For those who want to pursue a career in piano, the options for training are diverse. There are a number of quality schools available in the United States and some abroad too.
* Juilliard: The Juilliard School in New York has a reputation as one of the best music schools in the world. In addition to piano and other instruments, students can also focus on dance and drama. The institution was founded in 1905 by Dr. Frank Damrosch. Damrosch was a musical prodigy and the godson of Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt. A New Yorker, Damrosch bemoaned the idea that American musicians had to leave the U.S. for advanced training. He began with a modest idea to accept 100 students. Instead, he was overwhelmed by the demand for spaces in his school. Thanks to wealthy benefactor Augustus D. Juilliard, the school increased its space and programs beginning in 1919. Today the school seeks to provide high caliber training and experience in music. Juilliard prides itself in turning out some of the profession’s best leaders. Jazz pianist Chick Corea is one of Juilliard’s famous alumni.
* The Eastman School of Music is a music conservatory located in Rochester, New York. The school is considered among the most prestigious music institutions in the world. Centrally located downtown in the metropolitan city of Rochester, New York, The University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music has been named the “Hottest Music School” in the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek “How to Get into College” guide. A good friend of mine and former conductor of the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra is a graduate of Eastman.
* Berklee: The Berklee College of Music in Boston focuses on training musicians in contemporary music. Students have 12 majors to choose from, including songwriting, music therapy and more. Berklee’s programs offer very unique courses and instructors. There are also numerous opportunities for development outside of the classroom. Berklee College boasts the largest percentage of undergraduate students from outside the U.S. compared to all other American colleges and universities. This diversity enriches students both personally and academically. Some of Berklee’s famous grads include jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall and jazz pianist Danilo Perez.
* Royal College: The Royal College of Music in London attracts both British and International students. Its rich history begins in 1882. It was founded by the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) and is still closely associated with the British royal family. Close to 50 nations are represented within its student body. Most are drawn to Royal College because of its stellar reputation in the music industry around the world. It strives to turn out the world’s most skilled musicians. It counts among its alumni such famous graduates as composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and pianist Clifford Benson.
* New England Conservatory: Located in Boston, the NEC is ranked in the top five music schools in the United States. One-on-one interaction between individual students and faculty mentors is a central focus. This helps to ensure a high quality education that addresses the strengths of the individual. The NEC offers programs from the undergraduate to the doctoral level. Its Professional Piano Training Program is a unique study major, offering intensive training for career-driven piano students. Famous NEC alumni include jazz pianists Fred Hersch and Cecil Taylor.
* Curtis: The Curtis Institute of Music of Philadelphia sets itself apart from most every premier music school in the world. This is because every student receives a full tuition scholarship. Founder Mary Louise Curtis Bok envisioned an institution where finances were not a barrier. Potential students are instead judged solely on artistic merit and promise. Curtis typically admits fewer than 200 students per year. The school’s philosophy states that students learn by “doing.” To fulfill this mandate, it offers frequent opportunities for students to perform, both within in the community and abroad. It has a notable reputation for turning out exceptional professional musicians. American pianists Jonathon Biss and Richard Goode are two of Curtis’ famous alumni.