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Music School Admission – How to Get into Music School

High School Preparation

 Step One. When it comes to higher education, prospective music and theater arts majors have three choices. They can attend a conservatory, try a large university with a strong performing arts department - or opt for that happy medium, a university with a conservatory. But there are stark differences between the three, and this decision is going to impact not just a student's artistic development, but the kinds of friends he makes, the non-arts subjects he studies and the way he spends every moment of every day for the next four years. Big decision? Yes, but an exciting one too. This breakout on the differences between types of schools, conservatory vs. university, can help you decide.

You've chosen the genre - conservatory or college. Now all you have to do is find a few and attending a performing arts college fair, such as the free events hosted by the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, can help that process along. Representatives from nearly every major university with a strong performing arts department attend, along with reps from many of the big conservatories. These fairs are held in major U.S. cities each fall and spring, and are particularly helpful for high school sophomores and juniors.

 Step Two. Carefully read through what your schools of choice prefer and emphasize in terms of their admission policy. Some schools like people who have traveled and seen the world, other schools are more academically oriented, and still other schools like you to have taken certain courses even if they are not listed on their list of prerequisites. In this day and age of internet access, it should be easy to look up this information on the internet without having to browse through manual copies of college catalogues at the student service center. Thoroughly read their website, including as many related links as possible. Another angle of this type of exercise that applicants often neglect is to read the online newsletter for their desired universities, and type in “music school,” “school of music,” or “music student” into the site's search engine. It will often bring up useful clues about the university's music program or music students.

 Step Three. Once you have decided that you really do want to go into music school and researched through the pertinent information from music schools on the top of your wish list, it is at this stage that you can put your creative energies to use. Think about how you can increase YOUR chances of getting into music school. Come up with innovative ideas of your own. Often, the ideas that we come up with on our own, and not by reading books, become some of the most effective strategies that we develop. However, it is still imperative that you do purchase and thoroughly read through perhaps three or four good books on the topic.

 Step Four. Prepare as early as possible. There is no such thing as too early preparation. If you suddenly decide to apply to music one year before applications are due, then you still have some time to work up a good application (assuming you have all your pre-requisite courses). Ideally, though, the more time between your decision and the application deadline, the better chances you will have of getting accepted. One reason for this is that you will be able to do activities that are more relevant to what your schools of choice want, as mentioned above. The advance notice means that in the back of your mind, you are always thinking about which courses or activities you should engage in that will make you a more competitive applicant or a better musician in the future.

Do take the time to decide on the activities that you would like to engage in, and try to excel in them. Do not try to do too many or overwhelm yourself with them. You only have 24 hours a day. Try to use the law of “Conservation of Energy” because if you use up too much energy these days, you will have much less energy once you do enter music school or after you graduate from music school, which will really be your years of arduous effort. Also, as hinted above, don't forget about your prerequisite courses, as these are usually quite firm and must be taken by the time stated by the music school.

 Step Five. Take any standardized tests required at the appropriate time. Do not take these tests too early, as you will be wasting time learning the material by yourself instead of learning it during your lectures. Also, do not decide to take it early just because you are afraid that you may not do well the first time, and may need to repeat it to get a higher score. Again, that is just wasting your time. Similarly, do not take these standardized tests too late, or you will have forgotten much of what you have learned during previous years. Depending on when you apply to music school, you will have to time when you take your required standardized exams. The most important thing is to be able to make the deadline. In summary, do take it before the deadline to make it for your music schools of choice, but try to take it only when you are ready for it.

 Step Six. Keep your grades high. In the midst of dealing with your extracurricular activities, do not forget to keep your grades as high as possible. Yes, it is true that many people feel that grades are not important determinants to predicting music success. At the same time, though, getting high grades does show determination, intelligence, and willingness to work hard. You can always add an extracurricular activity, or do something to rectify weak extracurriculars. In contrast, once you have taken a course, your transcript is basically set in stone. You can’t change it. That is really the reason to fare as well as possible with respect to grades. Furthermore, getting good grades reflects that you have learned what has been taught, and since you are at school to learn, the better you learn, the better you will be able to function in society. What you learn may not directly relate to your future, but it does indirectly help you.

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