Any Grad Schools for Older Students?

<p>I am interested in returning to school to obtain my Master's and PhD, but I wonder where I could possibly go? I am 47 years old, and received my BA in music in 1987. Since then I have taught in the public schools, and serve as an adjunct lecturer at local community colleges, both of which I enjoy.</p>

<p>I am interested in studying traditional classical musical composition or music history with an emphasis on American traditional music (appalachian/bluegrass roots music). My eventual goal would be to teach on the college level, and I am aware of the incredibly competitive nature of such a desire. I feel that all things being equal, I would do very well in any audition/standardized test situation, but would it be out of the question due to my age? I do not wish to make a fool of myself, and I am also sensitive to taking a coveted spot away from a deserving student with potentially more productive years ahead of them than I. On the other hand, I do feel I have a contribution to make and would wish to do this even without the career enhancing motive.</p>

<p>I live in central New Jersey, and would need to stay within that general area, though NYC, NY state, and anywhere in New Jersey would be a possibility. Any suggestions for specific schools/programs or general advice would be greatly appreciated. </p>


<p>I have a friend who retired from a business career at age 50 and began a masters in music comp at a very fine conservatory. He had always wanted to study music and his parents dissuaded him. So, at midlife, he decided to pursue his own dreams, and has finished one masters and is onto a second now!</p>

<p>IT can be done! Good luck!</p>

<p>You might begin by talking to some department heads of music departments at Universities in your area with graduate programs. The small number of graduate students accepted each year by some of the top programs may be the biggest problem (e.g., Columbia accepts only about 5 a year into the graduate program). That's something you might inquire about.</p>

<p>Age would not be a factor in admission to a graduate program in musicology. If you applied for a performance degree, it might be more difficult. Specialization would be possible in thesis work in the area of American traditional music. Rutgers offers these programs and you should contact the school directly for guidance. </p>

<p>Mason</a> Gross School of the Arts - Music</p>

<p>Mason</a> Gross School of the Arts - Music</p>

<p>I earned my bachelor's at 41 from UNC Chapel Hill, attending full-time during the day. I was the only non-traditional age student in my classes but I didn't care and my profs appreciated the perspective I brought to discussions. Now I'm 44 and in my last class for my master's. A PhD is on my list of things to do (and Harvard has the most appealing program!) but I won't apply until the fall because I want to retake the GRE and improve my Math score (it's been a few decades since I've had to calculate the volume of a cone under timed conditions!) Don't use age as an excuse not to realize your dreams. As to where to apply, there are many great options in NY but I would think Appalachian/bluegrass roots music would be less prevalent there than, say, Appalachia!</p>

<p>I know personally an established CC music professor who earned a doctorate in middle age (I think from Syracuse). Our high school vocal teacher is working on a Master's in choral conducting at Binghamton University.</p>

<p>DD's first voice teacher and middle school church choir director left her regular teaching job and just got her masters at Shenandoah University in sacred music or conducting or both? (not sure exactly what it was but for her final she was conducting the high school girls in some performances at church). She was no spring chicken doing it :) . </p>

<p>No specific programs to recommend, but just advice to go for it. I don't think it will be that uncommon to see others doing the same thing. Not music, but we have friends deciding to go back and get a degree in their passion this time.</p>

<p>This is very encouraging and I appreciate all of the input! I am glad that I will be able to pursue my dreams and not be prevented from a good program solely based on my age. My fear was that even though 'officially' the schools would say age is not a factor, there would be an unwritten code that would eliminate my chances of being accepted. Hearing about the success stories of others who have done this reassures me greatly. I understand age may still be a factor, but as long as it is not an automatic disqualification, I don't mind working harder to prove myself or considering schools outside of my "A list" choices.</p>

<p>I live near Rutgers and the Mason Gross School of the Arts so that would be the most convenient. Would anyone care to comment about the quality of their composition and history programs, and how their reputation is perceived in the academic community?</p>

<p>Thanks again for all the help.</p>

<p>I have no experience with music but have one small comment about age and school: not to worry. My nephew, who is at NYU's ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) told me (when I mused, "Why wasn't this around when I was in school?") that there are several grad students "your age" (50s) in the program and they fit in just fine. Maybe creative fields are more open to all ages, but maybe that's a wrong assumption. Much luck to you! Should be a fantastic experience.</p>

<p>(I hear the baritone solo in the Faure Requiem when I see your name!)</p>

<p>RU is a very strong academic institution. The music department (within Mason-Gross) has a strong graduate presence and particularly instrumental teachers. The choral person is excellent. The chairman is a music history person, as was his predecessor. There have been some fine, well-known composers on the faculty. Your specialized interest is of issue for a dissertation....nowhere is American music the "major", but rather music history/musicology. You would need to find out if there is a faculty member amongst the music historians who could support and help you in that area. Good luck. Lorelei</p>

<p>If your aim is college teaching, you should try to get into the most prominent schools in your area (and as far as this list goes, among the most prominent in the country -- you are well located geographically): in that respect, Columbia, Princeton, NYU, CUNY, and Stony Brook are probably stronger programs than Rutgers. CUNY music department, which is the most affordable without a fellowship, has been very highly ranked over the years. On the other hand, the Rutgers program you mention offers a wider range of degrees than all of the above, apart from Stony Brook -- performance degrees up to the DMA. That is also a "doctorate," and there are DMA's teaching at conservatories and colleges; it is probably a shorter-term endeavor as well.</p>

<p>A PhD is a PhD, and there are no shortcuts. The terminal degree in music history/musicology is the PhD, not the DMA, which is a performance degree, i.e. piano, voice, cello, etc. Rutgers offer both the PhD and the DMA. Hiring as a college teacher, which OP indicates he already does as an adjunct, will be based on publication record and how well the specialized niche of research augments a department. Good luck. Lorelei</p>

<p>It is illegal for schools to discriminate based on age. </p>

<p>In addition - especially for graduate degrees - people go at all ages for all varieties of reasons. I don't think you'll be as out of place as you think you will be. I think the average age for receiving a PhD (at least a few years ago) was 35. While that's not 47, it's not 22 either.</p>

<p>The academic job market being what it is, a PhD may be a PhD, but a PhD with a tenure-track faculty job is more likely to have come from a top ranked school...just check the cv's of the faculty at various schools. The latest hire at Rutgers in theory/composition is from...Columbia! The latest hire at MIT in music history is from Harvard. In other words, if you are going into this field with your eyes open, you must realize from the outset that competition is fierce for the handful of job openings each year. Of course, in addition, it is important to have presented papers at conferences and published articles.
There is a wiki site that shows what jobs are open and who has been hired this year -- Academic</a> Careers [music<em>history</em>musicology_ethnomusicology] @ (1.3.3)</p>

<p>Awesome advice all around. So many choices! I would love to go to a name school like Columbia or Princeton, but I may need to work my way up - perhaps doing my master's at Rutgers (to get back in the groove) and then look for Doctoral programs that may be considered more prestigious and which I might then be better prepared for. Of course if I was accepted at Princeton I would go, but I may not be ready - nor might I be accepted at RU either. </p>

<p>I think my main concern right now is getting my head straight about what to study - theory/composition vs. musicology, and then applying to a variety of schools (after doing due diligence to make sure I would be happy there) and seeing what my choices are at that point. I am leaning heavily toward theory/composition, as that is my stronger suit compared to pure historical research. I am a very traditionally minded composer: anything written after 1750 is suspect, after 1850 is worrisome, and after 1950 downright scandalous :)</p>

<p>Thanks for all the great input. It is such a blessing to have this forum as a resource and you have all helped me find my way in a sea of confusion and fear. Hopefully I can contribute back to the forum about my experiences as time goes by.</p>

<p>For NEUMES - yes the Faure is great, but it was actually the Verdi that was the inspiration for my user name.</p>

<p>But wait, that was composed in the worrisome period you are talking about, wasn't it?!...The Verdi Requiem is completely out of this world. I have the Faure in my head because my S sang the baritone solo when he was just 15--he can't stand to hear it, as his voice is completely different now. I love it, of course. I'll go listen to Verdi's. (Any favorite recording--not w/Bocelli...?) It'll get me psyched to shovel some snow.</p>

<p>Another nearby school that offers a Masters in composition is Westminster Choir College. Most of the students there are singers or keyboard players, so WCC may not provide a lot of opportunity for performance of works for orchestra, wind ensemble, string quartet and so forth. It may be just the place if you are interested in writing for voice or voices.</p>

<p>neumes, I would be stunned if Bocelli had recorded Verdi requiem, but unfortunately not surprised, considering the marketability he has shown. You can do better with recording of Jussi Bjorling singing tenor or Carlo Cossutto, if you are most interested in the tenor.</p>

<p>Lorelei - I'm afraid it's true - he recorded it with Renee Fleming - I haven't heard it, but I know it's out there.</p>

<p>lorelei, shocking but true! I could not believe my eyes and I don't care to let my ears hear, so I won't be checking it out from the library. But scathing reviews on Amazon are fun to read. My S has the Verdi Requiem on his ipod with Schwarzkopf, Gedda, Ludwig, ghiaurov. I'm going to get the Gardiner one on Amazon (Organosova, von Otter, Canonici, Miles; Monterverdi choir) and the Shaw--both used. It's amazing how inexpensive used CDs are. Kind of sad, really.</p>

<p>LiberaMe, sorry to hijack! I'll stop now.</p>