College or university school of music

College or university school of music

A university school of music or college of music, or academy of music or conservatoire (French, but used in British English) — also known as a conservatory (American English) or a conservatorium (Australian English) — is a higher education institution dedicated to teaching the art of music, including the playing of musical instruments, musical composition, musicianship, music history and music theory.

Colleges of music and university schools of music are tertiary level institutions, and they may either be independent or part of a university. Many music schools originated as vocational training centers for would-be professional musicians, often outside the main academic structure. These institutions have retained an emphasis on performance into the 21st century, while also adopting a more formal academic approach. On the other hand there are university music departments, which originally placed more emphasis on academic study of music, but often place greater emphasis on performance now than they did in the past. The two groups overlap more than they used to, with the specific balance of vocational training and academic study varying from one institution to another.

College and university schools of music


In the 8th Century, The Royal Pear Garden was set up by Emperor Xuanzong in the purpose to teach Chinese Opera.

Contemporary institutions

Some institutions have university status while others have vocational university status. University schools of music grant professional degrees. The time required to complete music degrees is generally not much different from degrees in other fields, i.e. 3-4 years for a Bachelor of Music degree, 2 years for a Master of Music degree, and 3 years for a Doctor of Musical Arts or Doctor of Music Degree. A Ph.D degree is usually gained for areas such as musicology, music theory, music composition, or music education. Some schools also offer a non-academic degree that is solely performance based, such as the A.D. or Artist Diploma; this may be offered at the undergraduate and/or graduate level. In addition, some schools may offer non-professional music-related degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts in Music or a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education.

The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), is an accreditor for Colleges or university schools of music in the United States of America. They currently accredit 610 institutions of higher learning.

The European Association of Conservatoires (AEC) is the main association of College or university school of music in Europe.

U.S. News & World Report and "Change" make a national and international ranking of the music schools. (See also College and university rankings)

Instruments and subjects

Most of the world's famous music colleges and conservatories which focus on Western art music (classical music). However, in non-European, non-Oceanic and non-American countries, especially Asian conservatories, traditional instruments may be offered as a principal study. An example is the Shanghai Conservatory in Shanghai, China and other Chinese conservatories, where Chinese traditional instruments are taught.

Certain schools or conservatories may be exclusively focused on music, such as the New England Conservatory of Music and Mannes College The New School for Music in New York City. Others may have one or more other focuses such as the Boston Conservatory which instructs in music, theater, dance and music education.

Schools of music in the United States

In the United States, there are four types of music schools. Three of them follow the more traditional formats of music education. The last one is more informal and includes schools that teach the history and performance of world music.

Preperatory Schools

The first type and seemingly the most prevalent (though not the largest) are preparatory schools. Almost all of the major conservatories and music schools of the United States also carry a preparatory program. Notable graduates of preparatory programs include Sarah Chang and Midori, both of whom entered the Juilliard School's preparatory program at a young age.

Independent Conservatories

Conservatories are the most individual and popular type of music school. Conservatories completely focus on music and do not specialize in anything else. Usually emphasis within the school will be focused on either "Classical" or "Contemporary" studies, though in recent years, this divide has begun to meld. Some conservatories also include instruction in drama and dance, most notably the Juilliard School, however this instruction is usually not considered part of the Conservatory" part of the School. In the Juilliard School, for example, there are three schools each operating quasi-independently; the Juilliard School "of Music" is the only true "Conservatory" part of the school.

Notable Examples in the United States are:


* The Juilliard School (New York, NY)
* The Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)
* Manhattan School of Music (New York, NY)
* New England Conservatory (Boston, MA)
* Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Oberlin, OH)
* The Boston Conservatory (Boston, MA)
* The Cleveland Institute of Music (Cleveland, OH)
* The College-Conservatory of Music (Cincinnati, Ohio)
* The Colburn School (Los Angeles, CA)
* San Francisco Conservatory of Music (San Francisco, CA)


* Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
* The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (New York, NY)

Often, academic requirements for conservatories are merely supplemental to a music student's education and career. This makes them very popular with students who would rather not be burdened by academic requirements that are normally enforced at music schools that are part of a larger university system.

Conservatories as Part of a Larger University

While closely related to independent conservatories, this type of schools is where a music school is amalgamated as part larger University using the university's resources.

Notable examples of this type of music school are:
*Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)
*Mannes College The New School for Music of the New School University (New York, NY)
*Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
*Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
*The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University-Bloomington
*The Graduate School of Music at Yale University (New Haven, CT)

Several conservatories that are tied to a university often function as a separate entity while being attached to a university often for logistical and financial reasons. The most notable cases of this are the Eastman School of Music and Mannes College which were both independent schools before joining a larger entity. For example, both Eastman and Mannes, while having separate admissions offices than the larger university, both share the larger's bursars and student services offices. Both schools are also removed from their respective university's campuses further showing their independence.

Though some of these music schools do forego requiring prospective applicants to meet university admission standards, most still follow a strict complementary structure of general education along with music education.


The fourth type of music school is the most informal. These schools are not incorporated in terms of their recognition as a school entitled to non-profit legal status. Almost anyone can attend these schools and pay a for-profit fee for instruction in diverse types of music.

Notable music colleges, conservatories, and university music departments

See List of colleges and university schools of music

External links

* [ World Music Central's guide to Music Schools] This guide centers on music schools that teach world music and roots music in general.
* [] The School of Music Reina Sofía belongs to this Foundation.
* [] The National Association of Schools of Music.
* [] Excel-ability Learning.
* [ Bridge to Music, Music School Directory] Bridge to Music: an on line guide to music schools, organized by degree, program and location.

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