7. University of Houston Moores School of Music (Houston, TX)
The Moores School of Music has a strong connection with one of the world’s leading orchestras, the Houston Symphony. In fact, numerous faculty members at the Moores School of Music jointly perform in the Houston Symphony, giving aspiring orchestral musicians the opportunity to study with professionals in their instrument.
Additionally, the presence of the nearby Houston Grand Opera – one of the nations’ most eminent arts organizations – and the Houston Ballet Orchestra supplement the music education of Moores’ students.
The Moores School of Music is among the south’s larger music schools with 600 students and about 80 faculty members. Although that number may sound small, that is actually about the same size as most independent conservatories in the country.
Outside of traditional performance options, the school has a unique degree in “Nonprofit Music Leadership.” This program is a partnership between the Moores School of Music and Houston’s College of Social Work. Courses in this unique degree program include Marketing, Management, and Public Relations.
6. Montclair State University John J. Cali School of Music (Montclair, NJ)
Montclair represents an interesting option for the aspiring music major.
It’s most well-known program is unequivocally musical theatre, which is actually a collaboration between the school’s department of theatre and their music program, known as the John J. Cali School of Music.
Montclair State is especially appealing in musical theatre for a few reasons. One is their track record; alumni are routinely finding themselves on Broadway, international tours, major regional theatres, and in other venues of employment, such as cruise lines and theme parks.
Additionally, although Montclair State is in New Jersey, it is right on the New York/New Jersey border and is a 25-minute drive to Manhattan, ensuring MT students have easy access to Broadway productions and even internships.
Their John J. Cali Music School is on the rise, bringing in new faculty to strengthen their musical offerings. The school brings in a number of notable musicians each year as in-residence musicians. One such artist currently in-residence is pianist Wu Han, named Musician of the Year in 2012 by Musical America.
5. University of Hartford Hartt School of Music (Hartford, CT)
Connecticut’s top undergraduate music program, the Hartt School of Music offers a standard fare of conservatory offerings – classical and jazz performance, composition, musical theatre, and music education.
The school boasts an impressive list of alumni. They include Grammy-nominated guitarist & pianist Tony MacAlpine as well as 2011 winner of The Voice Javier Colon. Notably, a former State Representative of Utah and current political commentator, Mia Love, also attended the Hartt School of Music.
Because of the school’s proximity to NYC, some of the school’s faculty here hold dual appointments with NYC music schools, including Manhattan School of Music and Mannes.
Hartt’s jazz program is particularly excellent, hosting a number of highly accomplished faculty. They include Javon Jackson, who came to prominence as a soloist with Art Blakey, and Nat Reeves, a double bassist who has performed with Kenny Garrett and Jackie McLean.
4. Columbia College (Chicago, IL)
Columbia College in Chicago – not to be confused with Columbia University in Manhattan – is another example of a small school doing big things in the world of music and academia.
One of Columbia’s signature programs is their Contemporary Urban and Popular Music degree. In this program, students can study contemporary music performance; it is among the few schools in the country offering such a major.
Another intriguing option is their Master’s in Film Scoring – one of the best film scoring programs in the country, Columbia College Chicago’s program is unique in its capstone project. At the end of the Master’s degree, for 5 weeks students get to be the intern for a professional film composer in Los Angeles.
Additionally, MFA students will get access to a live orchestra to score their music, enhancing their portfolio for showcase outside of academia.
Other strong programs include Music Technology and Music Production.
What we like about Columbia is their dedication to the arts – in music, film, and the visual arts, Columbia College has allocated tremendous resources to growing their arts programs. The environment here is that of a small school with a strong focus in the arts throughout a large majority of the student body.