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"Top" University Clarinet Studios?

I'm currently a member of the California Institute of the Arts studio. The school was ranked as the "Number 1 School for Students Majoring in the Arts" (US News or something), but what does this /really/ mean for my studio.
As far as I know, the "best" studios are:
Arizona State University
and Eastman?
Orchestral preparation studios versus "real-life" studios/ non-traditional studios?


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Arizona State University a big-name music school? News to me and I live 25 miles away from it.

What's your definition of "studio"?
Dr. Robert Spring, one of the premiere Clarinet instructors in the world is one of the main teachers there. I wouldn't really say the entire school is fantastic, but I know the Bob Spring is fantastic, and people come from all around to study with him. I think that ASU also has a few "big-deal" brass instructors as well. Not quite sure.
To me a studio is all of the performance, or like majors in the same instrument. For example, my studio will have 5 people in it next semester. All either Clarinet Performance BFA or MFA, or Performer/ Composer Majors either BFA, MFA, or DMA. It will comprise of 2 BFAs (myself included), and 3 MFA candidates all of us will be performance majors. We all take lessons from the same Clarinet instructor, or with the adjunct faculty if arrangements have been made.
Basically, we are all doing the same thing at the same time. We may not be in the same place, but we're all doing the same basic thing- playing the Clarinet.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Ah. I'd just call them "schools" or "colleges." I guess I'm just old studio.

You have a bunch of things that you need to decide:

* How much you want to pay
* What you want to do with your degree
* How far away from home/parental units/significant others you want to be
* How much of the college "experience" you want
* What kind of weather suits your fancy (Tempe, AZ = up to 120 degrees F in the summer, 300 days of sunshine and monsoons. Eastman's in Rochester, NY. That = down to 10 below in the winter, 100 days of sunshine and metric tons of snow.)
* How large of a school you want (I Googled: ASU's got about 73K students and Eastman has around 1K students)

Not to be snide in any way, it also depends on how good you are -- not how good you think you are. You're going to need more serious chops to get into Eastman, Juliard, etc. than ASU. Additionally, if you're going for performance, you're probably going to be graded harder than someone that's doing Music Ed or something like that.

I went to SUNY College at Fredonia for one main reason: the teacher that taught my teacher taught there. However, I wasn't good enough to get into music full time, but I was good enough to be in a playing class with the teacher I wanted. I was also planning on going into music education, anyhow, and Fredonia was a big teaching school. It was also 60ish miles from my home and my two jobs. (I still wonder how my life would have been different if I accepted the biology scholarship in Maine ....)

BTW, what year are you going into? That might make a difference as years 1 and 2 are mostly prerequisites 'n' stuff.

FWIW, I work with a trumpet player that got his performance degree from ASU. While he does play in a couple groups, neither his or my main job has anything to do with music :).
Studio, School, etc. it's all the same, haha.

On competency, I was accepted to Eastman, USC, and SFC which were all the "cut-throat" music schools when I applied to colleges right out of high school. But my family said New York was out of the question, USC was too pricey, and SFC just ended up being too straight and narrow for me. So ability isn't really a concern, I guess. Julliard is definitely not an option at all though, hahahhahah. That being said, I don't really want to transfer or anything (just yet), just looking around to see what would be good for graduate degrees, or if I get tired of CalArts and choose to transfer to a "better" or a more "widely-known" school.
I'm going to be starting my second year next year here at CalArts, but will be registered as a 2nd semester Sophomore. I will end up being able to skip a semester later, which is pretty cool if ya ask me.
As far as college experience goes, I already go to a school that's in a pretty extreme weather situation, in an isolated area, and is really small (which is really one of the only downsides). I'm more interested in being marketable once I graduate than anything else. For that reason, I'm looking to change my major to Multiple Woodwind Performance once I have the credits required to make the change. With the goal of being to play anything (Baroque, Contemporary, Punk, Thrash Jazz, etc.) on anything (ContraBass Clarinet to Baroque Flute to Oboe d'Amore).
With Clarinet being my main instrument- the health of universities studios is really important if I choose to transfer, or for when I start looking into Graduate degrees (EASTMAN MULTIPLE WOODWIND PERFORMANCE HERE I COME).
The goal is to make a living off playing.

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
The goal is to make a living off playing.
Go to school very close to where you intend to make your living playing. It takes ability to play for a living, but it is more important who you know so you can get "in". Study with the guys who are doing what you want to do and work your backside off getting it done - and I mean now! Build your reputation on being able to get it done, and showing up prepared to get it done - having the right equipment and being setup and ready to play when it is time. Nothing worse than a great guy and awesome player who is habitually 20 minutes late - you can't hire guys like that because things need to start on time.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Carl speaks truth, thus he is thanked.

If you wanted to come to AZ, for instance, there are an awful lot of cities that could be considered as "part of" Phoenix: Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Tempe, etc. Some of these cities have multiple orchestral ensembles and you're probably going to see something music-related every night. Holidays are big, too: lots of churches/temples want folks to play in an orchestra/small ensemble for, say, an Easter pageant and a lot of those places have a good budget for that. Additionally, if you *own* an "odd" instrument, like a baritone saxophone or a Bb contrabass clarinet, you're more hireable -- although, there are a few shops around here that you can rent some of those "odd" instruments.

FWIW, while Eastman would look great on your resume and if you ever get to apply to an established orchestra, the Rochester area isn't exactly a cultural mecca, so you might not be able to get much in terms of playing gigs, there. NYC, perhaps, but not Rochester. NYC is 5.5 hours away ....

Another good thing is to learn how to win friends and influence people. Seriously. Be nice to everyone. Be accommodating. Someone will notice.

A strong recommendation I'd have is to do a bit of study in a different field, just in case the music thing doesn't work out. Read the papers: a lot of orchestras are cutting salary and/or disappearing. Don't assume that you'll always have playing gigs or that you can give private lessons for $50 a half hour. It's good to have something to either fall back on or can supplement your playing gigs.

Oh. I'm sure you've heard that ASU is a "party" school. That can be good and bad.
For a state university, ASU is quite noticeable. If you pay attention, the music departments in other state universities are barely qualified to even be called "music departments." Some don't even have orchestras, because of the lack of string and brass students. So, ASU is great, and being a good party school can't be bad. I'd select that school for that reason alone! :))


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
For a state university, ASU is quite noticeable. If you pay attention, the music departments in other state universities are barely qualified to even be called "music departments." Some don't even have orchestras, because of the lack of string and brass students. So, ASU is great, and being a good party school can't be bad. I'd select that school for that reason alone! :))
First, you're probably going to get a hundred folks posting that you're not necessarily correct about, "... [T]he music departments in other state universities are barely qualified to even be called 'music departments.'" I decided I'd be the first to tell you because I already used the college I went to as an example, as "SUNY" stands for "State University of New York." I also attended SUNY Buffalo (UB), which was a very big music school with lots of "big name" teachers. That means that there are at least three big-name schools (UB, Fredonia, Eastman) with great music departments within a 90 mile radius. Several other colleges in the area had decent music programs, too, as well as SUNY College at Buffalo (Buffalo State).

Second, Fredonia was actually in the Guinness book of World Records in the '80s because it had the most bars per capita, so that = "party school." I disliked that atmosphere because I was interested in study and improving myself as a musician. Parties going on until 3am, keeping me awake when I needed sleep wasn't fun. That's why a "party school" can be bad.
Yes, it was a sweeping generalization... And I am happy to hear about those good public schools. As far as I've noticed, most public universities have such a limited funding that it's hard to be impressed by anything they do. Just try to compare the state colleges near the west coast and mid-west with a private institution like the USC, for example. They're just not in the same paradigm. I wish it wasn't the case. I'm a big believer in government supported education. And in the fields of arts and music, without government's help, everything's going to collapse. Getting a gigantic student loan to become an enthnomusicologist, will almost guarantee a disaster. So, without the government's help, some valuable things humans do will no longer be possible.