Collaborative vs. competitive "gunslinger" vibe at jazz programs

My Junior saxophone son is exploring various jazz programs…looks like he wants to stay in the northeast, though we are also going to look at Frost, Loyola New Orleans, Oberlin, and Thornton, and maybe some others as well.

We are hoping to find a truly great jazz program that has a collaborative feeling as opposed to hyper-competitive, lots of creative energy for all sorts of projects, and some ability to study outside his specific instrument (i.e., he’s interesting as well in checking out recording industry, various music business courses).

Thoughts? Thanks so much!

Not sure about the jazz program, but if it’s anything like the classical one, have your son check out Boyer @ Temple. Not too far from you in Philly and a top notch jazz program - plus lots of other schools/classes to take. My kid is starting to take classes outside of the music school and finds the other music kids great to be around.

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The schools you’ve listed all have great jazz programs. But I’d encourage you and your son not to write off any school as “too competitive”. Jazz is such a collaborative genre that there’s lots of collaboration even at schools that have a reputation for being intense, including Juilliard (supposedly the inspiration for the movie Whiplash), MSM or NEC. My son was initially turned off from Juilliard because of its reputation but then ended up studying there and loved it, and still plays with a number of the musicians he met there. Hung out a bunch at MSM too and still plays with the musicians he met there as well. Some other good jazz programs in the northeast include Berklee (of course), New School, Eastman, SUNY Purchase, William Paterson and Hartt. Not sure if you’d view Peabody as northeast, but I understand that Sean Jones has done a great job building the jazz program there.

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Three thoughts:

  1. Sometimes the level of competitiveness in a program is instrument dependent. At NYU Steinhardt a few years back, they made a point of saying how many opportunities sax players would have while also making it clear the same was NOT true for rhythm section players; sax players could expect to be in 3 ensembles, maybe more, whereas rhythm players would probably have to settle for just one.

  2. Definitely would recommend Peabody if it’s far enough North for you. Sean Jones and the whole faculty are awesome and are super accessible to the students. Collaborative culture.

  3. Have heard good things about the culture at New School jazz program.

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