“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato
Music is a subject that differs to most higher-level study routes. Unlike STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and other research-based disciplines, prospective music students will have been practising and priming for months, even years, getting set to dedicate their lives to the rhythmic craft.
Artistic flair is, of course, integral to performance, but when left untamed it can be hard to find its meaning in the world. That’s why the pursuit of higher education is your strongest move, granting you a supportive, safe and stimulating learning environment in which your talent can take flight.
“My take on college for musicians is that it depends on what kind of musician you are,” says Tim Kasher, lead singer and guitarist of popular indie bands Cursive and The Good Life.
“Technical musicians who got degrees in music – it helps them a lot. They’re getting jobs as a result of their expertise. I don’t know theory like them. A lot of it is touch, a feeling.
“I’m an advocate for college in general, though,” he adds, “because everything you learn is ultimately shaping who you are and what it is you’ll eventually bring to the table.”
And as you anxiously wait for your name to be called at your first major job interview, the modern recruiter knows how much you will bring to the table as a qualified music graduate. This is a degree that opens doors far beyond the musical realm. Your creative curiosity and enquiring mind will leave you highly sought-after, allowing you to adapt to varied roles in a broad range of fields.
Higher education in the arts helps students get to grips with our position in the world. While jobs will change and societies advance, humanity’s role within these fast-evolving systems will remain the same. Our unique creative minds are those who bring passion and expression, helping us decode a complex and often volatile living environment. That’s what makes the creative music graduate both valued and revered.
Here are four music schools that will help you strike a chord with future employers…
Uniarts Helsinki is an institute that fosters Finnish artistic heritage and revitalises art. Comprised of the Theatre Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Sibelius Academy, this world-class university gives students the chance to further their expertise in an environment that sees the arts collaborate and merge.
Sibelius Academy itself currently ranks 6th in the world for performing arts, highlighting the prestige of this specialist institution. This is one of few music education providers across the globe to offer such a diverse range of program options; from classical music to music education, jazz to folk, music technology to conducting, and beyond – this institution lets you construct your studies to perfectly suit your goals.
With almost one third of the academy’s student body hailing from global roots, Sibelius Academy fosters invaluable international networks and a colourful cultural mix. On top of this, learners benefit from a host of cutting-edge music facilities. In addition to the Helsinki Music Centre – an inspiring and extraordinary concert venue and meeting place that opened in 2011 – Sibelius Academy has two other buildings in Helsinki city centre with high-end practice facilities. Sibelius Academy is renowned for its excellent student-teacher relations and the individually curated study paths that support each student’s personal study and career goals.
Where better to kick-start your music career than Manchester; a UK city renowned for harbouring musical talent and innovation. Home to three professional orchestras – the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata – as well as world-famous bands such as Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses, this is an inspiring starting block for the aspiring musician.
Understanding the significance and fast-evolving nature of popular music, the RNCM ensures its syllabus reflects the diversity of this contemporary art, allowing students to study a myriad of beautiful musical styles. The college offers a Bachelor of Music and a Graduate Diploma, as well as a wealth of postgraduate degrees and further study options.
RNCM Popular Music Vocals student, Samantha Kok, found the school’s International Office extremely helpful. When questioned about her plans after the MMus course, she felt as though her options were open. “I don’t have a cemented plan for my future but I’m quite flexible and want to see where life will take me. To get to where it will take me I need a good foundation. And I think that is what RNCM offers me, a good foundation, a good network and a great time.”
A huge and harmonious music selection is studied, created and performed at UC Berkeley’s Department of Music. Covering everything from the sounds of Italian opera to Caribbean pop; jazz to baroque; gospel, music and dance from West Africa and Indonesia, this school gives students a truly international taste of much-loved musical styles.
The Department of Music grants a BA degree in music and also a minor in music. It’s entirely committed to the liberal arts and contemporary humanities, involving students in every possible aspect of music studies – including theoretical and creative studies, historical and cultural studies, music and technology, and of course performance. Here, the curriculum responds to the interests of a diverse student body, and this is a school that champions its broad and flexible program.
Here, the major serves as pre-professional training for those seeking a career in music, but it also provides a lasting source of enrichment for those with other career goals, making it a school that’s open to all. Entering students are not auditioned, but instead asked to demonstrate a minimum standard of musical literacy in a placement test or to take appropriate preparatory courses until they demonstrate sound capabilities.
At the Peabody Institute, students get instruction and guidance from artists and teachers – among them Grammy and Pulitzer prize winners, and Guggenheim fellows – one-on-one where necessary and in groups/ensembles. Graduates from Peabody make the news on a regular basis, whether, for instance in the field of composition, in the case of faculty artist Judah Adashi’s works being performed and recorded, or Anastasia Pike (class of ’07), a former student of Jeanne Chalifoux, performing at a concert recently with world-class soprano Renée Fleming.
But while the school prides itself on its musical (and academic) excellence, potential students with an interest in outreach programs will be interested to learn that the conservatory works a great deal with the local community, taking live music to community organizations, hospices, and schools. The Creative Leadership Immersion Class, for instance, involves Conservatory students working with Baltimore City schools’ students to create and perform an original composition during Peabody’s Spring Break.
Whatever your challenge and specialization, Johns Hopkins’s Department of Music will be sure to bring out your individual talent and nourish the creative spark.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International