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What are some easy music schools to get into?

tubaneedshelptubaneedshelp Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
I'm interested in pursuing a career as a professional tuba player, my goal is to be in a major symphony or quintet, but I wouldn't mind being a private teacher or maybe even a high school teacher, that's a more realistic goal for me. I'm looking at music schools, and I'm not sure which ones I could get into based on my playing. I have good SAT scores and a good GPA, so I'm also looking at good academic schools.

I'm a senior, and I've been playing tuba since freshman year without a teacher, but I played trombone before then for three years. Last year I wasn't good enough to get into the region band for my area, so that probably cuts out a lot of schools for me. I have pretty good tone, but my facility and range needs some work. My band director told me to prepare Divertimento for Tuba and Concert Band by Dan Adams for the spring, if that gives any indication of my ability.

Currently I have these schools on my list:

Northwestern Bienen School of Music
USC Thornton School of Music
Gettysburg Sunderman Conservatory

Would these schools be too much of a reach for me? What are some schools that I could get into for music?

Replies to: What are some easy music schools to get into?

  • astute12astute12 Registered User Posts: 561 Member
    Most conservatories are very hard to get into and usually the audition is the most important part, with grades being secondary. Do you want to get a Bachelor of Music (BM) or would you be happy getting a BA at a school with a good music major? The kids who go for BM usually have been playing for many years and have private instruction. Visit the school's websites you are interested in -- usually they will have a description of what they require for auditions. Take a look and see if the repertoire is within your ability. Talk with your band director and get his feedback. USC offers a BA in music which is a great option. You might consider finding a brass teacher who could listen to you and give you their opinion. Good luck!
  • electricbassmomelectricbassmom Registered User Posts: 218 Junior Member
    Is there any way you could get a private teacher now? You would have three or four months before auditions. You can improve a lot during that time.
  • DesignDadDesignDad Registered User Posts: 191 Junior Member
    The advice you've gotten so far is spot on. To answer your question whether those schools would be a reach for you, it's almost impossible to say since we don't know your playing level, but relative to the title of your post I would definitely not call Bienen or Thornton easy to get into. They are both excellent music schools with very competitive acceptance. (full disclosure --> I know nothing about Tuba studios)
  • CompdadCompdad Registered User Posts: 470 Member
    Before you spend a bunch of money in the admissions process, have your playing evaluated by either a teacher within a school of music or a very strong private teacher. Prescreens are due fairly soon for many programs and it would benefit you before undertaking the process to have an idea at the level of program for which you should apply.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    I can't speak for the Tuba, other than they don't admin a lot of tuba students from what I know, they basically admit enough to fill the requirements of their orchestras.

    I agee with compdad, probably the best thing you could do would be to seek out a high level teacher, preferably at a music school within a college, to see what they say.When you say you have been working without a teacher, did you mean you didn't have a private teacher (ie you took lessons in school), or you taught yourself to play?

    Tuba and other brass instruments are a bit different that let's say strings, because it is very difficult to start those at a young age, so your relative lack of experience will be a lot less of an issue than it would be on strings. That said, though, Tuba players getting into music schools generally have worked with private teachers from what little I know, and given the nature of music teaching in school, it is going to be tough sledding. Biennen and USC music schools for a BM are some of the top music schools out there (lot of kids of conservatory level admission capability, I am talking the CIM/Juilliard/Eastman/NEC et al) go to places like Biennen and USC because they can double degree, so it takes serious talent to get in there. I am not as familiar with Gettysburgh, but the fact that it is an auditioned program says that it is likely not to be a place 'anyone' could get in, and even if it is not in the same league with the top schools in terms of admission, it still requires more than a fair amount of ability to get in.

    It is why the evaluation is important, because that will guide you in what you do, and you do have options to think about:

    1)You might be good enough to get into a decent program, with some polishing. The evaluation would tell you weak areas, and if it is just polishing it might be doable in 4 months or so (some programs it might be December 1st, if they have a prescreen, not sure if brass programs do that).

    2)You could get into a BA program on Tuba, which generally is a bit easier than getting into a BM program, some BA programs are non auditioned. The advantage is you could do lessons with a teacher who is a tubist, and improve, and perhaps by the time you graduate you could think of doing an MM on Tuba.

    3)If you thought of teaching, there is the Music Ed degree, which leads towards teaching music in the public schools. That though I would reserve only if you seriously want to teach in a public school, K-12, and I am not saying it is easier to get into than a BM program, Music Ed programs require competency on your core instrument at a pretty high level from what I know (others can chime in on that). Don't see it as a fallback I recommend, only do this if you think you would like to teach music, there are far too many frustrated performers teaching music out there, and they don't do their kids or music much of a benefit IMO.

    4)You can also go to a good school that doesn't have a music school per se, and still take lessons and do orchestra and band and ensembles. For example (and just that, not saying you want to go there or feel you can get in), the Ivies and other elite schools maintain high level music programs, they will pay for lessons, and have strong orchestra and other ensembles for non majors. You could find a school with such a program, get a degree in something, and use the experience there to boost your ability, maybe enough to then go for a BM.

    Again, a lot of that depends on where you are right now, and no one on here, even someone who knows tuba, could evaluate your chances for admission to any of these options. It is why I agreed with compdad, the evaluation will tell you what your options are. The good news is everything in music is a reach, that symphony job is a reach for all people auditioning (because there aren't a lot of those jobs, and they open up infrequently), so you reaching is not unusual, the bad news is that it is possible to be so far behind the curve of others playing the instrument that the dream of doing this professionally may be just that, a dream. On the other hand, that doesn't mean you can't do music, you could get a degree in something while playing, and then play in a variety of amateur or semi pro orchestras and bands that are out there, lot of people who are doctors and lawyers and investment bankers and the like play in groups like this, and many of them are nothing to sneeze at in their ability, lot of those people were talented music students who went the career route but still wanted to play music:)

  • PianoDude12PianoDude12 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Look to Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. The tuba instructor there, Marty Erickson, is probably the most high-profile faculty member within his field of any of the faculty members. From what I've gathered, no matter who you ask in the low brass world he's in the top 3 tuba players in the US. That said, the school is not particularly hard to get into because it mostly draws from the Upper Midwest. I also went there and I can tell you the tuba/euphonium studio was by far the strongest brass studio in my time so I know he's also a good teacher. He just might not get as much credit as other teachers because, as I understand it, he dropped out of college to join the premiere Navy band and have a performing career (doing pretty much everything there is to do on the tuba, including jazz) and never went back to get a degree. But I guess that speaks to his level of accomplishment that they've had him for 20-30 years without any academic qualifications.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,770 Senior Member
    Great advice above. I would think you really need a private teacher to advance (though I know it is costly). You can always take a gap year and work hard to get into one of the places you named, which are very selective.

    Otherwise, as others have said, many talented musicians get BA's and many don't even major in music. You can take lessons, practice, and perform on and off campus without majoring in music. at many colleges and universities without a conservatory style program.

    A general music program will include lots of theory, aural skills, music history, composition, ethnomusicology, and technology. Some BA programs have a performance component, many don't and leave performance to extracurriculars.

    One caution is that if you are a BA student in music or a BA student in something other than music, on a campus that has BM students in conservatory/music school, you might have fewer opportunities because the good teachers and performances go to the BM students. This is not universally true but check this aspect out at the schools you are interested in.

    And include some schools that don't have a BM program. Music "departments" rather than "Music schools."

    There are many paths for you to take to develop as a musician and then go on to grad school or work. Or go on to enjoy playing music the rest of your life. You can do what you want to do in undergrad years without a direct career connection: you will still have access to jobs and grad/professional schools.

    The above advice to get an evaluation is wise, but don't let any negatives in that evaluation get you down either. I am sure that you can find a way for music to be a big part of your life, no matter what the evaluator says.

    When you do have more clarity, come on back on the forum and people can suggest specific schools. The evaluator you choose may also have ideas. I guess you have to hurry though!!
  • raellis123raellis123 Registered User Posts: 361 Member
    You might want to reconsider your definition of "good". There are good schools because they have a good, long-term reputation. These will typically be tougher to get into for everyone.

    What you really want is a school that is "good for you". With less experience that school might not be one of the big-name schools. Look at state schools. Maybe not the flagship school like a Michigan, Illinois, or Ohio State. But one of the other state schools in the system. They will have good teachers and opportunities to perform. Get into one of those schools and work your tail off. Then you can get into one of the big-name schools for grad work.

    I also want to second the comment that you shouldn't consider K-12 teaching unless teaching children is really your passion. If it isn't you won't be happy in that degree or job.
  • lots2dolots2do Registered User Posts: 401 Member
    edited October 2016
    @tubaneedshelp, Check the forum called TubeNet regularly. If you google TubeNet auditions, that will take you to the page where Tuba Professors from all over the country post openings, often with scholarship opportunities. That forum is a great resource for low brass musicians.
  • sopranogurlsopranogurl Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
    George Mason University in Fairfax, VA
This discussion has been closed.