason to turn in an app earlier than that, say if the September ACT score is "good enough", at the risk of not using a potentially better October score?

    Another note for the Journal. I typed a lot of words and erased them because I don't even know what I was saying, but the fact is that S is starting to put together a few Illinois-based college visits with sample lessons and rehearsal observations so he can get some first-hand data on what his impression is of each of these programs and their instructions. I have found that adding together the CC opinions of Illinois music colleges and also the local opinions of those colleges leads to nothing near conclusive, but the local opinions are far more detailed and current, just with disagreeing viewpoints.
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  • dbandmomdbandmom 200 replies20 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    What schools in Illinois are on his list?
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  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    JMO but I think it's unrealistic to expect anything "conclusive" to be drawn from researching opinions, statistics, etc. As it is, I would pretty much discount anything that's not specifically about the jazz department. They seem to do just about everything differently, from pre-screens to auditions to selection to scholarships. Personally, I wouldn't overthink it too much one way or the other. Go visit, go have some sample lessons, sit in on some classes. You'll come away with a much clearer perspective that applies to you, instead of others. FWIW, my son ended up not even applying to the school he thought would be one of his top choices before visiting, and his top two choices are schools that weren't really on his radar when we started this whole process. And don't be surprised if he rearranges his list with every visit... and then again with every audition. (I wouldn't be surprised if it happens with acceptances, too!)

    My son took his ACT's in mid-September and the scores were posted within a few weeks; they're available online before you get the paper report and you can request them to be sent to schools online at that time. They're sent independent of your application, so you don't have to wait. The earliest application due date my son had, which was an EA application, was November 1st but most were December 1st. He didn't have any problems getting the ACT scores sent in time.

    The things we felt a little pinched about, in terms of deadlines, were recommendation letters and my tax returns. Not what I would have guessed going in.
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  • GoForthGoForth 804 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited March 2016
    @ScreenName48105 - exactly, which then leads to the thought that the far-away programs may be equally unknowable without visits, so we have to acknowledge we could easily overlook a great program there, which we can't control. But at least S can evaluate the sample of programs that have the best "image".

    @dbandmom - I haven't decided how to approach this. Already, or soon enough, it would be guessable by a local who S is. If I want to post in the future what S's thought processes are, I might want to abstract the schools. If I want to provide CC with impressions of each school, I would have to name them. I envisioned that in a few weeks, I would come back and mention S's process and thoughts, only saying " school A", "B", or " C". So that no dirt sticks anywhere. Let's see how it unfolds, but I would be happy to report from Chicagoland anything that anyone would want to know.

    Another note, dbandmom, it is funny, but this doesn't feel like a "list". Rather, there are 3 places that instructors have mentioned are worth checking out. Or, a professor of the school has asked if he would visit, so it's like " why not check them out.". There was really no prior ranking and sorting that pointed us there. So, it feels unlisty.
    edited March 2016
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  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    which then leads to the thought that the far-away programs may be equally unknowable without visits, so we have to acknowledge we could easily overlook a great program there, which we can't control. But at least S can evaluate the sample of programs that have the best "image".
    Finding a college is like finding a spouse. While we like the romantic notion that there's that one perfect person out there, the reality is that there are probably a lot of potential partners that we'd be perfectly happy with, and which one we end up meeting involves more than a little bit of random chance. Point is, keep looking until you find good candidates and get to know them better; what looks good on paper isn't always where the chemistry is. And don't obsess about finding the perfect one. ;)
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  • dbandmomdbandmom 200 replies20 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I get it @GoForth . I always hear about the jazz world being small, though I really don't know. I have a good friend with a jazz guitar playing son and I don't think she realizes it yet (or she is in denial) but I could see him pursuing a music degree. So, I was starting my "list' to help her when the time comes (still a couple years off).
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  • drummergirldrummergirl 307 replies3 threadsRegistered User Member
    @dbandmom the jazz world is even smaller for jazz guitarists! You will find jazz programs that do not include guitar, jazz programs that require a pretty impressive classical guitar background, jazz programs that have a jazz guitar major but no faculty, jazz programs that focus almost exclusively on one style (like hard bop), and jazz programs that double up guitarists in ensembles.
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  • drummergirldrummergirl 307 replies3 threadsRegistered User Member
    That being said, my S ended up auditioning mostly on the east coast - at Eastman, Oberlin, NEC, UMiami, Hartt, UMass, Berklee and The New School. McGill's an interesting place too, I think, for jazz guitar
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  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think Jazz guitar's becoming a super hot instrument. I swear we saw more guitarists at Juilliard auditions than saxophones... you know when a traditionalist jazz program like Juilliard's auditioning that many guitarists, there's something going on. Lots at the New School, too.

    Don't discount Randy Napoleon at Michigan State and Miles Okazaki at University of Michigan. Great guitarists, both.
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2819 replies66 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @drummergirl Your post reminded me that I just saw that the San Francisco Conservatory, which has an extraordinary classical guitar faculty is starting a new undergrad degree program in fall 2017 in collaboration with SF Jazz in Roots, Jazz and American Music. http://don411.com/san-francisco-conservatory-of-music-announces-new-degree-program-with-sfjazz-and-sfjazz-collective/#.VvLUuHpRR64
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  • GoForthGoForth 804 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    Looking at the UNT summer jazz combo sign-ups, drum set is full first.

    What I notice locally, is there are usually quite a few saxes, good supply of drummers, fewer trumpets, then even fewer of trombone and jazz guitar, then bass, then keyboard and percussion (such as vibes).

    The main gigging jazz group that S is in has a senior guitarist. He is waiting word back from a few places, including NYU, where he was one of 5 guitarists on his audition day, which he thought went well.
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  • GoForthGoForth 804 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    S and I are thinking that we might want to take a week in mid September, after the ACT of September 10th, to go visit colleges for sample lessons and a look at the music department at a few colleges. He will have had a few visits in the Chicago area (home base) to see what visits might be like. In June, he will be at a UNT camp, not the same as a regular visit, but it will probably suffice as a visit considering what a long trip it is to there. He also plans to pre-screen to Frost school and would make an audition visit there, but not just a regular visit due to distance - unless he determines later that a IU Jacobs, a couple Tennessee spots, UNF, Miami combination tour would fit him best.

    Here is a circuit that might be considered for the aforementioned week where he might try to make the most compatible visit dates to hit one school after another on the following route:

    Start in Chicago (home)
    Michigan State
    Michigan
    Oberlin
    Eastman
    Hartt
    William Patterson
    New York City colleges
    MSM
    NewSchool
    Temple Boyer
    IU Jacobs
    End in Chicago (home)

    This looks like a nice loop when I type each place into multiple-destination Google Maps. Are there any places that are conspicuously missing from this loop? The idea would be to get a lot of examples of what different programs are like to have more perspective.
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  • drummergirldrummergirl 307 replies3 threadsRegistered User Member
    Wow that's ambitious @GoForth! I think you're covering too much territory and will suffer from overload. Also would your son be missing school for this trip? He'll be out so much for auditions that I'd recommend using his upcoming break in Jr year instead. The NY schools plus Hartt and Temple is still a very busy week.
    I think you've got such a potentially long list, that you'll need to edit it down before September for prescreen purposes. By mid-Sept, your son will want to have chosen 6 or 7 pieces that will satisfy all his prescreen requirements. My son ruled out Temple because it would have required an additional piece; on the other hand, he auditioned at Eastman even though it required a classical audition in addition to jazz.
    I'm not recommending our approach but my son visited most of his schools for the first time when he auditioned. It worked for him - there was only one program that he would have eliminated had he visited beforehand. There may be a few more schools on your list like UMiami that you hold off visiting.
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