In 1916, David and Clara Mannes envisioned a college that developed the whole musician. Their dream manifested into the Mannes School of Music, which continues to live out the Mannes’ ambition in the 21st century.
The school became integrated with The New School in 1989, and its name was only recently changed to the Mannes School of Music in 2015, nearly a century after David and Clara Mannes established the college.
Mannes is located in Greenwich Village, an artist’s paradise known for its Bohemian style. Proximal to prestigious New York City performance venues like the Glassbox Theater and Ernst C. Stiefel Hall, Mannes maintains a commitment to providing free access to performances all over the city.
Students attending Mannes can expect to merge classical training with progressive approaches to performance and composition.
There is also a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary studies at Mannes. Most students are members of an orchestra, ensemble, or record label, and many build programs dedicated to expanding music education within historically underserved communities.
A week in the life of a Mannes student is bustling and enthralling. Opportunities to showcase talent are frequent – the Mannes Sounds Festival, for example, presents over 20 annual concerts organized by Mannes’ students.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll discuss the acceptance rate and admissions requirements for interested applicants, as well as notable alumni, popular majors, and other compelling reasons to attend school at Mannes.
Mannes School of Music Acceptance Rate
The Mannes School of Music acceptance rate is 24%.
While the number of incoming applications fluctuates, it is safe to say that the school receives between 400 and 500 applications on an annual basis.
Rarely accepting more than one-third of applicants, Mannes is considered a highly competitive music school.
The most critical components of an application are the portfolio and prescreen materials. Those applying to the Voice, Piano, and Composition programs are required to submit either the portfolio or prescreen materials.
If the submissions enthuse the admissions team, the applicant will progress to the next level of consideration. In this case, they receive an invitation to submit additional recordings or to schedule a video interview with the admissions team.
Students interested in pursuing majors outside of Voice, Piano, and Composition should still submit a final video audition during the application window.
For those hoping to begin their studies in the fall semester, the prescreening materials and Common Application are due December 1, and final audition recordings are due February 1. Successful applicants will be invited to schedule an admissions interview in December, with the interview or live audition occurring in late February or early March.
Mannes also accepts applications for students to commence studies in the spring semester. The Common Application and prescreening materials are due on October 15 in this case, with final audition recordings due on November 1.
Mannes School of Music GPA
For Mannes, a good GPA to aim for is 3.5, as that is the average GPA of an accepted student into The New School, Mannes’ parent university.
However, an excellent music student may be able to get into Mannes with less than a 3.5 GPA. Many music schools will consider GPAs of all levels in favor of superb musicianship, training, resume, and application, among other things.
In addition to the Common Application and prescreening materials, there are five other required materials and two optional items that students can send as supplements to their application.
A $50 application fee for first-time, first-year U.S. applicants should accompany the application, though it may be waived if the fee presents a hardship to the applicant or their family.
Next, applicants will respond to an essay prompt in 500-650 words. The current prompt asks each student to envision living their “dream future” and to describe, in-depth, what that looks like and how the applicant may impact their respective field and community.
There is an additional essay within the Common Application, but it is optional for first-year applicants. Considering Mannes’ high level of competition, we would suggest completing any optional task, as long as it is sure to enhance your competitive edge.
Regarding letters of recommendation, applicants should submit one letter from a guidance counselor and one from a teacher. The Common Application School Report is mandatory, and guidance counselors are typically responsible for completing this item.
The last required piece of the application is an official copy of all transcripts from the applicant’s high schools.
Let’s talk about the two other potential supplements: standardized test scores and English language proficiency results. If an applicant’s first language is not English, they should submit valid English language proficiency test results from the past two years.
The New School does not require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores; however, applicants should certainly consider reporting them to the Mannes admissions team if the scores are strong.
Hopefully, all strong applicants will be invited for a ten-minute live interview. Mannes releases their admissions decisions on a rolling basis, so fall applicants should receive notice in late March, while spring applicants will hear from the admissions team as early as November.
Is Mannes School of Music a Good Music School? Mannes Ranking
Yes, the Mannes School of Music is an excellent music school.
It specializes in classical performance, conducting, and composition. According to some publications, the school is ranked among the top ten best music schools in the world, and #5 on the list of the 20 best music conservatories in the United States, so the competition for admission is high!
Mannes’ excellent reputation is predicated upon its innovative faculty – many of whom are members of the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and other leading NYC ensembles – as well as its partnerships with other New York City organizations.
Most recently, School of Jazz founding faculty member Armen Donelian was named as a Fulbright Specialist for Romania.
After performing in over 25 countries and recording 14 albums, Donelian will now collaborate with students, faculty members, and school leaders at the National University of Music in Bucharest.
The woodwind faculty includes esteemed musicians like Elaine Douvas (principal oboe player at the Met) and Judith Mendenhall (principal flutist for the American Ballet Theater).
David Hayes – music director of the Mannes Orchestra – created an important partnership between the Mannes Orchestra and the New York Choral Society – the two groups often unite to perform symphonies. Other professors are among the best in their field, such as composer David T. Little and pianist Simone Dinnerstein.
Other exciting partnerships and programs include The Stone, a community for experimental artists who like to think outside of the box.
The group puts on experimental concerts during the evening on Tuesdays through Saturdays, which students may attend. First Fridays at the Frick Collection regularly feature Mannes soloists and ensembles, and students have free access to the gallery.
There are boundless opportunities for local internships with groups like the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the Montclair Orchestra.
Students can expect to gain considerable experience on the stage, as Mannes students and faculty organize nearly 450 performances within a year!
Notable Alumni of Mannes School of Music
Many musical legends have roamed the halls of Mannes. Perhaps the most recognizable alumnus is Burt Bacharach, a six-time GRAMMY Award-winning composer, songwriter, pianist, and record producer. Bacharach has performed with illustrious artists such as Dionne Warwick, Perry Como, and Dick Van Dyke.
Pianist Bill Evans was a member of Miles Davis’ sextet, which produced the best-selling jazz album of all time – Kind of Blue – in 1959. He later collaborated on two albums with Tony Bennett, and his work continues to have an impact on jazz players of later generations.
Recognized by The New York Times as one of the best conductors of her generation, JoAnn Falletta attended Mannes and Julliard before becoming the first female to be appointed as the music director of a major American ensemble at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
She has recorded over 70 albums and recently won back-to-back GRAMMY Awards in 2019 and 2020 for Best Classical Compendium and Best Choral Performance.
Representing the realm of opera, Danielle de Niese is a soprano who gained global acclaim for her role as Cleopatra.
What Are the Available Music Majors at Mannes?
Some of the majors available at Mannes include classical performance, composition, and conducting. When it comes to classical performance, Mannes students can specialize in percussion, strings, woodwinds, and voice.
Percussion students train with some of the best orchestras on Earth and gain hands-on experience in album production, career management, and ensemble development.
Within the strings program, students learn alongside members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra while playing at historical venues like Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center.
From opera coaching, diction classes, and electives in American, Spanish, and Russian song, there are a variety of illuminating courses designed to expand a voice major’s repertoire. Students often perform works from luminaries like Mozart and Verdi.
While most conducting programs exist at the Master’s degree level, Mannes offers a Professional Study Diploma, which can be completed within a two-year time frame. Students in this track study with renowned conductors and explore other essential topics like public relations and ensemble management.
Mannes’ Composition BM program prepares students to arrange music for concerts, films, and theatrical performances. Students can expect to write five major compositions, including one for orchestra. They also participate in forums that frequently meet throughout the semester and various competitions.
Other intriguing programs like CoPA Core (College of Performing Arts) take an interdisciplinary approach to studying music, offering courses like Improvisation and Collaboration and Socially Engaged Artistry. All undergraduate students enrolled in at least a few of these classes.
In the Bachelors-Masters Program, undergraduates can merge their bachelor’s degree with the MAE in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship – the expected graduation time is only five years!
Mannes accepts many international students, and the ESL + Music program is designed to help students improve their English language skills prior to embarking upon their course of studies at Mannes.
Should You Apply to Mannes School of Music?
Applying to Mannes School of Music is undoubtedly worthwhile – few conservatories offer the experiential opportunities that a setting like New York City can provide.
In addition to the reputable faculty and wide array of programs and internships, there are countless ways for students to jumpstart their own musical careers in NYC and beyond.
Applicants will be encouraged to learn that more than 2000 students at Mannes obtain work-study grants and more than three-quarters of all New School students receive some form of financial aid in the form of scholarships, fellowships, grants, loans, work placement programs, veteran programs, and stipends.
Upon applying, all full-time admitted students are considered for merit-based Mannes scholarships and grants.
In addition to financial aid, many New York entities are committed to distributing prizes for especially talented students.
The Alsop Entrepreneurship Award – funded by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Marin Alsop and the Alsop Family Foundation – awards annual prizes to Mannes scholars for groundbreaking interdisciplinary projects in 21st-century classical music.
The Young Artist Series at the DiMenna Center is the brainchild of the St. Luke’s Chambership Mentorship Program, where Mannes students participate in professional development workshops and coaching sessions.
Mannes is a place to venture outside the bounds of conventional music standards, take advantage of all New York City offers, and build relationships with knowledgeable teachers and creative peers.
An application to Mannes is an excellent investment in a young musician’s potential future.