School suggestions for summer visits-undecided major + music

If you visit Denison, check out Kenyon. It’s not particularly known for its music program, but it’s solid I think. My daughter has been very happy with her music classes there. And they have music scholarships.

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Has anyone mentioned University of Rochester. It’s in Rochester…and isn’t as small…but students there can take lessons and perform in music ensembles as well. Lessons are often offered by Eastman grad students who are mighty talented.

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All interesting thoughts!

Type of music? There are some schools that are particularly strong in jazz, for example, that would be different than those known for orchestra music, etc. Any any sense if the “other major” will be STEM, non-STEM or totally undecided?


For a rural school that hasn’t been mentioned yet, look into Bucknell. It offers bachelor of music and bachelor of arts in music programs.


He is classical music orchestral, and absolutely no idea, just not engineering

He does need to read the Double Degree Dilemma post. If he wants to simply play in ensembles, not interested in a performance music major or access to lessons through the school, or a school of music or conservatory-level experience, then any school with good performance ensemble opportunities could fit the bill. But if he wants to be able to continue studying his instrument at the school, along with the full range of liberal arts majors, he needs to consider the match with the teacher at the school.

My college '25 kid was the double degree person because they wanted to keep open the possibility of life work other than music, in addition to the possibility of becoming a pro musician. Their first criteria was the specific teacher for their instrument. They considered literally every school in the US and Canada that had a good teacher for their instrument, plus had really strong liberal arts academics. Then they considered other factors - whether the teacher was easy to work with, whether they liked the sound of the teacher’s recordings (kid said you come out sounding like your teacher), school environment (NOT RURAL), etc. From this, they wound up with a list of only about 7 schools, wound up getting into a tippy-top EA that had strong ensembles but no performance majors, the only place they’d applied that didn’t have a school of music, although it was in a city with several conservatories and there was a dual program. By that time (largely due to pandemic having killed in-person performing ensembles), they were leaning more academic, and when the tippy-top took them, they decided to go there.

If your son wants strong instrumental performance, the first consideration is the teacher for his instrument. So he needs to start his list by considering which teachers he might like to study with. Oberlin or Bard or Lawrence might fit every other criteria for him, but if their instrumental performance teacher is not a match for him, then all the rest of it doesn’t matter.

He should now be asking for try-out lessons with the teacher at the schools he plans to visit. No reason to waste the travel to the school, just to look at an empty campus.


No question but that Williams is a reach for most everyone, but I would think for your son not out of reach. Williams puts a lot of weight behind accomplishments in the arts, particularly music and fine art. Performance opportunities are available to all students and about 25% of the student body “are actively involved in the musical life of the department.” Because of the breadth and depth of the program, they need to matriculate students who will populate the various ensembles, even if they don’t eventually major in music.

In addition, Williams prefers to admit students who consider its insular mountain village setting a plus. Whether it’s for winter sports, other outdoorsy activities or just access to and appreciation of the natural world, the applicant who seeks a rural environment (rather than just tolerating it) will stand out as a good fit with the prevailing campus culture. At small LACs this attention to fit is important, both by the applicant and the college.


I have known 2 kids who were tippy top (national contest top 10 types) musicians who chose Haverford. Both were involved with an orchestra in Philadelphia. This is a different approach as it requires both proximity to a major city and significant involvement (and a successful audition) with a non-school organization. Personally, I would not have wanted this but it seems to have been an elegant solution more than once for someone else!

Most of the NESCAC schools we looked at had a lot of music instruction/performance on campus but it definitely felt more like an EC. The really talented kids definitely had lots of opportunities to perform. Colby was one of these – our tour guide was a very accomplished cellist.

Definitely look at Bard, Oberlin, and Lawrence. All good for very serious musicians.

I would definitely recommend that your son think hard about what would be ideal for him in terms of instruction, type and quality of ensembles, performance opportunities, etc. as well as time commitment and objectives. Is this fun or does he want to have more of a pre-pro experience? There are a lot of places that can keep a talented hobbyist engaged. Far fewer can get them to the next level.


The son in this case is not sure if he wants a BM or BA or how he wants to be involved with music, so I think the Double Degree Dilemma essay can be helpful. On that thread there is also discussion of the path that your son took: a BA in a school that does not have a BM but excellent extracurricular music as well as courses.

Again, for a kid who does not want a BM, many of the schools suggested may not be the best fit if the best opportunities and teachers go to the BM students. There are many exceptions.

When @thumper1 mentioned a grad student from Eastman as a teacher, that is an example. Eastman students get faculty. I don’t know , myself, who teaches U or R students but just referring to that comment.

So we are still working on this, going to visit Williams and probably Princeton this summer (yes the crazy reaches). I am having a hard time figuring out the Maine LACs. Anyone have any thoughts on Bowdoin vs Bates? At this point he is looking at music not as a career but as a EC or possibly music ed.

My son went to Bowdoin. What do you want to know?

Going to pm you. Thanks!

I’d look at all 3 of the Maine schools. If you’re Interested in Bowdoin and Bates, Colby is likely a fit as well and, well, you’rein Maine already!.

There are lots of kids doing music of all kinds at Colby – classical, jazz, rock, serious to recreational, soloist, bands and orchestras.


sending you a message!

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Thank you! We have a trip to all three on the calendar for the fall, gotta see Maine when it is cold!


Rochester is cold and has a great music program at Eastman. Not an LAC though and setting is not really rural either.

Yes! That is a conservatory program though

So just looked at Haverford, defintiely worth a look, they have a world class person for his instrument.


May I ask what difference the conservatory program makes for your case as opposed to LACs? I am genuinely curious as my knowledge about conservatories is fairly limited.