There are so many incredible music programs to choose from in the country – at any top school, it nearly always seems like you could never, ever go wrong with the faculty and resources available that excellent institutions are often able to provide. But I must confess, I have always had one standout in my own heart above most of the rest – the New England Conservatory.
Sure, I have to admit, I had pre-college education there from 2005-2007; NEC was really my first glimpse into the higher world of music education. Certainly, I always have constant feelings of nostalgia anytime I enter the absurdly large doorway of Jordan Hall, glimpse into the creativity of the young composers during their Tuesday Night New Music concerts, or even while ambling their resonating halls, overhearing the unrelenting determination of a student violinist work to utter, outstanding perfection, one major scale – over and over again.
I must also admit, NEC always reminds me of my passed mother, who would take me there for lessons without exception every Wednesday night after working any given 11-hour day at the nearby Winchester Hospital during my own pre-college education.
This school has been an incredible learning experience decade after decade for students hailing from all over the globe, consistently producing top musicians in every single department; the level of talent and history is so mind-blowing one often feels quite a bit humbled just walking the same halls that graduated the likes of jazz legends Cecil Taylor and Don Byron, violist Roberto Diaz, percussionist Vic Firth, soprano Phyllis Curtin, just to name a few.
All of this and more compels me to give you five reasons why the New England Conservatory is truly an INCREDIBLE experience for any music student.
5. The Proximity and Relationship to the Boston Symphony Orchestra
The New England Conservatory is quite literally one block away from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, one of the foremost orchestras in the entire world. The BSO has a deep, enriching musical history, and has even been home to the premiere performances of many important staples of classical music, including Bartok’s Concerto For Orchestra back in the 1940s.
The relationship between NEC and BSO is symbiotic; many musicians of the BSO teach at NEC, while many NEC students attend concerts at the BSO and sometimes find their way into the orchestra themselves. Getting into any top orchestra like the BSO is exceptionally competitive, and no music student should ever reasonably expect that by going to NEC, he or she will have an easy time getting onto the BSO roster, but it does happen. Some notable New England Conservatory teachers (and by the way, when I say ‘notable teachers,’ it is never my intention to exclude anyone, but rather to highlight a few names for people to have a starting point – have been getting quite a few emails on that one!) that also play in the Boston Symphony include clarinetist Michael Wayne, violinist and BSO concertmaster Malcolm Lowe, and double bassist James Orleans.
4. It’s a Stellar Jazz Program
I am always WOWED by their jazz students – led by such notable musicians as saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, pianist Anthony Coleman, and jazz legend Fred Hersch, their students are among the very best young jazz musicians in the entire country.
There are so many great performance opportunities at the school and beyond; the culture of jazz and related styles like funk in Boston runs very deep (see Nephrok or Van Gordon Martin Band). NEC also hosts guest artists that remain as faculty, sometimes for the long term, such as Dave Holland, a jazz legend who is currently completing his second full year residency with the New England Conservatory. I currently live pretty close-by in Boston, I definitely plan on checking out some of their concerts soon.