Harvard. MIT. UCLA.
These words don’t just refer to fine academic institutions where people can go to improve their minds. They also live within the popular imagination so that even people with no interest in higher education know who the schools are and what they stand for.
New York’s Juilliard School may be the only such institution in the world of the performing arts with the same effect.
When a movie or tv show needs to show that a character is a first-class musician, they write that character as a Juilliard grad. When a parent sees their kid banging on pots and pans like a drummer, they fantasize about raising a Juilliard student.
In some cases, such popularity is just a bunch of noise without substance, but that’s not the case with Juilliard. Ever since its founding in 1905, the school has prided itself on bringing in legendary instructors to train the next generation of musical virtuosos.
One such instructor is world-renowned vocal teacher Robert White Jr. Those who studied under White have gone on to perform with the world’s finest opera companies, including the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. But White is not only a great teacher, but he’s also a notable academic, whose research has been published in periodicals such as The Journal of Voice.
Under the guidance of such celebrated instructors, Juilliard has become the most respected and beloved music school in the United States.
Juilliard Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into Juilliard is 7%.
As you would expect for a legendary music school, Juilliard is exceptionally competitive. A 7% acceptance rate means fewer than one out of ten will make it in. In fact, for every 100 who apply, 93 will be rejected.
Without question, those are discouraging numbers, especially when you’re in the middle of applying. But believe it or not, Juilliard’s rates aren’t too far out of line for schools of similar quality. The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University has a 12% acceptance rate, while Philadelphia’s Curtis School has a microscopically low 2% acceptance rate.
As disheartening as this fact may be, the fact is the low rate is good news for those who do get acceptance letters. These low numbers lead to a small student body, which has several advantages.
First, a small student body means small class sizes. Each individual gets more one-on-one time with Juilliard’s first-class teachers with smaller classes. The increased attention leads to greater mastery of one’s instrument and more performance opportunities.
Second, attending an elite school means that you’re among the best of the best. Getting to practice and learn alongside other world-class musicians will sharpen your skills, ensuring that you’ll leave the program as one of the best on the planet in your field.
A good GPA to aim for with Juilliard is at least a 3.0. However, students with even lower GPAs may be considered for admission into Juilliard.
This is because grades are not the most significant determining factor for admission into Juilliard. Every student must pass an audition on their primary instrument for admission. Many students will have to pass the pre-screen recording phase just to be invited for an audition.
Some majors – like composition – will have to successfully interview with the faculty and take a theory exam as part of admission. No matter how you slice it, admission to Juilliard is incredibly difficult as the level of ability has to be unbelievably high for entry.
When future Juilliard students picture themselves preparing for school, they imagine playing their instrument multiple times a day or putting their voices through their paces. They don’t picture themselves spending late nights in the library or keeping their nose stuck in books. And yet, many music schools may prefer students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
But even more important is what it means for the student’s success in the program. College is hard work, and Juilliard wants to know that it’s bringing in only those who can handle the expectations placed upon them. Anyone who can maintain a strong 3.0 or higher average, all while maintaining a level of mastery over the instrument, will surely be able to handle the program’s demands.
What Is Juilliard’s Ranking?
Juilliard is widely regarded among the best, if not the very best, music schools in the world.
Unsurprisingly, Juilliard falls within the top ten music schools in the country on nearly every major list.
With a world-famous program and unparalleled name recognition, it’s easy to see why Juilliard would be among the best. But if you don’t want to go by mere reputation, look at what ranking outlets say.
Niche.com gives Juilliard an overall grade of A-, based on the school’s great academics and commitment to diversity. Niche also places Juilliard sixth on its list of best music schools in America, beating out such strong competition as the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the San Fransisco Conservatory of Music.
Those who want their music skills to lead to a career in film and television should pay attention to Juilliard’s placement on the list of Top Music Schools for Composing for Film and TV, published by the Hollywood Reporter.
Juilliard takes the top spot in that collection, thanks to its excellent alumni and strong industry connections. The magazine quotes veteran composer Robert Folk, who says that Juilliard’s “unspoken goal … is to put as many superstar artists into the world as they can.”
Notable Alumni of The Juilliard School
As impressive as these rankings certainly are, the true value of a music school can be found only in the quality of musicians they produce. In its 100+ years of teaching, the school has trained some of the greatest performers in the world.
One of the most famous violinists, Itzhak Perlman came with his family from Isreal to the United States at the age of 13, specifically so he could study at Juilliard.
With the training he received, Perlman went on to win every major award, including Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards, and even the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Perlman has performed for vaunted audiences, including heads of state such as Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama.
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis entered Juilliard in 1979; by 1980, he was playing with the Jazz Messengers.
Using his training, Marsalis has become one of the premier jazz musicians in the nation, establishing the Classical Jazz summer series at the Lincoln Center. His oratorio Blood on the Fields earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the first Jazz musician to receive the award.
These are just a few of the legends who studied at Juilliard. Thanks to the contributions of its alumni, Juilliard has established itself as the premier home for musical excellence, leaving an indelible mark on the artistic world.
What Are the Available Music Majors at Juilliard?
If you want to follow in the footsteps of these distinguished alumni, you have great majors to choose from. Each major at Juilliard combines classroom training with performance opportunities, teaching a combination of music theory, instrumentation, entrepreneurship, and liberal arts.
This variety assures that those leaving Juilliard are not only masters at their craft, but well-rounded individuals able to make a living with their art.
This approach provides students with a firm foundation from which Juilliard trains students of every major.
Within the String Department, the largest of the Music Divisions, students work alongside instrumental masters, in the form of both permanent faculty and visiting musicians.
Each four-year bachelor’s of music degree takes four years, and can only be enrolled after a thorough audition process.
Each year of study is carefully designed to build the student’s skills competencies and understanding. For example, during the first and second years of trumpet study in the brass program, students take courses in ear training and theory courses.
During years three and four, trumpet students perform in the Juilliard Orchestra and take advanced instrumental courses.
Should You Apply to Juilliard?
The Juilliard School may be the most famous music school in the world, but popularity does not always equal quality. Just because a school is well-known does not mean that it’s kept up to date or that it deserves its popularity.
As the previous paragraphs have made clear, that’s not a problem for Juilliard. The school not only meets its reputation but exceeds it.
Not only does it count among its regular faculty some of the most respected working musicians today, but it boasts a long list of influential alumni and performers who have changed the way we think about music.
Unsurprisingly, such an important institution draws thousands of applicants, and Juilliard cannot accept them all. With an acceptance rate of just 7%, the overwhelming majority of those who apply will be rejected.
But suppose you’re determined to become not just a professional musician, but to have a top-tier education. In that case, Juilliard may end up working out for you – if you have extensive musical training – and acceptance into the school might be your first step toward creating the music studied and admired by students of tomorrow.