A career in music can take a hundred different directions. Some people start young, some start at a more seasoned age. Perhaps the move into the arts began as only an extracurricular activity and never grew to any strong intensity, that is, until some brilliant a-ha moment of discovery. Still, the barriers of professional entry can be steep to climb. They are often tinged with strokes of luck, a strong network of contacts, and a healthy level of that cliched statement of, “being in the right place at the right time.” All that said, there is one path that appears far more ordered and structured, the path of becoming a student at a top music school! The journey can bring together your budding talent as much as help you garner a wide range of insiders who know you and know the industry. It’s something you might not discover on your own. Have you ever considered attending a top music school? You will be stretched by veteran teachers and learn the art of performance. We offer 20 of the top music schools around the world to give you a head start in your hunting for a perfect fit.
UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
Location: Los Angeles, California
Esteeming all musical traditions as vital cultural expressions of our evolving global society, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music cultivates models for musical studies that integrate exemplary scholarship and practices, and engage through music with diverse communities on campus, throughout Los Angeles, and beyond. They welcome students from all backgrounds and provide individual mentorship to ensure their well-being and prepare them to flourish in an evolving musical landscape. The school is at the nexus of practice and scholarship, achieved by engaging diverse musical traditions within a city of exceptional cultural vibrancy.
Lawrence University Conservatory of Music
Location: Appleton, Wisconsin
Lawrence University Conservatory of Music can be summed up as inspiring performance, engaging intellect, and energizing passion. They are consistently ranked as one of the top music schools in the nation, with graduates who go on to change the face of the musical world, again. The campus serves 350 highly engaged, enthusiastic, and passionate students. They offer three degrees, four majors, two areas of emphasis, two minors, twenty-six studios, and nine large ensembles.
Bard College & Conservatory
Location: New York City, New York
The Bard Conservatory offers unparalleled musical opportunities for its students. For example, the orchestra performs regularly on campus, in New York City, and in semiannual concert tours to Asia or Europe. Students frequently perform alongside faculty in chamber music concerts and in regional chamber music concert series. The faculty members are renowned performing musicians whose artistry has been featured in the world’s great concert halls. Better still, they give lessons, coach chamber ensembles, offer master classes, hold studio classes, and lead sectional rehearsals of the orchestra for Bard students. That only helps strengthen the network of a Bard graduate.
Berklee College of Music
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Berklee is dynamic, innovative, creative, global, and bold. It’s a place that embraces the two things you need in music: improvisation and innovation. Founded on jazz, the music of the African diaspora, and a dedication to contemporary music, Berklee is a singular institution for the study of the performing arts. The institution continues to integrate and find connections between its historical roots and the contemporary worlds of music, dance, and theater. Berklee is a place where artists come together to innovate and collaborate, and where artistic and cultural diversity is embraced and celebrated. In recent years, Berklee has opened new campuses in New York City and Valencia, and Spain. It’s also online and boasts the world’s largest online music school.
New England Conservatory of Music
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Founded in Boston in 1867 by Eben Tourjée, New England Conservatory created a new model of conservatory that combined the best of European tradition with American innovation. The school educates and trains musicians of all ages and from around the world. The school is dedicated to the highest standards of excellence as the faculty nurture individual artistic sensibility and creative growth. The New England Conservatory’s faculty and alumni, which comprise nearly fifty percent of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, include 6 members of l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 14 Rome Prize recipients, 51 Guggenheim Fellows, and prizewinners at nearly every major respected music forum in the world. As of January 2020, 11 MacArthur Fellows have been affiliated as faculty or alumni.
The Juilliard School
Location: New York City, New York
Founded in 1905, The Juilliard School is a world leader in performing-arts education. The mission is simple. They want to provide the highest caliber of arts education for gifted musicians, dancers, and actors from around the world. Why? They want students to achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens. Located at Lincoln Center in New York City, Juilliard offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in dance, drama, and music (classical, jazz, historical performance, and vocal arts). Currently, more than 800 students from 44 states and 42 countries are enrolled at The Juilliard School. These performers, along with Juilliard faculty and guest artists, can be seen in more than 700 dance, drama, and music events presented each season by the School. The music division is the largest program, offering a Bachelor of Music or Diploma, Master of Music or Graduate Diploma, Artist Diploma and Doctor of Musical Arts. Academic majors are brass, collaborative piano, composition, guitar, harp, historical performance, jazz studies, orchestral conducting, organ, percussion, piano, strings, voice, and woodwinds.
Cleveland Institute of Music
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
The Cleveland Institute of Music was founded in 1920 with composer Ernest Bloch. It is one of just seven independent conservatories of music in the United States, and one of three devoted exclusively to classical music performance. In fact, it’s the only one nestled in America’s heartland. Students learn from world-renowned visiting artists and conductors, intensive study with top faculty, and the rich curriculum offered by the institute’s partner, Case Western Reserve University. More than half of the members of The Cleveland Orchestra are connected to CIM as members of the faculty, alumni, or both. About 1,200 students apply to the conservatory annually for only 100 openings.
Wheaton College Conservatory of Music
Location: Wheaton, Illinois
The conservatory at Wheaton College brings each of its students to an intellectual understanding of the theoretical, historical, and stylistic aspects of musical practice. The faculty provides guidance and teaching into a vast literature of music, and they demand the highest level possible of technical and artistic achievement in performance and composition. Most importantly, and unique to our list of music schools, the conservatory seeks to undertake this task of teaching music in the light of a Christian, biblical perspective which includes treating music as an act of worship and service.
Yale School of Music
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Yale is the only Ivy League school with a separate school of music. It is considered one of the best and most prestigious music schools in the world with an acceptance rate of only 8-10%. With more than 200 students, Yale Music School fosters a vibrant musical environment where graduate-level performers and composers realize their highest artistic potential with an internationally distinguished faculty. The music program engages with the whole of what Yale University offers, namely its intellectual and technological resources. Also worth noting, an anonymous donation of $100 million in 2005 endowed full scholarships for all students accepted to the Yale School of Music.
The Royal Academy of Music
Location: London, England
Thousands of successful musicians started their careers at the academy: household names from Sir Simon Rattle to Sir Elton John, and countless others who make their living in every branch of the music profession. The curricullum offers a mix of, principal study, practical activities, artist development, and academic components. The courses are designed to give you everything you need for a successful career in music, with enough flexibility to meet your individual aspirations while also covering the realities of being a professional musician. The academy emphasizes one-to-one lessons, small-group teaching, and our tailored approach to artist development with the practical goal of earning a living in music when you graduate.
Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris
Location: Paris, France
Created in 1795, the National Conservatory of Music and Dance of Paris is the first French public establishment for the transmission of musical and choreographic arts. Its numerous international partnerships and the reputation of its professors and former students make it an international benchmark. The conservatory has an ambitious goal for students to research, create, and perform. The public are invited to concerts, dance performances, conferences, courses, and seminars, all free of charge. The original library was built in 1801 and its historic concert hall was inaugurated in 1811. Currently, the school trains more than 1,200 students with 350 professors in nine departments.
Royal College of Music
Location: London England
The Royal College of Music is one of the world’s great conservatoires, training gifted musicians from all over the world for international careers as performers, conductors, and composers. Opened in 1883 by the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), the college has trained some of the most important figures in British and international music life, including composers such as Holst, Vaughan Williams, Turnage, and Britten. With 840 students from more than 55 countries, the campus is full of vibrant and talented musicians. The professors are musicians with worldwide reputations, accustomed to working with the most talented students of each generation to unlock their artistic potential.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Location: San Francisco, California
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music was founded in 1917. Today, it provides students with the framework and foundation to succeed in a musical career. More than any other world-class conservatory, they focus on an education that is based in learning, artistry, craft, performance, and the student as an individual voice. The faculty, facilities, and position at the heart of the San Francisco music scene help foster a defining place for students.
Eastman School of Music
Location: Rochester, New York
Eastman School of Music is about finding your passion and harnessing your talent. Eastman knows music enriches the heart, nourishes the mind, and heals the soul. At Eastman, a student will study in the classroom, engage in the rehearsal room, spend long hours in the practice room, investigate and reveal music through scholarship, perform music on stages, and share music throughout the community. All this, under the watchful eye and tutoring of a faculty that cares deeply about each student and their success. The Eastman School occupies parts of five buildings in downtown Rochester. The main hall includes the renovated 3,094-seat Eastman Theater, the 455-seat Kilbourn Hall, the 222-seat Hatch Recital Hall, and offices for faculty. The school offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. They also award a performer’s certificate to students who demonstrate exceptionally outstanding performance ability.
Conservatorium van Amsterdam
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Conservatorium van Amsterdam wants their 1,250 students from around the world to excel in their learning, performance, and creative activity. It is the music division of the Amsterdam University of the Arts, and the largest music academy in the Netherlands. They offer programs in classical music, jazz, pop, early music, music education, and opera. The design of their building is unique. It is based on the Japanese way of building, where the corridors are situated next to the outer walls of the building and the concert halls, classrooms and study rooms, within. Large windows in the front transmits sufficient daylight into the rooms. The intent is to enable students to study without being disturbed, while corridors keep noises out.
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Founded in 1847, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has become the busiest performing arts venue in Scotland with over 500 public performances each year. As the only conservatoire in Europe to offer degrees across all of the performing arts, it provides the opportunity to collaborate with peers across the disciplines and create new, interdisciplinary work. Their curriculum is built around the ethos of collaboration in performance. All students work together to learn new skills and create truly memorable performances. Music students perform for musical theatre shows, production students are integral in designing, delivering, and managing performances across the Schools of drama and music, and drama students collaborate with Filmmaking students on their scripts and final graduation films.
College-Conservatory of Music
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
The College-Conservatory of Music unites three historic organizations: the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the College of Music of Cincinnati, and the University of Cincinnati. It is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts, offering nearly 120 possible majors. The school’s objective is to educate and inspire the whole artist for positions on the world stage. Multiple departments at College-Conservatory of Music have ranked nationally among university programs for a graduate music degree, including its opera/voice program, its conducting program, French horn, music composition, and drama programs. They hold the number 2 spot on Playbill’s list of “10 Most Represented Colleges on Broadway.”
Point Blank Music School
Location: London, Los Angeles, China, Ibiza, Mumbai
Of all the top music schools listed here, Point Blank is the most progressive in its approach. The school started in London and is now available in Los Angeles, China, Ibiza, Mumbai and online. Point Blank is also the youngest school on our list, established in the 1990s during the DIY music revolution that exploded out of the UK. Starting out as a commercial recording studio and journeying to its current status as the world’s “Best Music Production School” as voted by the readers of DJ Mag, Point Blank’s goal has been to demonstrate the creative process of making music at the highest level. You will learn from the best talent the music industry has to offer on state-of-the-art equipment. The approach is practical and hands-on. More than 50,000 students worldwide have chosen Point Blank since their debut.
Manhattan School of Music
Location: Manhattan, New York
The Manhattan School of Music is a mainstay with 100 years to its legacy. It continues to uphold a tradition of excellence in music education, one that began small and grew into today’s school of renown. They are deeply committed to excellence in education, performance, and creative activity. And what better place to be than New York City, where students can take full advantage of the abundant learning and performance opportunities? The student body is 960 made up from 50 countries and nearly all 50 states. The faculty are 200-plus strong. Each year, the campus boasts 700 shows including a full range of classical, jazz, musical theater, and contemporary offerings – everything from the most intimate student recital to the most ambitious operatic production.
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Location: Cardiff, Wales
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama was established in 1949. It located within the castle grounds of Bute Park near Cardiff University, which sounds like quite an esteemed location to study music. It received its royal distinction by the queen in 2002, making it the fifth conservatoire to be awarded such a title. The school provides both practical and performance training in music and drama, enabling students to enter and influence the world of music, theatre, and related professions. The campus includes three theatres and a stunning concert hall.