If you have a burning passion for music and wish to learn to create music and understand music at a much deeper level, then you have to attend a music conservatory. Conservatories refer to schools that are specially dedicated to training musicians. There are musicians that have been child prodigies but most successful professional musicians attended some kind of instruction in a music conservatory.
A good conservatory should equip you with the skills, equipment, exposure as well as the opportunities to grow fully as an artist. They shape your passion and talent for music into a usable skill that you can deploy in creating beautiful music. Conservatories don’t just impart music-making skills. They also prepare upcoming artists with the practical skills that they will need to pursue a successful and productive music career.
There are various top-end music schools across the world. Each of them offers you something unique. Depending on the line of music that you are planning to pursue, you can go through the programs offered by each of these conservatories to determine which of them will be ideally suited for your interests and ambitions.
Here is a look at some of the best music schools in the world that you can attend to advance your musical career.
#1 Juilliard School
Juilliard is probably the most prestigious music school in the U.S. The institution was founded in 1905 and is based in Lincoln Center in New York City. It imposes exacting requirements and curriculum and has produced some of the finest musicians and music professionals in the U.S. and around the world.
Juilliard’s music programs include a Bachelor of Music degree, a Master’s of Music as well as a Doctorate of Music Arts. There are also various other courses available that are different permutations of these as well as related courses such as dancing and acting.
Given its prestigious reputation, it has very competitive and stringent admission requirements which include even a live audition! Every year, the institution accepts only 5% of vocalists and 16% of instrumental musicians which offers a glimpse of how tough its admission requirements are and how competitive the admission process is.
The institution has just 650 students, 600 of whom are music students. The others take dramatic arts programs.
Juilliard is better suited for one interested in pursuing a career in the orchestra rather than in more contemporary music.
#2 Berklee College of Music
Founded in 1945, Berklee College of Music is based in Boston, MA. It trains artists that go on to pursue a career in the more contemporary music genres such as rock, pop as well as various other modern musical genres.
Some of its alumni have gone on to release chart-topping hits and dominate the pop culture scene. The college has built a reputation for churning out contemporary hitmakers and megastars.
#3 Royal College of Music
The Royal College of Music was founded in 1882 by the Prince of Wales at the time, Albert Edward. It is one of the best-known music conservatories in the world and is more in the traditional bent.
The institution has churned out some of the most gifted and most successful performers, composers and conductors. Its location in South Kensington right across the Royal Albert Hall provides just the perfect setting to hone your skills in music.
The Royal College of Music has a theater, concert hall, a library as well as a 100-seat recital hall. Students can work their way through flexible coursework as they go on to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree. The college also offers advanced degrees in music.
Other amenities include its modern studios, performance and rehearsal spaces as well as a library with more than 400,000 printed music items. Its impressive instrument collection includes 140 pianos along with 60 grand pianos. Students can even study and play historical instruments from as far back as the 15th century!
#4 Curtis Institute of Music
The Philadelphia-based Curtis Institute of Music is an elite music conservatory that has an acceptance rate of just 4%. Founded in 1924, this music school has produced some really accomplished musicians from around the world, especially composers.
The school typically has an enrolment of just 150 to 175 students and is highly regarded in the opera world. All students at the institution get a full-tuition scholarship. However, students must cater to their own accommodation.
Given the tough entry requirements and the tiny admission quota, applicants must demonstrate unique talent and capabilities to be selected for a program at this elite institution.
Some of the courses offered at the institution include an opera program, symphony orchestra as well as string quartet. The Curtis Institute of Music also has select programs on composition, conducting, organ, guitar, and piano. Some of its notable alumni are the composer Leonard Bernstein, violinist Jascha Brodsky and the pianist Lang Lang.
#5 New England Conservatory of Music
This is another major music conservatory that is based in Boston. The New England Conservatory of Music is one of the largest of its kind that is found within a major urban setting. Its emphasis is mainly on training up and coming musicians to refine their skills in strung, brass and woodwind instruments.
The school has produced some fine talent over the years. Close to 50% of the Boston Symphony Orchestra has some connections to the New England Conservatory of Music. The music school is also situated in a Boston setting that has a rich musical heritage including a roiling musical community with lots of performance ensembles and orchestras.
With roughly 30% of applicants being admitted every year, the admission is moderately competitive and not as brutal as that of Juilliard or Curtis Institute of Music. Popular programs at the Conservatory include jazz, composition, and strings.
Recently, the Conservatory also introduced the forward-looking program of Entrepreneurial Musicianship aimed at equipping students with the skills to pursue successful careers in the industry.
#6 Vienna University of Music and Performance
For more than a century, Vienna has always been known as the world’s capital of Classical music. The Waltzes and operettas have their origins in this city. The University of Music and Performance Arts is one of the biggest performing arts institutions in the world.
The institution has 3,000 students studying in 105-degree programs as well as 68 supplementary programs spread over 24 departments.
At the university, students have an opportunity to pursue a vast spectrum of musical careers ranging from composition to church music, keyboard instruments, conducting and ethnomusicology among others.
The university also offers other performing arts programs in film, digital art and directing as well as acting. To be accepted into the institution, the applicant must be proficient in both German and English.
#7 Mannes College
Mannes College is another New York music institution. It was founded in 1916 and became a part of The New School for Music consortium in 1989. Over the years, it has become one of the most coveted music conservatories for serious-minded music students.
The Mannes College is situated in Greenwich Village and has a student population of about 350. It is one of the smallest music conservatories in the U.S.
The college offers undergraduate and graduates degree programs. These are offered in various departments such as composition, classical music performance and jazz among others. Its faculty is made up of some of the most respected composers including some of the present and past members of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.
#8 Boston Conservatory
This is another Boston conservatory on our list. It’s an old institution having been founded in 1867. It offers various music and fine arts degree programs including Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Music, Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music. The Boston Conservatory also has artist diplomas as well as certificates in musical theater, music and music education.
The Boston conservatory holds the distinction as one of the handfuls of music conservatories that provide instruction in all the main instruments such as the harp, collaborative piano, vocal pedagogy, and marimba.
Admission is moderately competitive. The institution admits 40% of applicants and has an impressive annual retention rate of 85%.
Student housing is available and is a requirement for freshmen. Students also share gyms, campus restaurants and cafeterias with the Northeastern University that is situated nearby.
#9 The Royal Academy of Music
Founded in 1822, the Royal Academy of Music is one of the oldest and also one of the most prestigious music conservatories in the world. The music institution accepts students from across the world.
The institution offers diverse courses across its various departments that include academic studies, brass, accordion, harp, guitar, choral conducting, jazz, historical performance, conducting, composition, musical theatre, piano, organ, piano accompaniment, woodwind, vocal, strings, the Royal Academy Opera, Timpani and Percussion, strings and research programs.
The RAM offers various undergraduate programs such as Bachelor of Music (BMus) and one-year programs that include a GAP year, Exchange, Study Abroad and Organ Foundation. Additionally, the institution has three postgraduate degree programs:-
- Master of Arts in Performance or Composition
- Master of Arts in Musical Theater
- Master of Music in Performance or Composition
The Royal Academy of Music offers a number of postgraduate diplomas in Performance, Opera, Creative Musical Leadership and a Professional Diploma. There is also a Doctoral degree in performance practice or composition.
#10 Jacobs School of Music
Indiana University Bloomington
The Jacobs School of Music is a music conservatory that was established in 1921 and is part of Indiana University Bloomington. This is the biggest accredited music school in the U.S.
Admission requirements are stringent and only 25% of undergraduate applicants make the cut. The music conservatory admits 200 students every year. Students at the Jacobs School of Music participate in at least an ensemble every semester. There is a diverse choice of ensembles to pick from ranging from eight bands to seven orchestra or 13 choirs.
The music school offers a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, a Master of Arts as well as a Doctorate of Music degree among other degree programs.
It is a prestigious institution that usually ranks among the best music schools in the U.S. The school has a 180+ strong faculty many of whose members are top global performers.
#11 Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Based in Glasgow, Scotland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a world-leading conservatory of music drama, dance, film, and production. The institution is small but hosts more than 1,000 students. Admission requirements are not as strident as that of the top other music schools reviewed above.
It’s one of the busiest performing arts venues in Scotland and hosts over 500 performances annually in music, drama, opera, and dance.
The RCS offers numerous undergraduate degree programs including BA Modern Ballet, BA Acting, BA Musical Theater, BA Acting and BA (Hons) Contemporary Performance Practice. The institution also offers a number of postgraduate degree programs including Doctor of Performing Arts, MA Creative Producing, and MMUs/MA among many others.
This list is not conclusive but it provides a glimpse into 11 of the best music institutions in the world where you can hone your music-making skills. The list also provides you with an overview of the undergraduate and postgraduate programs that are available to you should you decide to pursue a career in music.
Even if you decide to choose an institution that is not listed above, this information will come in handy when it comes to selecting the best degree to opt for in your preferred institution.
There are key factors that you will have to keep in mind when selecting a music school. These include the cost of tuition, housing or accommodation and the cost of living if you will be an international student. As an international student, you must also factor in things such as visa requirements.
Take time to go through the respective institutions’ websites so as to understand the admission requirements before submitting your application. When applying, you want to avoid wasting your precious time sending applications to conservatories that are unlikely to consider your application for one reason or another.
Read through the course requirements in order to boost your chances of success during application.