First Tier Conservatory w/ Scholarly Academics

<p>Starting to seriously look at music schools, and I've realized that although I love music and have great potential I need more in my education. So I'm looking at double degree programs. I immediatly thought of Oberlin Conservatory, but through conversation with a Curtis Institute grad I heard about the Lawrence Conservatory. I am a classical vocalist with an Opera emphasis, and my GPA is a 4.0 unweighted. From this thread im only asking about the conservatory at this point, both schools have an obvious high academic standard. So how do the conservatories compare?</p>

<p>Both conservatories are good, but Oberlin is better known and for most music disciplines is probably somewhat stronger. Ultimately though, your personal sense of fit and your studio teacher are much much more important than a school's reputation.</p>

<p>I don't think that Lawrence would ordinarily be considered a "first tier conservatory" (unless there are only two tiers), but that doesn't mean that you wouldn't get an excellent music education there.</p>

<p>If you are looking for top-notch academics and a first tier music school, then consider Rice University with its Shepherd School of Music, Northwestern University with Bienen, USC, and U Mich.</p>

<p>Oberlin really is far superior to Lawrence...Also probably your highest level conservatory that has the option of a dual degree is going to be the Shepherd School of Music (Rice University).</p>

<p>I applied to Rice, Northwestern and Maryland for my undergrad and was looking for the exact same thing as you. Probably in terms of the level of the music school Rice would be your best choice but Northwestern has GREAT academics; well I guess both do. Maryland offers great scholarships for academics AND music though. So you might look into that.</p>

<p>Another top-tier choice with great academics would be CIM. You must take your academic classes at Case Western and there are a lot of options. It's 45 minutes from Oberlin, in Cleveland, so if you're going to look at one, make it all in one trip.
The director of their opera department, David Bamberger, is featured in the center article of August's Opera News...</p>

<p>Well the triumvirate for the dual degree music schools is Rice, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt. Of the three of those Vandy's music program was the least impressive by far when I auditioned there.</p>

<p>I have looked at Shepherd and Vanderbilt in the past, based on reputation. But the "double degree" program at Oberlin and Lawrence I am looking for I have yet to find at Rice. They only have BA's with a major in music. Do you know if I would recieve the same core voice training as performance majors?</p>

<p>Of all the schools my D looked at last year, Rice was the most difficult to figure out as far as the dual degree. When we spoke to a Rep at a VPA fair, she told us that the dual degree was discouraged, that they might allow it if the second (non-music) degree was in the humanities but that a science would not work due to labs conflicting with ensemble rehearsals. (Not an issue for voice obviously).Then we read an article on their website, featuring a Grad student who was getting her masters in Viola and doing Neuroscience research at the same time. We heard after that, third hand, that you actually CAN dual (undergrad) with science. So if you are interested in that school, you might want to speak to a few different people in the music school and maybe even current voice students to figure out what is actually happening.
Clearly we got the message that if dual degree is your interest, you are not going to get the level of support at Rice that you would get at Oberlin or Lawrence, or probably any other place. It would be interesting to hear from people who are at Rice now on this. I know others did not have this experience but I wanted to share ours.</p>

<p>The BA at Rice is only available after you have been in the BM program for at least a year. You cannot enter it as a freshman. If you drop to the BA, you are no longer in the same studio and do not have the same performance requirements. None of DD's friends tried doing a double degree. </p>

<p>DD took 18-20 credits almost every semester until her senior year just to get all of the VP and distribution requirements. If you have AP credits it would help. There is also a lot of rehearsal time and time spent at recitals. The issue with ensembles is not limited to instrumentalists. Vocal performance majors have requirements for the Chorale and for opera studio that is at the same time, around 3-5 PM. When it is opera time, rehearsals go very late and missing them is not allowed. </p>

<p>You are right that you will not get the same level of support as you would at those schools that support a double degree approach.</p>

<p>I met with the head of music admissions when I visited Rice and we talked about the exact same thing. For me it was Biology and Voice. They really only ENCOURAGE dual degrees if you tack on an extra semester after senior year. Dual degrees are completely allowed but Shepherd is a performance conservatory. Like Juilliard and Curtis it is extremely rigorous. There is a reason they discourage doing it four years, but if you want to you can.</p>

<p>Oberlin is great...but if you plan on adding a major within Oberlin College to your conservatory degree...also plan on adding at least a semester to your college time to complete both degrees.</p>

<p>I don't know about voice and the quality of the program thereof, but you can get a dual degree at Indiana from what I have been told, so that might be an option. Bard has a 5 year program where you come out with a music BM and a bachelors, it is required to have a dual degree (I don't even know if Bard offers voice or if it is any good, just as a suggestion). </p>

<p>There are also the various "joint degree" programs like Harvard/NEC (or Tufts), Peabody/Hopkins, or something like the Juilliard/Columbia program where you get your undergrad degree from Columbia and then get your MM from Juilliard. There are threads about those programs on here that have more details on them, including the fact that they are incredibly hard to get into and then it gets even harder:)</p>

<p>I don't know about voice and the quality of the program thereof, but you can get a dual degree at Indiana from what I have been told, so that might be an option. Bard has a 5 year program where you come out with a music BM and a bachelors, it is required to have a dual degree (I don't even know if Bard offers voice or if it is any good, just as a suggestion). </p>

<p>There are also the various "joint degree" programs like Harvard/NEC (or Tufts), Peabody/Hopkins, or something like the Juilliard/Columbia program where you get your undergrad degree from Columbia and then get your MM from Juilliard. There are threads about those programs on here that have more details on them, including the fact that they are incredibly hard to get into and then it gets even harder:)</p>

<p>Bard Conservatory does not offer voice for undergrads. The vocal program is an extremely selective post-graduate program created & run by Dawn Upshaw. There are, however, a number of singers getting a BA in the college - and quite possibly double majoring. The college has a strong opera & chorale program - James Bagwell, conductor of the Collegiate Chorale is the head of the department - but it is not a conservatory program. For a vocalist not interested in a BM it would be well worth looking into.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice everyone! I guess I will just have to wait and see once it gets closer to actually applying. For some reason my school has you start looking Freshman year, and even more in sophmore. But you don't meet with a counselor on the topic until junior. Oh well. Im just a sophmore btw.</p>

<p>Rice. i'd say it's in the top five just for music without considering academics, and absolutely #1 best music school that's alongside good academics. Students are expected to give their best in music history and theory (not just "fudge" it in favor of practicing) and are thrown into residential colleges with non-music majors, so they turn out to be pretty well-rounded musicians, while a few throw in other stuff too, learning languages or exploring anthropology or whatever. There is also the possibility of a double degree for those who truly have the motivation and talent to do music well and study something else simultaneously, but you have to audition into the music school first and declare the other major later. (The music school is the most selective.) In any case the academic level of the university is tops. </p>

<p>the Shepherd School of music is hard to get into and small, but because of that it is also a good place for undergrad since you get attention. There will probably only be 3-7 spots for voice undergrads in any given year but if you can get one you're golden. The school is a hotbed of connections and you'll be with some of the most talnted musicians in the country, as the instrumentalists are amazing as well. half the orchestra at Tanglewood is made up of Ricers, at Aspen Rice is the most-represented school after Juilliard... </p>

<p>plus, Rice is FUN. it has that "college atmosphere" everyone in America has a soft spot in their heart for, and the campus is gorgeous.
And they are really good about scholarships/financial aid. </p>

<p>other ones to consider: </p>

<p>Northwestern
U. of Southern California
Oberlin
Eastman/U Rochester
Indiana
McGill U. </p>

<p>the NEC/Tufts/Harvard thing is super complicated with all the commuting. As far as I know most people drop out in favor of one of the schools after a while because it's too much work when they're on different campuses that are so far away from each other. The Columbia/Juilliard thing is almost nonexistent (like they have one student in the "program" at any given time) and if you do get in there is often no aid--which means forking out two full tuitions while living in NYC? ridiculous. I know a guy who got into that program but went to USC in LA instead. </p>

<p>and even though Yale doesn't have a performance degree, if you are serious about music and go there for undergrad, you can do music there and after, and go to a conservatory for grad school. I know three people who did a BA in music at yale for undergrad who are now either in top music grad schools or performing professionally. I also know a few who did the same thing with Harvard, although Harvard isn't as "known" for music as Yale.</p>

<p>That all seems very consistent with what I have heard about Rice. You seem to know a great deal about music schools; do you mind if I PM you?</p>

<p>"The Columbia/Juilliard thing is almost nonexistent (like they have one student in the "program" at any given time) and if you do get in there is often no aid--which means forking out two full tuitions while living in NYC? ridiculous. I know a guy who got into that program but went to USC in LA instead."</p>

<p>I don't think this statement is quite true-- off the top of my head I can think of a several students who are in this program. But for the first four years you are essentially a Columbia student who takes lessons at Juilliard-- not really integrated into Juilliard life.</p>

<p>The Columbia-Juilliard program is not really a joint program like GH said, you don't pay two tuitions in the program because they are not simulateous. The way the program works (and I know several people who have done it or are doing it) is that you get admitted to the program and you get your UG degree at columbia while working with a teacher on your instrument or whatever at Juilliard.You don't take courses with the Juilliard students like theory, or do ensemble work or anything like that, so in effect the program allows you to take lessons with a teacher at Juilliard while getting your UG degree at columbia, tuition covers both. I believe the UG portion is accelerated, or can be, one person I know directly did it in 3 years....at the end of your time at Columbia, you have to audition and at that point if still allowed in you pursue an MM at Juilliard (admission for the MM is not guaranteed, I know 1 person who went through the program then didn't get into Juilliard for the MM). They only accept a handful of people, I believe the last number I heard was 6 or 7.....</p>

<p>One general word about music schools, I always take as a grain of salt when someone says 'school x is the best, go there' or "it is a great place to go to school' or whatever, if only because such statements are always opinion based on what the person has seen or experienced themselves. Rice is a great school, for example, for a number of reasons, but it may not be for everyone, what works in music schools is very much tied to an individual for what they want and need, and it could be in their specific instrument or area that a school doesn't have faculty that they could work with, or could find other issues. There are schools with fantastic reputations in voice that seem to have their rep for their grad program more then undergrad, and the list goes on.</p>

<p>And as others have pointed out, there are multiple routes, you could also get a UG degree at Harvard or some other high academic school, take private lessons with a great teacher, and get an MM at a music school, there is more then one way to achieve your goal.</p>

<p>"The NEC/Tufts/Harvard thing is super complicated with all the commuting. As far as I know most people drop out in favor of one of the schools after a while because it's too much work when they're on different campuses that are so far away from each other."</p>

<p>I don't think this is true at all, sorry. My daughter has several friends who are doing the Harvard/NEC double degree (BA/MM, BA can be in anything including music) and we also know a couple of students doing the BA/BM at Tufts (the BA is obviously not in music).</p>

<p>I agree totally with the poster who said there are many ways to accomplish your goals. Most double degree programs are 5 years. In fact, for music majors at Harvard (not double degree students) there is an option to do just the BA in 5 years (3 courses at a time) to allow for practice and performance time.</p>

<p>Private study outside of school can be a good option while you pursue a non-performance degree, and it can be cost effective in the long run. But sometimes it is nice to have a structure in which you find everything you need. Depends on your personality and the preferences of teachers I guess.</p>