Emerson is not a music school per se, and in fact does not even have many majors in music.
However, one of its music programs is so great, it deserves to be on this list.
Definitely the most well-known music program at Emerson is Musical Theatre. Emerson’s musical theatre program, in a word, is selective, just as selective as nearly any other musical theatre program in the country.
Headed by Scott LaFeber, an accomplished musical theatre actor and pedagogue who has a way with bringing out the best potential in students, students at Emerson are among the most talented actors, dancers, and singers in the country.
For students interested in getting a taste of what musical theatre at Emerson might be like, the school does offer a summer program for high school students.
Emerson is unique in how ingratiated academics are into the curriculum; to graduate with a BFA in Musical Theatre, students have to acquire over 40% of their credits in academics. For the student desiring both an intensive musical theatre experience in combination with a strong academic program, Emerson fits the bill.
Certainly, Emerson is perhaps not the strongest choice for a student interested in a classical, jazz, or contemporary popular music performance degree. However, it is a top-notch school for musical theatre, which is why we include it here.
Northeastern does not have an attached music school, however it does have a robust music department offering one of the country’s top music business degree programs in the country.
What is particularly excellent about their music industry program is the co-op opportunities; all students at Northeastern, regardless of major, have to participate in an internship program at least once during their undergraduate degree.
Co-ops Northeastern has developed partnerships with include Live Nation, a premiere music promotion company, Glassnote Records, a record label featuring artists such as Grammy-award winners Phoenix as well as Mumford & sons, and Nettwerk, a music conglomerate in Boston.
The Music Industry program at Northeastern is particularly good if you are looking for a career in music production, promotion, marketing, management, booking, and related fields.
Longy School of Music of Bard College
One of the elder statesmen of music schools in the country, Longy was founded over 100 years ago. Today, the school serves just 300 students from 23 countries.
Longy’s program is most definitely on the graduate-heavy side – the majority of students are enrolled in a Master’s degree program.
Undergraduate students simultaneously do studies at Emerson College to round out their Bachelor’s degree requirements in academics and some music classes. This serves as a good, practical choice for students who wish to have both a conservatory and a college degree experience.
Several faculty members at Longy are among the most respected names in their instruments. I give particular credit to their woodwind faculty – artists such as clarinetist Jonathan Cohler, saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky, and tubist Kenneth Amis are widely regarded in their instruments.
Boston University School of Music
In the world of music, Boston University is perhaps best known for its summer program, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, widely regarded as the top summer program for classical musicians in the country.
However, the school is much larger than its summer offering; in 2015, I named BU a top hidden gem music school, and I stand by that designation.
Although in the same city as NEC and Boston Conservatory in Boston, BU is in considered equal company.
One offering BU has over independent conservatories is an extensive suite of academic courses and majors. Undergraduates in the school of music can double major in both music as well as academic offerings.
One teacher I spoke to told me one of his students has even triple-majored in music as well as two other subjects! Keep in mind that double majoring in music and an outside field will usually take 5 years to complete.
Boston University does lean heavily towards graduate students; approximately 2/3rds of all students at BU are graduate students.
The practice areas at BU are top notch, some of the most tech-advanced I have seen in music schools. Additionally, students can expect a newly constructed modern facility at BU’s School of Music in the near future.
Although I have worked with a number of professors at BU, I can say with certainty that Jim Demler in their voice program is among the best teachers I have ever worked with.