Vocal Performance - Decision Time

<p>My "D" is a high school senior and a soprano who has been accepted into Wesminster, Boston Conservatory and Hartt, so far. She is still awaiting the decisions from Purchase Conservatory and Hofstra. Which of these schools offers the best vocal performance training and has the best overall reputation? I ask about reputation since I am sure that grad school is in her future and where you were trained and by whom, must play into grad school decisions. </p>

<p>Also, does anyone have any advice on selecting the right teacher and can perhaps recommend a teacher from the schools listed?</p>

<p>You all are doing a great service to those nervous parents who only want the best for their sons and daughters, and I thank you!</p>

<p>BoCo BoCo BoCo BoCo and...dare I say it again...BoCo!!! lol. If she got in there there's not even a question of where she should go. That is without a doubt if not THE best institution in the US for voice one of the best :). KUDOS to your daughter. She must be one of the most talented :)</p>

<p>Does she know which teachers she would be with? Has she tried a sample lesson with each? This is the critical factor. DD did not make the final decision until she had taken sample lessons with all 3 top contenders. Then the one that had been third immediately popped to top. It turned out to be a perfect match for her. Use the decisions month to get the lessons if you have not done so yet. Its not just the school - its the teacher. When you go to grad you audition again. And then it's the audition, not the school's rep that gets you to the next step.</p>

<p>Agree completely with Singersmom - she has to go there and take lessons or observe lessons, at the least. Observe the choral rehearsals, observe theory classes, etc. No offense Jeremy, but there are just as many who would put BoCo on the "do not go to" as on the "must go to" list and that is simply because the teacher is what matters, not the school. The same can be said of every school in the country. I think there must be depth in the general type of teacher you want. My D is a soprano and, right or wrong, and for a variety of reasons, she wants to study with a soprano. So we look for depth in the soprano faculty. Westminster has that. I don't know about BoCo, but it will be an entirely different experience from WCC because of the grad program. Make sure you know what that means for an undergrad with regard to performance opps and teacher choice. For WCC, she has to decide whether she wants an intense choral program or not. It is added pressure, added travel, and will impact her training. Only she can decide if that impact is a negative or positive. WCC's campus either appeals to people or scares them off - is it good to have non-soundproof practice rooms in the dorm? Is it okay that the operas will be staged in the high school auditorium across the street? My D has talked to kids who have no issue with those things and she has talked to kids who didn't apply there because of them. Just don't be surprised by them. The bottom line is that, it is undergrad, and if she wants to perform, she will go to graduate school and the key to a good undergraduate experience is the teacher, so get to know those teachers.</p>

<p>ray198, welcome and congrats to you and d. My son is an instrumental Hartt grad. I'd be able to answer any general school info and area questions, but I'll leave specific program/instructor comments to the vocal experts.</p>

<p>Congratulations on your D's acceptances! 'Tis a wonderful but vexing problem to have to choose from so many fine schools.</p>

<p>Like Violadad, my S is a graduate of Hartt. He is not a vocalist and I know next to nothing about the school's vocal program and its reputation. I did, however, attend an opera performance when S played in the pit, and it was memorable to say the least. Puccini's Suor Angelica was the highlight of the evening. The vocalists were outstanding. Members of the audience were openly weeping - even my 13-year-old S was blinking back tears. I still get chills...</p>

<p>Next was a hysterical take on Gianni Schicchi, done a la The Sopranos. Nicely done, and a good comedic antidote to the heart-rending performances in Angelica. All of the performers seemed of very high caliber.</p>

<p>Sets and lighting were top notch; Millard Auditorium shows superscript above the stage (which younger S appreciated). And of course the pit orchestra was excellent, but that assessment is decidedly subjective. ; )</p>

<p>All of you are wonderful for taking the time to reply to my inquiry! You have all raised some excellent points. I have to run but I will give some thought to your input and I am am sure I will have more questions later tonight. </p>

<p>I wish I had connected with this board a year ago! School guidance has been somewhat lacking, to say the least!</p>

<p>Hi Ray, Welcome! I would say that for any musician, a connection between the student and the teacher is important...as it is for any instrumentalist (I view the voice as an instrument). Did your daughter have lessons with any of the faculty at any of the places where she has been accepted or auditioned? There are some folks with outstanding reputations who click with some students and don't "click" with others. In my opinion, it does no good to study with a teacher with an outstanding reputation if the student and that teacher can't form a working relationship.</p>

<p>Re: which school has the "best reputation", I'm also not a vocal person, and even if I were, I probably wouldn't be able to make a definitive comment because the individual teacher is so important. DS, for example, goes to a good conservatory, but not the top conservatory. His private teacher, however, is top notch. Re: BoCo...I have heard mixed reviews as well...great reviews from some and less than stellar from others. And as Cartera says, that could be said for many programs. If it's the right place for your daughter than it's a great choice.</p>

<p>After acceptance, my son narrowed his choices to two schools and went back to visit...and took lessons again and had some significant interactions with the school for a day. Perhaps something like this can be arranged for your daughter during April.</p>

<p>I to say BoCo...just get a great teacher.</p>

<p>To jeremybeach and cvonhaps;</p>

<p>I appreciate your votes for Boco. It is high on the list but cost is a big factor. </p>

<p>Anyone have any idea how much of a Merit Scolarship they might possibly offer or any advice on teachers?</p>

<p>I agree with what has been said, but I don't know if you received the DVD for vocal performance majors at Hartt - but, in my opinion, and this isn't to offend anyone who is a fan of Hartt, because I may end up going there myself, but the vocal caliber of the students on the DVD were not up to par with those I have seen at BoCo and Westminster. That is my own personal opinion and is completely subjective. Hartt is currently my back up after I hear from NYU. It is a great school and a great program, but if i had applyed to BoCo or Westminister, I would choose those over Hartt.
Good luck with your decision, and I would say the best thing you can do is to go visit. Musician wise, it's best to have a voice lesson with a teacher at each, but as a college student, it's best to go and simply get a feel for the place. You're spending four years of your life there. If you can find a balance of a teacher you like and a place you feel comfortable in - there is your decision.</p>

<p>ray - Westminster has a preview day tomorrow - is your D going to that? I don't know how the BoCo scholarships compare to WCC, but my guess would be that BoCo would have more money to give generally. Of course, the sopranos are not always on the receiving end of that generosity, depending on how bumper the crop is.</p>

<p>Thanks catera45.</p>

<p>Yes, my D is going to Westminster tomorrow. We were there for auditions but did not have time to take the tour. This will be good opportunity to get a better feel for the campus. One thing that concerned us is the practice rooms in the dorm. You could hear everyone at once. Could be a little distracting and I wonder how loud it is in the dorm rooms.</p>

<p>To All,</p>

<p>Thank you for all of your thoughtful insights. The biggest factor other than comfort, seems to be "the teacher". I can see your point and based upon this advice we are going to take a much closer look at the faculty. </p>

<p>We can certainly look at bio's and and guess who might be a fit, then try to set up some interviews / lessons prior to decision day. Any additional advice on "how to select the right voice teacher"?</p>

<p>Hi operasinger2000,</p>

<p>We did recieve the Hartt DVD in the mail. I have not seen it myself but you have certainly peaked my interest. Thanks for the very "sound" advice!</p>

<p>(Yeah, I know, my D tells me all the time that I have a corny sense of humor!) </p>

<p>Good luck to you also, your advice is wise and well grounded. I hope you get into the program you desire.</p>

<p>Ray - which audition day was your D at Westminster? We were there Feb 29th. She had already done a tour and taken a sample lesson in December so she is not going tomorrow. She is going to admitted student day at UNCG on Saturday. The positive with having the rehearsal rooms in the dorm is that they won't have to walk from them at night but I think ear plugs would be a necessity at other times. I think practice time ends at 11 pm.</p>

<p>Crera45, yes we were there on 2/29. Tomorow's visit is pivotal I am sure.</p>

<p>We probably saw you at some point. My D met some really nice kids there and I met some really nice parents.</p>

<p>OperaSinger2000, can you pin down in a little more specificity the differences you see between Westminster and Hartt? Son and I visited Hartt, and sat in on two lessons with the head of the voice department. We were turned off by the total emphasis on opera (this may not be an issue for others), but I really wasn't sure what to think of the students. It was fascinating to watch the lessons, however.</p>

<p>At Oberlin, son had a visit and lesson with the head of the voice department that went very well. However, the head of the department asked that son not attend the group studio later that day...Maybe it is hard to evaluate students in the process of their training?</p>

<p>Dear Juggling Mom,</p>

<p>Hartt's Bachelor of Music degree program in vocal performance is classically driven not opera driven. It is a comprehensive program designed for the student whose goal is to be a professional performer. What sets Hartt apart from other conservatories and music schools is its commitment to providing performance opportunities for its undergraduate vocal performance majors in each of three areas considered essential for the training of a well-rounded vocalist: recital singing in the Undergraduate Recital Series, choral singing in both a cappella choirs and major works with symphony orchestra, and opera singing in black box and main stage opera productions chosen specifically for the developing undergraduate vocalist. Hartt’s vocal performance major includes private voice lessons; coaching; vocal pedagogy; language and diction study in English, Italian, French, and German; stage movement; acting; and Hartt’s core music curriculum.</p>