top of page

Why You Do Not Have to Go to an Ivy League Conservatory or College to Be Successful.

I am going to start with a quote from the book, Who Gets in and Why by Jeffery Selingo. “... as Malcolm Gladwell argued in the New Yorker in 2005, is that prestige in higher education is measured by the quality of students the admissions office admits, not by the education they receive. He compared elite colleges to modeling agencies. “You don’t become beautiful by signing up with an agency,” Gladwell wrote. “You get signed up by an agency because you are beautiful.” In other words, Harvard admits kids who are smart or come from well connected families and the university’s job is to simply ensure it doesn’t screw them up over the next four years.” (I would add, “Screw them up too much over the next four years.” I have met a lot of graduates from “Ivy League” conservatories and the competition and cruelty from a few select professors have scarred more than a few of them.

As far as admitting “high quality” students only, in my humble opinion, high prestige conservatories do the exact same thing. The world of classical music is so elitist it really upsets me sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that not every student there has connections but the school does not allow students admission into their programs if they cannot already play well, extremely well, before they walk into that audition room. That is why these schools have pre auditions in the fall before the actual audition in January. They are weeding out students who don’t fit the criteria and will not “make the school look prestigious”.

Classical music is extremely elitist and it really upsets me when I see young people get a bad education in music because they were not in the right place at the right time. I stand for all musicians and want each and every one of you to succeed as an artist! But, that is another Blog for Another Time.

So, what do we do from here? Do not worry if you do not get into your beloved Juilliard because I am here to tell you, the school will not make a difference for you. The number one thing they do not teach students at any college, university or conservatory is that there are NOT ENOUGH ORCHESTRA JOBS out there for you.

After doing a few Google searches, I found an antiquated (2014) publication of the NEA (National Endowment of the Arts)

It states, “In 2014, there were 1,224 U.S. orchestras, distributed widely across all 50 states (NCAR and OSR). “

How many music majors graduated that year? I will leave that for you to look up but I can guess that it was well over 1,224….

So, what are these conservatories teaching their students? To be teachers? Another article to peruse…

This is, of course, if you want to be a music teacher in the first place.

Maybe you don’t want to be a teacher. What other job opportunities exist for musicians; College and Conservatory Professors, Lounge Entertainers, Busking… Or a YouTube Star - Check out Two Set Violin

So, orchestra playing might not be all that it is perceived as being. It takes a HUGE amount of work and dedication to take an audition so you better want that orchestra gig badly… like, more than ANYTHING!

I do not want to dishearten anyone about their chances at being a musician, quite the opposite. The world is your oyster! There are so many places to get an education (now more than ever) ~ The Music Profit Umbrella, Honesty Pill, Music Mastermind Experience and Bulletproof Musician to name a few.

My advice to all of you: Get your education at a higher institution that works for you and fits into your life. Do not worry about the status of this institution. Then after graduation (or maybe before) start your own performance group or business. You are the Boss of Your Future!

It is time to Get In there and Get Moving!

Susan ~

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page