3. Juilliard School – New York, NY

Juilliard has the benefit of not only having one of the most distinguished names in classical music history, but also has an incredibly impressive list of alumni that have walked from its stages. From actor Robin Williams to trumpeter Miles Davis to cellist Yo-Yo Ma to clarinetist-turned-economist Alan Greenspan. Juilliard, it goes without saying, attracts only the most accomplished faculty in the entire world, including a conductor of a major orchestra in Alan Gilbert, a Pulitzer Prize winner in John Corigliano, and a leading french hornist in Erik Ralske, as well as world-beloved violinist Itzhak Perlman and even pianist Emmanuel Ax.

Students at Juilliard are regularly named prizewinners in all of the top competitions, including the ASCAP and BMI student composer awards, piano competitions like Van Cliburn, and even chamber music competitions like Fischoff. The students also have the benefit of living in a cultural epicenter of America, getting to network with myriads of people and musicians in and out of Juilliard. The advantage of living in New York City as a Juilliard student is phenomenal for those students who are able to capitalize it.

For graduate study, Juilliard could be the very best option in the country, along with Yale and the next two colleges on this list. The acceptance rate at Juilliard is a mere 8%, making it even more selective than Eastman, which accepts 13% of students. However, it is not as selective as the next college listed below…


2. Curtis Institute of Music – Philadelphia, PA

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Photo by Daderot Via WikiMedia Commons

There is no classical musician that has never heard the word “Curtis Institute of Music” in the same sentence as “the Juilliard School” – both schools are regularly compared against each other in the dog eat dog competitive world of classical music performance and education.

Curtis has been a hot school lately, having graduated in the last ten years the likes of international piano sensations Lang Lang and Yuja Wang. Other recent alumni have gone on to principal positions in the major orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta, among many others! The school has a tradition of graduating legendary talent, such as Leonard Bernstein, who left the institution with a master’s degree in conducting in the early 1940’s.

What sets Curtis above the rest, besides impeccable faculty and an exceptionally noted alumni history, is that it is completely free of charge, a tradition it has held for almost 85 years. This is a benefit not shared by its competitive counterpart, the Juilliard School, nor nearly any other music college in the nation, except for the Yale School of Music graduate program, the Colburn School in Los Angeles, and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. It is, indeed, the most selective music college in the entire world, with acceptance rates typically below 5%.


1. Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN)

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JacobsSchoolofMusic“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps the most impressive, diverse, and extraordinary music school in the entire world, the IU Jacobs School of Music offers unmatched quality of instruction to its large student body of approximately 1,600 music students. Considered to be one of the best schools in the nation for vocal performance, music composition, percussion performance, orchestral conducting, and even music librarianship, the IU Jacobs School of Music is widely known for staging an incredible six operatic productions every single school year. Most other colleges can only afford to stage two!

The institution also boasts an astounding thirteen choirs, seven symphonic orchestras, eight wind bands, a nationally lauded contemporary music ensemble, and well over 600 performances per year. Whether you are a budding undergraduate or an advanced doctoral student, you will never run out of top-level ensembles to perform with or write music for at this school.

With 1600 students, IU Jacobs School of Music hosts an impressive diversity of faculty, from legendary soprano Sylvia McNair to the hallowed pianists Andre Watts and Menahem Pressler. Joshua Bell is also listed as a lecturer on the website, though considering his substantial fame and international concertizing schedule, it is unclear how much time he actually spends at the school teaching. A number of other top musicians teach at Indiana as well.

Although it is not free to attend like Yale, Curtis, and Colburn, the Jacobs School of Music is not only much more affordable to musicians who are residents of Indiana, the school also doles out an unbelievable $5 million dollars per year in merit-based funds. Additionally, students at the entire Indiana University (including music and all other programs) are provided over $280 million each year in loans and federal funding. No student should have to say no to Indiana based on lack of finances.

The IU Jacobs School of Music, our #1 program in the entire nation, is a serious program breeding top-level talent that should be on every single prospective music student’s list.


Featured Image by JasonParis Via Flickr Creative Commons