Cello-friendly Colleges

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said: Aug 15, 2010
 26 posts

Hi! Do you guys know of any colleges that have an excellent cello studio and emphasize diverse applied music education— along the lines of preparing for session/studio work and helping them gain entry? One of my private high school students asked if I knew anything about schools like that, ones where the faculty aren’t ‘cut-throat-competitive classical elitists’ but instead people who encourage pursuing one’s own (marketable) mainstream musical interests. The ideal school would have a nice cello choir and also have a record of regularly sending out successful session musicians. I’m aware now is not the best time to go into music, but this has been his strong interest for years, he is a top-notch intuitive player, and will really put in the work; he plans to major in engineering as well ;-) . Thanks for any advice!

Connie Sunday said: Aug 16, 2010
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I’m sorry, but you need to tell him that his remark (”cut-throat-competitive classical elitists”) is offensive, inappropriate and inaccurate. And if he thinks he can find anywhere, in any academic area, where there are not some instances of cut-throat competition and elitism, think again.

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

said: Aug 16, 2010
 26 posts

He’s not bothered by cut-throat competition alone, but has some friends who have gone on to the major conservatories and found that the schools push a very specific idea of what a musician is: someone who plays or composes classical music in a traditional & uniform way. That’s the elitism he’s talking about— the attitude that the old way (or 20th/21st-Century way) is the best/only way, minimizing interaction with popular and folk music. Under such restrictions, the ability to stand out, even with great effort, is severely limited at the college level because you are (for the most part) either playing what has already been played OR you are playing something new that a small fraction of the public appreciates. This is why, I believe, a lot of music majors burn out at or leave conservatory; Juilliard has a graduation rate of 77%, whereas other competitive colleges have graduation rates of 95%+. In most other subject areas, at least the competition is accompanied by a sense of useful innovation and discovery. Ideally, in a college context, there is structured training AND ample room for outside-the-box creativity.

said: Aug 16, 2010
 26 posts

Correction: currently, Juilliard’s graduation rate is 81% and the others are still about where they were (overall graduation, not 4-year).

Connie Sunday said: Aug 16, 2010
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Well yes, of course; that’s what those kinds of schools are designed FOR. If he wants to do folk, jazz or other musics, then he should attend the schools which offer that, not characterize all music schools as elitist.

I graduated from an elitist school (Rice University) and then worked afterward for about a year as the graduate secretary in the economics department, to get money to go to graduate school. What I noticed is that the engineering students had the highest GPA and standardized test scores of all the departments in the university, so I would say that engineering is—and rightly so—the most elitist of all.

I’m just suggesting that he learn to be more diplomatic in his remarks. His problem, as I see it, is that the schools which offer folk, jazz and other non-classical music programs may not always offer an engineering degree. For example, there is a world class bluegrass/rock commercial music program not 20 minutes from here, but it is at South Plains Community College. Excellent program, but no engineering undergraduate BS offered. Probably no training in cello either, for that matter.

I think, IIRC, the Berklee School in NY State has a great non-classical program. And there are others. But such a program in a university with a strong engineering school? I guess that’s what you’re looking for. No need to make remarks (or be in the habit of making remarks) that offend people, along the way.

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

said: Aug 16, 2010
 26 posts

Thanks! Good points that I will share with him.

said: Aug 16, 2010
 89 posts

Berklee is in Boston. However, it does not have engineering.

There are a number of schools that offer engineering and music performance opportunities, although it’s a difficult double major to pull off. I’d suggest programs like Rochester/Eastman and Hopkins/Peabody but for your student’s lack of enthusiasm about traditional conservatories. (Which I did not find offensive, by the way.) :)

University of Michigan, U Wisconsin … any of the good engineering schools also may have music. I understand that MIT has an excellent music department. One approach might be to find a list of engineering schools and then weed out the ones that don’t offer musical opportunities.

I don’t know if either place offers engineering specifically, but both Oberlin and Bard have a reputation for strong academics plus strong music, and both offer double degrees.

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