When people think of music schools, they may automatically think of conservatories like Juilliard and Berklee, perhaps the two most famous music schools in the United States.
While both of these schools are great, many exceptional music schools are located outside the upper east coast.
Many university-based music programs call Texas home, and some of them are equally prestigious to musicians “in the know” to their east coast counterparts.
Texas is home to over 170 colleges and universities, many of which are nationally renowned institutions and featured on this list. One of Texas’ most prominent cities, Austin, is widely regarded as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Indeed, there is a fabulous music school in Austin on this very list.
Today, we take a look at the ten best music schools in Texas. We judged these schools by the quality of faculty, student outcomes, resources, relationships with prominent cultural institutions (like a symphony orchestra), and more.
Here are the 10 best music schools in Texas.
10. Texas State University School of Music (San Marcos, TX)
“Somos Músicos,” which translates to “We are musicians,” is the Texas State School of Music motto. The motto underscores the school’s vibrant, highly talented, and purposive-driven community of musicians, artists, learners, and scholars. TSUSM prides itself in its nurturing and immersive learning environment where aspiring artists and musicians hone their craft.
TSUSM is known for its award-winning ensembles, most notably the Texas State Wind Symphony, and its world-class faculty. One notable faculty member is Dr. Ames Asbell, a world-renowned violist who has performed and worked with famous artists such as the Dixie Chicks, Andrea Bocelli, and Stevie Wonder. Dr. Asbell has taught many rising-star violists and many of her students have gone on to study at prestigious music schools.
Music Teacher Training, Latin Music Studies, and Jazz Performance are some of the top-notch, signature programs offered at TSUSM. Classes and performances are held in state-of-the-art facilities, including the new Performing Arts Center, which features a 312-seat recital hall equipped with grand pianos.
9. Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, TX)
Housed in the College of Fine Arts, the Music Department at Dallas Baptist University is one of the finest schools in the state. The department offers programs in Music Business, Piano Performance, Theory, Vocal Performance, and a unique, interdisciplinary studies program emphasizing worship studies.
Music students at DBU have access to myriad opportunities and are trained by faculty who are well versed in classical and Christian music.
Many of the faculty are themselves DBU alumni, which enables them to foster a nurturing and intensive educational environment for their students. Faculty and students share an experience and deep understanding of DBU’s culture of creativity and Christian service.
Half of DBU students are adults, 25 or older, who are continuing their education while balancing careers, family life, and other commitments. Because of this sizable, unique population and its needs, DBU ensures that students have access to financial resources to help them pay for a college education, including music scholarships.
8. Texas Tech University School of Music (Lubbock, TX)
The Texas Tech University School of Music is one of the top music programs in the country. According to College Factual, its ranks among the top ten in several categories, most notably: “Best Colleges for Music,” “Highest Paid Music Graduates,” and #1 for “Best Value Colleges for Music.” These rankings are just a snapshot of what TTUSM has to offer.
TTUSM is located in Lubbock, home to a vibrant arts scene, tourism, and numerous historical sites. The school is uniquely positioned to provide educational, training, and professional opportunities to music majors and non-music majors alike.
The school boasts a high job placement rate among its graduates, who have gone on to perform at Metropolitan Opera, win Fulbright fellowships, and land spots in internationally-renowned orchestras.
The school houses several impressive performance facilities, such as the 541-seat Hemmle Recital Hall, where countless professionals and rising stars have performed. It is also home to one of Texas’s most prominent instrument collections and a reference library of more than 13,000 recordings and music scores.
7. Texas Christian University School of Music (Fort Worth, TX)
The Texas Christian University School of Music prepares its student with the skills, education, and training necessary to succeed in a career in the arts and beyond.
TCUSM graduates have landed careers as professional musicians in renowned ensembles and orchestras, freelance musicians, music teachers, and music producers. The school has an excellent job placement of around 90% each year.
TCUSM students can choose from many areas of study, including Church Music and Brass. The Collegium Musicum, an ensemble that presents performances of Baroque music, is one among many examples of the opportunities offered to students to hone their professional musical abilities.
The school’s internship program has been recognized as among the best in the country. The Princeton Review ranks TCUSM #4 among “Best Schools for Internships,” #6 among “Best Alumni Networks,” and #11 among schools for “Best Career Services.”
6. University of Houston Moores School of Music (Houston, TX)
The University of Houston Moores School of Music has the honor of occupying the #1 spot on the College Factual list of “Best Colleges for Music” in 2021. This ranking was determined by various factors, chiefly post-graduation earnings and its impact on the job prospects of non-traditional and veteran students.
UHMSM prides itself in the diversity of its student body, among other attributes. More than 50% of the student body consists of members of ethnic and racial minority groups. Students are also quite competitive academically.
The school offers a unique Music with Elective Studies Program, in which students have an opportunity to center their music education and training on one of three elective concentrations: teacher certification, nonprofit music leadership, and music marketing.
5. Baylor University School of Music (Waco, TX)
Established in 1921, the Baylor University School of Music is home to 19 ensembles, small class sizes, and is conveniently located within 90 miles of the well-known metropolitan areas of Texas.
Baylor music students have pursued careers on Broadway, in nationally and internationally acclaimed orchestras and ensembles, and in churches throughout the country and globe. Others have pursued advanced degrees in music at prestigious institutions.
Baylor’s music scholarship is as outstanding as its music education and training. Faculty research is dynamic and eclectic, ranging from groundbreaking publications and recordings to interdisciplinary research projects in collaboration with faculty from other departments.
Baylor’s overall admissions process is relatively competitive, with an acceptance rate of around 45%. Individual programs tend to be more selective. Admission into the School of Music is a dual-acceptance process, meaning that students must first be accepted by Baylor and subsequently the School of Music.
4. Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts (Dallas, TX)
The Southern Methodist University School of Music is part of the university’s fine arts unit, the Meadows School of the Arts. Alumni can be found performing for national and international ensembles, churches, symphony orchestras, and working as orchestra conductors.
Because of stellar faculty and innovative programs, the list of alumni accomplishments is ever-growing. Meadows offers a variety and undergraduate and graduate programs, including Music Education and Music Therapy. Course offerings are not restricted to Meadows students; non-music students can sample courses in jazz, popular music, and perform in the school’s music ensembles.
Meadows Music faculty are excellent educators who are highly accomplished in their fields. Dr. Sarah Allen, Professor and Co-Chair of Music Education, has published her work on music education and instrumental music pedagogy in esteemed journals. Dr. Allen is just one example among many of the outstanding work of Meadows faculty.
3. University of Texas, Austin Butler School of Music (Austin, TX)
The University of Texas Austin Butler School of Music is one of the largest schools on this list. Butler employs 100 music faculty and enrolls over 650 music students. Despite its size, the school manages a 7:1 student to faculty ratio, which allows for individualized and innovative education and training.
Butler faculty are world-class performers, scholars, and teachers. They have received awards from prestigious organizations and foundations such as Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Fulbright, and MacArthur. Others have performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and other internationally and nationally esteemed orchestras.
Outstanding schools offer ample professional opportunities to students, and UT Austin’s Butler School of Music is no exception. Each year, students perform solo recitals and in ensembles, nationally and abroad. These professional opportunities complement innovative courses of study.
Butler’s courses of study are diverse and wide-ranging. The Music and Human Learning program is highly regarded and one of Butler undergraduates’ most popular programs.
2. Rice University School of Music (Houston, TX)
Rice University School of Music is one of the most selective schools on this list. The acceptance rate is reportedly 12%, only slightly higher than Rice’s overall acceptance rate of 9%. Hundreds of students apply for a little over 80 spots in Rice’s Shepherd School of music.
The Shepherd School of Music is noted for its unique admissions process. Selection is based on the specific needs of the ensembles, orchestras, vocal, and instrumental music departments. Why are so many aspiring musicians vying for a spot?
Shepherd alumni have made significant achievements in music, contributing to the school’s reputation as a leading music school internationally. Alumni have won Grammys, Pulitzer Prizes, and have performed at internationally prestigious concert halls and opera centers.
Many of Shepherd’s faculty are among the world’s most elite performers; many of them hold dual appointments with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.
1. University of North Texas School of Music (Denton, TX)
The University of North Texas School of Music is home to outstanding and accomplished musicians, composers, and scholars. The college of music is top-notch, worthy of a top spot on the College Factual list of “Best Colleges for Music” and best colleges for veterans and non-traditional students. UNTSCM ranks highly across several other, esteemed publications, including Billboard Magazine, Grad Reports, and Fiske Guide to Colleges.
UNT’s School of Music is best known for its jazz program, spearheaded by its One O’Clock Lab Band, a Grammy-winning ensemble comprised of the school’s top musicians. The current director of the group is Jay Saunders, a veteran jazz musician who has performed with the likes of the Stan Kenton Orchestra.
Outside of jazz, UNT is among the nation’s best colleges for music, and we named it earlier this year as the best performing arts college in the entire country.