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Music Schools that Embrace Contemporary Musicians...Suggestions Requested

kcreativekcreative Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
edited July 2009 in Music Major
Hi Parents!

My S will graduate high school in 2011. He is a multi-talented musician who plays the French Horn, trumpet, and piano. The latter is his passion. While he enjoys classical music, he relishes composing his own music in the vein of Billy Joel and Elton John. ( In '09 he won the senior musical composition category in North Carolina's state Reflections contest.

He wants to attend a music college and he dreams of Berklee in Boston. (As his parents, we dream of being able to afford it!) Can you please make any other suggestions of schools that embrace contemporary music?

We live in NC and have considered UNC-Greensboro or Appalachian State University but both require auditions with music created before the 1800s!!!!! And it seems these schools are more clearly focused on classical training.

My S has asked me several times what schools he should be considering and I just don't know what to tell him. So CC parents, can you help us?

Post edited by kcreative on

Replies to: Music Schools that Embrace Contemporary Musicians...Suggestions Requested

  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,070 Senior Member
    How about North Carolina School of the Arts? I don't know anything about its music program, but I have seen stuff from its dance program that impressed me a lot.
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    Choices are somewhat limited, but besides Berklee, options to consider are Belmont in Nashville, UDenver/Lamont SOM's program for contemporary music, USC/Thorton's brand new Popular and Commercial program, The New School's Jazz and Contemporary offering.

    There's a broad range of threads, and experience of music students and parents in programs from Juilliard through Berklee, and a number of folks headed in a contemporary direction that may have insights.

    Please take the time to read through this http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/258796-so-you-want-music-major-one-familys-experience.html. It's one of the best overviews I've seen in detailing the ins and outs of the nuances of a music based undergrad pursuit.
  • MSmom&dadMSmom&dad Registered User Posts: 290 Junior Member
    Shepherd school at Rice - tough to get in (but no worse than Berklee) and much better chance of financial aid
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,346 Senior Member
    Check the music forum, for sure. Some programs may term his composition interests as "songwriting."

    I suggested to another poster on the music forum that schools like Bennington, Sarah Lawrence and Hampshire might also work. State university programs might be worth looking into, too. (But yes, Berklee is a good idea, and yes, Berklee costs a lot!)
  • mypsych97mypsych97 Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    My DD1 graduated from Loyola New Orleans; great music program in a small liberal arts college. They say their model is equivalent to Baldwin Wallace in Ohio, SMU Dallas and Ithaca College in NY. All four schools have good music programs. Loyola gave her an excellent scholarship all 4 years and has great orchestra and jazz programs, not to mention opera.

    Check it out.
  • DocTDocT Registered User Posts: 7,279 Senior Member
    Berklee school of music in Boston has good programs for contemporay musicians.
  • kayfkayf Registered User Posts: 4,161 Senior Member
    SUNY Purchase
  • sagitersagiter Registered User Posts: 358 Member
    I do believe that both Elton John and Billy Joel spent many years studying classical music before they became contemporary icons. Actually Billy Joel probably spends more time now composing in the classical genre than contemporary.
  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- Registered User Posts: 6,350 Senior Member
    Many very fine contemporary musicians have excellent classical training, including Elton John and Billy Joel, as mentioned above, as well as Andrew Bird and Ben Folds. This is true for some of the finest jazz musicians as well, whose technique is head and shoulders above others if they have had classical training as well.
  • kcreativekcreative Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    Yes. We are well aware of Billy Joel and Elton's classical background. My S in fact is also working with his piano teacher on classical pieces, but in college he wants to focus on contemporary with an emphasis on composition and performance. It's just his preference with no slight at all towards those who prefer classical training in college!

    We do appreciate your suggestions. Thanks.
  • merryechomerryecho Registered User Posts: 336 Member
    A friends son chose Belmont, in Nashville. He was impressed with the recording studio, and the number of guitars he saw in the dorm rooms. He isn't into country music, so they must have lots of genres. I guess a lot of modern music celebrities are associated with the school.
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    kcreatigve, welcome. I linked you to BassDad's post in your thread [Moderator note: see Post 3 above on this thread]. I suggest starting there for an overview.

    Some past threads from the forum:

    Ignore any reference to the program at The College of Sante Fe. The college has closed.

    For more Belmont info, search for past posts by henrob.

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/618208-master-list-music-school-acceptances-fall-2009-a.html can be a great resorce. Scroll to the last post, and scan the list. Schools, programs and posters are listed by degree, instrument and discipline. There's a number of jazz, guitar, and other disciplines in some of the programs I mentioned in the other thread. I forgot to mention Dusquesne/Pappert; a quick list perusal remided me ZappaMom's son will be attending in the fall for jazz guitar/commercial music. You may want to look into their offering. The poster PamalaMaeSnap has a daughter in the contemporary songwriting program at Berklee... look for some postings under that username.

    Most of the programs will require an audition, and yes, many are in fact classically based. Another area to consider is the Colleges That Change Lives (google CTCL). They are mostly smaller liberal arts colleges, many with solid music departments. Many of the programs are BA, non audition based admits, and might allow a more individualized approach.

    Note the pinned threads and featured discussions at the top of the page, There's lots of info there and within the past threads of the forum. Plenty of people here to guide you.

    Edit: You may want to look at Shenandoah Conservatory. I believe they just added a commercial music option.
  • LergnomLergnom Registered User Posts: 7,926 Senior Member
    Add in New England Conservatory. They have programs in jazz & contemporary improv as well as the usual, which includes composition.
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    I'd also suggest you provide some detail about his musical experiences... years of training, summer programs, orchestra/ensemble involvement, composition or theory training. It provides background, and helps in suggestions.

    Academic stats, test scores, or other strong academic interests (or requirements) also help in steering you towards or away from specific programs.
  • Georgia GirlGeorgia Girl Registered User Posts: 3,751 Senior Member
    As mentioned the USC Thornton School of Music offers a Bachelor of Music-Popular Music Performance. This major encompasses students interests in Vocal Music, Instrumental and Songwriting.

    This year Thornton is introducing a BA in Performing & Visual Art Studies. This is a multidisciplinary program which involves the School of Cinematic Arts, Thornton School of Music and the School of Theatre.

    Thornton School of Music is celebrating their 125th anniversary this year.

    Although USC is a private university financial aid is available for those who qualify. More than 24% of the 2008 entering freshmen (2766) received merit based scholarships from SC alone. Over 60% received financial assistance based on need.
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