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Northwestern University Bienen School of Music- Music Education or Violin?

jtsaojtsao 2 replies2 threads New Member
My son is currently a high school junior. He wants to apply to the Dual Degree Program (Bienen/Weinberg) at Northwestern next year. For someone applying to Bienen, it seems that you have to choose a major. Violin is the obvious choice, but they also have the Music Education major. I am just wondering, would he have a better chance being admitted if he applies to the Music Ed major?
I just have no idea how advanced the other applicants play. My son has been with the area's youth orchestra for many years. He has All State (Texas), went to the University of Indiana's summer String Academy last summer (accepted into Interlochen and Eastman summer programs as well) . The pieces they play in the youth orchestra include: The Firebird by Stravinsky, Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo by Copland, and Suppé - Poet and Peasant - Overture, etc. His solo pieces include concerto movements from Lalo Symphonie espagnole, Wieniawski Polonaise Brillante, etc. and also Bach Partita movements and Beethoven Spring Sonata, among others.
His grades are pretty decent. ACT 35, bunch of APs (about 15), top 5% in ranking, etc.
Again like I said earlier, I have completely no idea how he measures up against other applicants to Bienen and if applying to Music Education can give him a better edge. He wants to continue to learn and play violin in college, but plans to dual degree in another field. So Music Education actually should work for him but Violin performance major is probably the first choice if possible.
Any suggestions?
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Replies to: Northwestern University Bienen School of Music- Music Education or Violin?

  • MusicaspirantMusicaspirant 64 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Music Education is quite a different program than an applied performance major. Schools, including Norhwestern, assume that the candidate is truly interested in teaching in a public school situation. Take a look at Northwestern's Music Ed admission requirements. There is a required interview as well as some diagnostic exams. Then, take a look at the course requirements for the degree - observations, student teaching, secondary instrument study, etc. I would even give the school a call (you can do it anonymously although they won't track you!) and ask if a double degree in Music Ed and whatever your S is considering is possible, especially with a student teaching component. The actual Music Ed degree may not be at all what he wants out of a college experience.

    The double degree route is supported better by some professors than others - true of all schools. You can also ask the Admissions Dept how double degree in violin and _______ is regarded by NU's violin department and individual faculty. I do know that, historically, double degree has been fine with most NU violin profs, but their faculty has changed a lot in recent years.

    Symphonie Espagnole is probably on the low end of acceptable concerto repertoire, but would definitely not be a deal killer if well played. Northwestern's violin students tend to be a greater range of accomplishment than many conservatories. There will be high schoolers auditioning and accepted with concerti like Tchaikovsky and Sibelius and Bach fugues as well as those auditioning and accepted with Mendelssohn and Barber and easier Bach partita movements. The quality of the playing will be the key. No one will care what his youth orchestra has played.

    If the audition is good, his stats are well within range for acceptance.

    Hopefully someone with more current knowledge will chime in for you. I wouldn't hesitate to ask Admissions specifics regarding your concerns. You may get a student worker who might know what they see in actual practice, but if you don't get satisfactory answers, ask to speak directly with the Director.
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  • gram22gram22 159 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @jtsao, Just to add another angle to Bienen, specific to violin performance : they accept only about 3 or 4 students in a year, and probably less - in 2018, it was only two I believe. So, you should hedge your bets...
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  • MusicaspirantMusicaspirant 64 replies2 threads Junior Member
    ^^^ Wow! I am not questioning you at all - my knowledge is a few years back. I do find the low level acceptance rate surprising, however. Is that for undergrad only, or both undergrad and grad students? Have they gone to taking more grad than undergrads or some other new strategy? There is certainly enough faculty that 3 or 4 new students per year across the degree spectrums would not fill studios.

    OP - there's another factor for you to ask admissions about!!

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