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Best Music College

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ndthorpe1, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Try your best to refrain from jokes/ insults here:

    I'm a 15 year old bassist, I practice 6 hours a day, I'm probably on the higher side of intermediate (Dream Theater, Mr. Bungle,etc) and I've been playing for two years. My goal here is to go to music college and become a session musician. I get straight A's and the occasional B at school, taking honors and AP classes. So I ask you these questions:

    what is a good music school to be a session bassist?

    How hard is it to get into that school?

    How hard is it to get a scholarship to that school?

    What can I do to make a more successful career playing music?

    Thanks in advance for answers, and please try not to joke about low pay/ insult me for wanting to pursue the "rock star" career. :bassist:
  2. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Roy Vogt is on here sometimes, he can tell you about Belmont here in Nashville.
  3. Reddog01


    Nov 3, 2013
    Georgetown, TX
    The University of North Texas. One of the best jazz programs in the country.
    davidhilton and BassChuck like this.
  4. chrisrod9


    Jan 29, 2013
    I've been researching this for my son lately. He's only in 7th grade right now but it's never too early to get up to speed.

    I have found the following list to be very comprehensive. I wouldn't (I don't) get overly caught up in the specifics of the rankings. I look at which schools are the best overall schools regardless of music. Juliard is it's own deal. Takes a special someone to go there. We are most interested in USC, UCLA, Yale, and Vanderbilt. All are excellent universities that happen to have top-tier music programs. I'd give the nod to USC and UCLA first due to their location in Los Angeles where the music industry has the largest presence. Vanderbilt would be second due to its location in the music industry mecca of Nashville.


    Best of luck with your studies.

  5. FlySig


    Jan 10, 2014
    Berklee College of Music in Boston is the best overall music college out there. Idk if it ranks at the top for bass or not. A big part of their education is how to be successful in the business of music. There are tons of talented and skilled musicians out there, so you have to understand how to navigate the business in order to be successful.

    They do offer some scholarships. Go to their website for details. It helps for some of the scholarships if you attend one of the summer sessions.

    Note that the regular federal financial aid is not available at Berklee. Most colleges offer financial aid including loans, work study, grants, and scholarships. Berklee is a different kind of school and so you either pay full fare, you get private loans (not federally subsidized), or you get one of a few Berklee scholarships.

    I'm 53, and only a hobbiest. One of my daughters is a college senior majoring in applied mathematics. She turned down Berklee when she decided it was too risky to bank on a music career.

    With that for perspective, I suggest you consider a no-loan education. The last thing you need is the burden of school loans. A state university would be a good option there. Another thought is to put together your own program of intense theory and instrument skills outside of a university setting. The smartest approach is to major in something marketable while having a double major in music performance.

    Many schools are recognizing the benefits of a diverse double major. Vanderbilt Univ. in Nashville is one such school. You could, for example, double major in accounting and music, or double major in electrical engineering and music. These would give you an outstanding marketable skill to feed yourself, and if you do try to make music your career you will have a superb education to help you understand important aspects beyond just playing music. Plus with Vanderbilt you are right there in the heart of Nashville for the music connections.

    If you can swing a scholarship to Berklee, I would go there if it were me.

    Its tough to advise young people these days. There are so many uncertainties and changes in the world. On one hand, there are people who make a middle class income in the music industry. On the other hand the industry has changed so much in the last 15 years, making the old paths and old strategies obsolete. You have to do something you get some fulfillment out of, yet you have to feed yourself and your family.

    Good luck.
  6. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    "Best" is very subjective. Best for what? There are many, many schools out there that offer fine programs, but let's be clear: if you want to be a session bassist, you won't be a rock star. In many ways, the two are as far apart as brain surgery and podiatry.

    Berklee in Boston certainly has its pedigree and I can speak in some degree to the quality of the bass department having known a couple of cats there and having books by others. But you want to choose a path of study. Do you want to learn jazz in the context of being able to play in a more rock/pop style? There's some wisdom in that; if you can dig to the core of jazz, you'll generally be well-grounded to play many idioms.

    But other folks have mentioned other programs that are likely excellent. You are smart to ask this question now, as you have some time to make a decision. It is a difficult road to be sure, and the number of session bassists required in this world is certainly finite - this is no joke; just reality. Best of luck!
  7. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Ndthorpe1 look not only for you're musical education but for skills to succeed in the business of music. It is not an easy business as many here can tell you. It is not enough to play amazingly well and to be able to record bass tracks that make the folks who hire you want to recommend you to others. You need to learn how to market yourself effectively and how to get paid enough to make a living. It is more than hard. You have to be lucky too. It is like winning the lottery.
  8. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Thanks for mentioning the school, lowfreq33! :)
    We have a great bass department with fellow teachers Adam Nitti, Craig Nelson and Stephanie Dickinson. Past guest clinicians have included Steve Bailey, Victor Wooten, Brian Bromberg, Trip Walmsley, Gary Lunn, Bryan Beller, the late Bob Babbitt, Percy Jones and Bernhard Lachner. We have upcoming clinics with Michael Rhodes and Victor Krause this semester. You can find out about the Belmont School of Music's Commercial Program here:
    We are one of the few schools in the country where you can pursue a performance emphasis in Electric Bass at both Bachelor and Master of Music levels. As an alumni of The University of North Texas and The University of Miami, I try to bring the best of my experiences in both programs into the Belmont Bass Program. A large asset to our school is our location in a Music Industry Center like Nashville. Of course, you can also talk to Adam Nitti and the Berklee Bass Department over in the Ask A Pro section of Talkbass and I encourage you to do so. If you wish to ask me any specific questions about Belmont University and the Bass Program feel free to send me a private message through Talkbass or ask something on this thread and I'll be happy to help out.
    Best Regards,
    Roy Vogt
    Coordinator, Bass Department
    Wilson School of Music
    College of Visual and Performing Arts
    Belmont University
    Nashville, TN
  9. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    I see by your location you are in Northern Virginia. If you can study with my friend Anthony Wellington who is located near you it will definitely give you a head start with playing, learning and improving as a bassist. I recommend him very highly.
    I might also investigate buying or renting a Double Bass and taking some lessons in addition to your studies on Electric Bass. The one thing I have experienced in my career as a player and teacher is that the more you can do the more you will get called to do. I was a reluctant Double Bassist at the start of my college experience and it now accounts for about half my income. Keep an open mind as you begin your pursuit of your goals.
  10. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Good luck and bravo on your determination.
    there was a recent article about the best music school, you can google it.
    There are many schools that can help you immensely in your intended field of study- many have a great musical program. That being said, what is considered the top school in the country by this article is Berklee. My older brother, a guitarist did graduate from there and is currently a session/touring/recording musician based out of New York. I hardly get to see him for large portions of the year due to his hectic schedule. Even he will be quick to say that attitude, patience, luck and persistence are far more important qualities to have a career in this field. He was ready to give up on it many times, but kept going due to his love for music.
  11. hsech

    hsech I'm not old, I'm just seasoned. Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
  12. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    2 votes for Berklee.
  13. Thank you all so much for the advice! I originally wanted to go to Berklee because the guys from Dream Theater went there, but after some conversations with a few Berklee students on facebook, I'm having second thoughts. They said it's too much money for the education you get, and that the teachers only focus on the top 10 students in the school. I've heard UArts and Rutgers are both very good places to study. And I'd love to meet this Anthony Wellington (considering I've pretty much surpassed my first bass teacher).
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  15. Thanks so much! I shot him an email asking about prices and such.
  16. That is utter nonsense. Whoever said this is really misinforming you.
  17. Consider a University or college that offers degrees other than music. Most schools require bassists to play upright. That's definitely a good thing and learning to play "Classical" and with a bow will also be beneficial to your playing. Also you could pick up a minor in another field or choose to make music your minor so you have more options after school. I was just in Brooklyn visiting family and one of my cousins is married to a guy who writes music for a commercials and tv shows. Most of what he does is accomplished with computers and keyboards and the session bassist is starting to become a rare thing.
  18. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    At Belmont we do require 2 years of split study with Double Bass and Electric Bass lessons weekly. After those 2 years only Performance Emphasis students are required to take one more year of Commercial (Jazz) Double Bass but many others elect to continue studying anyway. We have a Music Tech Emphasis that deals with computer sequencing, sound design, recording technology and the like. If a student says that his goal is to be a Studio Bassist that's the path I recommend. So much studio work these days is being done via remote recording and sending sound files over the internet and I think that's going to only get more common with time.
    I love UNT and they have a great Bass Department with Lynn Seaton, Jeff Bradetich and Fred Hamilton but as far as I know they're very, very focused on Double Bass. The University of Miami was less focused on Double Bass when I went to Grad School there and they have a great department with Don Coffman, Nick Orta and Chuck Bergeron. I think they are also a little more focused on Jazz. We are a different animal at Belmont in that we have Jazz, Bluegrass, Rock and Country Commercial Ensembles and while Jazz is central to our curriculum it's by no means the only option of study. I know in my Studio students are as likely to work on a Jamerson line or a Jaco or Marcus Miller transcription as they are to play a Jazz Tune and work on Improvisation.
    I had a nice conversation with Steve Bailey this last Summer and he opined that the Jazz Studies courses he, I and such players as Gary Willis went through at UNT and U of M needs to be augmented with Commercial Studies in other styles. I think that's the way Berklee is going these days and I know that's our course at Belmont.
    Finally, since Belmont is a Liberal Arts College the student gets a lot of balanced curriculum as well as just Music and that makes it easier to do post graduate work in other disciplines. One of my best students from a number of years ago (an Honors Program Triple Major in Performance, Composition and Audio Engineering) is now entering Medical School after a 15 year career as an Engineer working for Producers like T Bone Burnett and winning 5 Grammys for his work in Nashville and LA. He isn't having to do a lot of extra classwork from what I understand.
  19. Reddog01


    Nov 3, 2013
    Georgetown, TX
    This all depends on what the specific major will be within the field of music. Will the major be in performance, music education, musical theater, etc? Also, schools may be particularly good in certain instruments, such as trumpet, voice, but mediocre in other areas. Some schools are very strong in orchestral or band ensemble playing experiences, and others will have knockout jazz programs. It is almost impossible to find a music school that is great in every area. For legit playing (trumpet performance, strings, voice, etc) some schools like Julliad, Curtis Institute, New England Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, Cleveland School of Music, for example are very hard to beat. Note that these schools are all centered around some of the best orchestras in the world, and they get their teachers from these orchestras. However, none of these schools have jazz programs that can touch the University of North Texas, Berklee, and others. You've got to really educate yourself (and your son) on what is the best fit for his specific needs. I say this as an old music major, and the father of a son who is now a professional trumpet player. You will have to do the "hound-dogging" for yourself because most high school counselors are clueless as to how to help students look for music school and the admissions processes involved. It's a completely different animal than the standard college admissions process.
  20. peledog


    Jul 9, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I would suggest Berklee. But I attended Berklee, so I may be a bit biased.

    I have a couple friends who graduated from the North Texas program.