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How to select best colleges for Music Composition

PranavYPranavY 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
I will be applying to music colleges and conservatories for Fall 2020. I am looking for best colleges the can be good for Music Composition. I am passionate about Music composition and in classical music. What is the best way to understand this as most lists are broad lists of Music colleges. It is tough to understand which ones will be good for some in interested in Classical Music Composition. Any leads will be appreciated.
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Replies to: How to select best colleges for Music Composition

  • compmomcompmom 10758 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Have you read the Double Degree Dilemma essay posted closer to the top of this forum? What degree are you after? Do you want a BM at a conservatory or school of music, or a BA? For composition you can do either. A BM will be 2/3-3/4 music classes and a BA will be 1/4-1/3 music classes.

    Do you have a portfolio, including live performances? Do you have a teacher? Have you done any summer programs? None of these are essential except for the portfolio, but the other things help.

    You can start with size, location, cost and "vibe." East Coast or Midwest, or some other part of the country? Do you want a freestanding conservatory or a BM program within a college or university? This also depends on finances.
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  • PranavYPranavY 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited September 3
    Thank you so much, compmom. Looking to study BM at a conservatory or school of Music. 4 Years program that is. I am not from the US or western europe, I am from India. I learn Piano as an instrument. I am interested in Music Composition Major, I am self taught and have created compositions in western classical music. I have 3 to 5 latest compositions. When I look for colleges, I get music colleges but am not able to make out which are good for Music Composition.
    edited September 3
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  • compmomcompmom 10758 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 3
    For application, it is great that you have 3-5 pieces. Are any of them performed and recorded? You will definitely need some of them to be performed by musicians and recorded.

    For freestanding conservatories (which tend to be pricey, with some exceptions) Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory, Juilliard, Curtis, Manhattan School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory.

    For schools of music/conservatories on campus, look at Oberlin, Lawrence, Bard, Ithaca, Temple Boyer, Hartt at U. of Hartford, U. of Michigan, USC (California), UC's, Eastman at U. of Rochester, Peabody at Johns Hopkins, Boston University, Indiana University.

    I am sure I am leaving some out.

    I will say again that for composition, there are many BA programs that can be good. Both Oberlin and Bard have good opportunities now for no-conservatory composers. Brown has a composition strand for music majors, some schools are excellent without a specific composition strand though.

    Also double degree programs are offered at Oberlin, Lawrence, Tufts/NEC, Harvard, NEC, Yale, and some of the programs mentioned above.

    I am not sure what "music colleges" you are looking at. If you are sure you want a BM, then it is really between freestanding conservatories and those that are part of a university or college.

    If there is a particular location or area of the country you are interested in, we could be more helpful too.
    edited September 3
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  • PranavYPranavY 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks a lot compmom. I am aware of the famous conservatories that you have mentioned. I dont know several of the universities that you have mentioned. I will research these and get back if I have more questions. The general challenge I faced in good conservatories is that every course looks good when you go through website. I wanted to understand if any of them are better in say performance or Jazz vis a vis say Composition in Classical Music my area of passion ! But you have been very helpful. Thanks again.
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  • compmomcompmom 10758 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The ones I mentioned were with classical composition in mind. Good luck!
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  • PranavYPranavY 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you so much compmom and spiritmanager. Greatly appreciated. will get back with any specific question.
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  • PranavYPranavY 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I thought I will give some more specifics about me which I might have missed in asking this thread. Thanks for the thread and several were very useful.
    1. I am from India - India has just about 1 or 2 orchestras that play Western classical ! That is context.
    2. I studied Music in 9th/10th Grade as IGCSE student (UK board) and am currently pursuing IB and in final year (including Music as HL/High level)
    3. I got interested in Western Classical music from 8th class (have been playing Tabla - an Indian classical instrument since 8). I play Piano as an instrument.
    4. I got further deep into Composition last 2 years, have been composing - mostly inspired by Chaupin and nocturnes...Have been trying to create my own expression from that inspiration onwards. I have been self taught wrt composition
    5. I have composed 3-5 pieces, refining them - and plan to record them in October. Will greatly appreciate if I can share my pieces with some one so that some one can tell what level it is and which schools based on it look like reach or out of reach or safe.
    6. I am open to studying in Conservatories as well as conservatories within Univs and any good Univs too. Clear that I want to pursue BM and in Composition and with classical bent.
    7. I want to be a composer who has built fundamentals in classical - am aware I may learn and evolve in 4 years - would like to explore and grow that way working with good reasonable direct connect with good faculty (not grad students teaching), as well as feedback from peers, students, and opportunity to see performers performing my pieces - whether in ensemble, quartet, orchestra etc., would love that opportunity.
    Hope that helps
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  • compmomcompmom 10758 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I will PM you so that you can send music if you would like. It is good that you realize that undergrad years are foundational and that you are aware how much you may evolve over those 4 years and beyond!
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2819 replies66 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What can you afford? Have you considered the Conservatory at the University of Sydney in Australia? It's closer, and probably cheaper, and has an exciting group of composers teaching/studying there. Canada might also be a cheaper alternative to the US. Univ. of Toronto and McGill, for instance. It sounds like you have an interesting background, coming from the classical Indian tradition - but the type of music composition encouraged in most programs is different from a European 19th century aesthetic - although the theoretical techniques and analysis will be taught. However, many undergrads are like you in that their only exposure to music composition is 19th century and older classical music, rather than music composed in the last 50-100 years, with the exception of film and game scores.

    I would highly recommend immersing yourself in music composed in the last fifty years. A good place to start is this weekly radio show Extra Eclectic: https://www.yourclassical.org/search?utf8=✓&q=extra+eclectic
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  • PranavYPranavY 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited October 6
    Thank you so much, Spirit Manager. You are totally right that I dont have exposure to the music composed in the last 50-100 years. Hence, whatever I have tried to create are influenced by the older era. Those are the ones I am sending for pre screen. Will this put me at a disadvantage? I can immerse myself as you have suggested and get ready with some more pieces in the repertoire before the interviews/auditions but hope I dont have a disadvantage in the screening stage as I need to upload for several universities now.
    edited October 6
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2819 replies66 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @PranavY Don't worry about the style/aesthetics of the pieces you've written that you plan to submit - if they represent who you are. You should not be trying to copy any particular style - rather trying to write the music which you're compelled to write to the best of your ability.

    However, know if you do go to college for an education in music composition, you will be exposed to a world of music beyond the 'classics' from a few centuries ago. Which will give you more choices for the sound world to create within.
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  • PranavYPranavY 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks a lot for your encouragement and kind words. Will let you know as I progresss.
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  • compmomcompmom 10758 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Many undergrad programs are still focused on the older eras, including conservatories as well as colleges and universities. I would not worry about it. Just send what you have written.

    Schools are not looking for undergrads with an established style or polish. They are looking for raw potential. Your cultural background also means you bring some interesting elements with you.

    The value in listening to late 20th century/21st century music is to learn that you can do what you want! But it is not necessary at this stage.

    You might be interested to know that Tufts and Wesleyan are especially strong in world music, but there are many choices for you. Tufts has a double degree with NEC.

    I understand that you want a BM, but you can also consider a BA as a composer, as said before. If you want a BM, then I hope the most of the pieces you have written are performed live. Will you play them yourself?

    With your interest in traditional classical composition, you might want to consider the European American Musical Alliance program (EAMA) for the summer. It focuses on harmony and counterpoint.

    Feel free to send me your music.
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