Best options for bassoon studies with dual degree or double major?

Seeking advice for college applications for a bassoon player:

Music background: 6 years of Conservatory Pre-College, one of the top two seats in All-State Symphony Orchestra, principal player in local key Symphony Orchestra

SAT 1400 and average GPA in a highly ranked hs.
Well rounded with excellent sports EC (varsity etc.)

Wants to double major in Music and Business / finance. What are the school options in terms of reach, target and safe? Some of the academically demanding universities seem to require separate admissions for both music and other major, which is a bit intimidating and he doesn’t want to be admitted to the conservatory only.

Any preference as to large versus small campus, urban versus rural, or geographical area? Any cost constraints?

Since he is well rounded large campus might provide better options for sports and clubs. Campus ideally are not too isolated. But those are only secondary concerns. Quality education comes first

I don’t know about bassoon specifically, but Indiana University is the first thing that pops to mind. It’s not a super selective university, but it has renowned business and music schools. It’s in a great college town and will definitely provide the “full college experience.”

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When mine was in a somewhat similar situation (wanted performance instrument major with double major in a non-music field, at a school with strong academics), this is how he approached it.

Most important and primary concern was the instrumental teacher. Your son should first make a list of EVERY school within the geographic area that he’s interested in (and that could be the entire country), that offers both a bassoon performance major and a good business/finance major. Next, he needs to research the teachers. There are online chat threads in which bassoonists will be discussing the teachers, the programs. He should ask his teachers at his precollege program for names and advice. He should find out what others say about the personality and teaching style of the bassoon instructors. He should listen to their recordings, because you tend to come out sounding like your teacher. He should also find out about the overall atmosphere at the music school of the colleges/U’s (friendly, supportive, hypercompetitive, high intensity), because he would be spending a lot of time there. Is it feasible to do a double major with business at those particular schools?

This should significantly narrow the field for him. Next step is to look at whether he is likely to get into the music school and the academic school. The music school will be entirely based upon his audition. Yes, being one of the two top players in All-State is nice, but honestly, unless your father is a Juilliard prof who also is a principal player in the NY Philharmonic, everything comes down to the audition. I know someone who had no prestigious background, no resume to speak of, who got into Juilliard because he had an amazing audition. And I knew someone who did have the above-mentioned pedigree, whose parent made a phone call when the student decided in July that yes, they DID want to go to Juilliard, and poof, she was in, without having even applied.

He should also seriously consider doing a pre-audition lesson with the potential teacher at any institutions which are feasible for him, and are at the top of his list. This is the final step in figuring out which teachers are a good match for him.

He will surely have to do an audition, of course will have to do an application to the main school, and may very well have to submit an additional application to the school of music. And yes, it is possible that his academics would not warrant admission to a school that would have taken him otherwise. But if he is truly spectacular at his audition, then it’s a question of being good enough for the academic admission, as opposed to also being fantastic academically. It’s not as if the process is totally disconnected - there would be some communication if his audition is wonderful, but his academics are in the “good enough to get in, just like 20,000 other applicants, but not good enough to guarantee an acceptance” range, it might be that the school of music would tell the business school or liberal arts college that they want him.

When my kid had gone through all of the criteria (they actually made a spreadsheet of all they were looking for to keep it straight), they wound up with only a handful of schools. And kid had initially been willing to go pretty much anywhere in the country. Those schools were U of Md, U Conn (in-state for us, plus their teacher for kid’s instrument was fantastic), Boston U, McGill, and I cannot recall the rest. They also threw in an application to a tippy-top where the kid had a letter from the conductor, and got in, and decided to go, even though they couldn’t major in performance or even study it, except outside of that school.

And then, of course, can you afford to send him to the schools that seem otherwise appropriate.

As you can see, you and kid need to network with other bassoon students who have recently gone through this. Search the music applications thread on here for bassoon, and you may get some useful advice. If it’s recent, you may be able to still message them. Have kid contact the senior bassoonists from All-State and his pre-college program, and ask them what they found out in their search. Check FB for a bassoonist thread, and look for bassoon forums online. A school that could be right in every other way is worthless to him, if they don’t have the right teacher for him.


Echoing much of what @parentologist advises above.
A few things my son felt were helpful a few years ago when in the research to audition phase:
His private teacher was key in establishing a reach, match and safety list. So once my son had done his research on teachers (including teaching style, playing style, philosophy on reed making, success with placing students in orchestras, etc) his private teacher provided input as to probability of acceptance. Mine had participated in a good number of master classes and summer programs and was acquainted with several of the teachers already which helped him determine how he learns best and what he was looking for in a teacher.
Agree that if the applicant has a great audition, their academic load and GPA will often not be highly weighed. There are exceptions. (Northwestern comes to mind) Music performance programs know that highly qualified applicants have been practicing and performing many hours of the day, so they understand if your kid has few AP classes and a less than perfect GPA.
Mine is at conservatory now, so I cannot speak to the double major aspect of your question. I will say that music performance majors have heavy schedules. But everything is doable with the right kid in the right environment.
Lastly, in our experience, applying to a relatively short list of schools was a great plan. I believe mine applied to 7. The amount of audition prep and recording is daunting. And traveling to a huge number of auditions is exhausting and for some counterproductive as they may run out of energy by the end of audition season.
Good luck!


All those are extremely helpful pieces of advice. I cannot thank you all enough!

Hear hear to the number of schools on the list. Voice major parent here but S applied to 3 music schools only- his criteria were very specific- and 2 non BM/BFA schools. The targeting of needs/desires really helped.

Best of luck!

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Your son must be very good and super confident. We are still at the “terrified” stage surrounded by super high academic achievers. Therefore we have a long list of safe schools. But I agree totally that we need to narrow it down to conserve the energy for tryout lessons and auditions.

LOL- not super confident, just super specific about what he did not want…
There was a definite safety school though- we’re not crazy, haha!

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Misread baboon studies and was feverishly googling zoology programs. Good luck!!

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Lol :joy:

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For no logical reason, I just happened to pop into this thread. That’s just about the funniest thing I’ve ever read on this site! :joy::joy::joy:

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I would advise to block out the chatter from the “super high academic achiever” crowd and know that your kid is a high achiever in a different way. There is enough stress in the music application and audition process. You don’t need the added stress of hearing about AP scores, academic rigor and such. If he chooses appropriate programs and prepares well, he will end up with good choices.
I also recommend that he have his pre screen repertoire ready as early as possible and take the opportunity to play it for audiences frequently. Any audience is fine. Family, other members of his orchestra, the neighbors. Especially since bassoon is not generally a solo instrument, it should feel totally normal to get in front of people and play solo rep.


Great suggestion also! Now I have a great to-do-list based on all the suggestions you had :grinning:

Don’t ignore the academic piece. We knew a lovely, intelligent, accomplished student musician who had made the mature and conscious decision during high school to spend more hours on practicing and performing her instrument (and doing musical theater) than on academics. She was certainly bright enough and organized enough and hardworking enough to have done better academically than she had (maybe she was a B+ student overall?), had she not been spending so many hours a week on music.

When application time came, she got into conservatory programs, but didn’t get into most of the schools that required very high academic achievement too. She wound up at a very good school that had an excellent school of music, and a 20% acceptance rate academically, so it all worked out, but she was kind of dismayed that she had underestimated how important academic achievement was for acceptance to academically highly selective schools.

With that being said, we have noticed that academically average students with high jazz achievement from our school’s prestigious jazz program have gotten into U Michigan Ann Arbor for jazz music. They would NEVER have gotten in based upon their academic achievement. In this respect, Michigan seemed to be an exception. BTW, this is another one of those confounding elements that makes using tools like Naviance almost worthless.

I have no idea who the bassoon teacher is at Hartt school (U Hartford), but their music school is wonderful, they do have a business program, and he could surely get in - they accept something like 75-80% overall. My impression is that the music school has a warm and supportive atmosphere. Also, it’s one of those places that offers merit money to attract you to go there. So if his academic stats aren’t great, and the bassoon teacher is a match for him, it could be a safety for him.

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It’s definitely good to be safe than sorry.

I have a college junior doing a double degree w/music at a big 10 university. I suspect bassons are harder to come by, my student was auditioning vocal and was somewhat of a non-traditional vocal applicant.

But one thing I was going to mention is that the best option for your double degree student is going to be with the music teacher that loves and appreciates your student as they are and for what they bring to campus. My student had some sample lessons at some colleges that talked a great game about dual degrees, marketed dual degrees. And then kid would work with a music teacher and they would heavily discourage the double degree and be negative about it. So when you’re doing sample lessons, remind your student to ask the hard questions about pursuing a double major/degree as a music student directly to the teachers you may be working with.

We were surprised that some of the larger schools were the most flexible in my own kid’s case. And maybe because they prioritize their grad students, they can be more flexible with undergrads (his studio is primarily grad students). But that has been a definite net positive for my kid and has given him the ability to pursue the music ensemble options and angles that are really meaningful for him. I suspect the music degree may have dropped at some other programs at some he was looking at.


One other comment - depending on what type of music degree and what type of business coursework he is interested in, a dual degree may not be the only option. My kiddo started as a music performance major and switched to “music industry” after her first semester - this is a BM (with all the theory, performance, juries, etc.) with a mandatory business minor or two, and the business classes are tailored for musicians and reportedly extremely fascinating - several in her class have made the same change in major because the music industry majors are so happy with the program. I think a business dual degree would be well supported. Mine is doing a dual degree in theater, which is not easy to do in 4 years, and teacher support from both departments has been important.


Both of you have excellent points in that both the school and the teacher need to fully support the idea. I can see how it could be having some conflicts due to the demanding nature of quality education in any good school. The kiddo must have a realistic expectation of the hard work behind double major or dual degree. We would definitely support the 5 year idea. He is talented and very musical, so it would be nice to see him further the path. But he is also interested in many other things and has been a very fast learner. I have another son that’s super musical and that’s all that he wants to do for the rest of his life. No double major is even considered. Each kid is different I guess :slight_smile: