6. University of Miami Frost School of Music – Miami, FL
One of the top schools in the world in the world for popular music performance, the Miami Frost School of Music is regularly cited as a premiere program in both jazz performance and for studio music, which is essentially commercial performance. The school regularly produces musicians that become household names in the realms of popular and contemporary music.
Some of the incredible alumni that have studied at the Frost School of Music include internationally known guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Mark Egan, who regularly performs with the Pat Metheny Group, popular musician Ben Folds, and even jazz musician Bruce Hornsby.
5. University of Southern California Thornton School of Music – Los Angeles, CA
Along with the University of North Texas, USC is one of the oldest and most prominent jazz departments in the entire world, consistently ranked in the top five programs along with UNT, Berklee, NEC, and Western Michigan University. Alumni of this program include Bill Watrous, widely regarded as one of the five greatest jazz trombonists of all time, as well as Steve Erskine, a jazz drummer who has performed with Steely Dan and Weather Report. Like the Los Angeles College of Music, students are given the tremendous benefit of thriving within the contemporary jazz music scene of Los Angeles.
In addition to the jazz program, USC is also one of the finest schools for popular music performance: in fact, they have an entire popular music degree-granting track for its students. Even Rolling Stone Magazine claims that USC is a “cutting-edge” school teaching students the arts of folk, country, pop, and R&B styles. As previously stated, the three hot spots for popular music in America are Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles – USC is among the finest colleges not only for its outstanding faculty and unique courses, but also for its location.
4. The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music – New York, NY
An interesting and attractive aspect of the faculty at the New School is that every single teacher is also an active professional New York City musician. The teachers here have all of the connections an aspiring young jazz musician could ever wish to have, since the faculty at the New School combined is virtually in touch with every single important jazz musician in New York City and beyond. Faculty include Ahmed Abdullah, who is a member of Sun Ra’s band, as well as jazz vocalist Janet Lawson, who has performed with the likes of Duke Ellington and Rufus Reid.