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Northeast Liberal Arts Colleges for music?

mayabmayab Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited April 2012 in Music Major
My daughter is searching for a liberal arts college/university that has a strong music department. She is a natural musician interested in jazz, classical, contemporary whose instruments are piano and voice. She is interested in exploring composition and film scoring. While we know that Berklee College of Music would be a good place for music it is not strong enough academically. She's considering a double major in Music and English. She is especially interested in schools in the Northeast, DC to Boston.
Post edited by mayab on
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Replies to: Northeast Liberal Arts Colleges for music?

  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    Bard. The new Bard Conservatory is already top of the field. Dawn Upshaw chairs the voice department; Richard Goode in piano. Joan Tower in composition. What's that about? English Department featuring Ashberry and Achebe, and the best creative writing department to be found in the northeast.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    Try Oberlin. However, it is a tough school to get into.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,573 Senior Member
    Indiana University-Bloomington
    Johns Hopkins
    Northwestern University
    Oberlin College
    University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    University of Rochester
    Yale University
  • veteranmomveteranmom Registered User Posts: 139 Junior Member
    Very slim pickings in the northeast. BU has both a music school and a liberal arts college. Forget Yale - though it has a well regarded graduate school of music there is no undergraduate music performance major. There's Peabody/Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and Eastman/University of Rochester in, well, Rochester. You should check the "arts major" forum for more detailed discussions of this very complicated subject. You should also be aware that most students find it extremely difficult if not impossible to complete a double major in music performance and a liberal arts field in less than five years.
  • overseasoverseas Registered User Posts: 2,925 Senior Member
    For the Northeast, I second Bard with their double degree program through the conservatory. She would have to apply in a field of music where she is strong not just exploring to get into the conservatory where the double degree is offered.

    Yes, double degrees will take 5 years. In the midwest, check out the program at Lawrence University.

    Oberlin has a double degree program but I have heard from friends of my son (who are at Oberlin) and from others that the conservatory and the college double degree program is not very well coordinated between the two.
  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    My daughter is a freshman at Oberlin Conservatory. She intends to apply to the double degree program next semester with a second major in physics. So far, she has received nothing but encouragement and assistance from all involved.

    Something like 25% of all conservatory students are in the double degree program at some point in their career, although somewhat fewer than that number complete it. In a speech to parents of incoming freshman, the Dean of the Conservatory expressed pride that Oberlin has one of the best-coordinated double degree programs anywhere and that he is personally comitted to making it work. From what I have seen so far, he means what he says.

    Send me a Private Message if you want more details.
  • dswinnhdswinnh Registered User Posts: 205 Junior Member
    I'm tagging onto this thread. D is seeking a BA in music/vocal performance (and plans to double major with something else -- maybe business/economics/something else?). She's a classically trained soprano with a range beyond C6 at age 19. She is currently in her freshman year at a LAC in Rhode Island, but she has the (very early!) impression she's going to be a very big fish in a very small pond. (When she initially chose this school, she was fairly undecided about her major: math/music/theater/business/economics and this school offers all these.) It's *way* too soon to tell if she's actually in a great or poor place for her, but if she's going to need to transfer, then auditions generally take place in January and she needs to be investigating her options now. (She does plan to complete the year in her current school.)

    She would love to attend a small-ish (2K - maybe 13K) school in a non-urban setting within a few hours of our home: all of MA, RI, CT, VT, most of ME(?), and eastern NY.

    She's a solid-but-not-stellar student (weighted GPA 3.4, one AP course, SAT 1920).

    I know about Ithaca and Rider/Westminster Choir College though both are at the extreme limits of distance that she'd consider. Is anyone familiar with the voice program at the University of RI ? She's not too keen on either Plymouth State or UNH. She's definitely going to visit University of Hartford/Hartt.

    Other suggestions (NOT in downtown Boston, and in this region) are much appreciated...
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Registered User Posts: 2,819 Senior Member
    (Ah - I didn't realize how old the original thread was and started writing the following response. It doesn't fit dswinnh's D quite as well as the original poster.) I'll leave the answer though in case it is of use to others reading this thread.

    Bard College, and not the Conservatory would probably serve the OP's daughter really well. There is more latitude to explore genres in addition to classical, and one would not need to be at the very top of the musical applicant pool for admission, as is required for the conservatory. It would be really easy to double major in English and Music. The voice teachers in the college (the conservatory is a post graduate program only) are terrific and the master classes by Dawn Upshaw and other graduate faculty are open to all, and the full time piano faculty in the college is Blair McMillen, also terrific. The Music program in the college has both jazz and classical, and world music & electronic, and student run music groups abound. English, as Mini said, is terrific although both Ashbery and Achebe are no longer there.

    Other schools to look at with notable music and English departments in the Northeast: Sarah Lawrence, Williams, Tufts, Smith, Vassar & Swarthmore. And Yale, Harvard & Princeton - although only Princeton has a performance track.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,854 Senior Member
    Spirit Manager's list is excellent. I would add Bennington to the list, in Vermont.

    There is a great book available online entitled "Creative Colleges" with info on schools that have good music programs, as well as dance, theater, art and writing. Might be helpful-?
  • KatMTKatMT College Rep Posts: 4,138 Senior Member
    dswinnh -- I would have mentioned Plymouth State... mainly because the have strong vocal music (with a history of placing students in strong graduate music programs) and business programs, because it is a public university that is a little more the size of a LAC, and because your Ds HS stats would be competitive for admissions.

    As a transfer student your Ds college grades will be important, although if she is looking to transfer for her sophomore year many schools will look at her HS grades and test scores as well. As a transfer student in a music program she may also find that it will take her four years to complete the voice lesson and music course sequence at some schools. All questions to ask as she goes through the process.

    Also -- is your D looking for music to be her primary major and focus for evaluating schools with the double major secondary, or is she looking for business/ economics/ etc... to be her primary major focus with music secondary. Does who know yet what her goals are post college graduation? Answers to these questions may help people here to suggest schools for your D.

    Possibly University of Southern Maine or Ithaca?
  • dswinnhdswinnh Registered User Posts: 205 Junior Member
    Thanks for the suggestions so far... I'll definitely look for the book.

    To answer other questions:

    Right now, she's thinking voice will be her "real" major, but she's casting about wildly for a 2nd major that might provide income once she's in the auditioning stage. She's planning on grad school for voice. I appreciate, too, the warning that this could turn into a 5-year plan just to complete the undergrad part.
  • musicamusicamusicamusica Registered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    It generally takes around 5 years for a double major. But you also need to take into account that more than a few music credits will probably not transfer from her current school. Especially music theory. When my D transferred her sophomore year, the music credits "technically" transferred over, but the music theory sequence was different and those required classes tagged on an extra semester. From what I understand reading CC posts, this is pretty common.
  • momophonymomophony Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    A quick note about doubles. It's great to be able to double major, especially if one can't help it out of love for both disciplines. It's hard work, though. Even if it's for love, it's often an extremely tough job as far as time & energy. Logistically, unless doubling is supported or perhaps required, necessary classes tend to collide as one goes along. I'm a little concerned that dswinnh's D is looking for a major in order to "provide income", since no major will automatically supply that without a lot of other things going on, like internships, ambition, time, etc. When it could take a whole 5th year of paying for college to complete the double, it's important to keep total debt in mind as well. Finally, if she's really determined about grad school, she'll want to carefully make sure her undergraduate record is very good, and that she has plenty of time to devote to her music.

    Just a thought, dswinnh may want to read the post on the Peabody site about double degrees, and why & maybe why not to choose to do it. Peabody Institute - Conservatory Admissions: The Double Degree Dilemma
  • imagepimagep Registered User Posts: 628 Member
    momophony, that article was excellent. I wish that we had read it early in our college (and major) search.
  • dswinnhdswinnh Registered User Posts: 205 Junior Member
    Where I was: mom of current college freshman seeking good vocal problem at LAC in Northeast.

    Where we are now: D has auditioned at Hartt, will audition at Ithaca next weekend. Applying to University of RI, Boston University (what can I say -- she told me she didn't want an urban environment, but toured BU since it's fairly close and loved it :-) and possibly UVM (in addition to Hartt & Ithaca). Because she's a transfer and it took some time for her to determine that she really did need to transfer, she missed the live audition deadlines at URI and BU and will be submitting recordings there (and losing any chance of a talent scholarship at these schools.)

    And I need to vent... I had *no* idea her auditions were going to be hard on me!! She felt that her Hartt audition went about as well as she could possibly hope. She picked her first song, they picked the 2nd and allowed her to sing both pieces in their entirety. This suprised us, as their choice was a fairly lengthy piece of 2 verses -- she expected them to stop her part-way and pick up again near the end. And they didn't ask to hear her Italian song. So, of course, I'm torturing myself trying to imagine every possible motivation they might have had for doing this, both good and bad. The good ones I share with her; the bad ones I keep to myself.

    She made her audition recording yesterday at school and sounded fairly pleased with it. And after this coming weekend, the auditions will be over and we just wait for the decisions. Her local voice teacher and her current voice teacher are confident that she'll get in (to Hartt!!!!!) as long as she auditions well. Her recording accompanist at her school, who is also a vocal teacher there, told her she won't get in anywhere. He was of the opinion that she was under-prepared and that her voice was nothing special to begin with.

    The extreme positions have me really confused. I'm rather peeved that the accompanist chose to tell her this in the week preceding her auditions. Maybe he was trying the "tough love" approach, but I can't imagine his comments being helpful at this late juncture.

    I suppose I'll have a reasonable idea of her competitiveness (or lack thereof) when the decisions begin to trickle in... So, thanks for the space to vent and now I'll get back to my regularly scheduled life.
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