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Seeking Guidance - Bass player wants dual degree from highly selective schools

Scubaski1Scubaski1 Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
edited September 14 in Music Major
Seems like a lot of wisdom on this forum - glad I found it. Seeking any guidance from experienced musicians/parents on college programs/criteria, as we are new to all this...

My child (sophomore) is a 1st chair bassist for a top youth orchestra (Chicago Youth Orchestra). She is working in Bille method, and currently playing Dragonetti and Koussevitzky concertos. Her teacher is in the CSO. She is a district/all-state musician and was selected to play with YoYo Ma. She has attended Blue Lake masters camp, performed for many ISB/bass professors at conferences (with excellent evaluations), and toured Europe. And most importantly, she loves playing the bass.

She has stellar academics - I think a 4.6 on a 4.0 scale - at a competitive high school. She is currently taking AP Chemistry, AP History, Gifted Honors English, Gifted Pre-calc (AP calculus BC next year), Honors French, Honors Orchestra - anticipate all A's.

She plays 2 HS sports (1 varsity), is in several clubs (including president of one she just founded) and volunteers extensively (on student hospital board, adaptive sports guide, foreign mission trips, music ambassador for inner city, etc.). She never stops going...

She loves music and science, particularly chemistry. She also loves helping people. She would like to be a doctor, maybe in orthopedics as she loves working with adaptive athletes. She is interested in dual degree programs in music/bass and science/chemistry, at highly selective schools. What are the options for her in this area?

Unfortunately she really doesn't want to look at Northwestern University or UChicago because they are too close to home (even though the music dept./bass prof. know her at these great schools). I am trying to persuade her on that one..

She is currently researching the Harvard/New England Conservatory dual degree, and other Ivy League programs (Yale music). I think she wants to apply early decision to one of these schools.

She has even downloaded the music repertoire of their top players/professors, so she can plan her pieces/path for future auditions. She is a very motivated, self-driven person.

Would appreciate any guidance/perspective on all this..


Replies to: Seeking Guidance - Bass player wants dual degree from highly selective schools

  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,068 Senior Member
    I would look at the dual degree program at Tufts as well as Oberlin and Bard. Your D sounds quite exceptional and probably has as good a shot as possible at the most selective schools.
    These are options worth considering as well.

  • Scubaski1Scubaski1 Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    A few more details if it matters...

    She got at a 1330 on the freshman PSAT (650 reading, 680 math) but she didn't prep/tutor for it. We could start SAT tutoring.

    Also, she is currently in level 3 Honors French (so will have 5 years when she graduates).

    She will take 10+ AP courses.. She got a 4 on her first AP test - world history. She just took the SAT world history subject test (results not out yet), and will take Chemistry and Math SAT subject tests in the spring.
  • Scubaski1Scubaski1 Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Thank you Gardenstategal. She has played with Peter Dominquez, jazz bass chair at Oberlin (they got along great and he asked about her college plans ). However, she has this idea that Oberlin is really too liberal for her (she has seen "Girls" -lol) and she also has a more classical focus (though she loves jazz), so not sure if Oberlin is the right fit.

    We will look into Bard and Tufts.
  • MomofadultMomofadult Registered User Posts: 773 Member
    We know string players who have a music degree from Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) and a BS in science related fields from Case Western Reserve. The kids I'm remembering enrolled through CIM's Dual Degree program - she would apply through CIM only and coordination of application is handled through CIM. She sounds like she will meet CIM's audition standard and this route would give her access to all of CIM's profs and ensembles. Case also claims to sponsor a joint program, but this one has much lower standards for music admission and if she applies through them, she will not be considered a CIM student with the same opportunities. She should be very competitive for Case admissions.

    Case and CIM share a campus. Everything is very convenient - no bus rides to far off campuses. CIM students, even non-dual degree students, take their gen eds at Case, have access to the Case library (as well as CIM's library), Case's gym facilities, etc. CIM dual degree students live in the Case dorm that houses CIM music students. So, a ready-made community within the larger campus.

    IMHO, U of Chicago will probably not provide the best undergrad music opportunity unless her interests are more academic than performance. Do try to push Northwestern though - we know grads with dual music/science degrees from there also. Good luck!
  • BassTheatreMomBassTheatreMom Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    Hi, My son will be starting at Northwestern next week as a bass performance major. He is talking to advisors this week to determine if he wants a dual degree/double major/minor. Bienen is unique in that they don't just allow students to study something other than music, they encourage and accommodate it. I really think NU is one she shouldn't mark of her list based on her interests.

    I would also recommend Peabody/Johns Hopkins. They have excellent bass profs and of course premed at Hopkins is hard to beat. She will have to apply to both separately and be accepted to both to do a dual degree. However, even if she isn't accepted at Hopkins (which she obviously has a great shot at - but it is a reach for even the best students), Peabody students are able to take any courses they like at Hopkins so she would still be able to take her premed coursework there while a student at Peabody.

  • bookmama22bookmama22 Registered User Posts: 2,008 Senior Member
    What about University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music? The only drawback for double degree is that they are separate campuses about 20 minutes apart which is actually the same situation for Peabody/Hopkins.
  • Scubaski1Scubaski1 Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    BassTheatreMom - congratulations to your son on Northwestern! That is a wonderful school and bass program on a very beautiful campus. My daughter has gone to camps there, played in their auditoriums, and has had great clinics with their Bass chair, who is also with Milwaukee Symphony I think. He is fantastic and had a great rapport with my daughter. I honestly think Northwestern is the best school for her. But alas, she will not currently consider this great college, in her backyard, in a place that she knows so well. I told her to apply anyway as a "safety" school (lol - Northwestern as a safety). I also promised I would not visit too often or tell our friends/family in Evanston to check in on her. I will continue to try to influence her on this.

    John Hopkins/Peobody has been on our radar for awhile, so we will explore this... Thanks for the perspective on that school.
  • Scubaski1Scubaski1 Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    BookMama - thanks for the suggestion. We will look into that program as well...
  • Scubaski1Scubaski1 Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Momofadult - Thanks for such great feedback. We are adding Case Western/CIM to the list. Agree with your perspective on U Chicago as well, though does seem like they have a lot of student ensembles based on the advertising I'm seeing at city venues.
  • DaykidmomDaykidmom Registered User Posts: 557 Member
    My son is a cellist and freshman at Harvard, taking lessons at NEC. He looked at dual programs at Hopkins/Peabody, Northwestern/ Bienen, Rice/ Shepard (they make an actual dual degree very difficult), Tufts/NEC, Rochester/Eastman, Oberlin, Michigan, Harvard/NEC, and Vanderbilt/Blair. The dual program at Yale is new this year, so he didn't look at that. If you gave any specific questions, glad to help. One thing he felt (I'm sure not true for everyone) is that having the conaervatory off campus (like with Hopkins) was going to be too difficult logistically, especially with a larger instrument (oh those piccolo players have it so easy)-- again, not true for everyone, but something to think about. The other thing to think about is other music opportunities at the school or in the area. For example, There are a large number of recording studios in Nashville near Vanderbilt (for all types of music), and the Blair kids often get lots soft work as studio musicians. At Harvard, there are an enormous number of enembles to join, besides the NEC ones or Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra, ranging from the BPYO (which goes on great tours every year) to the Baroque ensemble (they loan you Baroque instruments for the year) or the Brattle Streeet Chamber Players (many of the best string players at Harvard, playing rarely perfor,Ed music, ranging from Baroque to modern). You do need to send an audition tape to all these dual programs, when the time comes, and note that deadlines for applications are different from regular college applications. We were very specifically told that most conservatories strongly prefer in person auditions (once you've passed the pre-screening stage), whether or not they offer regional auditions or auditions via videos. Just be aware-- it's an added expense and takes extra time.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 910 Member
    OP - I began with a very similar background (child interested in music and medicine) and sought guidance in this music forum in 2016 with this post:

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/1881307-bm-degree-double-degree-or-double-major-p1.html (before college application).

    I followed that up with its updated post (after the college application results) here: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/1978711-update-to-bm-degree-double-degree-or-double-major-p1.html

    Ultimately, my son committed to Princeton but chose to take a gap year, so he'll be joining the Class of 2022 next year. By the way, just want to remind you that HYP, if these schools are what your daughter is aiming at, don't offer Early Decision; rather, Single Choice Early Action. Assuming that your daughter would be applying EA to one of these, it'd be to your huge benefit that you study each of these school's very thoroughly in terms of what sort of music programs they each offer and what musical ensembles are available, among others. Be sure to run the Net Price Calculator, too, since none of these schools offer merit-based but only need-based.

    By the time my son was applying to colleges, it became quite clear that he was leaning 70/30 pre-med track/music. For my son's leaning and interests, we became very attracted to Princeton's dual-degree program in collaboration with the Royal College of Music in London. While my son came to his conclusion that he was definitely not interested in the Harvard/NEC program by the application time (saved me money, time and stress of having to live audition at NEC!) because he was "sick and tired" of living a "double life" since he was 5-years old, what's different about the Princeton's dual-degree program is that it first allows a student a chance to make a career direction by spending a semester in Jr. year upon a successful audition in March of Sophomore year. Lots of music students at Princeton take this opportunity as a semester "study abroad" in London basically, during which time they have a chance to search deep into their soul as to whether they want to make a career in music or not. Those who are serious about music at that point then have a chance to take the grad school entrance exam at the end of their semester for RCM. For those who successfully pass the exam, they head to RCM for another year for their MM degree upon completing their UG at Princeton.

    Such a program could suit your daughter well or it may not. It all depends on your daughter. For my son, who's still quite undecided, the program at Princeton gives him some time necessary to explore and decide. I'm pretty sure, by the time he comes back from a semester abroad in London, he'd have figured out for himself. If your daughter is equally interested in pursuing the highly intensive dual program at Harvard/NEC, then I'd suggest applying EA to Harvard. Since Yale just came out with their new undergrad music program, I don't know much about it.

    One thing about Princeton is that an attempt at a double degree (UG double degree, not Princeton-RCM) or double major is not encouraged due to intense level of academic rigor. While they have done away with grade deflation in 2014, the old habit doesn't die suddenly, I suppose. Some of the upper class Princeton students that my son got to know have dropped pre-med track/music and changed their major to biology or chem with med schools in mind upon graduating. They said it's easier that way. My son, when he gets there next year, will have to find out for himself whether he can major in music and be on pre-med track.

    In this regard, Harvard could be more advantageous for students interested in a double-degree program or double majoring with their well-known grade inflation. Harvard Med School also favors Harvard undergrads, too, so that's another advantage for students aiming for a med school.
  • cellomom2cellomom2 Registered User Posts: 484 Member
    Consider UM, and USC if she's not against going west. My S got a dual degree in cello and math at UM. It is difficult but doable, hard to do in 4 years. He finished in 4 1/2 years. One thing to look at is how scheduling for labs versus music classes and ensembles mesh. Trying to make schedules mesh with required lab based classes makes it just that much more difficult.
  • DaykidmomDaykidmom Registered User Posts: 557 Member
    Of course, you've probably figured out that most of the dual programs are 5 years (or at least 4 ½), and result in a BA and BM. Harvard and Yale give you a BA and MM in 5 (and it sounds like the Princeton program does as well, although that's set up quite differently).
  • BassTheatreMomBassTheatreMom Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    While it isn't as "elite" as some of the other places being discussed, you might also give SMU a close look. The programming and opportunities they offer their top academic scholars are truly excellent, and the bass profs are fantastic - both with DSO. One was on the jury for the Bradetich Bass Competition earlier this month. SMU also actively encourages dual degrees and double majors.

  • dramasopranomomdramasopranomom Registered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
    edited September 14
    I would say not to shut the door on Oberlin because of feel if you haven't yet visited....the Conservatory has a much less Liberal vibe than the College. Also, your daughter might start thinking about the kind of place where she might feel at home; size of campus, proximity of music to general ed classes (as others have mentioned), big city vs. more rural. These are just some of the considerations, but they are important! I would guess that visiting some top choices early on will be very helpful!
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