McNally Smith College of Music (Saint Paul, MN)
Is McNally Smith a true hidden gem? For those looking into popular and contemporary music performance, writing, and production at other top schools like Berklee and USC, McNally Smith may just be among the best schools in the world for your talents.
Founded in 1985, the McNally Smith College of Music currently houses just a little bit more than 500 total students. The college is known for its small, intimate size, as well as its easy access to college studios and other facilities.
The faculty at McNally Smith has demonstrated a high level of credibility in their field – some have won Grammy awards, “Gold” RIAA certification; others have performed on Broadway and in prominent concert venues throughout the entire world. The teachers also have diverse backgrounds perfect for the typical contemporary musician’s educational needs – many are music business executives, successful songwriters, virtuoso performers, and more.
As far as I know, McNally Smith is the only school in the entire world that offers an accredited degree in hip-hop performance. Aspiring rap artists and R&B producers, look no further than this program.
Some of the notable alumni that have graduated from McNally Smith include the manager of Bon Iver, Kyle Frenette, as well as prominent live-looping guitarist and songwriter, Ari Herstand.
Located in Saint Paul, this school may be the best option in the midwest or beyond for those looking into contemporary & popular performance styles.
Bass School of Music, Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma City, OK)
The Bass School of Music has gradually come into more and more prominence over the last decade, particularly for the strength of its musical theatre and opera/voice programs, which are among the very best in the entire world. The school and its talented students regularly put on productions of many of the world’s most renowned operas and musicals, including, in recent years, La Boheme, West Side Story, The Magic Flute, Falstaff, Seussical, and very appropriately, Oklahoma!.
Many of the musical theatre alumni at the school have gone on to join companies on Broadway and in casts throughout the entire world. One of their most distinguished and most notable alumni is American actress, vocalist, and musical theatre artist Kristin Chenoweth.
Their students have become some of the most recognized in their industry. One of their students, at the time of this writing, is a finalist in the International Trumpet Guild solo competition, perhaps the most recognized classical trumpet competition worldwide. Another trumpet alumnus of the Bass School of Music is now the principal player in the Alabama Symphony.
The resources at the Bass School of Music are phenomenal as well – the school is an All-Steinway School, meaning that the school is stocked with some of the very best grand pianos in the entire world. The school also has a sponsorship with Conn-Selmer, a prominent manufacturer of “band” instruments such as clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, etc.
Known as being a hub of unique culture in the state of Oklahoma, the Bass School of Music has been awarded the ASCAP prize for “adventurous programming in contemporary music” for orchestra.
The school size is kept to a comfortable size, with a faculty to student ratio of 14:1, which is comparable to any of the major music conservatories in the world.
The Bass School of Music, its faculty, its students, and its alumni are sure to make even more waves in the field of music for many years to come.
All of the above are ten music schools that are true hidden gems, schools that are comparable and competitive to similar schools but perhaps not as frequently mentioned, for some reason or another.
Think I missed any other great “hidden gem” music schools? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured Image by Matthew Rutledge Via Flickr Creative Commons