8. University of Missouri at Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)

I ranked this school in the last few years as an excellent music school, and it is easy to see why.

Many music schools are known through the excellence of their faculty, and UMKC is no exception.

Perhaps the most impressive program at UMKC is its Music Composition program. Two names on the faculty, Chen Yi and Zhou Long, are among the most representative names Chinese composers who rose to prominence in the 90s and 2000s. Long won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in music, and Chen Yi was one of just two finalists in 2006.

Students of the composition program have won some of composition’s most prestigious awards, including the Guggenheim and Barlow prizes. Alumni of the program have gone onto professor positions at top universities worldwide.

Notably, UMKC’s conservatory also has one of the strongest dance programs in the country, having ties to the local Kansas City Ballet.

Speaking of best value schools, UMKC has launched a new initiative allowing students from other select states in the Midwest to receive discounted out-of-state tuition.


7. Temple University Boyer School of Music (Philadelphia, PA)

Temple represents an intriguing option for the musician desiring to attend a fine music school in one America’s great arts cities, Philadelphia.

The heart of the school begins with its close affiliation to the Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the top orchestras in the country.

For classical instrumentalists desiring to one day be placed in an orchestra, one cannot stress enough the importance of studying with actual top-tier orchestral musicians.

Some of the most regarded faculty in their classical performance program include Ricardo Morales, widely considered to be the “clarinetist’s choice of clarinetist.” His performance credits and rich orchestral experience are attractive to prospective students of the school.

Other great faculty include Elizabeth Hainen, one of the world’s most sought after harpists, Jennifer Montone, horn prodigy also on the faculty of Curtis and Juilliard, and Daniel Matsukawa, one of the top bassoonists.


6. SUNY Purchase (Harrison, NY)

SUNY Purchase Jazz musicians at Lincoln Center – photo by Kelly Campbell et al. via Wikimedia Commons

Located just 20 or so miles north of Manhattan, SUNY Purchase is a left-leaning university with some of New York’s finest programs.

Musicians who are “in-the-know” realize that SUNY Purchase has some of the best jazz musicians in the world on the faculty. These include Vic Juris, prominent New York City jazz guitarist who also teaches at NYU, Ralpha LaLama one of America’s leading jazz saxophonists, and Doug Munro, widely described as one of the foremost leaders of the NYC jazz scene.

For students who want to have a world-class jazz education taught by some of New York City’s greatest musicians for a fraction of the cost of a top private university or conservatory, the value does not get much better than SUNY Purchase.

Additionally, SUNY Purchase is home to one of the more intriguing programs in music schools, the Studio Composition program. This is a program for the student interested in having hands-on experience working in a live studio to produce their own original music.

What’s unique about the program is that it is kind of a hybrid between your traditional composition and traditional sound recording programs, blending the two genres into one much-needed program.

The traditional performance program at SUNY Purchase is outstanding; many excellent musicians choose SUNY Purchase over other NY schools because of outstanding value, a well-rounded education, and the opportunity to study with world-class faculty.