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Thread: Attending a prestigious conservatory

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    Default Attending a prestigious conservatory

    Has anybody here attended a prestigious conservatory on the level of Curtis or Julliard? If not, do you know somebody who has? It would be interesting to know what it is like. If anything, accounts of the application process and auditions needed to be considered might be even more interesting.

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    I do know a number of people, particularly flutists, and grad students that have come to my university from a conservatory. I've not talked very personally with many of them about their experiences, but I've gotten some interesting insights. For one, it's hard to actually do things in some Conservatories, and it's not just a matter of competition inside the school. It's that certain classes aren't offered, such as chamber music coaching, or enough ensembles for everyone to play in one for a reasonable amount of time. For example, of what I've heard from this one great flute teacher (who teaches now at Peabody), that when she was at Julliard for undergrad, there was little to do large ensemble-wise, and instead most of what she did was solo work. She had to practice and memorize 4 Andersen etudes weekly for her teacher, Julius Baker. That is RIDICULOUS. Not as in I don't approve, but that it's ridiculously hard to do that. Andersen etudes vary in length and difficulty, but almost certainly this lady had to do the most virtuosic ones that last 3-4 pages, and she had to do 4 of them, and memorize them! Well, with so much time in your hands not worrying about ensemble music, that's all you do. Personally, I don't want to have that kind of life, I can't just do that stuff only. I need variety.
    Last edited by Huilunsoittaja; Sep-01-2013 at 23:08.
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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    I do know a number of people, particularly flutists, and grad students that have come to my university from a conservatory. I've not talked very personally with many of them about their experiences, but I've gotten some interesting insights. For one, it's hard to actually do things in some Conservatories, and it's not just a matter of competition inside the school. It's that certain classes aren't offered, such as chamber music coaching, or enough ensembles for everyone to play in one for a reasonable amount of time. For example, of what I've heard from this one great flute teacher (who teaches now at Peabody), that when she was at Julliard for undergrad, there was little to do large ensemble-wise, and instead most of what she did was solo work. She had to practice and memorize 4 Andersen etudes weekly for her teacher, Julius Baker. That is RIDICULOUS. Not as in I don't approve, but that it's ridiculously hard to do that. Andersen etudes vary in length and difficulty, but almost certainly this lady had to do the most virtuosic ones that last 3-4 pages, and she had to do 4 of them, and memorize them! Well, with so much time in your hands not worrying about ensemble music, that's all you do. Personally, I don't want to have that kind of life, I can't just do that stuff only. I need variety.
    You confirm what a former classmate / peer / pal of mine who went to Juilliard told me. He is a horn player, and we were discussing theory, and we began to find that I had a far greater in-depth training (I was a comp major, but all the undergrad theory I took at a state university music department was required of ALL music majors) than he had had at Juilliard -- the conclusion was Juilliard is, for instrumentalists, all about the most rigorous of demands on your playing ability -- rightly so if you have any aim to hope for a chair in one of the world's top-class orchestras. (Jeanne Baxtresser was another who was with us at the same arts high school -- way back then.)

    All you have to do is contemplate sight-reading and playing, to full world standard accuracy and musicianship, your part in, say, a new Elliott Carter piece within one week, along with the other two pieces of repertoire which will be on that program, to see that kind of demand upon the student is really not excessive (my pal had to do so, having been for a while with the NY Phil under Bernstein.)

    Certainly, talent and potential or not, that kind of study is not for everyone. On the other hand, if you want to think of teaching and playing weddings, funerals, bar (or bat) mitzvahs, and dance parties as an alternative, you might want to sign up for exactly that kind of rigor in your training to see if you can avoid some of that type of life / career.
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-02-2013 at 04:42.

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    I wouldn't even contemplate it unless you are seriously advanced coming out of high school, and are ready to work harder than you have up to the point which got you advanced by the end of high school.

    Those top conservatories have seriously hot dog caliber players auditioning -- in droves -- for acceptance into those schools. Keeping up and staying in is another dimension you might want to be ready for. This is not for everyone unless you are truly driven to an extreme, and also feel you absolutely need to do it.

    "Older school" demands were even higher, A friend who graduated with honors with a double diploma in piano performance and composition from the Rotterdam conservatory in the 1970's -- picking up the gold medal for piano along the way -- told me that back then, if any student failed any class anywhere along the way, there was no repeating it as an option; you were simply out of that school with not a prayer of being readmitted. That policy is no longer in place there, but there is some of that feeling about how well you 'perform' -- across the board in any and all of your classes, in the higher end conservatory.

    If you do not get a scholarship (with that level of competition, I think you can imagine what it takes to get a scholarship) they also cost as much or more than a top-ten ivy league school.

    The higher standard state schools, universities with fine music departments, are another kind of story: open admissions is their policy, but -- perhaps it has changed -- when I attended (long time ago) the cant from all the teachers to the freshman was this: "Getting in was easy. Now staying in is a very different matter." I recall many an entry level student who within one or two semesters dropped out or were flunked out, not having what it takes or realizing they would not be able to keep up.

    .... and you don't have to be at The Juilliard School or The Curtis Institute to find that seventy percent of your fellow majors are ready to tell you they can / could have done it better -- that is a young person thing :-)

    [[ADD: What is required, and met by those who succeed, I believe is little known or deeply misunderstood.

    Call the process decimation: The Royal College of Music, London will receive, from around the world, literally thousands of applications for entry level students.
    .....Those thousands of apps are quickly scanned, and those whose repertoire lists are not both technically and musically up to their standard are set aside, audition CD's not listened to. About 1000 are chosen to be allowed to audition.
    .....From that one thousand, approximately one hundred applicants will gain admission.
    .....The time to seriously start preparing for this is somewhere between the ages of three to six years, and no later than the age of ten.
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-02-2013 at 04:46.

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    Dupe again, apologies................................................... ...............
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-02-2013 at 04:43.

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