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#2162057 - 10/05/13 09:49 AM Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into?  
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No, I'm not planning to apply, ha ha...just curious. Of course "hardest to get into" could mean different things but I'm really talking about requiring the greatest pianistic skill/talent in the applicant.

With schools that are not conservatories one measure of difficulty could be the the average SAT score but I assume there is no similar measure for conservatory applicants. Another possible criteria could be the percent of applicants that are accepted, but I'm not sure this is very meaningful since most applicants who are not of the highest ability will probably not apply to the most difficult schools. So I'm mostly asking you to answer based on what you've heard unless you think there is an objective way to measure how hard it is to get into a school.

I'm guessing Juilliard and Curtis are two of the hardest to get into but I'm not really familiar with many schools outside of NYC.

I'd also be interested in your opinion about the which schools in Europe are the hardest to get into.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/05/13 12:32 PM.
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#2162060 - 10/05/13 10:01 AM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Here, as opposed to there
According to the criteria you've set out, Curtis, by far, would be the most difficult. It isn't what I've heard (which would be hearsay would it not...which means you should really delete that bit), it's fact.
But really... who cares? Pointless thread.



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#2162082 - 10/05/13 11:20 AM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Getting in the Conservatories are easy if you can pay the FULL tuition. Yes this is a fact and I knew this from Admissions office. Don't ask which one. smile

If you are asking about getting in Conservatories with FULL SCHOLARSHIP, then pretty much ALL top 10 Conservatories are extremely difficult to get in.

#2162088 - 10/05/13 11:26 AM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Which are these? (the top 10?)

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#2162094 - 10/05/13 11:42 AM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Alan Lai]  
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Originally Posted by Alan Lai
Getting in the Conservatories are easy if you can pay the FULL tuition. Yes this is a fact and I knew this from Admissions office. Don't ask which one. smile

If you are asking about getting in Conservatories with FULL SCHOLARSHIP, then pretty much ALL top 10 Conservatories are extremely difficult to get in.
I can't imagine that simply the ability to play full tuition can gain one admittance to a top conservatory?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/05/13 12:33 PM.
#2162103 - 10/05/13 11:57 AM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I'm guessing Julliard and Curtis are two of the hardest to get into but I'm not really familiar with many schools outside of NYC.

PLU, to nit-pick in your answering style, I would point out that Curtis is not in NYC.

Curtis is the hardest to get into in all disciplines, in the USA, and not just pianists.


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#2162106 - 10/05/13 12:04 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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I would say Curtis. Juilliard - I don't know. I'd say Yale is more difficult to get into. I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Yale... also I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Rice (graduate), etc.. it's really random.



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#2162112 - 10/05/13 12:11 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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As with everything that a person might find on the Internet, if a person is serious, please take some time to find other sources. Top music schools listed at:
http://www.uscollegeranking.org/music/2012-top-music-school-rankings.html

Again, I don't know how reliable that source is. The top 10 from that list:
1 University of Rochester (Eastman School of Music) NY
2 Juilliard School NY
3 Curtis Institute of Music PA
4 New England Conservatory of Music MA
5 Indiana University-Bloomington IN
6 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor MI
7 Northwestern University IL
8 Oberlin College Conservatory OH
9 University of Cincinnati OH
10 University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign IL

Like all lists, I am sure there is some disagreement. Again, I have not taken the time to delve into what factors go into the list. Some college lists use cost as a factor, so that lower cost schools move up because they are deemed a better value for those that are paying full freight.

Curtis has a blurb that comes up in a search that says they are the most selective, with 4% of applicants getting in, so the reply mentioning Curtis has some merit. I did not find a list with acceptance rates. Most individual schools give out that information, but I am not going to thirty websites and spend a couple of hours to satisfy someone else's curiosity. Someone else can go for that project, if they have the time. Even then, selectivity alone is not that strong an indication. The bigger name schools attract more applicants.

I believe that finances do play a role, but only for applicants that are near the cut line.

There are other factors than the audition. Diversity is a goal for most schools, so life story, personality, other background information are part of the picture. Again, this is mostly for filling out the class.

#2162115 - 10/05/13 12:27 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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The problem with the above list is the combination of Schools of Music, as a department of a University, with a true Conservatory. In their rankings they are including academic requirements/results as a measure, rather than performance in a given discipline. Other than the testing of the nuts and bolts courses such as theory, history, etc., performance is the objective.


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#2162119 - 10/05/13 12:32 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Alan Lai
Getting in the Conservatories are easy if you can pay the FULL tuition. Yes this is a fact and I knew this from Admissions office. Don't ask which one. smile

If you are asking about getting in Conservatories with FULL SCHOLARSHIP, then pretty much ALL top 10 Conservatories are extremely difficult to get in.
I can imagine that just the ability to play full tuition can gain one admittance to a top conservatory?

More or less. Of course you have to be able to play adequately well. From what I know, your audition will be graded from 1 to 5 points, where 5 is the highest. To be able to get full scholarship and admitted, you have to earn 5 points.

#2162120 - 10/05/13 12:34 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Pogorelich.]  
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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
I would say Curtis. Juilliard - I don't know. I'd say Yale is more difficult to get into. I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Yale... also I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Rice (graduate), etc.. it's really random.
How about in Europe?

#2162121 - 10/05/13 12:35 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Pogorelich.]  
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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
I would say Curtis. Juilliard - I don't know. I'd say Yale is more difficult to get into. I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Yale... also I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Rice (graduate), etc.. it's really random.

Really depends on their scholarship openings actually.

#2162122 - 10/05/13 12:35 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Getting into a good conservatory and getting big scholarship money are indeed two different things but don't think that the folks paying full tuition at Juilliard or Peabody or Eastman or whatever don't play with a professional competence.
Getting accepted into specific studios and degree programs also gets more and more selective. You want to go to Peabody? Great! You want to study with Leon Fleisher at Peabody? That is another story.

There are artist diploma programs that are very selective and then performance degree programs that are basically the same program but not nearly as selective. Artist Diploma at Peabody was much more difficult to get into then the Doctorate program but many Artist Diploma people ended up in the DMA program so they could get a teaching position.





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#2162123 - 10/05/13 12:38 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Keith D Kerman]  
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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Getting into a good conservatory and getting big scholarship money are indeed two different things but don't think that the folks paying full tuition at Juilliard or Peabody or Eastman or whatever don't play with a professional competence.
Getting accepted into specific studios and degree programs also gets more and more selective. You want to go to Peabody? Great! You want to study with Leon Fleisher at Peabody? That is another story.

There are artist diploma programs that are very selective and then performance degree programs that are basically the same program but not nearly as selective. Artist Diploma at Peabody was much more difficult to get into then the Doctorate program but many Artist Diploma people ended up in the DMA program so they could get a teaching position.





The Artistic diploma is usually ranked higher than Bachelor's. Some sort of in-between BM and MM, and without all the music theory/history/paper requirement of MM.

#2162129 - 10/05/13 01:00 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Alan Lai]  
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Originally Posted by Alan Lai

The Artistic diploma is usually ranked higher than Bachelor's. Some sort of in-between BM and MM, and without all the music theory/history/paper requirement of MM.


At Peabody it was by far the most selective program and almost everyone who got in had at least a Masters degree. I am not familiar with Artist Diplomas at other schools.


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#2162133 - 10/05/13 01:12 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Alan Lai]  
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Originally Posted by Alan Lai
[...]Of course you have to be able to play adequately well. From what I know, your audition will be graded from 1 to 5 points, where 5 is the highest. To be able to get full scholarship and admitted, you have to earn 5 points.


"From what [you] know ...." Just how much do you know about admission to US Conservatories. How do you know that they all have the same marking standards? How do you know that earning "5 points" will guarantee admission and scholarship? What is your source of information for these claims?

What about those Conservatories that not only have an annual quota but, in some cases, have announced that they are not accepting applicants in certain disciplines in some years? If the quota is met, then it doesn't matter how good a musician is; s/he will not be admitted.


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#2162137 - 10/05/13 01:30 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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I think it's an interesting subject to discuss and to see what people say, but (need we say) smile there can't be any clear answers, especially in trying to separate the top few.

Even in trying to rank universities (I don't mean on music, but overall), which I think isn't as hard because of availability of so much data of many sorts, there is never any clear separation at the top although the rankings pretend there is. Everybody would agree that the top few are "harder to get into" than #15 or #20, but, is there any clear separation among Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Caltech, Stanford, and perhaps a few other schools? I don't think so. Sure, there's some apples and oranges here, but what about even just MIT and Caltech? I don't think so either.

I think what's being compared here is essentially the Harvards, Princetons, MIT's and Caltechs of conservatories, and I think it's even harder to separate them than with the universities. It depends too much on subjective takes of individual aspects of the applicants, including who they've studied with and how that does or doesn't gibe with the particular conservatory, and who they might study with at the conservatory and what kind of match that seems to be.


edit: I think I'm saying basically what Pogo said but in a different way. And I see that Kreisler quibbled with that (below), especially the "random" thing.

A few words about "random": grin

It doesn't mean what it used to mean. I think Kreisler was criticizing it in terms of the traditional meaning (many of us would say the "correct" meaning ha and I would too, but that's a different discussion). smile
Common current usage has given it the additional meaning -- related to the traditional meaning, but different: without any predictable pattern because it depends on too much "who knows" types of stuff. (The old meaning would be, not having anything to do with anything at all; might as well throw darts.) Or, in other words, you can't really rank them in any precise way -- which I think is all that we're both saying.

Last edited by Mark_C; 10/05/13 01:59 PM.
#2162139 - 10/05/13 01:33 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Pogorelich.]  
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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
I would say Curtis. Juilliard - I don't know. I'd say Yale is more difficult to get into. I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Yale... also I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Rice (graduate), etc.. it's really random.


Not random at all. Yale and Rice both have very attractive financial aid packages. (Both are basically free if you get in.) As a result, they have an enormous number of applicants.

Also, I don't know about Yale, but when I talked to Rice's admissions officer several years ago, he told me that Rice has an enrollment cap. (Similar to Curtis.) It doesn't matter how good you are - if the spots are filled, you're not getting in.


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#2162168 - 10/05/13 03:11 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Alan Lai]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
I would say Curtis. Juilliard - I don't know. I'd say Yale is more difficult to get into. I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Yale... also I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Rice (graduate), etc.. it's really random.


Not random at all. Yale and Rice both have very attractive financial aid packages. (Both are basically free if you get in.) As a result, they have an enormous number of applicants.

Also, I don't know about Yale, but when I talked to Rice's admissions officer several years ago, he told me that Rice has an enrollment cap. (Similar to Curtis.) It doesn't matter how good you are - if the spots are filled, you're not getting in.


I know.. but Rice isn't always completely free, like Yale. It has money, but it's not "if you get in, you get full no matter what". I have many, many friends at Rice and have been there several times, and that's what I've discovered.

But yeah, it's about numbers. As it is with most good schools? Don't most of them have certain maximum numbers of students? I know my former school does..

Originally Posted by Alan Lai
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
I would say Curtis. Juilliard - I don't know. I'd say Yale is more difficult to get into. I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Yale... also I know people who have gotten into Juilliard but not Rice (graduate), etc.. it's really random.

Really depends on their scholarship openings actually.


Who's? Juilliard has way less $ than Rice for scholarships. And Yale is loaded, hence it's free.



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#2162172 - 10/05/13 03:14 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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I don't know about the US, but in France there is a very strange system : there are only two conservatories which are designed to train future high-level musicians - but there are dozens of smaller regional/departemental conservatories with a good (smaller) level nonetheless, you just can't pass a bachelor or a master there ^^
Those two are the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Lyon.
It's incredibly hard to get into them, as far as I can understand.
At Paris Conservatory they ask for a Bach or Shostakovitch Prelude&Fugue, a étude from Chopin and another one, and two pieces of different eras (classical/romantic and modern/contemporary). That's the admissibility laugh After that the chosen candidates are supposed to learn an imposed program and they have to sight-read (if you miss it you can be eliminated) too.
The jury basically expect the musicians who come in to be perfect technically, whatever instrument that is. You can't enter in piano/cello/violin/flute if you're older than 22 (for the other instruments it's mostly 24), they like their recrues young, and there are very few places for a lot of persons who try to enter.
For me some young pianists with the typical CNSM path are Jean-Frédéric Neuburger (who recorder the complete Chopin études at 16), Adam Laloum and Natacha Kudritskaya (playing a wonderful Rameau on YT). That's subjective though.

That's the French system ^^' and that's why many young French musicians actually end up studying elsewhere (Germany, etc.), because even if it's hard it's probably not as elitist as Paris Conservatory (Lyon is a bit more "normal". That's so hard because there are two schools for a country of 70 million persons).

Last edited by Praeludium; 10/05/13 03:15 PM.
#2162182 - 10/05/13 03:42 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Pogorelich.]  
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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
... but Rice isn't always completely free, like Yale. It has money, but it's not "if you get in, you get full no matter what". I have many, many friends at Rice and have been there several times, and that's what I've discovered.


In some cases when you get admitted to Rice you simply get in. My son spent two years at Rice earning a Masters degree in Architecture and walked away with a hefty $50K college loan debt. grin


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#2162185 - 10/05/13 03:50 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Sand Tiger]  
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Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
As with everything that a person might find on the Internet, if a person is serious, please take some time to find other sources. Top music schools listed at:
http://www.uscollegeranking.org/music/2012-top-music-school-rankings.html

Again, I don't know how reliable that source is. The top 10 from that list:
1 University of Rochester (Eastman School of Music) NY
2 Juilliard School NY
3 Curtis Institute of Music PA
4 New England Conservatory of Music MA
5 Indiana University-Bloomington IN
6 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor MI
7 Northwestern University IL
8 Oberlin College Conservatory OH
9 University of Cincinnati OH
10 University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign IL


Strange list indeed. Yale comes in at #11 and Rice doesn't even make the top 20.

#2162207 - 10/05/13 04:30 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
As with everything that a person might find on the Internet, if a person is serious, please take some time to find other sources. Top music schools listed at:
http://www.uscollegeranking.org/music/2012-top-music-school-rankings.html

Again, I don't know how reliable that source is. The top 10 from that list:
1 University of Rochester (Eastman School of Music) NY
2 Juilliard School NY
3 Curtis Institute of Music PA
4 New England Conservatory of Music MA
5 Indiana University-Bloomington IN
6 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor MI
7 Northwestern University IL
8 Oberlin College Conservatory OH
9 University of Cincinnati OH
10 University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign IL


Strange list indeed. Yale comes in at #11 and Rice doesn't even make the top 20.


Maybe they don't give out such information.

#2162215 - 10/05/13 04:58 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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I seriously doubt Rochester beats Curtis......... but okay..



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#2162222 - 10/05/13 05:23 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Pogorelich.]  
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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
I seriously doubt Rochester beats Curtis......... but okay..


I agree..... crazy


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#2162224 - 10/05/13 05:24 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
As with everything that a person might find on the Internet, if a person is serious, please take some time to find other sources. Top music schools listed at:
http://www.uscollegeranking.org/music/2012-top-music-school-rankings.html.
Strange list indeed. Yale comes in at #11 and Rice doesn't even make the top 20.
Maybe they don't give out such information.
Not quite sure what you mean - I got it from the link provided above to the FULL list of 30 schools.

Last edited by carey; 10/05/13 05:25 PM.

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#2162229 - 10/05/13 05:33 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Carey]  
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JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
As with everything that a person might find on the Internet, if a person is serious, please take some time to find other sources. Top music schools listed at:
http://www.uscollegeranking.org/music/2012-top-music-school-rankings.html.
Strange list indeed. Yale comes in at #11 and Rice doesn't even make the top 20.
Maybe they don't give out such information.
Not quite sure what you mean - I got it from the link provided above to the FULL list of 30 schools.


What I meant was, perhaps they do not give out their acceptance rate information, but I see now.

#2162235 - 10/05/13 05:58 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Does anyone consider Rice, MIT, Yale, or (et al) to be among the great music conservatories in the US? Really?

Curtis has a fixed number of students. When there is an availability in the orchestra, as example, there is an audition for that particular opening. This also applies to the piano department. There is no tuition. Financial assistance is available to meet other expenses. And, get this, all piano students are provided a Steinway for their off campus residence.

Among teachers who have students at the artist level, Curtis is the most difficult to gain acceptance.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2162262 - 10/05/13 07:04 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Does anyone consider Rice, MIT, Yale, or (et al) to be among the great music conservatories in the US? Really?

Curtis has a fixed number of students. When there is an availability in the orchestra, as example, there is an audition for that particular opening. This also applies to the piano department. There is no tuition. Financial assistance is available to meet other expenses. And, get this, all piano students are provided a Steinway for their off campus residence.

Among teachers who have students at the artist level, Curtis is the most difficult to gain acceptance.


I don't know their piano programs, but some top string players have come out of Yale and Rice. And wasn't one of the successful Cliburn competitors from Yale?

Of course, Rice and Yale also have outstanding academic programs.

Last edited by ClsscLib; 10/05/13 07:05 PM.

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#2162273 - 10/05/13 07:51 PM Re: Which conservatories in the US are hardest to get into? [Re: pianoloverus]  
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If memory serves, in the recent VCC the pianist the pianist to whom you refer is Sean Chen. He holds both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree from Juilliard. He is currently working on an Artist Diploma from Yale in order to study with Hung-Kuan Chen and Tema Blackstone. The importance of an AD is with whom you study, rather than where you are schooled.

Compared to the artist level output of, say, Curtis, Juilliard, Eastman, Oberlin, et al, the additions of Rice or Yale to the world of performance are minimal at best. The single student does not make the school.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
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