2. Cambridge, MA
Cambridge is, without question, a haven for music majors.
There are many great music schools and conservatories situated in or right next to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
For starters, the Berklee College of Music, located in nearby Boston, is one of the world’s most uniquely creative music schools. The school has unparalleled facilities for aspiring professional musicians, hosting 16 professional recording studios as well as a number of concert venues, practice rooms, and high-quality scenic facilities.
Cambridge itself is home to a number of great venues for music, including Club Passim, a folk music venue, the Middle East, a live music venue that has hosted acts streaming from multitudes of genre.
Nameless Coffeehouse, one of the most renowned small venues for songwriters, is also situated in Cambridge. Some of the most known names to come through, well, Nameless include songwriters Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Larkin, and Tracy Chapman.
Cambridge is situated right next to Boston, which is home to the New England Conservatory of Music, one of the nation’s oldest collegiate music schools. New England Conservatory has emerged in recent years as a haven for creativity, not only housing some of the most established faculty teaching in classical and jazz, but also contemporary improvisation.
The city of Boston is home to a number of acclaimed musical staples of America, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, considered one of the “Big Five” American orchestras along with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra.
Also located in Cambridge is the Longy School of Music of Bard College, a historic music school which has recently introduced The Orchestra Now, a training program for postgraduate musicians awarding a Master’s degree in Curatorial, Critical, and Performance Studies. The program is available to select orchestral musicians free of charge; it is certainly one of the few programs of its kind in the country.
Additionally, Boston, Cambridge, and the adjacent Somerville is home to a very large number of venues that music majors can find themselves performing or attending concerts in, including Great Scott, Brighton Music Hall, Wonder Bar, Toad, Wally’s Cafe, The Plough & Stars, The Sinclair, The Lizard Lounge, Middlesex Lounge, Paradise Rock Club, Ryles Jazz Club, and so many more.
Notable Music Programs In/Near Cambridge: New England Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Longy School of Music of Bard College, Boston University
1. Denton, TX
Finally, we have arrived at the number one college town for music majors in the US, Denton, Texas.
In the last decade, Denton’s music scene has been the subject of many arts and culture publications, including profiles in the New York Times, The Guardian, and the music publication Paste Magazine, which named Denton as the top music scene in the US in 2008.
Additionally, the University of North Texas is one of the most established musical institutions in the entire world. It’s rich tradition as a school for jazz, particularly for big-band music, is unparalleled. The 1600 music students in the school comprise some of the nation’s brightest young talent in jazz improvisation, classical performance, and contemporary classical composition.
It’s easy to see why there is so much love for Denton’s music scene, and why this is so great for music majors.
For starters, the city hosts the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, a 3-day event featuring seven stages, an unprecedented 2000+ artists, and over 200 booths featuring arts and crafts. Sponsored by the city of Denton as well as by various corporate partnerships, this festival attracts over 200,000 attendees every single year.
And the best part? Not only do music majors regularly participate in the performances, the festival itself is absolutely free, making it very attractive to even the most conservative of student budgets.
A counterpart to Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, Denton is home to 35 Denton, a music festival that has featured many of the world’s most prominent touring music acts, including The Flaming Lips, Neon Indian, The Mountain Goats, and Denton’s very own Brave Combo, a critically acclaimed polka & rock group.
For musicians into country music, the city is also home to the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo, a nine-day event of festivities and music attracting over 100,000+ people every year.
It seems that Denton is literally brimming with artists. According to the aforementioned Paste Magazine article in 2008, there are “100+ acts and only 62 square miles inside the city limits…more than one-and-a-half artists per square mile.”
That’s an amazing statistic.
So let’s talk about the University of North Texas itself…
This university is widely regarded as one of, if not the very finest, school for jazz music in the United States.
One of the school’s most cherished ensembles, the One O’Clock Lab Band, has been nominated for six Grammy awards.
When US News and World Report was still ranking collegiate jazz programs, it consistently ranked UNT in the top 10, although the last published ranking was in the 1990s.
There is never a shortage of opportunity at this school; with 1,600 students and an active culture of classical, jazz, and operatic music, the school hosts over 1,000+ concerts every single year. I know of very few schools that are able to showcase such a high number of performances each year.
Additionally, the school’s resources are phenomenal; its collection of recording and volumes combined exceeds 1.2 million. No music major can ever claim to even get through 2.5% of the music school’s catalogue during a four-year tenure as a student.
Denton may not look like New York City, or Austin, or even like a Woodstock; it’s actually a very humble looking prairie suburb with a large populace of students studying many majors.
It is, however, a singular college town replete with multifarious opportunities for music majors whose interests run the extreme gamut of taste.
So there you have the ten best college towns for music majors in the US in 2017.
Think I missed any important ones? Let me know in the comments section below.
Notable Colleges for Music In Denton, TX: University of North Texas College of Music
Featured Photo by Mahanga Via Wikimedia Commons