Is there such a thing...

<p>Is there such a thing as a non-conservatory program that will allow my son to do approx. 60% of his studies in music/ 40% non-music courses? S is a somewhat accomplished piano player (classical and jazz), entering his senior year, very strong GPA, above average but far from stellar SAT scores. He believes that there's a good chance he would not get accepted at a "top-notch" conservatory, and so wants to also apply to schools with strong music programs and solid academics, that would allow him to do extensive work on his performance work. He feels that his high school experience (very strong private school) gave him very solid academic experience, but was so consuming academically that he did not get to devote sufficient attention to his music to allow him to reach his potential; and he'd like to have a shot at being able to devote himself more to his musical development in college. Are there colleges, other than conservatories, that would allow him to put this emphasis on his performance work?
Thanks so much.</p>

<p>I believe that most programs that offer a Bachelors of Music - a BM, as opposed to a Bachelor of Arts - a BA - will offer your son what he's looking for. I know the requirements vary from school to school and he should certainly investigate the curriculum requirements in depth once he focuses in on a school. There are many solid (and even better) music programs within academic universities - one needn't go only to a conservatory. I'm sure if you tell this group more about your son - his instrument as well as other things he's looking for in a school we can give you some jumping off places to start exploring. Knowing if finances will be an issue is helpful, as well as what part of the country you're from and where he'd like to go to school.</p>

<p>I believe there are even non-audition BM programs, if your son is really worried he doesn't have the chops yet - although often an audition is required to be considered for scholarships. Or for some schools one doesn't audition for official entry into the major until end of sophomore year which would give him more time to get to his potential.</p>

<p>Have a look at Lawrence University. Solid academics, a solid but not widely known conservatory that is tightly integrated with the rest of the college, and a really good place for working on your musical chops while getting a good education. Their BM program is about 2/3 music, 1/3 other, but that can be stretched in all kinds of directions.</p>

<p>He could also try McGill, up in Montreal. Admission to the Music School minimizes academic performance, and puts most of the weight on audition and music creds.
If I understood it correctly, academic courses for music students are handled as electives, by the students. McGill does have a good academic reputation.</p>

<p>Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Academic set-up is unusual--you take 3 major classes/semester or year; very flexible program. Proximity to NYC increases potential for high level music faculty.</p>

<p>thank you for the responses! more information: S. plays piano (classical and jazz). Would prefer a small to moderate sized campus in Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, or perhaps mid-West. Some financial aid will be important but is not a deal-breaker. He's preparing for auditions, but not hopeful that he's good enough to be accepted into music schools such as Oberlin, Bard, Eastman, Tufts/NEC (DD). What he doesn't want to do is go to a school like Oberlin as a non-conservatory student.
What are some of the leading schools (i.e.: good academics, very strong music programs) that offer B.M. degree but are not quite so competitive for admission as the leading conservatories?
thank you for your thoughts.</p>

<p>University of Michigan has a good music program as well as being a great school academically with lots of opportunities. </p>

<p>I'm not sure how tough the audition process is, but my guess would be not as tough as Oberlin, Eastman, etc.. I could be wrong though. </p>

<p>Maybe check out Ithaca College. I know it has a respected music program that might not be extremely competitive. It's also a relatively small school over 6000 undergrads and would provide a good liberal arts education.</p>

<p>Boston University or UMASS Amherst come to mind, or Depaul in Chicago. All have very good music programs; though I can't speak to piano studies.</p>

<p>Since you're in Pennsylvania (presuming from your user name) ... have you checked out PennState, Temple U, University of the Arts (Philly), and Duquesne?
I wouldn't necessarily limit yourself in terms of campus size. Our impression was that regardless of the size of the school at large, the music schools tended to be a universe unto themselves. </p>

<p>Two other possible strategies:
1. Have your son take a gap year that is devoted purely to improving his piano technique.
2. Have your son attend a college near a major city, or a major music school, and pursue his piano studies privately with a teacher from the city's professional music community, or from another school's faculty, while he pursues his UG degree at the other college.</p>

<p>You might take a look at Ithaca College. Among other things, it offers a BM in "Music in Combination with an Outside Field."</p>

<p>Okay shameless plug (but really, this sounds like a good fit for your circumstances):</p>

<p>Luther College in Decorah, IA. Easily one of the strongest (and most underrated on this site) music programs in the nation. Majors take at least four semesters of theory and history (among other things and along with more courses in whatever their emphasis is) and are required to be in an ensemble (there are fifteen ensembles - 7 choirs, 3 orchestras, 3 concert bands, and 2 jazz bands - as well as brass ensembles). Luther's Nordic Choir is widely considered one of the best college choirs in the world. It's a very intensive program and it takes a lot of time. Without a specific minor, it would be easy to create a schedule with about 60% music (in fact, it's essentially required of music majors). There are over 300 music majors and about 1000 student musicians (getting close to half the student population). Ample opportunity for scholarships. Luther is the biggest private college in Iowa and is also known for its biology and business programs. 21% are in the top 5% of their high school class. Avg ACT is about 26. Not exactly Ivy League, but it's a great school. :)</p>

<p>(End shameless plug. :P)</p>

<p>Vanderbilt University is pretty solid with academics, i mean he could minor in music but it would be flipped, 60%(more probably) academics and the rest music, most universities with a music school in it will have some sort of way to be able to do both to whatever amount you'd like</p>

<p>Before he writes off being an Oberlin College student (as opposed to the Conservatory) he should maybe find out how it has worked out for other musicians at the College. He could major in music for a B.A. and possibly have appropriate private lessons on his instrument, possibly be included in studio classes and have access to ensembles (all depending on his abilities) without necessarily being in the conservatory. I'm sure it varies by instrument and teacher, but it would be worth finding out. </p>

<p>If he truly is a kid with a 'better' academic profile than music-performance profile who none-the-less wants to spend more than 50% of his time doing music performance, he might have to compromise more on the academic level of the college he ends up attending. However, these 2 things might be actually different from his current perceptions -- 1) he might be a better auditioner than he supposes, and 2) if his performance abilities really are considerably less than his academic abilities, then when push comes to shove he might opt for the better academic deal.</p>

<p>He might want to buy a book entitled "Creative Colleges." I bought it a few years ago at Amazon, and it is very helpful. It includes thorough lists of programs for musicians (and other artists in other sections) by state, with info on each program, and sample curricula etc.</p>

<p>Off the top, as others have said, maybe check out how things would work at Oberlin or Bard for a non-conservatory music major. (Others here can help with this, too) Primarily, would excellent teaching be available, through the program or privately? How low is the wall between college and conservatory, so that a transfer into the conservatory might be possible later? Are there opportunities to play in ensembles as a non-major?</p>

<p>Ithaca and Lawrence came to mind, as did Sarah Lawrence and even Bennington. BM programs at state universities can be good: UMass and UNH both have BM's. The Philly area schools mentioned above are also good ideas.</p>

<p>Is your son sure he wants 60% music? There are many good colleges with music majors, with 25%+ of the classes needed for graduation being music classes. This includes history, theory, musicology, score analysis etc. This can be combined with private lessons. For some, this is quite enough. How is his interest level in other academic areas?</p>

<p>If music is really a potential focus, maybe the suggestion above of a year off before choosing a path, is well worth considering. At the very least, it could help clarify what direction he wants to go in. Lessons and intensive practicing could be combined with theory classes, so he can really see what a conservatory or good college music department would be like.</p>

<p>Our daughter just did this for dance, and had a rich year of classes and performances, but has decided to broaden and is not, afterall, going to conservatory for dance. So the clarifying process can have unexpected results!</p>

<p>One other thing, many musicians take 5 years to graduate from college, taking fewer classes to leave time for practice and performing. Many also take a leave of absence, or even a year off, for music. There are many paths...</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>I would not necessarily recommend Bard College for someone looking for 60% or more music courses. Bard is actually a very academic school and it requires a wide distribution of courses for graduation. In the college one could only get a BA and not a BM. The BM is only when doing the dual degree with the conservatory. I suspect Oberlin College may be similar in its curriculum requirements for a BA. But Sarah Lawrence and other colleges which have very flexible graduation requirements might work out fine even going the BA route rather than a BM.</p>

<p>Thanks so much for all your insights and suggestions! I hope to respond in more depth. Compmom, we've sent for a copy of Creative Colleges, thanks!</p>

<p>We were told that Oberlin has a "low wall" between conservatory and college, and vice versa, which may or may not be true, but presumably this term means transfer from one to the other is feasible (depending on audition for conservatory). Also, just fyi, Oberlin offers a double degree (BA/BM) but does not require it of conservatory students. At Bard, conservatory students are required to spend 5 years, getting both degrees. Either campus would seem to offer some flexibility of path. </p>

<p>An important question with schools that have both college and conservatory is, does the presence of the music school mean more or less opportunity for non-conservatory music majors or musicians?</p>

<p>One more thing: in looking at colleges (as opposed to conservatories, where music classes were 2/3-3/4 of the curriculum), our daughter looked at the number of courses for the music major and divided it by number of courses needed for graduation, to get the % of music classes she would take at each school (roughly). She found it varied quite a bit, and chose the school that allowed her to take the highest percentage of music classes in 4 years, which was 12/32 for non-honors, and 16/32 for honors, so 50% was the highest percentage she found anywhere. Hope that helps!</p>

We had the impression that Oberlin students who were not in the conservatory had significantly less opportunity to take courses and especially, less opportunity in terms of performances. Perhaps this is not the case.
Very helpful to know about what your D found out about % of music classes student would be allowed to take in various programs. Did she check on schools like Vassar and Sarah Lawrence: I had the sense that their alternative approaches to course distribution might allow an even higher concentration in music (or other disciplines).

<p>Your impression about Oberlin sounds right. We only investigated the conservatory, and noticed that conservatory students were playing, say, the piano in the college dept.s' musical production of "Cabaret", or an opera composed by a student, so the college must bring a variety of opportunities for conservatory students, that wouldn't be available in a free-standing conservatory. But the reverse is probably not true, and it sure makes sense that the presence of such excellent musicians in the conservatory would limit opportunities for college music majors. </p>

<p>The Sarah Lawrence site says: "The student, in consultation with the faculty, plans the music program best suited to his or her needs and interests. Advanced students may, with faculty consent, elect to take two thirds of their course study in music." So SL does meet the 60/40% criteria your first mentioned! The program looks very holistic, in the sense that music is studied in relation to history, culture, other arts. I love that students take only 3 courses/semester, w/depth over quantity.</p>

<p>Vassar apparently has 4 paths to a BA, and the one offering the most focus in one area is the concentration in a department: "Of the 34 units required for the degree, students may not take more than 50 percent or 17 units in a single field of concentration." So, again, music courses could be 50% maximum, which is pretty close to the 60/40.</p>

<p>As you know, many colleges offer majors that are 25% of their studies, with a lot of distribution requirements. (Vassar does require classes for writing, quantitative studies and foreign language proficiency.)</p>

<p>Neither offers a BM but majoring in music at either offers a pretty good percentage of music classes, along with some really great academics.</p>

<p>We looked at Sarah Lawrence pretty closely and occasionally run into composers who went there, one of whom now teaches at NEC.</p>

Thanks for your insights. At a local "college fair" this past winter the representative from Oberlin told my son that for students in the general population, individual music lessons are taught by upperclassmen, and not faculty. I don't know if this is, in fact, the case.
Do you know how extensive the music programs are at Vassar and Sarah Lawrence? My impression is that Vassar has a more extensive music department and Sarah Lawrence a relatively small one, but I need to research this.