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Clarinet Performance Major - how to find good programs

foxvlykofoxvlyko 0 replies1 threads New Member
My daughter is a junior in high school, with good grades and a good musical resume. We have seen the lists of "schools with top music programs" and even one specific to clarinet performance.
While many of these schools are on her interest list (Northwestern, Oberlin, Manhattan School of Music, Berklee, Jacobs, etc.), I am concerned that she may not make it into a "top" school, and she should have some other schools to consider. She is very good, but maybe not the best when held against other peers who are very good.
The problem is, there are SO many schools with music performance programs, that we don't know where we can begin to find good clarinet programs that aren't the top 10.
Asking her teachers/directors etc is certainly a start, but answers seem to bias towards schools that are closer to us (Chicago area). DePaul is one local school she is looking into, that isn't on the top ten list but is supposed to have a good clarinet program. We don't want to be limited by geography or other constraints.
Any recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated. She likes the idea of a conservatory, but is also thinking of double-majoring if possible. She also plays sax and loves jazz, but does want more of a classical training for clarinet. Size doesn't really matter.
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Replies to: Clarinet Performance Major - how to find good programs

  • cellomom2cellomom2 712 replies8 threads Member
    Take a look at Lawrence U in WI. They have a conservatory and are very encouraging to double majors. They are also welcoming to students with multi interests such as your D with her interests in sax and jazz. My D had a friend there who was a clarinet major who loved her clarinet professor there and has gone on to grad school. I don’t know much more about the clarinet program specifically but it is a strong music school. I don’t have specific info about clarinet but maybe check out DePauw, Butler and St. Olaf as schools with reputations for strong music schools. Also CCM (Cincinnati) may be somewhat less competitive.
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  • mom2clarinetobsessedkidmom2clarinetobsessedkid 119 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @foxvlyko I'll send you a PM with some thoughts. :smile:
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    We toured DePaul for music and were told their music acceptance rate was like 15% I think?. All these programs are competitive. Some are single digit acceptance rate Less competitive options are often like 20-30% acceptance rate. That can also vary widely by instrument/studio/who shows up to audition in a particular year. I also think if you are working with a teacher who places many students at particular programs that can make a different too. I actually think dual degree/double major may not be an easy possibility at DePaul? You may want to ask both music admissions and faculty directly about that. We did not always get consistent answers about dual degre. My kid ended up not applying to DePaul. If she is really interested, ask at each of these schools. I would ask both music admissions and faculty directly like at a sample lesson. We got mixed messages at a number of them including at schools that are often mentioned for dual degree. And it's good to know that up front if double major/dual degree is important to your music student. And it may not be consistent answers by instrument/faculty member.

    If you haven't read the dual degree sticky that is on this page, I highly recommend doing that if she is considering double major/dual degree.

    My kid did the process last year. I think a good thing to look at is many programs publish a list of what alumni are doing/have done musically. Next, I would dig into faculty. We found faculty more impressive at some off beat place in maybe a larger city than we did at some rural small colleges that made music program lists. Then look at performance opportunities/collaboration opportunities. I also think there can be advantages to being strong within the program. I recently met a young musician who did a BA double major with music at a very off the beaten path LAC I never heard of. And then went on to grad school at Rice. And is now a really successful young performer. I think there can be many good paths to success for a talented and hard working young music student if they get paired with a strong music teacher they really click with.

    My kid applied for dual degree programs and now as a freshman is likely to stay on that road I think. I will say not every school that advertised dual degree for music students had faculty that was excited about students doing a dual degree as I mentioned above. My kid ended up at a large flagship. We found some large universities with grad music programs the most open and flexible to this in our travels and auditions. Like one strong program we got consistent positive messaging from on dual programs was University of Michigan.

    Anyway - my kid does not play clarinet so I can not speak to that specifically. But dual degree was very important to him and it is still important to him as a student (many students drop that/change their mind it seems like). The other thing is many dual degree are 5 year programs. Schools are not necessarily excited to offer up merit money for 5 years for a student that has split interests. You have more power if you are willing to be full pay. My kid had some split acceptances - either on the music or academic side. He had a couple of academic acceptances where he got personal attention on the music side and I think he could have weaseled his way into dual degree if he got on campus. But we would have been paying much more that 5th year. Many dual degree students we met added them AFTER getting to campus which was very surprising to me.

    This ended up long and rambling. I am happy to PM too. We just found dual degree application process less straightforward than either straight music admissions or straight academic admissions.
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  • compmomcompmom 11523 replies81 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2019
    I second the suggestion to read the Double Degree Dilemma essay posted closer to the top of this forum, which is really about the different paths for studying music. BM, double major within the BM, double degree BM/BA, BA (with lessons and often extracurricular performance, sometimes for credit), double major within MA, major/minor within the BA, and, finally, the option to major in something else entirely and continue with lessons and extracurricular performance (sometimes for credit).

    Also, since a lot can change in a short time for high schoolers, I think you can let things settle a bit in terms of what she really wants, before thinking about this too much. Some of us have kids who didn't know what they wanted in senior year, let alone junior, and they applied to both liberal arts BA programs and freestanding conservatories.

    So make sure your daughter feels free to pursue programs that do not have a BM as well as looking into BM programs, and let her know she can apply to both.

    Also ensure she considers factors like size, location, faculty, course offerings and "vibe," just as anyone would. And cost!

    Students in good grad programs come from all kinds of schools and backgrounds.

    ps I am curious what "list of best music schools" you are referring to.

    pps I will PM you some schools.
    edited October 2019
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  • akapiratequeenakapiratequeen 1274 replies37 threads Senior Member
  • mom2clarinetobsessedkidmom2clarinetobsessedkid 119 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Yes, @akapiratequeen, I sent a LENGTHY message. I’m afraid @foxvlyko may have been sorry he/she asked! 😂 The people on this board have been so helpful to our family. I try to pay it forward whenever I can!
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