Top 5 Best Music Schools To Jumpstart Your Music Career

If you want nothing less than the best education for a budding musician like you, then you might want to take a look at these schools. Year after year, these institutions appear in lists for the best music schools in the US, and rightly so; they have produced some of the greatest names in the industry, and are prestigious in their own right.

However, first things first: do you plan to focus strictly on music, or are you thinking of getting another degree on the side? Take note that the schools on this list are conservatories, which means that students who go to these schools live and breathe music, and are not just merely thinking of a music degree.

If music is a minor consideration, then there are also great schools that are equally prestigious with excellent music departments that you can flourish in. But if you plan to concentrate on music and nothing else, then this list is for you.


best music schools in the US


1. Juilliard School, New York NY


No best music schools list will ever be complete without Juilliard. Known for accepting only the best of the best, the school lives up to its reputation with an admission rate of only 7.3% to rival those of the Ivy Leagues.


But the competitiveness doesn’t end with the acceptance letter. The school has incredibly high expectations and very rigid (read: high stress) requirements. The impressive list of faculty includes Pulitzer Prize, Grammy and Academy Award winners.


Tuition and fees, which does not include room and board, are $36,920 yearly. Financial aid for students include scholarships, grants, loans and work opportunities. The music majors are highly specialized and you can choose your preferred instrument and other studies like historical performance, collaborative piano, orchestral conducting, jazz studies and voice/opera.


Its most notable alumni include Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Barry Manilow, Nina Simone, John Williams and Itzhak Perlman.



2. Berklee College of Music, Boston MA


With contemporary music as its focus, Berklee was named the best music school in the industry by The Hollywood Reporter. Its justification: Berklee grads are working everywhere in LA (winning Grammys and Oscars too).


The school was founded in 1945 by an MIT engineer and has programs in hip hop, jazz, blues, song writing, and music production to name a few. If music plus technology appeals to you, Berklee is your best bet.


Its yearly tuition and fees are $37,586 and the acceptance rate is 19.2%. The school is also pretty big, with an undergraduate enrollment of 4,447. Types of financial aid in the institution include veteran’s benefits, outside scholarships, private loans, state awards, federal aid and institutional funds. Berklee’s impressive alumni list include Paula Cole, Melissa Etheridge, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, John Mayer, Chris Opperman, Howard Shore and Alan Silvestri.



3. Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia PA


Curtis, one of the best music schools in the country, has the most competitive admission process. Its acceptance rate is only 6.8%, which is even lower than Juilliard’s. However, once accepted, tuition will be the least of your concerns. The school advocates an all-scholarship policy, with all of its students availing of merit-based tuition scholarships regardless of financial standing.


Its undergraduate student enrollment is small at 125, but the schools’ impact on the industry is huge: almost every notable American symphony is chaired by a Curtis alumni. Also, the school’s ties with the Philadelphia Orchestra is close and lengthy.


Curtis’ programs of study include woodwinds, piano, strings, harp, organ, guitar, brass, conducting, composition, timpani and percussion, string quartet program and vocal studies. Among its notable alumni: Leonard Bernstein, Michael Stern, Alan Gilbert, David Hayes and Paavo Järvi.



4. Manhattan School of Music, New York NY


MSM’s impressive faculty members hail from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, New York City Opera and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (just to name a few).


The school’s tuition and fees are $35,140 per year and its acceptance rate is 38%, considerably better compared to other schools in this list. Classical majors are extensive in MSM, specifically in instruments, composition and voice. The school also offers jazz majors (like French horn, violin and composition) and the Pinchas Zuckerman Performance Program which includes the violin and viola.


Types of financial aid include music scholarships, awards, grants, federal and alternative loans, work-study programs and Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for New York residents. Most famous alumni include Harry Connick Jr., Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Dave Grusin.



5. New England Conservatory of Music, Boston MA


The only music school in the country that was named a National Historic Landmark, NEC is also the oldest independent music school.


The student to faculty ratio is also pretty impressive at 5:1 and tuition and fees are $39,955 yearly. The institution offers majors in strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano, vocal performance, jazz studies, contemporary improvisation and composition. Students can also pursue double-degree programs with Harvard and Tufts while attending NEC.

Financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, loans, work-study, and grants which may be institutional, federal, state or private. NEC’s most famous alumni include Sean Callery, Regina Carter, Cecil Taylor, Coretta Scott King, Walter Pidgeon, Rita Johnson and Mildred Miller.


Any institution in this best music schools list will welcome your talent, dedication and ambition to succeed. Take the first step in making your music career a reality by applying to any of these prestigious schools today.

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