Located in the quaint Hudson valley hamlet of Annandale-On-Hudson, NY, the Bard College Conservatory of Music is a unique music school established in 2005.
During the school year, Bard College students make up the vast majority of the town’s modest population of just a few thousand.
As of the fall of 2020, undergraduate enrollment at Bard’s Annandale-on-Hudson campus is about 1,800 students, with an additional 600 graduate students.
Rather than the conventional, four-year degree program structure, the Bard Conservatory undergraduate students participate in a five-year, double-degree program. In other words, with just one extra year of study, Bard students can complete two degrees: one in music and one in any other academic area.
The Bard Conservatory’s innovative approach to undergraduate music education is founded on the belief that music students should receive a well-rounded education. In practice, this means that the school’s undergraduate curriculum thoroughly covers the areas of the liberal arts and the sciences, not just music.
In this manner, the Bard College Conservatory of Music is not a music school but a high-quality institution for undergraduate education where music students can learn to become well-rounded learners in all academic areas.
If you are considering pursuing a degree in music, then you should also be considering Bard College — their conservatory degree program just may be exactly what you are looking for.
Read on to learn more about the Bard College Conservatory of Music, such as what music major offerings they have, their acceptance rate, notable alumni, and more.
Bard College-Conservatory Acceptance Rate
While there hasn’t been much recently published data on the topic, in past years, Bard College-Conservatory of Music has had an acceptance rate of 15%.
Thus, since most colleges in the United States offer admission to a 66% majority of applicants, it can be said that the conservatory program is quite selective.
There are a few key differences between the Bard Conservatory’s application process and others that prospective music undergraduates need to be aware of.
For one, the Bard College Conservatory requires students to complete two applications: one for the college and one for the conservatory.
For the former, students can either submit the Common Application or take the Bard Entrance Examination, which consists of 19 essay questions across the four core academic subjects.
Because of the freedom to choose between these two application types, Bard applicants can maximize their chance of acceptance by selecting whichever method they feel best allows them to showcase their ability.
Moreover, Bard College is test-optional, so students can rest assured that bad SAT/ACT scores will not ruin their chances of getting into the school. On the other hand, students who excel at test taking can submit optional test scores as a supplement to the application.
The conservatory application consists of an audition recording, a musical resume or biography, and a letter of recommendation from a professional musician.
All these requirements may initially seem a bit overwhelming, but aspiring Bard students should not be intimidated by this process.
Think of it this way: each component of the Bard College Conservatory application process offers students a valuable opportunity to show the school’s admissions office who they are as a student, a musician, and a person.
Ultimately, the likelihood of admission to Bard doesn’t necessarily correlate to the average acceptance rate for the college, but rather results from the summation of the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses as a musician.
Bard Conservatory GPA
All students at the Bard Conservatory pursue two majors – one in music, and one in the liberal arts. To be accepted into both the conservatory and the liberal arts program, an average GPA of 3.8 is recommended.
In addition to GPA, musical proficiency is essential for acceptance, such as the audition.
This means that students who want to apply to Bard’s Conservatory program should maintain high grades throughout all high school courses to be competitive applicants to the school.
Additionally, they must make sure that the audition tape submitted is one that truly reflects the extent of their musical capability.
To ensure that they will have a great chance of being accepted to the school, Bard applicants should carefully select an audition piece that is challenging enough to impress admissions officials, but not too challenging to play with mastery, elegance, and immaculate technical control.
It should be noted, however, that the Bard College Conservatory uses a holistic approach to undergraduate admissions, meaning that they strive to consider all aspects of each individual student’s story — not just their grades and the audition tape.
What Bard wants to see in their prospective students is academic ambition, strong critical thinking skills, and other ideal qualities in a Bard student.
Is Bard a Good Music School? Bard College-Conservatory of Music Ranking
Yes, the Bard College Conservatory is an excellent music school.
According to Niche’s ranked list of the best colleges for studying music, Bard is well within the top 100 music schools in the nation, currently occupying the #56 spot. However, some might rightly believe Bard is deserving of a much higher mark than this number, considering the quality of students and teachers at the school.
Additionally, many of the faculty at Bard College-Conservatory of Music also teach at other major East Coast colleges for music, such as Juilliard. Bard perhaps can best be described as the ultimate in marrying a quality liberal arts education with an amazing music program.
Bard offers state-of-the-art facilities, such as the 16,500 square-foot László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building. The building is connected to the music wing of the Avery Arts Center and features 15 teaching studios, a student lounge, a large classroom, and a 100-person capacity performance space.
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts also features two theaters and a variety of practice rooms for dance, music, and theater students. These spacious, fully-equipped facilities are everything an aspiring musician needs to study, practice, and gain experience with performing.
What Are the Available Music Majors at Bard?
Students in the bachelor’s of music program at the Bard College Conservatory of music can choose an area of concentration from among the vast array of options the school offers. Concentrations include classical performance, composition, and even a recently created undergraduate in vocal performance.
Of course, due to the unique double-major program requirement, all students in the conservatory program major in both a music discipline and a second academic area of study.
Bard also offers a number of music programs for graduate students, one of which is the two-year Master Of Music in Vocal Arts. This program is headed by Stephanie Blythe, one of the premiere singers in the nation.
With a very diverse set of degree program offerings, Bard has something for nearly every young musician.
For example, there is the Chinese instruments major, which requires spending no less than three months studying abroad in Beijing to receive studio instruction time with professional Chinese musicians.
Should You Apply to Bard College-Conservatory of Music?
Although there is no definitive guide to finding the perfect music college to attend, it can certainly be that there are a plethora of reasons students should apply to the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 10:1, the school offers all the benefits associated with small class sizes, such as the opportunity to develop close working relationships with faculty and peers.
Another reason to apply to the Bard Conservatory is that the school’s faculty are a truly outstanding group of individuals who have immense experience and expertise in many areas of the music industry.
Take, for example, Mark Baechle, a Bard film composition professor who wrote, recorded, and produced all of the music for Disney’s animated hit series “Little Einstein’s,” for which he received a Grammy nomination.
If you are equally passionate about music and another area of study, then the Bard College Conservatory of Music is an excellent music school for you. The conservatory’s double-degree program will allow you to make the most of your undergraduate experience and pursue both of your academic interests as you complete two bachelor’s degrees.
Although going to school in a small town like Annandale-On-Hudson may sound a bit underwhelming, the town’s population is so heavily dominated by Bard students, Annandale’s atmosphere becomes infinitely more lively during the academic year. On top of that, the town is only two hours away from New York City, one of the world’s biggest cities and a bustling hub for the music industry.