The Juilliard School has long been known as the best school for a music performance education, and the pinnacle of NY music performance education. Between its location (next to Lincoln Center) and reputation, it’s the place that many aspiring musicians dream about. However, it’s also expensive and incredibly difficult to get into. Juilliard may be host to some of the most famous music teachers ever, but many of them also have studios at other schools around the cities. Some of these schools may even have better programs for your needs and are far more affordable. Here are some other options where students can get amazing NY music experiences and educations:
Located uptown from Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music (MSM) offers Bachelor, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. They also offer one-year programs in the form of a Professional Studies Certificate or an Artist Diploma. MSM has programs in Voice, Instrumental Performance, Jazz, Composition, Accompanying, and Orchestra Performance, and was one of the first schools to offer a Master’s degree in Contemporary Performance. Faculty members come from the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, among many other famous institutions.
MSM is a small, private school, so without a scholarship, the cost can be pretty steep. Keep that in mind as you’re looking at your education options.
In many ways, Mannes offers a NY music education experience similar to that of MSM and Juilliard. It offers a conservatory education in music performance, with faculty members from world-class ensembles, and is also located in always-interesting/never-sleeping Manhattan. One thing it offers that most other NY music conservatories don’t, however, is a Bachelor of Science degree. The course load is the same as the Bachelor of Music degree, with an additional 30 credits in fields like humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and cognitive sciences. If you’re trying to keep your options open, appease worried parents, or simply have interests outside of just music, Mannes might be your solution to picking a NY music school.
Admission to CCNY tends to be easier then the conservatories we’ve talked about so far, and the tuition is far less. But that doesn’t make it a less prestigious school – you’ll still be working with amazing faculty members, in a fantastic Manhattan location.
CCNY offers BAs and BFAs in the same areas as the other schools previously mentioned, in addition to degrees in Musicology, Popular Music Studies, and Music Technology. The BA program even has a new and interesting Pop Studies track for students who are interested in becoming audio engineers or producers. In addition, CCNYs program offers performance opportunities in a variety of styles, including a Brazilian ensemble, rock ensemble, Klezmer band, and Latin band. It may be the perfect school for students who love music in a variety of forms, not just the traditional orchestra, jazz, and opera genres.
One of the SUNY (State University of New York) schools, Stony Brook offers a few things other schools on this list don’t. As a state school, it’s more affordable, and since it’s located in Long Island, it’s a great option for students who want access to the New York music scene without having to actually sleep in the city that never sleeps. The Long Island Rail Road connects Stony Brook directly to Penn Station on the Port Jefferson Line.
If you’re an undergrad, the program is a bit less serious than some students desire. While they have world-renowned faculty members (including the Emerson String Quartet and many other famous soloists and chamber musicians from NY to London and beyond), undergraduates need to get special permission from those teachers to study with them – and typically it’s only two or three students a year. The rest study with graduate students. Overall, this is a great school for students who have an interest in music studies, but don’t want to limit themselves; since Stony Brook is a university, the general education available is far more well-rounded than a conservatory, and you can even double major in other subjects.
For graduate students, Stony Brook offers amazing faculty and various performance opportunities, including orchestra, chamber, jazz band, and baroque ensembles, all under the guidance of leaders in those fields. Also, flexible scheduling allows many graduate students to obtain degrees while still teaching and or performing elsewhere and commuting in.
Also located in Long Island, Hofstra offers degrees (both Bachelor’s and Master’s) in Music Education and Wind Conducting, in addition to shorter programs for a Music Education Certificate and other non-degree programs in Music Education. In short, if you want to be only a train ride from NYC but would rather be on the teaching end of the equation as opposed to the performing/auditioning end, Hofstra could be a great place to start your education career, or to take your performance degree to the next level by pairing it with a Master’s in Education. Hofstra’s faculty is made up of many of the same familiar faces we see on faculty at the conservatories, as well as individuals well-published in the areas of music theory and history.
While The Juilliard School may be the best-known name, it’s not the only game in the NY music education scene. Choose the school that fits your needs best, and be prepared to make the most of your education!
Photo by Robert Blyth