How to Get into a Music School (Conservatory)

Piano Lessons / general / How to Get into a Music School (Conservatory)

If you’re a teacher you’ve undoubtedly been asked by students about how to get into a music conservatory. As we all know, there is no easy answer to this process and we all wish it could be something much simpler than it is. If you plan on attending a music school you really need to plan far ahead and be ready to dedicate years of hard work and study just to get into a good program.

For those students who dream big at a later age and decide they want to pursue music there is still plenty of hope. Your chances of getting into a top school might not be as good as those around you who have studied longer but there are options. Many community colleges have music programs and some of them don’t even require an audition – this is a great way to further your education even if you haven’t been accepted into a conservatory program.

Getting into a good music conservatory is still an incredible challenge and it really does require a tremendous amount of work. As a pianist you will need to have mastered at least one Prelude and Fugue from book one or two of Johann Sebastian Bach – excluding some of the easier preludes and fugues. You will need to have mastered a classical era sonata from either Mozart, Haydn or Beethoven – again some of the easier sonatas are not accepted. You will also need one or two contrasting works from the 19th or 20th century. You will also need to know all your major and minor scales and arpeggios.

As you can see, this is not something you can simply learn overnight! This is a lot of preparation that takes an incredibly long time to learn and prepare for. You could never prepare for an audition into a top school with only a year or two of studying.

When choosing the school, it’s most important to find a specific person for your specialty. For example, if you are a singer you will want to make sure the school you’re interested in has a singing instructor or professor you respect. The private teacher really is the most important aspect of any school you go to – even beyond the name of the institution or any of the orchestras associated with it. Better schools will also offer opportunities to perform in groups with more advanced players which can be extremely valuable as well.

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin

2 thoughts on “How to Get into a Music School (Conservatory)”


  1. Robert, your listing of requirements for getting a student into a conservatory…is “spot on”. As a teacher for “oh so many years” I have helped quite a few reach the conservatory level. I learned early on that if the auditioning student could do chord progressions (medium to difficult) and modulations it helped significantly. With students who want to have a conservatory education, I taught the chord progressions from the elementary level and up right along with the scales. Of course, if I did not teach the student from the beginning, I started the chord progressions and modulations at their level.

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