University of Redlands School of Music (Long Beach, CA)
The University of Redlands counts itself among other fine Southern California music programs, including Chapman, UCLA, USC, Pepperdine’s music program, LACM, CSU-Northridge, and more.
The University of Redlands does maintain a strong relationship with a regional orchestra appropriately known as the Redlands Symphony Orchestra. Students at University of Redlands have found themselves performing in this group as substitutes or even sectional players. Additionally, a number of faculty members perform regularly in this group.
Music Education is one of the most popular majors at this school, which is actually the trend throughout most music departments and programs in the country. Although students are awarded licensure in California upon graduation, reciprocity agreements ensure students can teach in a public, k-12 setting in any state.
Double-degree programs are also common here in music and an outside field, making this a strong choice for a student interested in both music and academics.
Chapman University Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music (Orange, CA)
Chapman is a music school on the rise, and will likely be a top-25 music school nationwide, if it isn’t already, within the next decade.
Perhaps its best known program is in voice. Although primarily a classical voice school, upperclassmen can take classes in jazz voice as well, giving students a solid foundation in the two most significant and difficult genres of music.
Another well-known program is in Piano Performance. Grace Fong, one of the younger professors at the school, has won some of the world’s most prestigious competitions, including Leeds in 2006 and the Bosendorfer International Competition in 2007.
Chapman as a whole is probably most well-known for its film school, the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Although not a music program, the presence of this institution does foster a unique collaboration between students in music and students in film.
University of California Los Angeles Herb Alpert School of Music (Los Angeles, CA)
Historically, UCLA has not normally been considered in the same company as some other tier-1 university music schools like Michigan, USC, and Northwestern.
However, this sentiment seems to be changing; with an increasing roster of world-renowned faculty, a new undergraduate jazz program known as “Global Jazz Studies,” and perhaps the most diverse musicology & ethnomusicology program in the country, UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music has a lot of good going for it.
What I like about UCLA, for some students, is its connection to a major university. Having spoken with over 2,000 parents of music students, I can confidently say that over 80% of them desire a school with both music and academics, and their children most of the time want to be in a major city.
UCLA is an especially good deal for in-state students, as the tuition is dramatically lower than comparably excellent music programs.
California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA)
CalArts is something of a pleasant anomaly in the world of music.
Niche interests are abundant at CalArts; besides standard fare such as performance and composition, CalArts is home to some of the following majors: Experimental Popular Music, African Music and Dance, Experimental Sound Practices, North Indian Music, and World Music Performance.
CalArts is also entirely an arts-based school; musicians go to school with filmmakers, ceramicists, dancers, actors, and more.
The melting pot of this creative environment results in genre-defying collaboration.
Additionally, CalArts has close ties to Disney, who are always in need of creative types in their productions. In fact, Walt Disney himself was on the faculty of the school when it first opened over 60 years ago.
CalArts is a smart choice for a student who does not want to pursue rigorous academics, but does like the idea of an arts-only institution; like other independent, non-university attached music programs on this list, CalArts does not require SATs for admission.