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Harvard/NEC after attending Harvard

TerrenceCTerrenceC Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
edited April 2010 in Music Major

I searched this before I posted a new topic and didn't find anything pertaining to this particular question. I just wanted to know if anyone knew just how hard it was to get into the Harvard/NEC program after going to Harvard (for a year)? I know it can be done, but I'm imagining that it would be quite difficult to get in as a freshman, since they are looking for incoming freshman students, and also I know you can get into NEC itself, but not get into the program.

Any insight is appreciated,
Post edited by TerrenceC on

Replies to: Harvard/NEC after attending Harvard

  • mamenyumamenyu Registered User Posts: 1,520 Senior Member
    to my knowledge nobody on this forum has had direct experience doing that...the program is fairly new, and it might depend on your particular instrument (or vocal or composition interests) and whether they are expanding the program, etc. I'd venture to guess that the chances are slim, though.
    If they haven't contacted you (they probably will), then you should contact Harvard and talk to someone who knows about the music opportunities there. They probably admitted you at least in part because of your musical interests, and they may be happy to woo you actively. But they cannot guarantee you entrance into NEC or the Harvard/NEC program. Oddly, the person from the music department who contacted my kid from Harvard had gone to Oberlin...
    I see that you hit the jackpot - with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oberlin.
    As you probably know, Yale also has a BA/MM program that you apply to as a junior, and undergrads can take lessons with YSM faculty and grad students; Princeton has "certificate" programs, including in music, which is like a minor in performance; Princeton will pay for lessons in many cases. Yale and Harvard have very active student-led music groups and performance opportunities, including opera at Yale.
    The BA/MM combination is different than a BA/BMus program in that it allows students in any academic major to take lessons and then jump into an MM program - skipping most of the undergrad music requirements for BMus majors in theory, history, aural skills, accompaniment, etc. In a BA/BMus double degree program, students major in any academic subject but also take a full undergraduate course in performance, with all the trimmings, and with the advantage of being fully part of both programs rather than in a kind of semi-present status at a conservatory for 3-4 years out of the 5. For some students, it is a better combination. You might consider Oberlin seriously for that reason.
  • flute1298flute1298 Registered User Posts: 456 Member
    I know that the NEc/Harvard program is advertised, but it is difficult to get into and difficult to actually do. The schools are fairly far apart, and although accessible by T (subway) it is a 30+ minute trip involving 2 trains. We do know many serious musicians just going to Harvard who love it and say that there are plenty of music opportunities there and in Boston to keep them quite busy. One even assistant conducts at NEC.

    It's hard to beat Boston (unless you're in NY) for performance opportunities.
  • TerrenceCTerrenceC Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    Well, the reason I ask is that I did not apply to the Harvard/NEC program. I knew I had a good shot at Harvard, but of course, no one can ever really know with those types of schools. So I was wondering how common it is for people to audition for the program after the year at Harvard, but I am now gathering that that is not so common.

    I am still seriously considering Oberlin mamenyu for that very reason. I am still trying to find out all I can about music at each university. I will be visiting soon so hopefully I get to hear concerts going on/talk to involved people.

    flute1298, your suggestion sounds much more plausible for me at this point. Thank you for your insight.
  • mamenyumamenyu Registered User Posts: 1,520 Senior Member
    You should not gather anything definitive from these answers about how common it is to apply successfully to the Harvard-NEC program! Your best bet is to contact Harvard, which has accepted you, to find out - I will bet they would be happy to talk to you about it.
    Visit the schools if you can and see what you think. You have some wonderful options.
  • mrscollegemrscollege Registered User Posts: 659 Member
    I think OperaDad has experience/knowledge about this. Look him up. Send him a pm.

  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,523 Senior Member
    Our daughter got into Harvard and NEC, but did not check the box for the double degree program. She did not expect to get into both. The dept. chair at NEC tried to get her in anyway, and Harvard was fine with it, but the head of the double degree program at NEC said that for first years, it was extremely selective (they mentioned Yo Yo Ma), but that she could apply after her first year. The Harvard student we know who did the double degree program, entered in her 2nd year I believe. We have been told that it is harder to get in as a Freshman, and easier, later.

    She had a hard time deciding whether to go to Harvard or NEC, and chose Harvard in the end.

    There is a bus that goes right down Mass. Ave. to NEC. You don't need to take the subway, but you can take the red line to Park, then the Green Line to Symphony, not a big deal.

    Our daughter loves the Harvard music department. Her classes are extremely small. Harvard also allows students in the music department to take 5 years to graduate, so as to be able to take 3 classes/semester and practice. At least, it says this in the handbook. At this point, our daughter prefers to savor things and not do the compressed 5 year BA/MM.

    There are a lot of music performance opportunities at Harvard, and many of them are student-initiated and led. Some take place in the houses, or through the Office of the Arts, rather than through the music dept., so don't be confused by this when you visit.

    Oberlin was one of her top choices. She visited twice. If Oberlin could move to Boston, she would have gone there in a second! Would you do a double degree, or start out first with the conservatory only? Are you an instrumentalist or composer?

    Definitely call Harvard and NEC to discuss the BA/MM before making any judgements or decisions based on this forum. They will be very helpful.
  • TerrenceCTerrenceC Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    Alright, I will definitely contact OperaDad for his take on things. When I visit, I will be sure to look up all the societies/organizations I have heard about so far (Dunster House Opera Society, Gilbert and Sullivan Society, etc.). I am a vocalist. This is one of the things that makes me a little wary. If I were a composition major, I would probably have a great education at any of the three Ivies. However, I am trying to find out all about performance opportunities in each of the schools as well as access to voice teachers.

    I will be meeting with a faculty voice professor at Yale over the preview weekend. However, I don't know how I will set something up with someone in the Boston area while at Harvard (since leaving the campus is probably not in the cards). compmom, I agree; the one drawback of Oberlin is its location but it is such a fine school. If I were to go there, I would start out with the double degree.

    I suppose a call to Harvard is now in order =]
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
  • TerrenceCTerrenceC Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    Yes, I have =]. I have had the pleasure of speaking with him as well. He is a great person as well as wonderfully talented. He told me what he did over his years there and I will definitely look into all those things for myself.
  • stringkeymomstringkeymom Registered User Posts: 457 Member
    Terrence, Congratulations on all of your acceptances! My son decided to attend Yale instead of NEC, and also did not apply to the joint Harvard/NEC program because he spent most of his high school years commuting from Princeton to New York and/or Philadelphia for music and wanted to be less peripatetic in college. We do know someone who was accepted into the joint progam as a freshman and is at Harvard now, but I think he dropped the program. We also know a violinist at Harvard who was encouraged to apply for the program during her freshman year, and we also know Harvard students who study privately with NEC faculty. So there are many options there.

    That said, I would like to put in a word for Yale. There are many advantages for a musician at Yale, and the fact that the School of Music is right in the middle of campus is one of them. As mamenyu posted, you can apply for the joint B.A./M.M. in your junior year, and prior to that, it is possible to study with School of Music voice faculty. The performing arts at Yale are very rich and include several paid ensembles (Schola cantorum, Camerata, etc.) and the various Opera companies. Yale (like Princeton) is close enough to New York to drop into the city for MET performances and private coachings and many students do this. There are quite a few composers on campus eager to write for new talent. If you'd like, PM me and I will put you in touch with my son who can answer any questions you might have.
  • OperaDadOperaDad Registered User Posts: 2,476 Senior Member
    Hi Terrence,

    I have no idea about how difficult it is to get into the Harvard/NEC program as a sophomore, or later. Yes, you can get into Harvard and NEC, and not be admitted into the Harvard/NEC program. As I recall, about 20 kids each year make it into both, but only about 5 to 10 are offered the combined program. I'm guessing that my son was offered the Harvard/NEC program because NEC knew that was their only chance to get my son as a student (he wouldn't go just to NEC as an undergrad).

    If you have the opportunity to attend Harvard, I would highly recommend accepting. It is also likely to be the cheapest school to attend. Harvard's voice program is not the same as a conservatory, but your instrument is young and needs time to mature. Take that time to get a solid academic degree. Harvard does have programs that subsidize the cost of private lessons. So, if you get a BA in music and take voice lessons, you should be just find for grad school.

    Once you have decided to go to Harvard, then go ahead and try for the Harvard/NEC program. Worst case, you don't make it in, and you end up with a BA from Harvard and voice lessons. There are choral, opera, and other performance opportunities at Harvard.

    Regarding the Harvard/NEC program. It is an impressive program and combination, but I am not sure it is the best thing for a voice major. Like I said, your instrument needs time to mature, and 6 years of training is better than 5. Finishing your formal education early is not the best thing if your instrument is still developing. BTW: His plans were to take the bus or ride a bike between Harvard and NEC.

    Why did my son choose a different school? I think it was for non-program reasons. His friends were going to the school he chose. The Voice teacher is a big issue when choosing a school; people were telling him his voice teacher had been training him right; and his voice teacher is at the school he chose (bird in the hand ...). One possible program reason: He might have been intimidated by the effort he would have to put into a Harvard degree. It think he would have been fine academically.

    We were split on his decision. Harvard would have been an awesome opportunity, but having him close is a great benefit too.
  • TerrenceCTerrenceC Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    Yes, it seems there are many opportunities for Harvard students in terms of NEC, BU, Longy, etc. being in the area whether one belongs to a special program or not.

    If I do end up attending Yale, I know I will take advantage of all the resources and opportunities. At this point, Yale seems to have more singing opportunities for me than Harvard (by itself). They have, as you've said stringkeymom, the Schola Cantorum (I have had the opportunity to work with Simon Carrington twice and although he is not conducting them anymore I'd imagine the choir is still very fine), a capella groups, Yale Undergrad Opera, and Yale Baroque Opera. Having a faculty member voice teacher is of extreme importance to me and will likely be a deciding factor. I have been told that I would be able to sing in the opera choruses with Yale Opera (the grad chool opera) and at times audition for comprimario roles. We'll see how these details flesh out.

    Thank you so much for all of your help and support everyone. Harvard has been very quick in responding (I sent an email) and my message is now being forwarded to a person who coordinates the program.

  • mamenyumamenyu Registered User Posts: 1,520 Senior Member
    Let me chime in a little for Oberlin, which my kid, who had many of the same choices to make (except that he didn't apply to Yale) ended up choosing - for some of the reasons you mention: the full conservatory experience along with excellent academics, and the liberal arts college size and environment. The location has not been an issue because the campus offerings, especially in music, are so rich, and the fact that everything is right there is also a major positive. He also preferred the social environment at Oberlin over Harvard and Princeton. Other big issues were availability of practice rooms, performance opportunities with faculty coachings, and a large peer group of committed fellow students (and hopeful pre-professional musicians rather than talented but preprofessional something else). The double degree program also requires a major in the college that is not music history or theory, which was also appealing to my kid, who wanted to major in something else along with a full music degree. Finances are of course a critical consideration. For us, Oberlin was by far the best deal.
  • TerrenceCTerrenceC Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    Actually, Yale offered me the most money. But Harvard is not too far behind. In terms of everything else, one of the caveats I see in accepting Harvard is the fact that I would have to try to locate my own teacher. I live nowhere near the Boston area (I'm from Florida) so trying to get sample lessons and such with one would prove to be difficult. But, as you say, Harvard is an excellent school academically and would provide me with something solid with which to go through life.

    I agree. In some ways, I feel like going to Oberlin would be like having my cake and eating it too. The college does not carry the name of the other schools (much to my parents' chagrin) but it is an excellent LAC and I feel the vocal program there would be great for me. I have received two emails so far from Daune Mahy, who I suspect would be my teacher there. I can really tell that they want me to come there. The only thing is that my parents would have to pay out $10k a year for Oberlin (comparably, the financial aid was nice for such a small school to be offering so much) and only $4k for Yale or Harvard.
  • mamenyumamenyu Registered User Posts: 1,520 Senior Member
    Have you talked to Financial Aid at Oberlin?
    I would recommend that you do so, but do it from the Conservatory end, not the College because the Conservatory has in the past been significantly more generous, to attract students, than the College - i.e., contact the Oberlin Con admissions office first, and tell them about the Harvard offer. Although the College and Conservatory ultimately work together (and seem to have an overall joint ceiling on merit awards) in past years merit awards from the Conservatory have sometimes been higher than the amount you received - I'm aware of amounts up to $16,000 per year, which might match your Harvard costs. They may increase your award...who knows. Also, if you were a NM finalist, you can also seek an award of $1-2 thousand per year from Oberlin for that (unless you were a NM $2500 or corporate winner, in which case, they may not be forthcoming - they have responded differently in different years).
    Then you would have a more even playing field in making your choices. You would not have any cost for lessons at Oberlin. That's probably true at Yale and Princeton too...I don't know for sure. At Harvard, though we were told that they have a fund for lessons, it is need-based, as far as I could tell.
    The Ivy's are hard to pass up - especially for parents - but you should make a considered choice based on all of the factors, how you see yourself at each of them in 4-5 years (i.e., after completing the degrees) and your feel for the life you would enjoy at the various options. There are no necessarily wrong answers here for you...
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