Music schools in the United States
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In the United States, there are four types of music schools. Three of them follow the more traditional formats of music education. The last one is more informal and includes schools that teach the history and performance of world music.
The first type and seemingly the most prevalent (though not the largest) are preparatory schools. Almost all of the major conservatories and music schools of the United States also carry a preparatory program, which trains elementary school-age children and high school-age youths in music performance, dance, or other artistic endeavors. The top students from the preparatory programs may continue their studies at the post-secondary level, and enter professional training programs. There are also 3 boarding preparatory schools in the US that offer pre-professional training in music at a college level. They are: Idyllwild Arts Academy, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Walnut Hill School.
Conservatories are the most individual and popular type of music school. Conservatories completely focus on music and do not specialize in anything else. Usually emphasis within the school will be focused on either "Classical" or "Contemporary" studies, though in recent years, this divide has begun to meld. Some conservatories also include instruction in drama and dance, most notably the Juilliard School, however this instruction is usually not considered part of the "Conservatory" part of the School. In the Juilliard School, for example, there are three schools each operating quasi-independently; the Juilliard School of Music is the only true "Conservatory" part of the school.
Notable Classical conservatories in the United States are:
- Cleveland Institute of Music (Cleveland, OH)
- Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)
- The Juilliard School (New York, NY)
- Boston Conservatory (Boston, MA)
- New England Conservatory (Boston, MA)
- Manhattan School of Music (New York, NY)
- New World Symphony Orchestra, (Miami, FL) (for music school graduates)
- The Colburn School (Los Angeles, CA)
- San Francisco Conservatory of Music (San Francisco, CA)
Notable contemporary music (Jazz and popular styles) conservatories are:
- Berklee College of Music (Boston, Massachusetts)
- Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music (Los Angeles, CA)
- The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (New York, New York)
- New England Conservatory (Boston, MA) (Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation/Jazz Composition)
- McNally Smith College of Music (St. Paul, Minnesota)
- Musicians Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
- The Contemporary Music Division at Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Oberlin, OH) (encompasses Composition, Jazz Studies and Technology in Music and Related Arts (TIMARA)).
Often, academic requirements for conservatories are merely supplemental to a music student's education and career. This makes them very popular with students who are aiming at a professional performance career, and who do not wish to do all of the academic requirements that are normally required at music schools that are part of a larger university system.
As part of a larger university
While closely related to independent conservatories, some important music schools are incorporated into larger universities.
Notable examples of this type of music school are:
- Bienen School of Music of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
- Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
- Florida State University College of Music (Tallahassee, FL)
- Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
- Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music of The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
- University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (Ann Arbor, MI)
- Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
- Mannes College The New School for Music (New York, NY), as of 1989: Part of The New School
- The Hartt School at University of Hartford (West Hartford, CT)
- Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University (Chicago, Illinois)
- School of Music at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (Urbana, Illinois)
- Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Oberlin, OH)
- Bard College Conservatory of Music (Annandale, NY)
- University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (Cincinnati, OH)
- School of Music and Dance at University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
- Eastman School of Music at University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)
- Shepherd School of Music at Rice University (Houston, Texas)
- Carnegie Mellon School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
- University of North Texas College of Music (Denton)
- Shenandoah University Conservatory (Winchester, Virginia)
- Longy School of Music of Bard College (Cambridge, MA), As of April 1, 2012: Part of Bard College
- Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, City University of New York (Flushing, NY)
- Harvard University Department of Music of Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
- Department of Music and Theatre(MUTA) of California State University, Chico (Chico, CA)
- Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
- Conservatory of Music of Capital University (Columbus, OH)
- The Peabody Institute  at John Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
Conservatory as part of a larger university
These schools are somewhat in between a university music school and an independent conservatory.
Several conservatories and contemporary music (jazz) schools that are tied to a university often function as a separate entity while being attached to a university. There are several reasons that music conservatories want to be affiliated with universities. Being affiliated with a university may enable a music college to offer a broader education to its students, because it enables students from the music college to take liberal arts courses from the university (e.g., English literature, history, etc.) as well as enabling musically-gifted students from the main university campus to have access to conservatory-grade music lessons. As well, with the affiliation, the students from the music college may be able to use the facilities of the university, such as the gym, swimming pool, and health services. Finally, affiliation with a university may enable a music college to offer a broader range of degrees, such as the Master of Music degree (M.Mus.), which the university may be able to grant. However, because of the separation, students are often given more freedom in choosing their curriculum than those in a typical university music school. For example, while they have the option of taking classes at the main university campus, they are generally not required to do so. Likewise, more academically-minded music students are given more freedom to pursue their non-musical interests than they would be at a regular, independent conservatory.
Notable cases of conservatories that are affiliated with universities are the Eastman School of Music (affiliated with the University of Rochester), Bienen School of Music (affiliated with Northwestern University), Mannes College (affiliated with the New School), Blair School of Music (affiliated with Vanderbilt University), Kansas City Conservatory of Music at University of Missouri–Kansas City, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at University of Cincinnati, and the Peabody Institute (affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University). All of these conservatories were independent schools before joining a larger entity. For example, Eastman and Mannes, while having separate admissions offices than the larger university, both share the larger's bursars and student services offices. These schools are also removed from their respective university's campuses further showing their independence.
Though some of these music schools do forego requiring prospective applicants to meet university admission standards, most still follow a strict complementary structure of general education along with music education.
The fourth type of music school is the most informal. These schools are not incorporated in terms of their recognition as a school entitled to non-profit legal status. Almost anyone can attend these schools and pay a for-profit fee for instruction in diverse types of music.