When it comes to musical higher education, there are many conservatories that come to mind due to their reputation for producing some of the best and brightest in the arts. Some conservatories focus on classical music studies, while others prepare students for successful careers in popular music.
Here, we’ll explore some of the best music conservatories in the national and international spotlight and what makes each so special.
If asked to name one of the most prestigious music conservatories, most people would undoubtedly mention Juilliard. Juilliard School continues to make the list of top music conservatories in the US, and for good reason.
The Juilliard School was founded over a century ago. It has earned a reputation for rigorous student expectations that have produced musical legends such as Miles Davis and Yo Yo Ma.
Gaining admission to Juilliard is not easy, and a live audition is required to be considered. The school only admits about 5 percent of vocalists and roughly 16 percent of instrumental musicians.
Despite its fame, Juilliard only has 650 students and is considered small in comparison to other conservatories. This low number of students ensures that only the best musicians are granted admittance.
Cleveland Institute of Music
Another small conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music has consistently received high rankings on lists of top music schools. One of the distinguishing factors of the Cleveland Institute of Music is its cost.
Its tuition is lower than comparable schools, in part because the cost of living in Cleveland, Ohio, is significantly lower than many other locales. Enrolled students are required to live in on-campus housing for the duration of the five-year program.
As with other conservatories, admission is very competitive. Only about 30 percent of applicants are accepted. The reputation of the Cleveland Institute of Music is another draw for prospective students, and its strings and woodwind departments have received high praise.
The school also collaborates with the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, which gives students performance opportunities. Many graduates go on to join the Cleveland Orchestra and perform at nearby Severance Hall.
Oberlin Music Conservatory
Another Ohio conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory is located 40 miles to the southwest of Cleveland. Oberlin only offers an undergraduate program, yet interestingly, this reduces the amount of competition that is usually present at conservatories. When it comes to securing leading roles, undergraduates at Oberlin do not have to worry about competing with more experienced graduate students.
Oberlin Conservatory places a strong emphasis on individualism, and the small school of 600 students has an intimate feel. The school is also unique in that it is not affiliated with a major university but is not considered a standalone conservatory, either, as it is affiliated with a small liberal arts college.
Like other top conservatories, admission is very competitive due to small student numbers, so knowing what to expect during the audition process is key. All interested applicants must schedule an audition as part of the application process. Deadlines and dates for auditions can be found on the Oberlin Conservatory website.
The Royal Academy of Music
For students who are looking to study music abroad, one of the best options is London’s Royal Academy of Music. This is England’s oldest music conservatory, and it has been regarded as one of the best in the world since it was founded in 1822.
The school is relatively small, with a 2-to-1 student to faculty ratio. This ensures that each student receives the individualized attention and instruction they deserve.
Much like Julliard in the States, The Royal Academy of Music has produced some of the world’s most beloved musical acts, including Annie Lennox and Sir Elton John. Students receive unparalleled training in their craft.
Students are also exposed to a rich musical history through the conservatory’s museum collection. The collection features Stradivari instruments and original manuscripts by famous composers.
One unique thing about The Royal Academy is that instruction is available to children and goes up to the doctoral level. Students are treated to a variety of local, national, and international performance opportunities and get to perform at venues such as Royal Albert Hall and Kings Place.
Whether you wish to study music in the US or overseas, there are many options to consider. It’s important to thoroughly research the admission requirements for a variety of conservatories and connect with those who may be able to guide you in the audition process. Knowing what to expect at auditions and what level of talent is necessary to gain admission will help remove some barriers to entry into the best music schools in the world.