Violinist writes: Juilliard must wise up or die

Violinist writes: Juilliard must wise up or die


norman lebrecht

March 09, 2021

A violin graduate, Emma Sutton-Williams (pic), has taken aim at Juilliard with a blast at its narrow classical focus, to the exclusion of other musical forms and the real world outside. She argues the school must get with the rhythm, or fade away:

The Juilliard School trained me in excellence for a traditional orchestral career. It’s what makes the institution so extraordinary. But why is it continuing to prepare brilliant students to only enter the world of dying orchestras with downward spiraling funding without helping them explore other genres or expand their skill set to survive a changing market?


The article itself is behind a paywall at Rolling Stone, but the comments are free – and interesting. Here’s one:

Having been a student at Juilliard & having studied classical violin since the age of 4, I really do not want to see Juilliard change its program of turning out brilliant performers and artists. I’ve been able to perform with some of music’s greatest musicians: Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, and The Moody Blues to name just a few and they represent different genres of music which are definitely are not classical. The point is, I can play any genre I want to play whenever I want to play it, or gig it because I received excellent musical training from Juilliard’s outstanding faculty of Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay along with many, many others.

And another:

I agree that not putting technology and maybe marketing into the core curriculum of a 21st century conservatory curriculum is negligent. I don’t feel however that it’s the school’s or the teacher’s job to educate the student about other genres. Which genres exactly? The music world is enormous and if the student is interested in something they are free to explore. But the student goes to conservatory for a reason- that they love classical music and the refinement and extreme skill that it requires. And I’m tired of hearing about the impending death of orchestras. It is a complex and scary topic but classical music is profound and beautiful (as is much other music) and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.


  • John Borstlap says:

    The usual misunderstanding of ignorati that classical music, which stems from premodern times, is not compatible with modernity, and is (or should be) on an equal level of sophistication and meaning with jazz, pop, rap, hiphop etc. etc. They should leave classical music alone and do something else that is better suited to their level of perception.

    • Rogerio says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but the transcript above seems to draw a logical line that circles back on itself and ends up going nowhere.
      She is masterful at promoting herself, I can say that much.
      Dotothy DeLay. I swoon.
      She started studying at age four!!? I didn’t know they started that early. I thought you start studying the violin when your body stops growing…
      Is it really true they don’t study marketing at Juilliard?
      You could have fooled me.
      If she wasn’t so old I could believe this story on SD was the end result of a Marketing 101 mid-term project.

      • Christopher Clift says:

        I believe Rogerio, that like me at first, confused the story’s author’s submission, with the first comment about having studied at Juilliard with Dorothy Delaye and others.

        • Rogerio says:

          You are right.
          In my haste I commented the comments posted by Mr. Lebrecht.
          My bad.
          I take back the “old” crack.
          And the rest I address “to whom it may concern”.

          • NYCgirl says:

            Have no idea where you got your misguided comment about not beginning the violin study “until your body stops growing”. Where on earth did you pick up that idea? Age four is an extremely common age to start violin, and quite a few start earlier as well.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Some Wunderkinder are born with a mini violin, on which they have already practiced scales. This remarkable biological phenomenon results from an old Eastern-European tradition: pregnant wives of Stehgeiger sometimes ate the violin of their husband, in small pieces, hoping the child would become musical. It was worth the husband’s anger who had to buy a new one.

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        Many (many many) children, including my own, start violin at 3 or 4.

    • Jack says:

      Sniff . . . sniff

    • Novagerio says:

      John: Juilliard has also trained several top jazz musicians/composers. If you don’t know the very foundation of music – regardless of the genre, you can’t improvise. An excellent school trains various genres.

    • Vlad says:

      Well said!

  • Tamino says:

    She can play any genre, because she has a classical education. That‘s how it works. Cross pollination the opposite way rarely happens.
    It always helps to extend horizons according to personal interest, but the most rigorous classical eduction remains the ultimate education, no matter how „diverse“ an institution wants to dilute its aspirations.

    • Rachelle Goldberg says:

      There are a number of examples of musicians who studied at the Juillard and then became well known in a different genre. Neil Sedaka piano and composition who having won a prize at the Tschaikovsky Competition went on to be a pop musician. His recent’classical’ compositions were recorded two years ago. Barry Manilow also studied at Juilliard and there many others

      • Patricia says:

        If I were Juilliard , I wouldn’t be too quick to claim Manilow.

      • Rachelle Goldberg says:

        The Music Colleges and Conservatoires abroad now have a much more diverse training and curriculum programmes in recent years. There are examples of Jazz eg Guildhall, Juilliard with Wynton Marsalis, Improvisation classes, different workshops with genres including pop and rock for instance. For another example the RAM now has accordion on its syllabus with composition students composing specifically for this instrument. The diverse training programmes are a great advantage because the students at the Music Colleges and Conservatoires can diversify in their profession with a portfolio career.

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        Neil did indeed study with Edgar Roberts in the Pre-College, and with Adele Marcus in the Upper Division. We are dear friends. He can still play Chopin beautifully. He was a winner of the high school competition judged by Artur Rubinstein, Abram Chasins, Jascha Heifetz, Leonard Rose and others. How’s that for a jury! He went on a songwriting career, but always maintained his classical playing. His ‘Manhattan Intermezzo’ is a lovely work. He told me he was writing it, and shared it with me upon its completion. I have enjoyed performing it several times, and recorded it for the Naxos label with the Brown University Orchestra when Paul Phillips was their music director. John Williams studied there, Cy Coleman also studied with Adele, and many wonderful entertainers, dancers, actors, composers etc have trained at Juilliard for their studies and carried forward from these roots. A school can provide a solid education, but what we do with that afterward becomes a personal journey.

    • Max Schlossberg says:

      That’s absurd. A classical music education doesn’t prepare you to play any genre. Students graduate the schools unable to play in a broadway pit or to improvise or play a recording session with a rap or hip hop artist.

      • Tamino says:

        But they can learn it much faster, based on their education, than people coming the opposite way. In average. Based on their rigorous education.
        You mistake personality with skills.

      • Fiddlefaddle6 says:

        Dear Max,
        That’s a pretty broad statement to make about a classical music education. While some classes such as Orchestration 101 or Choral Conducting might not always be relevant, understanding the structures of the different musical genres
        Typically speaking, rap artists tend to use percussive tracks when “telling their story” thru the “verse & refrain”. Rap makes use of the iambic pentameter & has a clear and distinct rhythm, but doesn’t tend to use Symphony Orchestras as backup.
        I can’t tell you how many pit orchestras I’ve performed with for musicals, ballets etc. Hundreds, if not thousands…
        The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra does back up all the time-as do almost ALL Symphonies. They also perform Opera, Musicals, current Broadway productions, and backup for movie productions.
        It’s true that some classically trained musicians-especially soloists-have a difficult time crossing genres, but that’s NOT true of all of us. My dad was a Jazz Pianist and could improvise anything. That’s the first live music I can remember hearing along with the recordings of classical Symphonic works my mother would play. I love jazz and I play it well including improvising ad lib.
        Why am I writing all of this to you? Because I’m the author of the first remark quoted in the article above. And I am a classically trained violinist and Juilliard graduate.

        • Antonia says:

          You grew up hearing lots of jazz. This makes it a musical mother tongue for you. Without lots and lots of jazz listening experience, one can’t play jazz well. I dispute the notion that one may grow up exposed mainly to classical music, study it at the college level, graduate, and then play jazz successfully. I could not possibly feel more strongly about this. You were well-prepared to play jazz well via your childhood.

      • Patricia says:

        Students don’t graduate. They are graduated. And if you are so hot to play with rap or hip-hop, neither of which is music, don’t waste your and the school’s time getting a classical education. And what is the difference between playing in a broadway pit and playing in an opera pit?

      • Wannaplayguitar says:

        Rubbish…’s a matter of what you need to learn to do in order to survive financially after college. If Pater is not willing to finance your classical studies any further and says ‘On yer bike Arabella…time to get a job’ it is only a short intellectual hop into the theatre pit or the arenas of the pop tours. It isn’t Mozart but it pays the bills until you have any better ideas.

    • Mecky Messer says:

      Ever heard a classical musician trying to do other styles?

      Its shameful and vomitive.

      From Yo Yo Ma failing to keep tempo on Brazilian and Middle eastern attempts, to horrendous crossover waste of studio time across the board, if classically trained musicians are somehow “so good” how come none of them ever made it big time even when attempting to do pop crossover?

      Its like claiming a Harvard education is the ultimate non-plus-ultra yet no CEO has a harvard degree….it wouldn’t fly.

      But its OK. If it makes the old Ivory Tower self delude in grandeur….be my guest.

      Classically trained musicians are a total failure in other genres, in spite of continuous and ever more shameless attempts of “glory” (2Cellos?)


      • Minnesota says:

        Crossing over from classical to jazz or pop, or vice versa, can be done but typically isn’t by those performing at the highest levels. Some can do it well, but to my ears, it is very difficult for most musicians to get the rhythms right when crossing over in either direction.

        There are quality music schools that offer broader training besides classical. An interesting example is Middle Tennessee State Univ. which is near Nashville, has large programs in classical, jazz & popular music, and also music industry studies (pop performance and production skills). Julliard could go in that direction too, but it would be a big investment and cultural change for the school and not necessarily good value for a student who could get this kind of broad training for much less money elsewhere.

      • Tamino says:

        Explain? Because your premise is simply wrong. There are numerous examples of classically trained musicians who excel in other genres, but only anecdotal cases where it worked the other way.
        Surely any genre requires for mastership then dedicated specialisation. That’s obvious.
        But no education gives a better instrumental (or vocal) foundation than a classical one.
        Someone taking singing lessons Musical style, will almost certainly fail at opera auditions. The other way around there are options.
        And what does it take to “make it big” in doing pop crossover? Certainly not musical skills, skills that can be taught at any institution anyway. It takes certain performance and personality traits to make it big in pop. Your argument is flawed.

      • Fiddlefaddle6 says:

        That’s a pretty broad statement to make about a classical music education. “A total failure in other genres”? Really?

        And just of whom are you speaking? Winton Marsalis? (He’s currently teaching at Juilliard). Surely not Jean-Pierre Rampal, Jazz Flautist? Regina Carter, Brooke Alford? That’s just four world class musicians. All are classically trained, Alford was Cum Laude FSU, but are very successful in their chosen performance genre-& they sound anything but “vomitous”.

        Many, many world class Symphony Orchestras have backed up the Moody Blues over the years. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra does back up all the time-as do almost ALL Symphonies. They also perform Opera, Musicals, Requiems, Oratorios, current Broadway productions, and backup for soloists of every kind & movie productions, along with new contemporary music.

        It’s true that some classically trained musicians-especially soloists-have a difficult time crossing genres, but that’s NOT true of all of us. My dad was a Jazz Pianist and could improvise anything. That’s the first live music I can remember hearing along with the recordings of classical Symphonic works my mother would play. I love jazz and I play it well including improvising ad lib.

        Why am I writing all of this to you? Because I’m the author of the first remark quoted in the article above. And I am a classically trained violinist and Juilliard graduate.

        • Mecky Messer says:

          Wow, where to begin.

          The onpy flawed argument here is to confidently state that somehow “classical education” is the highest form of musical training or that it somehow takes precedence over all genres as “better”.

          And the best people can do is throw out Marsalis and a couple of instrumentalists forgotten like old dusty photos? One could’ve mentioned Elton John who did attend the Royal School of Music, but that kind of proves my point. These folks transcend in spite of, not because of their music education.

          Want to talk about folks jumping genres, pretty much every effort from Pavarotti to Domingo to any soprano or classically trained singer to do any pop or world music Melody is a total fiasco and the audiences reject it. Lets check the last, lets say, 50 years of grammys or billboard charts.

          And the contrary is not applicable simply because the Classical industry has so little to offer no singer in their right mind would want to explore the material, unless you are retired and undergoing a mid-life crisis like Sting or lately Silvio Rodriguez (who just recorded some stuff w/ Villazon I think)

          In simple terms: why should society subsidize hundreds of music schools that train you in something that at best 2-3% of the population appreciates and that on top of that leaves hundreds of students with debt and underskilled to be competitive in the larger, 20B music market?

          We would be outraged if 99% of stem schools were teaching Alchemy and Eugenics instead of Quantum Physics….

          ….but then again a lot of people in this blog kind of believe in Eugenics for the likes of some recurring commentaries…


      • Patricia says:

        Who cares? There is too much pop culture and too little classical culture. When the Beatles need ‘back up’ instruments, they went to London’s orchestras.

      • leogrinhauz says:

        Can we throw YOYO off a train?

      • Ana says:

        Denis Matsuev. I think I don’t have to explain further.

    • Antonia says:

      All but jazz. Jazz is a highly specialized genre not generally easily accessible to the highly-trained classical musician. All others, yes.

  • Allen says:

    “real world”

    One of those phrases, like “modern”, “relevant” and “progressive” that people use to shore up a poor argument.

    For instance, is a rock album, produced in a studio with millions of pounds worth of electronic equipment and highly intrusive processing, any more “real”?

    I’m not criticising the recording process, just the implication that classical music, which can be performed on a small scale with a minimum of fuss and intervention, is somehow intrinsically “unreal”.

  • Bone says:

    Would students clamor for commercial music courses if they were offered at Julliard? I believe that curriculum is already covered by several schools in the NYC area (and across the US). Julliard is -and always will be – considered a classical training school, notwithstanding the jazz arm that exists there now; perhaps that curriculum can be tweaked?

    • Christopher Smith says:

      The Oxford music degree attracted criticism for its perceived overweighting of classical theory etc. This was at least in the 1950s and 60s. Their argument was: If you don’t like the theoretical approach, don’t come to us. The problem l suspect was that most undergraduates did not understandably think their motivation through.

    • Volpe says:

      Perhaps we’d consider your point if you spelled the name of the institution correctly.

  • CYM says:

    I believe that classical music, jazz, rock, Broadway, country music, electronics, folk music etc… are ‘doomed to’ or ‘should’ follow separate paths, for their survival. Otherwise, we will continue to watch with horror the rise of charlatans, such as Einaudi, or André Rieu and so many other frauds, attracting millions on the Net in awe for these ‘genius’.

    • Tamino says:

      André Rieu is no charlatan. He is rather honest about what he does. (contrary to some mediocre yet arrogant people elsewhere actually)
      Only because the masses like it, doesn’t mean it is fraud. It might not advance the art form to highest aspirational peaks, but it gives pleasure to many.

  • D** says:

    It’s hardly a secret that earning a living from music performance of any kind is difficult. Juilliard does offer jazz studies, something that would have been unthinkable at one time.

    Some observers don’t realize just how much things have changed. I’ve read stories from the 1950s and before about music schools forbidding their students from performing popular music at any time. Outside performances were done in secrecy. In many places, the saxophone was loathed. Some music schools (like mine in the 1970s) grudgingly hired a saxophone instructor, but this person often wasn’t on the same employment level as the other woodwind faculty. Jazz studies? No way! Klezmer music? Really now, you can’t take that stuff seriously. A serious study of popular music? Ha ha!

    I can’t speak for Juilliard, but I’ve noticed many changes since my university days in the 1970s. Jazz studies have become an accepted part of the curriculum. The saxophone is an accepted area of study, and it would be unthinkable not to have a saxophone specialist on the faculty. Ethnic music styles, such as klezmer, have become mainstream, with university faculty members joining right in. I know of a university musicologist who recently wrote a book about Billy Joel. Non-western music is given serious attention for those who are interested.

  • drummerman says:

    Does she not know that Juilliard has a great jazz program? Ever hear of Wynton Marsalis?

  • D. Howley says:

    The relevance of the photo of Alec Baldwin and a woman in the Koch Theatre escapes me.

  • Wise Guy says:

    Ok Emma, what part of pops music that was so incredibly hard to understand that you needed explained to you while you studied at Julliard? Were you caught completely off-guard when you played with Ray Charles, never having seen such complexities in the classical canon? The whole point of a classical education in music, or in the humanities, is that its disciplines allow one to easily adapt to any application. If you can play Bach through Shostakovich, you can handle all those gigs you play nowadays.

  • Terra says:

    Being a current Juilliard student myself, I disagree. I think we need to step it up in terms of how we adapt ourselves to the changing world, but not change genres. There’s a market for incredibly talented people, it’s just the packaging of how we portray that. There’s too much free content out there that cheapens our art form.

    • Wise Guy says:

      Go to Berkeley College to learn non-classical stuff. To play even a narrow slice of the classical rep at THE HIGHEST level, is what Juilliard is built around.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Going to schools like Juilliard teach the past and present, and help merge people’s from all over the world to fuse their talents. Some things don’t have to be taught. Those things happen from the inside out, not the outside in. Many do not steer from their styles, others do. What I learned at Juilliard was a devotion for what has come down the generations, in the continuum of music. It is what we do with this that takes us on out own yellow brick road. Someone mentioned Neil Sedaka. We were both students of Adele Marcus. We eventually became dear friends and I have performed/recorded his classical style music. How we connect with others is an individual thing. Juilliard offers collaborative piano, fir example, jazz studies, etc. Being around living composers also fueled a passion within to commission new music. I personally approached Jimmy Webb to compose a piece for me with orchestra, and others. If you feel like diversification is in you, go with it. Juilliard experience fostered this, and perhaps moreso now than when I was there in the early 1980s. These things were taboo back then. But we went to Juilliard primarily fir the teacher, to learn the great traditions and take them forward. The rest is individual. Perhaps they can bring in artists who can share this with current students, questions and answers sessions, master classes in mixed genres. Foster students goals, mentor their ideas, which can be helpful perhaps.

    • Ugh says:

      Do you ever make a comment that isn’t some positivity pablum? And maybe give the name-drippy anecdotes a rest. It’s always this or that terribly dear (famous, cough) person that you were terribly close to, etc, etc. seriously.

      • Anne says:

        Wow, you are a true vulgarian.

      • Karl says:

        Jeffrey Biegel is talented and famous and you’re not. Get over it.

      • Pianofortissimo says:


      • Tom Phillips says:

        Clearly he has accomplished far more in his chosen field (and life generally) than you have as your pathetic and unprovoked attack proves.

      • Juilliard Graduate says:

        I absolutely agree. Sickening display of the old ‘boys club’ with the ‘get along to go along’ attitude.
        It’s all fake positive nonsense (to give face to all, afraid of ever insulting anyone and having an opinion, only to hold on to whatever position they’re holding)
        Ugh…name dropping…so like a Juilliard graduate! (vomit)

  • Anon says:

    I stopped reading her article at the part where she admitted that she didn’t know who Bruce Springsteen was. If you’re a music major who lacks in musical curiosity to the point that you don’t know who Springsteen is, then I don’t know what to say.

    • Patricia says:

      I know who Springsteen is. I don’t want to listen to him.

    • David Rohde says:

      I want to add onto Anon’s comment but do so very gingerly because I think there are some elements of decent points in the article. Still, not only did I find the opening anecdote off-putting, I frankly found it very difficult to believe. Did all of these pop-culture references in the article suddenly materialize in the author’s awareness during what had to be no more than the year left before the pandemic set in? Clearly not.

      It seems that Rolling Stone bought into the thesis based on less than perfect knowledge on their part and maybe their own stereotype of what really goes on. My own mind immediately went to Juilliard graduates who have forged careers inflected by popular forms such as cabaret/soul singer Morgan James (who also has appeared in four Broadway shows) and duo pianists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe. The other examples of such artists in this discussion are very welcome to know. And recently at Slipped Disc Norman also put up a notice about the two Broadway superstars (Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara) who were classically trained at Oklahoma City University by the recently deceased, legendary teacher Florence Birdwell.

      Certainly in the Washington area, just as in New York, there are many musicians of both strict classical training and otherwise who are amazingly conversant and interested in performing in styles from chamber music to rock musicals. I don’t mean to suggest that the results are always uniform, because they’re not. I once attended a semi-staged concert version of Porgy and Bess by one of the area’s several second-tier orchestras that was so lacking in style that I wanted to cry (not to mention that the orchestra drowned out the singers). But I sensed it was a leadership issue in the performance more than anything else.

      Hopefully it’s okay to mention that, like this author, I myself have mentioned the key skills and the excellent collaborations in jazz, rock and theater that you can see in the American arts, except that I use it to almost tack in the opposite direction – they demonstrate precisely why “classical music” (or serious art music, or whatever) CAN revive in American culture. Look up my article “Six things that classical music can learn from Broadway after the pandemic” on Medium and “What Classical Music Can Learn From The Queen’s Gambit” (a reference to the Netflix series about chess) at The Federalist. Thanks.

    • leogrinhauz says:

      ya, you don’t actually HAVE to see the groundhog to know they’re around

  • David K. Nelson says:

    It seems to me that to a certain extent, you choose your genre when you choose your instrument, and you choose your genre when you choose your teacher/conservatory.

    It also seems to me that when non classical genres try to use “classical” instruments they usually sound lame, forced and artificial. It makes you squirm. And it being pop, the genre soon disappears. I imagine those who attended Juilliard in the early 1960s do not regret being denied marathon sessions in learning how to play the Bossa Nova on viola.

    And to the extent “classical” instruments are used in popular music, they are used in ways that should be pretty familiar to any classically trained instrumentalist who slogged their way through the etudes, studies and scales that are the foundation of learning. After all, with rare (and wonderful) exceptions these studies are not even “music” (much less classical music) but rather are aimed at mastering the mechanical aspects of getting around the instrument in a nearly stimulus free environment. Even if you are determined to be the world’s greatest hip-hop violinist, you’ll always be a violinistic cripple if you don’t master the standard etudes and studies.

    That is why you see the great David Nadien’s name on Percy Faith recordings; he could play anything. I think it was János Starker who said that his definition of a professional musician is someone who could play anything that is put in front of them. Meaning notated music, which I suppose does leave some genres of “music” out of the discussion.

    I will grant Emma Sutton Williams this much. I do think conservatories could do more to encourage “classical” musicians to learn to improvise, maybe not to full fledged jazz standards, but something beyond what many seem able to do. Other than the traditional French organ tradition, improvisation is something few classical musicians can do, but at one time it was the touchstone of what was regarded as “good taste” and one reads almost unbelievable stories about the improvisational abilities of a a Paganini or a Hummel, or Beethoven for that matter.

    I also think some time spent on some of the “folk/ethnic” genres could be valuable to classically trained violinists, but with the goal of making them better and more interesting classical musicians, not so that they can hedge their bets on where their career takes them, which seems to be Sutton Williams’s desire.

    The other area where I think music study could place more emphasis is on the ability to sight read (my earlier mention of the great David Nadien is appropriate to that as he had the reputation of being an infallible and expert sight reader, perhaps the greatest). I have been from time to time shocked to encounter really fine players, graduates of the best schools, even winners of major competitions and makers of multiple recordings, who could not and would have to politely refuse to sight read the simplest of “oompah oompah” accompaniments in easy keys. No, they had one way to learn a new piece and it was the only way to play that they knew: slow, repetitive, so slow that no error was ever played and thus accidentally learned. If they sight read they might play the wrong note or leave out a note and that was simply contrary to how they had learned to master a piece of music. True these were usually pianists and rarely players of orchestral instruments — you’d be dead smelly meat if you relied on that method and played in an orchestra or were a session musician. But I am not sure there is training in it and if there is, some seem to avoid learning it yet still get their degrees.

  • Cho Jun says:

    Look who Juilliard have teaching “real world” experience? What do they expect? Edna Landau (dinosaur) and a “publicist” called Laura Grant? (really who?) Um, get with the program.

  • Zandonai says:

    FYI Emma, classical music is more than just “orchestras”.

    • violafan says:

      Jobs in orchestras are what the majority of Juilliard grads end up doing though. Thats her point.

  • She may be overestimating the career possibilities of other genres.

    Yes, classical music is a bleak career for most who try but so is boy band, melismatic balladeer, grunge, hip-hop, etc… only a tiny percentage of the people who pursue those routes ever “make it” enough to even buy beer. Much like those who aspire to orchestral careers.

    Why should Julliard expand to service more hopeless hopes? Who will they recruit to be professor of thrash metal bassoon?

  • Zandonai says:

    I always advise young music students to pursue a well-rounded higher education in science and humanities at a university, not a conservatory due to their narrow focus. Music conservatories are like vocational schools they only teach you to do one thing well.

    • SVM says:

      To be honest, I do not think there is a straightforward dichotomy between so-called “well-rounded” university programmes and “narrow focus” conservatoire programmes any more. Nowadays, here in the UK at least, the distinction between universities and conservatoires is being eroded — many universities offer highly regarded specialist performance or composition programmes (especially at postgraduate level), whilst many conservatoire programmes are becoming more “academic” (again, especially at postgraduate level).

      I would say the main difference is that conservatoires take a more professional attitude to performance commitments and opportunities **irrespective of whether they form part of the formal degree assessment** — for instance, being late for an orchestral rehearsal at a conservatoire is a very serious disciplinary offence (notwithstanding the fact that the orchestral project is probably “not for academic credit”) that could even result in expulsion (if the offence happens repeatedly), whilst it is unlikely to have any consequences at a university (beyond possibly not being invited to participate in the next project, if persistently unreliable).

      My advice to “young music students” would be to research each individual programme and to look-up the profiles of the teaching and research staff at each institution they are considering. They should also ensure they are familiar with the differences between specific music programmes *within* a given institution (these differences are potentially enormous). Ideally, they should try and get hold of an up-to-date internal programme handbook (i.e.: *not* the prospectus, but the document that enumerates in detail the current curriculum, its components, policies for teaching provision, and assessment procedures). Then, have a long and hard think about one’s own priorities and interests, and make a choice accordingly — there is no one-size-fits-all answer here (a point that seems to be lost on marketing people and senior managements, who expect rank-and-file lecturers to just “recommend” their music programmes indiscriminately, without considering their suitability for the particular individual with whom they are speaking at the time).

      • Zandonai says:

        What I mean by “well-rounded” university education is get a degree in science or humanities and study music on the side. This way, if the music thing doesn’t pan out, they have something to fall back onto.

  • Emore says:

    Juilliard: A phenomenal school, charging a small fortune to train (mostly) classical musicians; with the outcome of making low incomes, attempting to survive in a floundering and withering industry, oversaturated with talented Juilliard, and other conservatory graduates, competing for the one job in a million that pays well.
    Welcome to the Hunger Games kids!

  • Vladdy says:

    The “elite” music schools are kept afloat by students mostly from China and Korea. Juilliard’s Tianjin branch received funding directly from the communist government. These schools are irrelevant as they unfortunately do nothing to cultivate American talent…. just catering to “international” students for the most part, who go back home to cushy positions that they bribe their way into…

  • Couperin says:

    Are we sure she even actually has a Juilliard degree? Her bio says she was “educated at Juilliard, Yale and Parsons” (hahaha).. and, her list of gigs, I mean… pop/rock acts and some low-rent Broadway fare? Anyone check out her Bach performance on YouTube? Should we take her seriously, just because she writes ONE damn paywalled article in a rock-and-roll magazine?

    Are we supposed to throw in the towel and just say, “Yeah, you’re all right, classical music is dead, let’s just play with commercial acts now.” Did anyone EVER say, “go into classical music, it’s a ripe field with so many job openings and lucrative employment opportunities!” ??

    I’m sick to death of this kind of thinking, and the fact that it seems nobody is willing to stand up and defend classical music anymore.

    • Mecky Messer says:

      Ok. Well nobody is standing up bc all the people who care about it are on wheelchairs or walkers. It’s hard to stand up, you know

  • sam says:

    Remember the old joke?

    How do you stop a classical musician from playing? Take away his sheet music.

    How do you stop a jazz musician from playing? Give him some sheet music.

    Juilliard is at its best in training performers who read music (or memorize it).

    Juilliard, or any other school, is at its worst in trying to create original artists.

    Juilliard, or any school, will never produce a Mozart or a Charlie Parker or a Dr. Dre.

    Juilliard is a conservatory. It conserves what has already been produced and it clones performers to re-play these pieces, over, and over, and over again. Perfectly.

  • leo grinhauz says:

    This inexperienced and misguided young professional equates musical success with being a poseur. Juilliard fails us when they accept tuition payments from inadequate potential. i hope the author of the article gains insight and wisdom as they age.

    • Couperin says:

      I suspect she’s not a graduate nor was she even accepted. “Educated at Juilliard” could mean many things…

  • VY says:

    I am sorry, but orchestras are not dying and classical music is not dying either. Please, do not mix apples and oranges. By the way, our dynamic society is excelling in ALL kinds of music from Barocco to Rap. There is absolutely no need to reinvent a wheel. Relax and enjoy!

  • M2N2K says:

    Classical music education ALONE cannot create a really good jazz player. But then classical music education ALONE will not create a really good classical player either. There is a little something needed additionally for both that is called “talent”. But good classical music education does definitely help in improving chances of reaching qualitative success not only in classical but also in jazz and other types of music. That is because classical music education teaches the essential foundation on which most if not all good music of virtually all types is actually based.

  • leogrinhauz says:

    The author is a fraud. In her 3/24/2016 public facebook post, she shares an article entitled: Juilliard Tops List of World’s Best Schools. She extolls the virtues of the place by exclaiming: “My alma mater ranked #1. I’m so excited I could sing our fight song-which is every song ever written.” What’s changed, little snowflake?

  • Luke says:

    Ever heard of John Williams? The classical guitarist not the guy that did the big movie scores. He had/has a very successful career in classical before crossing over to rock with the band Sky. Had quite a successful run there and made quite a name for himself before “crossing back” to classical. It can be done but requires thinking outside of the box.