Questions on an alternative route

<p>(This is my first post!)</p>

<p>I play cello, and have for 5 years now. I've learned pretty quickly in that time, and have recently finished up work on the Lalo cello concerto. I just ended my junior year in HS and want to study music in college. </p>

<p>The thing is, I just switched teachers to a really (really!) great one. I simply plateaued with my previous one. And now it makes me sad that I'll have to put together an audition tape and potentially leave him in a year's time. </p>

<p>My top choice for schools is Peabody, but I'm wary about my chances of getting in. So I thought maybe I could go to a college here in CA for a year after HS and study various subjects, get rid of requirements, and at the same time study with my new teacher for an added year. </p>

<p>In my view, this means I can study more with him, increase my abilities of getting into better schools after that year, and finish up any requirements so that when I do transfer I can focus solely on music. </p>

<p>This was just an idea I thought of, not a solid plan by any means. I just want to know what some thoughts are on it.</p>


<p>You sound like you have given some intelligent thought to the plan. Your plan sounds good in many ways. You have found an excellent teacher and that is usually the most important external factor in developing as a musician. You are wise to want to stick with an excellent teacher for longer than just a year. </p>

<p>A few things that you probably have considered:
1. Taking a year of college in California prior to switching to a music school will probably not cut any years off of your four years in music school. Most good music schools are often very expensive, and you are adding a year of college to four expensive years. Of course, if you attend an in-state public college for your first year and live at home, you really are not adding much to your total 5 years of expenses. You may actually lower your 5-year expenses if your cello abilities increase enough during that year to increase your merit aid beyond what it would otherwise have been.<br>
2. You should check on the required courses at the music schools that you are interested in and confirm that what you take at your California college will transfer.<br>
3. Be certain to thoroughly discuss this option with your new teacher. This teacher will have the best idea as to your abilities and your rate of progress. As well, to get an unbiased opinion (your new teacher may have a vested interest in keeping you as a student for as long as possible), you may want to take a sample lesson or two from some good college/conservatory teachers and directly ask them what they think your chances are of getting into good music schools.</p>

<p>I know very little about admissions for transfer students; given that it sounds like you would not be transferring any music credits, you might not be much different from a regular applicant that has some AP credits under their belt. Others here can probably offer opinions on your status as a transfer applicant.</p>

<p>Thanks violindad, I was not sure what some people would say. Yes, I have thought about this, although there were some things you said I didn't know before. I did not know that I would still have 4 years in a music school ahead of me, which is fine with me (although, I won't necessarily be the one footing the bill!). But there is potential for more merit-based aid, too. This new teacher (who plays in the LA Phil) has amazing students already, and I know some have been awarded aid and grants.
One hitch if I did do this, though, is that my parents are moving after I graduate HS, so I couldn't live at home for that year. </p>

<p>Thanks a lot for your input!</p>

<p>Re: 4 years at music school: At most music schools, you have to complete four full years of applied study on your major instrument in a performance degree. If your study for the year following high school is with your new teacher through his/her private studio, then this would not count towards the 4 years. On the other hand, if your new teacher teaches at a college/conservatory and you register through that college or conservatory for your lessons (which would require that you gain admission), then you could potentially transfer your credits for private lessons.</p>

<p>Music schools can be very sticky about transferring music credits (particularly with music theory courses), so you must be careful if you are counting on transferring music courses/credits. </p>

<p>I have heard of some music schools making the very rare exception to the rule of "4 years of credit-earning private applied instruction on major instrument." So it does happen, but you would need to do your research. Because of this 4-year rule, a music performance major is quite different from almost any other major where you can complete a 4-year degree in two or three years. The development of performance skills takes time (there is no substitute) and so music schools are wise in generally requiring the four years.</p>

<p>I really do not disagree with anything violindad has said, but I do want to expand a few points:</p>

<p>-don't sell yourself short by NOT auditioning for some this year, based of course on your teacher's input.</p>

<li>as you mention Peabody specifically, are you looking at the school from the perspective of wanting to study with specific faculty, or based on the school's rep? There are many fine options out there. Putting all your eggs (or your hopes) in one basket t'aint necessarily the best plan.</li>

<p>-what you are thinking of is a musical gap year (albeit a bit modified). Beware of entering another institute for general academic studies, as for all intents and purposes, you will then be auditioning/applying as a transfer, not an incoming freshman. Note that at many schools transfer slots can be VERY limited, there is usually far less merit and or talent based money available for transfers. Just some serious points to consider, and you need to research this aspect at the schools you think you might apply to musically if you decide to matriculate elsewhere as an academic admit.</p>

<p>A couple of threads that may help:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a> has some links to transfer and gap year threads, and you might find the collective body of links useful as an overview of the process.</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a> may help you find additional past threads a bit easier.</p>

<p>something about your plan is not adding up, in my opinion. </p>

<p>1) What does your teacher say about all this? Does he teach at a University or Conservatory? Might you be able to apply to study there with him?</p>

<p>2) Are you sure you want a cello performance degree? (I assume that's what you'd be looking to do at Peabody.) Other possibilities are music ed, music as a liberal arts major, music performance minor (or certificate) with a different arts or science major...</p>

<p>3) Does your teacher think that you would be competitive at a whole different level of conservatory if you delay one year? Playing for 6 years prior to college, auditioning with the Lalo (or whatever you have cooking now) -- this is not an unusual position for students applying to conservatories. At Peabody-level conservatory auditions a year ago, I hear a god-awful amount of Elgar. !. Not to say that there wasn't a lot of Dvorak too, just sayin.</p>

<p>4) So I guess I think that if this teacher is worth sticking with for a year, try to do it in the framework of whatever higher ed institution he operates in (if possible). Otherwise, good as he is, you should probably move on to the next stage in your life.</p>

<p>I guess my question is why would you want to go to a local college for a year before going to a place and majoring in performance? From what I understand about the performance degree in a conservatory, odds are whatever you take in your year of college locally probably won't apply (It could be different in a school like Bard or Rice, where you are getting a degree from the university and a BM you take at the local college could be used towards core requirements or potentially a second major), since in performance programs that whole track is, well, music performance focused, so what you take in the local school might not be worth all that much (basically, looking at the curricula of BM degree programs, it is all performance/theory/ear training/etc, with maybe some liberal arts courses ( a dribble). </p>

<p>I agree with viola dad, don't sell yourself short, if you have particular programs in mind, it may be worth auditioning this year. I would talk to your teacher about that,assuming he is a professional and has kept up with what goes on in the music conservatories and such he would know your relative level compared to what typically gets out there. Also, your teacher, if they get to know you and the way you work, may know of programs/teachers he thinks would be good for you (or even know a teacher at let's say Peabody or other high level program, which could work out even better, in terms of finding a teacher who would want to work with you, an important part of the admissions mix).</p>

<p>So your options might be, instead of the year of college:</p>

<p>1)If you/your teacher thinks you have a chance, go through the audition process at schools you would like to attend in the next audition cycle. If it doesn't come out as you thought, you could still either do a gap year or your plan to attend the local school and work with your teacher.</p>

<p>2)If it doesn't look promising, take the gap year, study with your teacher and work towards a goal.</p>

<p>I would also give the argument that if you decide not to audition this next cycle, then it might be better to take the gap year for a different reason. If you take the gap year and don't go to the local college, you would have a lot of time during that gap year to check out programs, do sample lessons with teachers at the school you are targeting, something that if you are going to the local school would be difficult. Instead of spending the money on tuition, in other words, use that money for lessons and also for travel to schools to do sample lessons and get yourself 'out there'. Obviously, if you decide to audition this year, or if you decide to go to a local school, then you probably should do sample lessons and check out schools anyway, but in a gap year situation you would have more freedom in terms of time and potentially money to do it. </p>

<p>As always, this is just my opinion from seeing what others have gone through the past couple of years and from what some friends kids went through.</p>

<p>Wow, thanks for the responses!</p>

<p>I should probably clarify some things:</p>

<p>1) my teacher is not affiliated with any college/university/conservatory. But if he was, then yes I certainly would apply/attend where he was. Unfortunately, this is not the case--as much as I wish it was. </p>

<p>2) Peabody is of course not the only great school out there. But for me, it seems like a great place for many reasons. There is the faculty--specifically the cello professors like Amit Peled--which is great, but then there is also the fact that it is close to where all my family will be. Of course the musical education itself is more important than proximity to family, but in this case there is both.</p>

<p>3) I was planning on auditioning this year, anyway, to see where I got in, to get familiar with the processes, etc. But my plan really was that if I didn't get in to places that would be better musically than my current state of affairs, I would then take the musical gap year. So if there weren't better alternatives, I would stay with my current teacher. </p>

<p>4) I definitely know want a performance degree at least. But, in addition, I really enjoy history of all sorts, so I would also look seriously at something in musicology/music history. </p>

<p>My philosophy with this idea is that it may be better to work privately on my technique freely with a great teacher than to go to work at a degree with a professor of lesser quality for the sake of working at a degree so soon.</p>

<p>Also, I don't mean to make it out as if I think of my teacher as a "god-like figure," or something. He just is the best for me at this moment. He is a professional, assistant principal with the LA Phil, Juilliard trained, studied with Lynn Harrell, and a great teacher on top of all that.</p>

<p>I just want to suggest that you separate the issues of teacher and institution: there are many great teachers at "lesser" -name conservatories or music programs in colleges/universities; and conversely there are not-great teachers at big-name institutions too.</p>

<p>That said, you may indeed benefit from staying with your new great teacher for another year. Best thing is to discuss with him.</p>


<p>One further extension of what i was saying, you should talk to your teacher. Someone that has a background like that and is a pro in the field probably knows a lot about how to go about doing what you do. Even though he doesn't teach at a program, he through Juilliard and his associations through the Phil,music festivals and so forth probably knows people at other programs, including Peabody. I agree with others, don't limit your search to one particular school, on cello other conservatories (Juilliard, NEC, CIM, etc) have teachers who are probably as good as anyone at Peabody, more importantly may be better for you. Instrument instruction is a funny thing, ratings and such are very subjective, which is why you need to get sample lessons and see what fits both ways. One potential scenario is, for example, that you find the faculty at Peabody not right for you, or that the ones you want to work with don't have room. "Great teachers" are generally considered great because they have had success turning out students who 'make it' in music; but that same teacher who taught X who became a principal cellist on the LPO also had students who didn't work because they didn't mesh, and so forth. And some teachers have a great rep, not necessarily because they teach well, but because they themselves did all plays into the mix.</p>

He is a professional, assistant principal with the LA Phil


One of your teacher's colleagues in the cello section teaches at CSU - Long Beach. Might be a good place to start.</p>

<p>Speihei, great suggestion.
I think he's Zambo on Cello Chat forums.</p>

Yes. The same.</p>

<p>pnuttercello: I really empathize with your situation! My son went through something similar in starting with an amazingly wonderful violin teacher only in his senior year of high school and he definitely had a gap year plan in hand in the event his auditions and applications didn't work out, and in some ways, I think he almost wished they wouldn't have as he adored that teacher. A gap year is definitely a good plan if your teacher feels it will make a significant difference in your audition results. I have the sense that you were considering local schools as a logistical support since your family will be moving away, and also as a way of framing what you are doing. One option you might explore is obtaining "special student" status, perhaps at USC or UCLA, which gives you an option of taking courses without being entered in a degree program. You could take music theory or music history, possibly even musical ensembles or orchestra, and still continue with your current teacher.</p>

<p>In truth, the most important thing is not being in this conservatory or that, but in studying with the teacher who can give you the training you need to improve and flourish on your instrument.</p>