Cleveland, Ohio, may not be the first place to come to most people’s minds when it comes to well-known hubs of culture, but this unassuming city is home to one of the most exciting art, music, and entertainment districts in the US.
In particular, an area called University Circle is filled to the brim with museums, schools, performance centers, theaters, and medical institutions.
Among some of the more well-known sites is Severance Hall (home to the Cleveland Orchestra), the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
Nestled among (and partnered with) many of these cultural sites is the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM).
A staple of the area since the 1920’s, CIM has produced an amazing array of musicians, composers, conductors, and educators since its famous founder, Ernest Bloch, decided to open a music conservatory that would produce students who would combine a love for music with expertise in the theory of music.
Students who attend the institute are joining one of the few independent conservatories in the US that exclusively focuses on classical music training. With small class sizes, expert faculty, and a penchant for producing award-winning musicians, CIM should be on the top of any music aficionado’s list of potential schools.
Cleveland Institute of Music Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into the Cleveland Institute of Music is 34%.
Compared with other top music conservatories like Juilliard (8%) and Curtis (2%), students have higher odds in their favor when applying to CIM. To take advantage of these odds, students should start working on the application process well before the Spring (October 1) or Fall (December 1) deadlines.
An early start is especially important because CIM’s application process goes beyond just an online application and personal essay.
Most students who apply to CIM will need to ensure that they provide a prescreening video of themselves performing as part of their application.
Other special requirements of the CIM application process include submitting a one-minute introduction video and a performance resume.
A music theory exam will also be required after initial decisions. This test will help the school know where a student falls in their understanding of music theory and what, if any, remedial courses may be required for a student to catch up.
Students will be glad to know that CIM is a test-optional school, so SATs and ACTs aren’t an added requirement that has to be met.
Another accessible feature of the school’s application process is that students are offered an application fee waiver. Students will be able to submit this waiver request through the application portal when they submit the rest of their application materials.
Cleveland Institute of Music GPA
While the Cleveland Institute of Music does not publish a minimum GPA for admission, our education answer is that it would be about 3.0. This is generally in line with most independent conservatories in the US.
However, admission into CIM is much more than about GPA. Students are evaluated on their potential through their audition, portfolio, application, resume, and more.
Many auditions require demonstrating skill in scales, mastery of certain pieces of music or music by certain composers, and an option for showcasing proficiency in a piece of music selected by the student.
For students looking for inspiration for their auditions, the school provides access to the CIM Programming Advisory Committee and Resources database. One of the many benefits of using the database is gaining access to underrepresented composers and pieces of music.
Beyond grades, it is important for students to show they have performance experience, excellence in their area of expertise, and a willingness to learn and grow in their area of interest.
As one of only three independent music conservatories dedicated solely to classical music, CIM is looking for students who are as passionate about the art of classical music as the founders, faculty, and alumni have been and continue to be.
Is CIM a Good Music School? CIM Ranking
Yes, CIM is an excellent music school.
Rated the number 9 Best College for Music in America by Niche.com, the college and city of Cleveland have plenty to offer musicians looking to break into the classical music world.
As mentioned, one of the perks of being located in Cleveland is that the college is close to a vibrant cultural center in general, but in particular, there is a large classical music community.
Close by is Severance Hall, one of America’s most beautiful concert halls. CIM students and alumni have gone on to perform in Severance Hall and have learned from some of the great performers that have graced its stages.
In fact, one of the “Big Five” great orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, not only calls Severance Hall home, but members of the orchestra can be found teaching at CIM.
The Cleveland Orchestra and CIM have a close relationship that allows students to learn from active performers, conductors, and composers at the top of their game.
With its small courses, generous scholarship opportunity, partnership with Case Western Reserve University, and plenty of opportunities to perform, students who are passionate about pursuing a career in classical music will find CIM is a great place to equip themselves with the skills they need to move towards their music dreams.
Notable Alumni of Cleveland Institute of Music
CIM has produced many talented musicians, singers, composers, conductors, and teachers since its founding in 1920. Graduates have gone on to perform on some of the biggest stages worldwide, including The Metropolitan Opera, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, just to name a few.
Alumni include multi-talented professionals like Domenico Boyagian. A graduate from CIM with a focus in conducting, Maestro Boyagian has led the Cleveland Opera Theater to great success as the theater’s music director. In addition, he has been able to conduct and perform with local, national, and worldwide orchestras.
CIM graduates are no strangers to playing for worldwide audiences, as cellist Allan Richardson’s career has attested to. A member of the Aeolus Quartet, he has traveled to some of the biggest international stages including Carnegie Hall, Seoul Arts Center, and Wigmore Hall. In addition to his busy performance life, he has worked at universities like Julliard and George Washington University.
With inspirational alumni in all areas of music and theater, and direct access to the renowned Cleveland Orchestra members, new students will be well on their way to building careers that are just as varied and successful as those that have come before them at CIM.
What Are the Available Music Majors at Cleveland Institute of Music?
Music majors at Cleveland Institute of Music cover the entire process of music creation: composition, conducting, performing, and educating.
In addition, because of the affiliation the school has with Case Western Reserve University, students can also take courses that will result in a uniquely catered dual degree.
Those looking to attend CIM for performance will find a wide range of musical instrument and vocal majors, including collaborative piano, classical guitar, opera, and much more.
During their studies in performance, students will be able to have private instruction, master classes, opportunities to perform solo and in ensembles, and access to collaborating with peers in other performance concentrations.
The conducting major’s small cohort style (2-3 students total) allows for plenty of one-on-one time with instructors, time at the podium, and time to collaborate with like-minded peers who share the same passion.
Conducting students also get special access to The Cleveland Orchestra rehearsals, where they can observe some of the best conductors in the nation practice their craft.
If being more behind the scenes is what a student is looking for, the composition major offers a less public-facing route.
Students who are in the composition program have access to state of the art composition technology like that found in the school’s Electronic Music Studio.
With the latest sequencing and recording software, and the ability to create an entire film score with the click of a mouse, students will find that their ability to create music is taken to the next level.
Finally, in partnership with Case Western Reserve, CIM offers a dual degree program that lets students explore both music and academics.
Should You Apply to CIM?
The decision to apply to any college or university has to include consideration of cost, location, grades, interest, and time.
That said, the first step in deciding if CIM is the right school for a student is to weigh how vital a classical path is to their career goals.
Cleveland Institute of Music is a classical music institution, so it is essential that anyone who applies also evaluates their commitment over the next several years of their life to the classical music world.
If this is a no-brainer for students, the research process can then move to determining if there are faculty who specialize in a specific instrument or area of expertise that a student wants to study.
Students should then reach out to these instructors and see if these instructors have a process that fits with a students’ needs. Doing this also helps put a student’s best foot forward by showing interest in what CIM offers.
Another vital part of CIM is knowing how to construct a great audition with a repertoire that will showcase both the specific requirements of the college and the unique individuality of the student.
Researching what past alumni and current students have done is a great way for prospective students to learn from the successes and mistakes of others.
CIM stands as one of the best schools for classical music training in the US, and is an amazing school for anyone looking to apply to college for music.