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Is Princeton Music Aimed at PhDs

FutureMusicMajorFutureMusicMajor 1 replies1 threads New Member
edited July 10 in Princeton University
Help! I have a future music major who applied to Princeton because I made him (after drooling over the music resources on the website). We didn't visit--figured we would after he got in. HAHAHAHAHA. Now he's choosing among Princeton, Columbia, Brown, and Williams. He's heard maybe Princeton profs favor the grad students. Can anyone speak to this? Any insight into music (he's a pianist and composer) at the others would be great too.
edited July 10
7 replies
Post edited by ccadminkris on
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Replies to: Is Princeton Music Aimed at PhDs

  • merc81merc81 11898 replies203 threads Senior Member
    Students should not expect Princeton to offer all of the attributes in terms of undergraduate focus as, say, Skidmore would to a music student, However, Princeton seems to represent the strongest of your son's university choices with respect to attention to undergraduates, and could make a satisfying choice on this basis.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2785 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited April 28
    merc81 wrote: »
    Students should not expect Princeton to offer all of the attributes in terms of undergraduate focus as, say, Skidmore would to a music student, However, Princeton seems to represent the strongest of your son's university choices with respect to attention to undergraduates, and could make a satisfying choice on this basis.

    I respectfully disagree, since Williams is on that list as well.

    If your son is looking for a more student-focused experience, I would recommend Williams.

    However, considering that there are not very many graduate students in Princeton's musicology department, and there seem to be more faculty than there are graduate students, I would say that the graduate students do not require all that much time, unlike in other fields. So I would not really be worried about whether faculty favor graduate students.

    I usually recommend LACs over places like Princeton. However, the resources, such as space, and number of faculty, and chances for exposure will be higher at Princeton. But Princeton may not be the best choice, but rather Columbia, considering that New York cannot be beat for musical resources.
    edited April 28
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  • FutureMusicMajorFutureMusicMajor 1 replies1 threads New Member
    NYC is amazing, of course, but Columbia does not seem to have nearly the music resources that Princeton or Williams do. Even getting practice time as a pianist would be a pain. The resources may be "there"--but not actually at the school. (And it's not going to get better with the current economic situation.) Maybe NYC for grad school . . .
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  • MWolfMWolf 2785 replies14 threads Senior Member
    NYC is amazing, of course, but Columbia does not seem to have nearly the music resources that Princeton or Williams do. Even getting practice time as a pianist would be a pain. The resources may be "there"--but not actually at the school. (And it's not going to get better with the current economic situation.) Maybe NYC for grad school . . .

    All good points.

    My recommendation, therefore, would be Princeton. There is name recognition, and large and wealthy alumni network, many who are in positions for determining hiring and other financial support. They also have a much wider set of connections and resources.

    The music job market is extremely tough, and every little bit helps.
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 2113 replies74 threads Senior Member
    edited June 25
    My son's currently a rising Junior concentrating in Music at Princeton while pursuing a pre-med track. At Princeton, it's called "concentration" as opposed to "major."

    As I'm a huge fan of LACs, I steeled my son toward these undergrad focused schools when he was applying for college. Along with three LACs, he included other undergrad focused schools like Princeton, et al. among the list of schools he applied to.

    When it came to making his final choice among the most undergrad focused schools, he chose Princeton over Williams, Amherst, Pomona and other non-LACs. Of these, Williams was the one we liked the most after Princeton. Not only Princeton the most generous with the financial aid but it had the best resources in and out of the campus for music concentrators. Its recently constructed state-of-the-art Lewis Center for the Arts comes with 16 practice rooms (each room with a brand new Steinway piano), rehearsal facilities for Princeton University Orchestra and other performing arts resources. There are dozens of practice rooms all across the campus, as well, including the student's own residential college.

    Each and every year, Princeton offers on-campus concerts by world renowned artists. NYC is just an hour away by train out of Princeton Junction. My son's course on Richard Wagner included trips to NYC's Metropolitan Opera House to see the full Ring cycle with the tickets and the rides courtesy of Princeton. There are enough musical groups on campus that'd meet the needs and the interests of just about any musical oriented students. For example, my son's a member of Princeton University Orchestra, a string ensemble group called Opus 21, and the oldest co-ed a capella group, Katzenjammers. He's toured several cities in Spain with Princeton University Orchestra, toured Sweden with Opus 21 group and Canada with Katzenjammers -- with not a penny out of my own pocket. One thing about Princeton that not many people know is how they love to fly its students everywhere around the globe at the university's expense. Many of their courses, in fact, take place around the globe for on-site experience. Although unrelated to music, when my son's fully funded summer internship to Uganda this summer was cancelled due to Covid-19, Princeton direct deposited $1,500 to my bank account for my son to spend "at his own discretion." While a great opportunity for on-site pre-med internship to Uganda was regrettably canceled, Princeton still back it up with an excellent online replacement.

    At Princeton, all music majors can take private lessons fully subsidized by the university. If you don't find a good teacher on campus, then find one in NYC, and that too is fully subsidized. Want to spend a semester at the Royal College of Music in London? Just audition for it, and it's done. While studying abroad at the RCM, and you decide to get an MM degree from it, then audition for it while at RCM and, should you pass, then return to finish up your undergrad degree at Princeton and off you go to London for an MM degree upon graduation. This joint-degree program is what really attracted my son to apply to Princeton, because the program offers flexibility unlike the Harvard/NEC and Columbia/Juilliard joint degree programs.

    For these reasons -- primarily its richest resources -- my son chose Princeton over other excellent schools. We were really impressed with Williams for all their welcoming gestures. Their actions were like recruiting a superstar athlete, i.e., they really wanted you and were willing to bend backwards to get you commit to their school. I believe they have an edge over Princeton in their more personal approach to undergrad education. Both schools are highly undergrad focused, but I believe Williams is more personal and intimate. But Princeton is less isolated with close proximity to NYC and has much much more resources. Princeton's endowment per student has been ranked perennially #1, and the latest, astounding figure per student is at $3,053,448, while Harvard and Stanford are roughly half of that. Williams is currently at $1,239,389 per student.
    edited June 25
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 2113 replies74 threads Senior Member
    He's heard maybe Princeton profs favor the grad students. Can anyone speak to this?

    Never heard of that issue. All Princeton faculty, including Nobel laureates and what not, are required to teach undergrads unlike Princeton's peer institutions where grad students take a bulk of teaching load. Even the preceptors at Princeton are Ph.D's. Since the ratio of undergrad to grad student population at Princeton is roughly 4 to 1, I doubt that grads are more favored over the undergrads.
    Any insight into music (he's a pianist and composer) at the others would be great too.

    Since my son's a violinist and a singer, I know more in those areas than piano and composition, but there's an excellent piano ensemble group called Princeton Pianists Ensemble (PPE) consisting of high level pianists/students. "They feature a diverse range of multi-pianist and multi-keyboard works that include student arrangements and original compositions."







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  • compmomcompmom 11887 replies82 threads Senior Member
    @FutureMusicMajor I believe that at any institution with PhD or DMA students in composition, faculty will most likely prioritize those students over undergrads who are just beginning their development. That doesn't mean they don't teach and mentor. But faculty's role in the careers and growth of doctoral students is generally more intense and they serve on qualifying exam and dissertation panels as well.

    (The number of musicology grad students is not relevant.)

    As a pianist and composer, your son may have experiences that are different from TIggerDad's son, but I was so glad to read of his son's wonderful experiences.

    I think your son has four choices that are all a bit different, and perhaps unfortunately of equal excellence :)

    I am going to PM you.


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