B.M. for someone who is a stronger musician than he is an student?

What are some schools that an average student who is a strong musician might look at if they want a B.M. in Music Education?

Mannes School of Music at The New School (NYC)
Ithaca College


What is the student’s GPA and what type of school do they want? Conservatory, SLAC, university? What area of the do country do they want to be in?

1 Like

@murray93 ,

I think he wants to see a variety of options, and doesn’t yet know what he wants.

He’s a kid who likes outdoor stuff — running, hiking, camping, mountain biking etc . . . So some place where he can access that would be nice.

Likes musical theater, and some place where he could access dance classes and maybe be in a show as a non major would be good. Also really likes marching band.

No geographic restrictions, other than liking outdoors.

Two schools that I have known other kids to go to that seem like the right fit academically, and as far as outdoor stuff, having dance and marching band, are Slippery Rock and Appalachian State. No idea about the music program at either.

GPA so far has been around 3.5 UW with a mix of A’s in music, and B’s in more academic subjects. But will have fewer academic credits (e.g. 3 sciences instead of 4, only 2 years of foreign language, few or maybe no AP’s).

Before your most recent post, I was thinking U of Cincinnati - strong music ed program (with stellar job placement) within a top-notch conservatory program, at a good public U that would be very accessible academically with his stats.

But then you posted the stuff about the outdoors, and now I’m thinking U of Utah. Great performing arts programs and unparalleled access to outdoor recreation… but also access to a major city for ample student teaching opportunities. Also a 200+ member marching band, and a top-notch dance program. Affordable too - even if his stats don’t net him a lot of merit money, he could take the path to residency that’s offered and pay in-state rates for years 2-4.


He/you might want to start by reading the Double Degree Dilemma essay posted under the Read Me thread pinned closer to the top of this music forum.

Many conservatories and schools of music will prioritize musical ability (audition) in applications for a BM degree. For liberal arts colleges and universities where he might do a BM in music or major in something else and do music as an extracurricular then academics will be weighted more heavily (but he can submit a music supplement to the Common App with recording/video, music resume- can include music theater and dance- and letters(2) of recommendation from teachers or director).

Options for music study include the BM, BA, double major or major/minor within the BA, double degree (BA/BM or BA/MM), music education, and he can also major in something else and continue lessons and extracurricular performance (often for credit).

Many state universities have good music ed programs. University of Vermont Colorado College or U. of Colorado Boulder come to mind (U. of Denver does’t’ seem to have music ed). Ithaca has a conservatory and might be good for an outdoorsy person, but probably doesn’t have marching band.

Hartt at the University of Hartford might work well Music Education | University of Hartford

Not sure of your finances but Boston Conservatory would be a great fit since there is also dance and musical theater. BoCo has merged with Berklee and that has expanded the diversity of offerings. BoCo does have music education. Marching band not available thought.

Miami Frost would be a good option too Bachelor of Music in Music Education | Frost School of Music | University of Miami

SUNY Potsdam and Fredonia have music ed (and tent to be affordable); Purchase does not have music ed. Apparently BU, U Michigan and NYU are possibilities (just googled a list!). Here is another list 2021 Best Colleges with Music Teacher Education Degrees - Niche

There are many schools actually that would be a good fit. We would need to know more about finances and preferred type of school etc. but I tried to give it a start.


Thank you everyone, those are some great places to start. Utah didn’t even occur to me, but he’d probably love it there,

I did read the double degree dilemma, I feel like it’s less applicable to him because he’s at least as clear about wanting to work with kids as he is about wanting music. I know there are people who push their kids into music ed because it’s seems like a safer choice but that’s not the situation here. But he hasn’t seen enough schools I think to know whether big or small, or a conservatory vs a LAC is right.

Finances will be an issue, we don’t have an instate option that I think will be right.

For schools like BU, NYU, or Michigan, I think he’d drown in academic classes someplace like that.

You could take a look at Lawrence in Wisconsin. It has a college and a conservatory and while the academics are good, they are not overwhelming. They have an NPC on their website that will take both merit and need-based into account.

1 Like

Lawrence, University of Puget Sound, Ithaca, Bard. Northern Colorado. A 3.5 isn’t all that bad!

You could also look at Cal State University - Long Beach, which is the only California public university with a conservatory. For in-state, it is very reasonably priced. For OOS, they estimate the COA between 30k-35k depending on whether you live on or off campus.

The beach is very close by; the mountains are within a couple of hours. Long Beach itself is a great town.


There was a thread a while ago that talked about the difficulties getting teaching jobs and certifications in states other than the one where you go to school. I’m going to see if I can find it. If he is seriously considering teaching, that might come into play. I remember the topic specifically being about NY/NJ/PA. Not sure what states he would be considering.

Music Education | Lawrence University People seem to love Lawrence! But

At schools like BU. NYU and Michigan, if he is in the conservatory/school of music, his academic classes will still be 1/4-1/3 of total classes. Here is the NYU music ed curriculum with the academic core classes: Curriculum BM, Music Education | NYU Steinhardt

But he isn’t the first one to come on here with that concern. I remember one student who felt that way about academics, and ultimately decided on a challenging school. He took some community college classes over the summer to get a head start on the gen eds and make it a little easier on campus :slight_smile:

1 Like

Do Music Ed applicants have to submit a performance portfolio ? If so, often the strength of the performance audition (and prescreen, if required) is a very important component of the application package.

@murray93 A 3.5 isn’t bad, but pretty much all the A’s are in performing arts classes. He takes the bare minimum course load so he can take multiple arts classes, he has a 504 at school, and tutoring at home, and he works really hard fo those grades. Long term, I feel like if his goal is to teach marching band, or show choir, or coach the vocalists for the school musical, that it might be better for him to go to a school where he’s not overwhelmed by the academic piece, and has time and brain space to participate in those things. If the goal is teaching, I’m not sure he needs the school to be the very best school he can get into. I think that a place where he’s happy and can do what he loves, and isn’t so overwhelmed that he can’t fit in a hike or something, might be a better fit. I think if he wanted to perform professionally, I’d feel differently, but he’s pretty clear that’s not what he wants.

@helpingmom40 That’s a good point, I will look carefully at what states have reciprocity. We’re in MD.

@MMRose What is a performance portfolio? I’m pretty sure from what I’ve read that he’d need to choose either voice or his instrument, and audition on that. At this point, that would be a hard choice for him, I think.

1 Like

West Chester University in Pennsylvania has a long history of excellence in music education and a top-notch marching band (won the Sudler Trophy in 2019).


Sorry - I misspoke with the term performance portfolio. I meant to say his prescreen (if the school requires it) or audition. I will edit my original comment to clarify.

1 Like

Thank you @Kidzncatz.

I will definitely check out West Chester. That’s close enough for us that we could drive up and watch the marching band. I’d like to go see some local schools, and figure out things like big/small, LAC/University/Conservatory before we travel to see more distant options.

Take @helpingmom40 's warning to heart. Music Ed programs are generally designed to meet the certification/licensure requirements of their own state. There is some direct reciprocity between states, but this needs to be thoroughly researched. A student graduating in one state may find that is it necessary to complete additional requirements to be licensed for a job in a different state. In particular, standardized teacher exam scores may not be accepted universally.

Additionally, mentors within a given University/College may have contacts that are helpful in obtaining a job locally or within the state, but not in a different area where the student desires to settle. Similarly, hiring school districts may be familiar with certain local colleges/universities and unconsciously biased toward hiring students from those local institutions.

Your S may want to consider where he would search for his first job and look at schools in that state.

1 Like

Academic grading is not too onerous at Utah (average GPA is around 3.5 for most majors). It would be a fairly easy admit academically with a mix of As and Bs and I don’t think he’d drown. Performing arts majors also get out of some of the more challenging Gen eds like math and foreign languages. There isn’t much merit from the arts programs themselves, so getting residency is the way to go if you aren’t from a WUE state. Typical total cost without merit would be $45K in year 1, then $25K in years 2-4.


Two snaps up for the U of Utah! Has everything Sportsball’s kid is looking for, and the very near by access to incredible skiing and hiking is amazing. The U of Utah, and Salt Lake in general, is now only about 50% Mormon, with a growing “hipster” element.