Perhaps the number one consideration for parents and students is finding a school that is going to be “the right-fit” school. What student is Vanderbilt the right-fit for in your opinion?
In my opinion, it is a motivated student.
It is a competitive program, but meant for a student willing to push themselves without being detrimental to the progress of others.
I wouldn’t call it the “cutthroat” type of competitiveness…
Vanderbilt is the right-fit for a student who is actively engaged in learning both musically and otherwise…
A student who brings a different background, or unique thought process that helps our campus continue to grow…
A student who is open to new experiences…
The biggest thing though?
Someone who is a great community member.
Blair and Vanderbilt have a strong sense of community. Yes, we are focused on the musical and academic experiences of a student, but, it is community that we feel is perhaps the biggest thing you will get out of an undergraduate experience.
Vanderbilt is interesting. It’s located in Nashville, which is one of the major music markets in the US. Would you say this is an advantage for your students?
It’s quite a huge advantage.
It is surprising how many performance opportunities there are for students in Nashville.
Sure, in LA and NYC, there are performance opportunities. But in those cities, because of how many classical musicians live there, it is more difficult to get performance opportunities of any significance.
Whereas in Nashville, it’s not uncommon for students to perform with the Nashville Symphony.
“Music Row” is right next to our campus, where all the major record label headquarters are, in addition to the Performing Rights Organizations ASCAP, BMI, SESAC.
Our students have gone on tour with Kanye West, Michael Buble, Taj Mahal & Keb Mo, and many others.
These are just a few of the experiences they get just because of the city we are in and the nature of the music industry in Nashville.
Lots of jazz opportunities, religious music opportunities…
Students can open themselves up to the opportunities of the city as well as those on our campus.
We find that many music students are able to piece together a career in Nashville after they graduate because of the sheer amount of work available in this music city.
Your school has created something interesting lately called the Blair Latin-American Initiatives and Resources. What is the fundamental idea behind this program and are you actively pushing for diversity?
Blair has historically done these types of collaborative programs so that our students can be involved in areas outside of the US with music-making opportunities.
The Royal School of Music program in London has been going on since 2007.
We also have a program that originally started off as a residency with the Berlin Philharmonic. We send students each summer to work with members of the Berlin Phil in Aix-en-Provence France.
This new program was born out of organic interest that many of our faculty have in Latin-American music.
We just recently hired a new trumpet professor, for example, who is very active in this genre of music. Our wind ensemble conductor leads summer programs in Latin America.
Both in Blair and in Vanderbilt, we strive for a diverse student body. We want students to succeed regardless of their background, and find that our student population learn off of each other’s backgrounds and experiences.
Our dean is wonderful at finding opportunities outside of a student’s normal on-campus experience, allowing these students to bring back something to our community that will help all of us to continue to grow.
Vanderbilt is an undergraduate-only music school. Why should a student consider attending an undergraduate-only school?
In some schools, students work primarily with graduate student instructors or teaching assistants in their first few years on campus. Our students however are fortunate to always work with faculty members from day one.
We don’t have graduate teaching assistants or student instructors…even non-music majors work with our music faculty!
There’s never a point in a music class, lesson, or ensemble in which a student doesn’t work with faculty.
ALL of the performance opportunities are just for undergraduates.
Our operas for instance…
At bigger schools, an undergraduate would probably never have a lead role in an opera.
But at Vanderbilt, ONLY undergraduates would get these opportunities.
We put on over 400 performances a year…
If students want to perform nearly every day, they can make that possible without having graduate students seize the larger opportunities.
Thomas…Jobs come and go. Deans come in and out. Students enroll and graduate. One day, when you are no longer Director of Admissions at Vanderbilt, be it in 5 years or 50 years, what would you like to have left behind?
Quite simply, it is this…
I want to Blair to continue to instantly be on students’ radars.
That Vanderbilt, now and in the future, is a school everyone should consider.
Getting the word out there about our amazing program, our amazing school, our amazing people in this unbelievably warm, close community…
All images used by permission of Thomas Crespo, director of admissions @ Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music