Top 10 Colleges for Aspiring Musicians

best music colleges

Thinking about pursuing a degree in the arts? There are a ton of colleges and universities throughout the US with outstanding music programs – but some certainly stand out as top of the line. If you’re serious about establishing a solid career path, the following ten schools deserve a closer look; each offers programs that will help you thrive in the music business:

1. Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)– Berklee is a world leader in music education. If you’re looking to pursue a career in jazz, pop, rock, or music business, Berklee is one of the best choices. Famous alumni include Branford Marsalis, John Mayer, Aimee Mann, and many other top names in music today. The school offers degree specializations in performance, music business, management, publicity, and production.

2. The Julliard School (Manhattan, NY)– Perhaps the most prestigious music school in the country, Julliard alumni have collectively won [as of 2012] more than 105 Grammy Awards, 62 Tony Awards, 47 Emmy Awards, 26 Bessie Awards, 24 Academy Awards, 16 Pulitzer Prizes, and 12 National Medals for the Arts. Julliard’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of education to musicians, dancers, and performers from around the world. It’s a difficult school to get into, but one that will open doors for the rest of your career. The school offers degrees in music, dance, and performance.

3. University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL) – Frost School of Music at UM offers over 54 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to meet virtually every musical interest. Whether you’re interested in performance, composition, education, music therapy, jazz studies or conducting, you can study it here. It’s one of the top schools in the country for composition. Grammy winner Esperanza Spaulding is one of the many famous alumni.

4. Eastman School (University of Rochester) (Rochester, NY) – In the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek “How to Get Into College” guide, Eastman was named the “hottest music school in America.” Eastman offers a legendary curriculum that prepares you for life in the music profession. Classical, jazz performance studies, and composition degrees are available, among others.

5. New England Conservatory of Music (Boston, MA) – The NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the US. They offer undergraduate and graduate programs taught by a world-class faculty, and programs in classical and jazz studies. The school also offers one of the few experimental music programs. Famous alumni include bassist Dave Holland, rock musician Bernie Worrell, and jazz performers Rachel Z and John Medeski.

6. Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA) – Curtis is unique in that it provides full academic scholarships to all students who are accepted. Admissions are strictly based on artistic promise, and it’s an extremely selective process. Students attending receive superb personal attention and access to a remarkable visiting artist program. Curtis is predominantly a classical music school, but they do offer programs in piano, guitar, composition, conducting, organ, and harpsichord.

7. Manhattan School of Music (Manhattan, NY) – What began as a small community school for music in 1917, the Manhattan School of Music has grown into one of the best music colleges in the nation. The school offers a range of undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs in jazz and classical studies, as well as composition. Famous alumni include Herbie Hancock, Harry Connick Jr., Max Roach, and George Manahan, music director of the New York City Opera.

8. University of North Texas College of Music (Denton, TX) – In 2012 the UNT Division of Jazz Studies had the most Downbeat Magazine Student Award winners of any music program in the country. UNT offers an extensive curriculum, including performance, instrumental studies, music and medicine, music history, and composition degrees. If you are interested in playing in large jazz ensembles, UNT is the place to be.

9. The New School (Manhattan, NY) – The New School is a legendary progressive university comprising several schools, including the Mannes College for classical music studies and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. The New School takes a mentor approach to education and features faculty who are internationally-recognized performers. Several undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs are available.

10. San Francisco Conservatory (San Francisco, CA) – Founded in 1917, SFC offers a full range of graduate and postgraduate degrees. It’s a diverse, multicultural environment featuring classical music instruction in all areas from composition through individual instrumental study. Students have gone on to perform in many of the top orchestras in the world.

If you’re serious about dedicating your life to the performing arts, these ten best music colleges in the country are worth exploring further. Visit their websites to learn more!

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