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How many conservatories should a jazz musician apply to?

bassdadjazzbassdadjazz 14 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
I know for conventional wisdom says 7-10 colleges - 2-3 safety schools, 3-4 target schools, and 2-3 reach schools..

Considering a music school applicant should visit the schools, prepare prescreening videos for each school, then travel to the schools again for tryouts, is 7-10 really advisable?

What if in terms of location, size, pedigree of instructors, curriculum there is only 5 that match well? Is there a compelling reason to spend the time, energy, and money applying to 7 for the sake of following conventional wisdom?
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Replies to: How many conservatories should a jazz musician apply to?

  • GoForthGoForth 799 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    My opinion is up to about 5 well-reasoned "matches"
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1024 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'm glad @GoForth replied since it's a jazz-related question.
    I won't worry about stopping at 5 strong matches for any music student. Some students (including my D in the past) may still be trying to figure out strong matches...vacillating bx LACs and Big U's with conservatories or talent level questions or teachers etc...so in that case a longer list may be fine. Some kids need the whole audition process to figure out where they really belong. But if your son is pretty "locked and loaded" on exactly what he wants and where he stands...it can save you time and money. In the end, most lists reduce to around 5 live auditions due to constraints on time and money. So if he get there sooner rather than later...no worries.
    Note that some students don't visit schools prior to auditions due to financial and time constraints. My D auditioned "blind" (no prior visit/no teacher lesson) at one or two schools.
    And...some people do a BA non-audition "safety" particular when money is an issue...maybe an in-state public. Others decide that a gap year would be more appropriate and re-audition. The idea of safety, match and reach is a little more difficult with music...since most audition programs have an element of reach to them (who knows if they have too many tubas one year??). The only safety would be a non-audition program, imho, bc you never know what's "needed" at any level of school...and that can always come into play regardless of talent.
    Good luck.
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  • WestOfPCHWestOfPCH 107 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @bassdadjazz - Great question!! The short answer to your questions is that yes, 5 could work if you and/or your child picks the right 5.

    In addition to the factors you already cited (location, size, pedigree of instructors, curriculum), there is one more critical variable:
    - how many schools require pre-screen videos

    I think it's important to have the same range of schools, i.e. safety vs target vs reach, no matter how many schools are on your child's list. If you can do that in the span of 5 schools, then rock on. If not, consider expanding it.

    FWIW: My son is a jazz drummer, and we faced a very similar dilemma; he was adamant about going to a university (not a pure conservatory) in a big city that had no classical music requirements, on top of wanting good culture fit, gelling with faculty, etc. Though he could have easily had 14 viable schools on his list (including many within 1 hr driving distance from our house), his initial list was 10 schools long.
    After some additional research, he ended up only applying to 7 schools:
    - 4 target schools (one of which did NOT require a pre-screen)
    - 3 safety schools (one of which did NOT require a live audition)

    Of those 6 schools that required a live audition, two were 30-45 minute drive from our house. The remaining four required three separate trips from the West Coast to the East (we were able to hit two NY schools on the same trip, though the auditions were at opposite ends of the week, so he had to miss a week of high school).

    Of the 3 schools he dropped,
    - one (cough, Northwestern Bienen, cough cough) was because the pre-screen requirements were way too picky in repertoire and instrumentation, so much so that even though much of the rep overlapped reasonably with other schools, he still would have had to record a separate set of videos just for them, and we were NOT going to do that.
    - one was because, after some additional research, culture fit was not as good as he thought it'd be
    - one was because the academic reputation of the university was not as good as he was looking for

    One final thought: we only visited the two local schools to which he applied. We didn't do any pre-application visits to any of the schools that required getting on a plane; we figured we'd tour the campuses and meet people if/when he were invited for live auditions (and I'm happy to say he was a perfect 6 for 6 in that area). That helped minimize both time and money spent.

    Please LMK if you have any follow-up questions. I hope this helped.



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  • bassdadjazzbassdadjazz 14 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you so much for the advice, really helpful.
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  • bassdadjazzbassdadjazz 14 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    The pre-screen, the audition process is too much. We need a spreadsheet to track which school needs what.
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1024 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes you do!! Along with a fat wallet.
    I would guess all parents past were "keepers" of the spreadsheet, "arrangers" of the travel and "writers" of the checks (or "givers" of the credit cards).
    Enjoy!!
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 143 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My son, a jazz instrumentalist applied to 4 private conservatories, plus 1 that we begged him to apply just to compare financial offers with “recorded audition”. He didn’t do any extra work to send an application to the 5th school. He used “almost” all same tunes for all prescreening videos and recorded audition but different essays. 3 out of 5 were safety for him, 1 was reach and another was unknown. He dropped two schools (1 was “super-reach” and another was “safety”) in late October. It was his “last-minutes” call and I was glad when he made that decision by himself. All 5 private schools he applied were financially “super-reach” but 1 was commutable from home. That school was only “financial safety” for us. Some of his jazz friends didn’t have any “financial safety” in their college list. They got accepted to most of schools they applied to with small initial offers. Financial part worked out at the end (May 1st to even mid-May) with one school for them. It was very stressful but a very positive and happy ending.

    So, I think that 5 “match” is a very good number for Jazz Studies but adding one or two “financial safety school” would help mentally from our experiences. Most higher level of jazz musicians have the same schools (combinations from: USC, Miami, MSM, Juilliard, The New School, NYU, Berklee and NEC, etc) in their list.

    I made a spread sheet for all schools my son had in his mind in early September. It included: deadlines (for applications, SAT/ACT, transcripts, FAFSA/CSS Profile, recommendations, pre-screening tunes, essays, artistic resume and supplemental videos/audios) plus, excepted audition days or week, travel plans/costs, COA per year (including flight tickets x 4 per year), financial offers (separating gift money, financial aids/grant, student loans) and deadlines for decisions.

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  • bassdadjazzbassdadjazz 14 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    He's Narrowed it to Berklee, Frost, MSM, The New School, NEC, and possibly Peabody. The one thing that we have not found is a safety school. He plays upright and electric, and we've not found a safety school with an instructor he'd be interested in studying with. Thus far of the list above we've only visited MSM and The New School. He had sample lessons at both, he loved The New School. At the end of the sample lesson my son asked to do to prepare for the audition, and the instructor said, "Your in, it's just a matter of how much in scholarships we can offer you." No mention of scholarships at MSM.

    I need to see if I can get him excited about a U of I or Western Michigan, but he really wants to be on the east coast, preferably in New York.
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 143 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Bassdadjazz—— Your son’s list seems good. And if he can add one in-state or a school he can commute from home, that would be better. My son was like your son until mid-October. He never had in-state schools in his list. He really wanted to study jazz and live in NYC. However, he realized in mid October that he is ready musically for NYC but isn’t quite ready to be an undergrad jazz student in NYC. He is very happy where he is now. He has many jazz friends studying in NYC. He also has plenty of jazz friends studying not in NYC even though they all thought that they needed to be in NYC and auditioned at schools in NYC.

    It is almost impossible to find a financial safety music school that is truly exciting for jazz musicians. My son auditioned at schools he wasn’t excited. He tried to find the positive part of schools because he knew that scholarships mattered a lot. His only “financial safety school” had the best dorm room that he was very excited about but he would have been commuting from home if he needed to attend the school.....
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2815 replies66 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    How about Hartt? They offer great merit scholarships, and have been known for a strong jazz bass studio. Here's an old thread: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/17168110#Comment_17168110 @electricbassmom who may no longer be active on CC has a jazz bassist son who loved it there.
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  • CaraCoMOCaraCoMO 79 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    UNT has instate tuition if your son gets a 25 or higher on the ACT. On top of the in state tuition, academic scholarships and music scholarships.
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  • bassdadjazzbassdadjazz 14 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My wife is especially leary about him heading off to NY city. He commutes to a high school downtown Chicago now, and is handling it well, but living in NY is another matter. An the housing in NY is twice as expensive as other schools.

    When we visited the new school we met the conductor of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, he said it doesn't matter which school in NY, just get to NY if you want to study Jazz. We heard the same from the instructor at MSM. "Get to NY" seems to be a mantra of NY musicians. I take that with a grain of salt, as there are a lot of successful musicians that did not move to NY at 18 years old.

    The New School did feel like a good fit for him, but they will need to show us the money for it to make sense.

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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 143 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    If a 18-year-old is very ready for NYC, not only musically but with time management and self-promoting skills without worrying about money, I think that starting in NYC is great for jazz musicians. But dealing with high cost of room / board (apartment / food) on top of worrying about student loans would be too stressful or unhealthy for a teenager to grow as a young adult. If a 18-year-old lives in NYC area, I think that studying Jazz in NYC is the most natural path.

    Apply and audition well. Then wait to see what all schools offer. I am kinda convinced that those 18/19-year-olds end up at the right school for a very good reason.
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  • GoForthGoForth 799 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    We found William Paterson (WP) to be likely a cost effective place after academic scholarship, music merit, and honors college scholarship were totalled. It was able to come in just below UNT cost. The drummer that S played with at Hershey Park this summer goes to WP.
    Normally, in the past, at Frost, you will get a 20K or a 30K scholarship for jazz music merit.
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  • bassdadjazzbassdadjazz 14 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Frost is high on his list, he has a buddy that is attending and very happy with the program. He's got two friends at Berklee that now say they wish they'd chosen Frost.
    I'll have him check out William Paterson.
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  • GoForthGoForth 799 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    My recon indicates that for jazz bass, Frost may have more of the bass prof making sure the student is feeling like family; whereas, the profs at WP are professional players who come and go out of the school at will, so the students have to be on top of things.
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  • GoForthGoForth 799 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    Also, Wp was audio tape audition only. They did not have live auditions. The official reason is to keep it affordable for the students. It is an easy audition to splash into your workload.
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  • GoForthGoForth 799 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    I was just talking to S about WP, and he said according to his Hershey Park drum friend from WP, they have a contemporary program that can be all electric bass only. I don't know more than that.
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  • bassdadjazzbassdadjazz 14 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Wow, that's seems Rare. Berklee and MSM offer that, but with MSM I've heard there is only scholarship money for upright.
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  • WestOfPCHWestOfPCH 107 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @bassdadjazz == you haven't mentioned your son's GPA and ACT/SAT. Those aren't factors for the conservatories, but will be a major factor for Frost. Since your son has a friend there, you may know that already, but figured I'd mention it.

    Also, spreadsheets to track school requirements and optimize song-choices for pre-screens is typical. Best of lcuk.
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