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I've been playing the piano for a year and a few months now and I've decided I want to go to a university and major in piano performance (however useful that may or may not be). Due to financial aid I've recently discovered that I can actually receive a significant amount of money for going to Rice University (it covers the 45k tuition + estimated living expenses). While the main focus of the university is not music, it is still a prestigious establishment. My question is this: Does anyone reading this have any experience or knowledge about the music program (specifically auditions/admissions) for ivy league schools such as Rice? The requirements for audition are a full classical sonata, bach prelude + fugue, substantial romantic piece, and contemporary/impressionist piece. Memorization will not be a problem for any of these pieces. As of now I am learning Chopin's 3rd Ballade for the substantial romantic piece. And to give some context on my skill level, I've learned the Chopin op 25 no 1 etude in 2.5 weeks. All of my playing is very musical as well and it comes pretty much naturally to me. However, by far my biggest weakness is that fact that I can't really sight read, at all. I've tried practicing it but I simply am not familiar enough with sheet music/the keyboard yet to confidently sight read for an audition. So my biggest concern is how heavily sight reading is weighed in an audition like this? I've read differing responses to this question and am not sure. I'd also like to know how tight they are with admissions if anyone knows anything about Rice or a similar ivy league school that isn't primarily focused on music. Any other information or input is welcome.

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It's a very good school. Go on the Shepherd School of Music website, look at the bio of the Piano teachers and try to figure out with whom you would like to study. Contact that teacher and setup one or two "pre-audition" lessons.

That is usually the best way to get a honest review before you show up at the audition. :-)

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I was not aware this was a possibility, thank you! My teacher is actually friends with someone who judges auditions for Rice but I haven't been able to talk to her.

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Rice is not an Ivy League university. That's not to say that it isn't prestigious or anything but just to clarify that it does not happen to be one of those eight colleges if Ivy League is an important attribute for you in your college selection process.

For my part, I don't think "Ivy League" should ever be the driving determinant of college choice, just to be clear. I'm not saying that's what you're doing but I just wanted to correct the mistake without saying anything negative about Rice (about which I know very little), or good about the Ivy League.

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Do they say sightreading is a requirement? I skimmed the Shepherd School website, and did not see that (but don't rely on me).

Prelim. (required) video, then a live audition? They must must want to compare you to yourself, and others. 😀

It is said that Vanderbilt is the "Harvard of the South." Rice might be a Southern Ivy? Belmont, the Juilliard of Country (ok, Commercial) Music?


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I will say that I don't believe there are any ivies that offer degrees in music performance rather than music as a regular academic discipline. I know my university did not. You can major in music as an academic discipline and of course there are performance opportunities but you cannot major in music performance.

I don't know if other ivies offer piano performance on their own (I don't THINK so; perhaps others can clarify) but I know some of them offer joint degree programs with another institution. I'm pretty sure Columbia offers a joint program with Julliard, for example. That way you can get performance as a part of your direct studies.

Same goes for Harvard and NEC.

Yale has a music school with a performance degree option but it is not a part of the undergraduate university.

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You are correct, I just googled it very quickly originally and the first answer was wrong. I don't care about ivy league or whatnot, only reason I mention it is because I assume they have much tougher admissions. Idk if that applies to music auditions as well.

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I'm actually not entirely sure if it is a requirement. I just assumed it was assessed in the audition while not being listed as an official requirement. Likewise with scales, etc.

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Princeton apparently now offers a performance "certificate" but it is not a part of the academic degree in music.

Basically, rigorous training and concentration on performance is not a part of a degree in music at any of the Ivy League universities, as far as I can tell.

A friend of mine does have a performance degree from Yale School of Music but she went there after graduating from Curtis in piano, which is a traditional conservatory route.

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Well, there is all the gobbledygook--Bachelor of Arts (with a major) in Music, Bachelor of Music (with a major) in Piano Performance--depending on structure: college vs. university.

Degrees with side orders, such as: Bachelor of Music Education with Performance Diplomas in Contrabassoon and Fortepiano, with Distinction.

Schools of Music that give the BA instead of the BM to those who flake out.

Elite schools that assume you'll study music, then run the family bank or become a brain surgeon, so no perf. degrees.

(I'm being facetious, but not far off.)


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Sorry for the confusion, I don't mean ivy league specifically I just mean more prestigious schools. For example, would Rice be more strict on auditions than University of Houston for example? Rice is definitely the more prestigious (with more strict admissions in every other respect)university and has more defined repertoire for the audition. However, outside of that, would my playing need to be at an extremely high level to get in? I would definitely prefer to go to Rice, at this point it is a matter of whether or not I pass auditions.

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The Shepherd School of Music at Rice has high standards and is tough to get in for piano performance. Something like the University of Houston will be much easier.


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Originally Posted by Sovrel
Sorry for the confusion, I don't mean ivy league specifically I just mean more prestigious schools. For example, would Rice be more strict on auditions than University of Houston for example? Rice is definitely the more prestigious (with more strict admissions in every other respect)university and has more defined repertoire for the audition. However, outside of that, would my playing need to be at an extremely high level to get in? I would definitely prefer to go to Rice, at this point it is a matter of whether or not I pass auditions.


That's fine. The posters here like to run off on tangents--if not hijack threads 😀--with all sorts of discussions.

It doesn't hurt to audition at multiple places, of course, unless it would be too emotionally distressing to be rejected. You do seem to have the Rice repertoire at hand.

One thing, however: they are asking for 30 min. of repertoire--that's a junior piano recital's worth of music! Shorter audition requirements perfectly played (for another school) will trump a so-so long program.


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Would anyone happen to know if they take how long you've been playing into account?? I'm sure that if they knew that they would be more inclined to accept me, or at least take into consideration how quickly I am able to improve. I'm mainly trying to figure out if I should bother learning a whole Beethoven sonata, though memorization isn't a problem and I'm sure I could learn one of the easier ones fairly quickly. Just classical and baroque are not my best styles.

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Originally Posted by Sovrel
Would anyone happen to know if they take how long you've been playing into account?? I'm sure that if they knew that they would be more inclined to accept me, or at least take into consideration how quickly I am able to improve. I'm mainly trying to figure out if I should bother learning a whole Beethoven sonata, though memorization isn't a problem and I'm sure I could learn one of the easier ones fairly quickly. Just classical and baroque are not my best styles.

If they want recommendation letters, your teacher might write something about it.
Length usually is less than 10 minutes and they might ask you to start from any "major" point and interrupt you when they are satisfied.
The whole point is to see if you are an overall good candidate, somebody able only to play a hard Chopin piece is a less interesting candidate than somebody with a broad repertoire.

But again, at this point talk to your teacher, I think you are late for this year auditions and you will have to go for next year... at your progression speed shouldn't be a problem at all.

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I assume Sovrel is preparing to submit a 30 minute prelim. video later this year and possibly live audition typically for 10-15 minutes early next year for the 2017-18 school year.

These requirements should be read very carefully, and the questions contact heeded.

http://music.rice.edu/undergraduate/piano.shtml

And the FAQ.

It does say three out of four style periods, so baroque or classic period repertoire could be omitted.

Even if they listen at the live audition to only portions, the whole shebang must be prepared, and one must weigh if that is too much to chew compared to lesser requirements at other institutions.


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Can I Be the voice of reason here?

You've gotten essentially a full ride to Rice, one of the best schools in the country, yet you want to go there to study piano performance after only a year of playing?

That doesnt make any sense to me. I suggest, using the scholarship wisely and majoring in something useful and study music on the side. I'm sure that there are professors there who take on non-major students for private lessons.


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Originally Posted by boo1234
Can I Be the voice of reason here?

You've gotten essentially a full ride to Rice, one of the best schools in the country, yet you want to go there to study piano performance after only a year of playing?

That doesnt make any sense to me. I suggest, using the scholarship wisely and majoring in something useful and study music on the side. I'm sure that there are professors there who take on non-major students for private lessons.



I agree...I figure it would be extremely difficult to learn a Bach fugue after only one year of playing. Everyone learns and progresses at different paces, but no matter how good you are after a year, it's not enough for a fugue. And sight reading takes decades to master, and most music schools just asses your sight reading so they know what level you are at so they can place you in the appropriate class. At least that's why my school did

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Originally Posted by boo1234
Can I Be the voice of reason here?

You've gotten essentially a full ride to Rice, one of the best schools in the country, yet you want to go there to study piano performance after only a year of playing?

That doesnt make any sense to me. I suggest, using the scholarship wisely and majoring in something useful and study music on the side. I'm sure that there are professors there who take on non-major students for private lessons.


I am often guilty (along with others) of not reading original posts well enough. Yes, it is virtually impossible to be prepared and accepted for college level music major study at just a year of lessons, something doesn't quite add up . . . unless one really can play the 3rd Ballade from memory at that stage. (Sometimes people start and take lessons for a number of years, drop lessons for a while, then get serious again resuming lessons for a year or two in high school-completely a different case.)

Music study in college is not very tolerant of a late start FOR PIANO. Voice, maybe.


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Originally Posted by boo1234
Can I Be the voice of reason here?

You've gotten essentially a full ride to Rice, one of the best schools in the country, yet you want to go there to study piano performance after only a year of playing?

That doesnt make any sense to me. I suggest, using the scholarship wisely and majoring in something useful and study music on the side. I'm sure that there are professors there who take on non-major students for private lessons.



I'd say just the opposite: against the odds, you got a full ride to the Shepherd School of Music at Rice. It isn't Juilliard but it's certainly one of the 20 best music schools in the USA.

You'd be crazy not to go and make the most of it.

No, your odds of a concert career are not high, but if you continue to excel and learn quickly and love music and you are open to a variety of different kinds of work in music, you will be able to make a life in it.

Or you might get to a certain point and then decide to take a different path.

But that is a lot better than deciding now "I probably wouldn't be up for the challenge" and not trying. (Particularly when the financial risk has been made so low for you.)


EDIT
I reread your original post -- did you really get a full ride to the school before auditioning? how did that happen? is it an outside scholarship? Anyway, since you still need to audition, be sure to tell them at the audition, or include it in your application paperwork, how long you have been playing. You can practice sight reading between now and then but you're right, it just takes time and experience and you won't be in the same place as other applicants. You will have to be strong in other areas of the audition and hope that they will take into account how long you've been playing and how fast you learn. Good luck, I hope it goes your way.

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