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College Try

compiled by editors | October 2012

     Each year, the Annual Directory of Music Schools is one of the hardest projects we undertake. The process of collecting the information takes months with countless waves of emails, mailings, and phone calls to track down a missing school or verify a tuition number. These efforts are rewarding because we know how many students have used the directory to help pick a college or graduate program over the decades. In working on the current issue, we also had a few moments at the end to look back at past directories, and we were impressed by the advice provided by outstanding college teachers to help the next generation of great teachers and musicians navigate the admissions process. Here are some excellent comments from the past.
     “Many people change careers several times in the course of their lives; those college graduates who studied music in two-thirds of their classes are severely limited in comparison to traditional liberal arts students with two-thirds of their courses in other fields. Prospective students should not hastily dismiss the bachelor of arts, as opposed to the bachelor of music, degree because it is not an impediment if they later apply to a top graduate program.” (John Strauss, October 1995)
     “An often-overlooked issue is the level of the student body the high school senior will enter. Music students spend so much time together that they learn almost as much from one another as from the faculty. Most schools present an attractive image on paper, but it is important to visit campuses to check each out thoroughly, to hear the ensembles and meet faculty and students. We usually recommend at least two visits. Sometimes distance prohibits that, but before a student spends  four years at an institution, it is important to be sure which is the best choice.” (Don Moses and Mark Rabideau, October 1995)
     “Students should listen often to professional recordings of the pieces they will play at auditions, even while getting out of bed, while riding to school, before practice sessions, and before going to bed. Those recordings will give students an ideal to aim for beyond just playing correct notes and rhythms. Smart students record practice sessions at least twice a week before an audition. This way they will hear abrupt phrases, lapses in air support, and weak vibrato that may be ignored during practice sessions but which are painfully obvious on a recording.” (Kenneth Laudermilch, October 1998)
     “I look for students who are well-rounded, gifted, and healthy. The only way you can find out if applicants posses discipline and the ability to achieve is through recommendations, and we place a lot of weight on these. We also listen carefully to live and taped auditions. Although less-talented students may perform better on tape, in most instances, a live audition is best for demonstrating musical ability.” (David Shrader, October 1994)
     “We are aware that over the thousand years of music history, leading musicians have been as broadly based as J.S. Bach and Leonard Bernstein and as narrowly as Frederic Chopin and Nicolo Paganini. We look for instrumental and compositional accomplishments, though we believe that potential is of greatest importance in young people.” (Robert Freeman, October 1994)
     “Investigate carefully because you are investing in your life. Look for a place that has tradition, experience, a track record of successfully providing educational opportunities, and whose students have been successful in their careers.” (Steve Anderson, October 1995)