Looking to Pursue a Classical Music Degree? Here Are 5 Top Schools to Explore

Looking to Pursue a Classical Music Degree? Here Are 5 Top Schools to Explore

Melissa W.

Beethoven, and Mozart, and Bach, oh my! Classical music is an elegant, timeless, and serious form of music, loved across the world. It’s a career that is incredibly hard to break into, with many musicians deeming it as an absolute “dream career” and up there with hitting the lottery. Think you have what it takes? Here’s a look at 5 of the top schools in the US for classical music training:

The Juilliard School -- New York, NY

Established in 1905, The Juilliard School is widely known as the “creme-de-la-creme” of music and performing arts education. Broken into four areas (Dance, Drama, Music, On Stage & Beyond), Juilliard offers education ranging from performance opportunities to doctorate programs. 

From the school: “The Juilliard School is a world leader in performing arts education. The school’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of artistic education for gifted musicians, dancers, and actors from around the world so that they may achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens.”

Notable Juilliard grads include: Jessica Chastain, Adam Driver, Phillippa Soo, Viola Davis

New England Conservatory of Music -- Boston, MA

Founded in 1867, New England Conservatory is a private, not-for-profit institution offering educational programs from preparatory through doctoral level. Programs of study include music history/musicology, music theory, conducting, composition, and professional chamber music. NEC also offers studies in instruments including brass, piano/collaborative piano, contemporary improvisation, Jazz, percussion, strings, woodwinds, and voice/Opera. 

From the school: “New England Conservatory educates and trains musicians of all ages from around the world, drawing on the talent and deep reservoir of experience of our distinguished faculty. We are dedicated to inculcating the highest standards of excellence and nurturing individual artistic sensibility and creative growth. Understanding that music is one of the transcendent expressions of human civilization, NEC aspires to ensure it has a central place in contemporary society.”

Notable New England Conservatory of Music grads include: Coretta Scott King, Cecil Taylor, Sarah Caldwell

Manhattan School of Music -- New York, NY

Founded in 1917, Manhattan School of Music offers programs for ages 5-18 in a pre-college setting up to doctoral and artist’s diplomas. If you’re looking to immerse yourself into performing arts, this may be your school! MSM puts on more than 700 performances each year ranging from specific recitals to fully-staged operas.

From the school: “A premier international conservatory, MSM inspires and empowers highly talented individuals to realize their potential. We take full advantage of New York’s abundant learning and performance opportunities, preparing our students to be accomplished and passionate performers, composers and teachers, and imaginative, effective contributors to the arts and society.”

Notable Manhattan School of Music grads include: Kate Aldrich, Anton Coppola, Harry Connick, Jr.

Curtis Institute of Music -- Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 1924, Curtis Institute of Music strives to accept students for merit, offering a tuition-free scholarship policy for aspiring student musicians based solely on their talents and promise to the industry. No student is turned away due to financial need, which is groundbreaking in higher education. Programs offered at CIM include professional studies certificates up to Master of Music in Opera. 

From the school: “Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings and programs that bring arts access and education to the community. This real-world training allows these extraordinary young musicians to join the front rank of performers, composers, conductors, and musical leaders, making a profound impact on music onstage and in their communities.”

Notable Curtis Institute of Music grads include: Leonard Bernstein, Jennifer Higdon, George, Szell

Cleveland Institute of Music -- Cleveland, OH

Founded in 1920 by a small group of investors dreaming of bringing a music conservatory to Ohio, Cleveland Institute of Music is one of only seven conservatories in the US -- a school that is very focused on the musical craft and less on extracurriculars that other colleges tend to offer students. A unique part about CIM is that although they are a strict conservatory, they partner with another college to give students the opportunity to pursue additional degrees/dual degrees unrelated to music. 

From the School:CIM students benefit from access to world-renowned visiting artists and conductors, intensive study with CIM’s stellar faculty and the rich curriculum offered by CIM’s partner Case Western Reserve University. CIM’s graduates command the most celebrated and revered stages in the world as soloists, chamber musicians and ensemble members; compose award-winning repertoire; and are sought-after teaching artists, administrators and thought leaders.”

Notable Cleveland Institute of Music grads include: Rita Abrams, Jim Hall, Peter Seymour

Are you currently enrolled in a professional music program or conservatory? Let us know in the comments!


Cover photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash

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