8. DePauw University School of Music – Greencastle, IN
The sixth-oldest collegiate music institution in the country, DePauw recently received a $15,000,000 gift funding a program dedicated to shaping the lives of modern musicians. Called the 21st Century Music Initiative, the program strives to train musicians to be avid entrepreneurs of their art in an age where business skills, social media savvy, and an understanding of the recording studio are essential, not optional, skills to have as a successful musician.
One of the features of the program is a record label that the school houses, known as DePauw University Recordings. This label provides an opportunity for students to get valuable experience working in state-of-the-art recording studios, which have been heavily revamped with the $15,000,000 gift.
Another hallmark of DePauw’s intrepid program is its collaboration with professional musicians outside of the school. In 2011, internationally renowned & loved cellist Yo-Yo Ma did a two-day residency at DePauw, which included concerts, discussions, and masterclasses with the students.
The school’s groups are exceptionally active in and out of DePauw – in just the last two years year, the School of Music’s ensembles have toured Mexico, London, Germany, and Austria, as well as various cities throughout the United States.
The facilities at the school are outstanding as well; the Green Center for the Performing Arts, which houses the School of Music, hosts three recital halls, one of which is the impressive 1,400 seat Kresge Auditorium.
Shenandoah University Conservatory of Music – Winchester, VA
Shenandoah could be considered either a university or a liberal arts college. It seems to be on the cusp of being either due to its enrollment being around 3,600 students, but I feel it is a very strong program so I wanted to include it here anyway.
Shenandoah’s Conservatory is widely regarded for its many programs. One of the most notable aspects of the conservatory is the wide breadth and scope of programs the school offers. With around 60 distinct degrees, the school offers everything from traditional Jazz and Classical performance to prestigious programs in Musical Theatre, Performing Arts Leadership & Management, Dance, and Music Production.
One of the more interesting initiatives at the school is known as the American Icons program. This is a program that aims to bring in famous, dare I say “iconic” musicians into the cultural life of Shenandoah with conversations and music.
Here is a link to an American Icons discussion with acclaimed jazz trumpet player Wynton Marsalis.
The facilities and resources at the school are excellent. With a recent acquisition of 96 Steinway pianos, the school has been, since 2015, one of the 13 conservatories in the entire world to be designated an All-Steinway School.
The school’s faculty is exceptionally impressive. The Chair of the Keyboard Division is none other than John O’Conor, a pianist of remarkable fame who has performed with the likes of the London Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Czech Philharmonic. He is considered not only one of the great pianists of our time, but also one of the great piano teachers of our time.
The average GPA of incoming students at the school is 3.4, making it an academically competitive option for students.