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The 7 Best Music Schools in Chicago

Best Music Schools in Chicago: If you’re into the performing arts, you likely believe that there are only two major cities in the world: New York on the east coast and Los Angeles on the west. Yet, that way of thinking ignores the third coast, which is situated along the beaches of the stunning Lake Michigan.

Chicago has all you need if you want to be involved in the performing arts, even though it may not be as glamorous as NY or as sunny as LA. The second city continues to be home to a thriving cultural life, including artists, musicians, and innovators of all stripes. It has a long history of artistic excellence.

This is especially valid for individuals planning to enroll in music programs. The University of Chicago and Columbia College, two of the most renowned institutions in the Windy City, are renowned for their academic rigor and competence in intellectual subjects, but they also offer world-class music programs.

Although though Chicago schools are frequently less expensive than those in New York or Los Angeles, you probably aren’t aware of the greatest music programs in the city because of the city’s less widespread popularity.

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The Future of Music Career

Because music permeates so many aspects of our lives, asking “what is the future of music” is really a question about how music will continue to influence how we live.

Most likely, the direction of music in the future will mirror the advances in contemporary technology. It will function as a window to the past, kept open by any musicians who continue to make music in more traditional ways, be extremely social, similar to social media, and increasingly computer-based and A.I. driven.

With a wide range of vocations from performing and promotion to technical and engineering skills, the music industry is diverse and interesting. Teaching, healthcare, and community service are more examples. Whatever field you want to work in will be competitive since there are many of people who are enthusiastic about it and what they want to do and accomplish there.

Although being competitive, the music industry directly employs over 110,000 people full-time, and this number has increased recently. Like with most creative industries, it will take more inventiveness than other job applications to break in and make a livelihood. For the majority of roles, networking, freelancing, using social media, producing output, and obtaining practical experience will be essential.

Best Music Schools in Chicago

We’ve put up a list of the best music schools in Chicago, replete with all the details you need to continue your musical career in this Midwest metropolis.

1. Saint Xavier University

Best Music Schools in Chicago
Best Music Schools in Chicago

The Saint Xavier University music program doesn’t merely teach students how to play various instruments. In order to link the study of an instrument with the wider school community, they also place a strong emphasis on the cultural background of music.

To that purpose, students discover areas of outreach including kids and neighborhood music lovers in addition to performing their music throughout Chicago.

Saint Xavier University offers three degree programs in music, with the emphasis on jazz, piano, organ, voice, guitar, and orchestral instruments. The other two programs are in music education and performance. Those who pursue a degree in music education are prepared to teach music, with a focus on vocal or instrumental performance. Graduate programs in music education also prepare students for more advanced research and study in the subject.

Saint Xavier has a strong history of graduating eminent individuals from its music program because of this collaborative approach. One alumnus is the Grammy-nominated teacher Justin Antos, who graduated from Saint Xavier in 2008 with a Ph.D. Antos also received the 2015 Man of the Year honor from Blue Island.

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2. University of Chicago

Best Music Schools in Chicago
Best Music Schools in Chicago

The University of Chicago has made a name for itself as one of the greatest colleges in the country for more than a century as a place dedicated to reputable research and academic excellence.

So, it should come as no surprise that the University of Chicago boasts a strong music department with a thriving PhD program. Graduates of the music program at the University of Chicago go on to work as professors at institutions including Northwestern, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

The study and production of historical and contemporary music are the main priorities of the U Chicago Department of Music. The school has degrees in composition, ethnomusicology, music history, and theory. It approaches music with a scholarly perspective.

The school’s eminent instructors over the years, including Philip Gossett, Leonard Meyer, Ralph Shapey, and Howard Mayer Brown, created that methodology.

These teachers introduced to the school a concentration on all aspects of music, including philosophy, ethnography, and more, in addition to performance.

The Chicago Integrated Media Experimental Studio at U Chicago is available to students interested in studying music production (CHIME). The studio is equipped with cutting-edge tools, including a Mac loaded with apps that are considered industry standards, such Reaper, Pro Tools, and Ableton Live.

3. University of Illinois School of Theatre and Music

The School of Theatre and Music at the University of Illinois at Chicago places more of an emphasis on the experience students bring to their studies than does the University of Chicago, which places more of an emphasis on study and academics. Students are encouraged to incorporate their passion for music into their studies through the tailored approach.

UIC offers four music degrees, including bachelor of arts degrees in performance or jazz studies and bachelor of music degrees in jazz studies or business. Students study music theory and auditory skills for two years, music history and literature for five semesters, and many courses in analysis and ethnomusicology, regardless of the track they pick. Students can also enroll in courses in history, literature, arranging, and other subjects.

The Bella Voce vocal ensemble, a professional group now in residence at the school, offers one of the best educational possibilities for UIC students. Bella Voce is open to UIC students in a way that has never been possible, and they can participate in all of their practices and occasionally even perform with the ensemble.

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4. Columbia College Chicago

An original approach to the topic is used by Columbia College Chicago’s School of Fine and Performing Arts. Columbia takes contemporary and popular music more seriously than the majority of American universities.

Students at Columbia University have the option of obtaining a degree in popular music performance in addition to degrees in music technology and production.

The degree program in music technology teaches students how contemporary computers and equipment enable professionals to create soundscapes that interest audiences. The music technology degree educates students in the science and aesthetics of sound, whether they are designing music for video games, setting up equipment for art installations, or setting up experimental live performances.

The master’s program in music composition for the screen, which teaches students how to incorporate sound into contemporary media, is another curriculum that is exclusive to Columbia.

The two-year program provides students with practical experience, industry connections, and opportunities to collaborate with students in the film and production programs. Students who earn this degree learn how to write music for film, television, video games, and other media.

5. Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts music conservatory doesn’t intend to isolate itself in an ivory tower. Instead, the school participates in an equitable exchange of culture, interests, and experience by integrating itself into the local artistic community.

Chicago College provides performances for the neighborhood, demonstrating its dedication to the area. The school’s International Music Institute department frequently hosts jazz concerts and showcases.

These performances are more than just opportunities for the school to support the local arts scene that helps it thrive. As part of their ensemble training, they also provide students the opportunity to perform in front of live audiences.

Chicago College offers a wide range of musical ensembles, including jazz and current music combinations, brass chamber music, a wind group, and university vocalists.

But the school’s incredible alumni community is the main way it gives back to the world.

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6. DePaul University School of Music

The School of Music at DePaul University might cite a number of things as proof of the caliber of its curriculum.

One of them is the department’s faculty, which is made up of 110 musicians with professional backgrounds. In addition to instructing the upcoming generation of talented musicians, DePaul’s instructors also perform, record, create, and conduct.

Moreover, faculty members participate in numerous regional jazz and chamber bands, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The 185,000 square foot Holtschneider Performance Center, which is dedicated to music instruction, practice, and performance, is another source of pride for DePaul. The $98 million structure houses the recently renovated Jarvis Opera Hall as well as a historically significant chapel with a restored spire.

In addition, the Center has the 75-seat Dempsey and Corboy Jazz Hall, the 140-seat Allen Recital Hall, the 80-seat Brennan Family Recital Hall, and the 505-seat Gannon Concert Hall.

The work of DePaul’s students, however, provides the most remarkable proof of its accomplishments. The music program’s graduates go on to perform with orchestras and ensembles all over the world. They train to teach at colleges and public schools. They provide technical tasks such as record production and sound recording for movies, television, and other media.

Simply put, DePaul graduates go on to influence the music industry.

7. Northwestern University Bienen School of Music

The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern Music needs to go above and beyond to surpass the other programs schools listed because there are currently so many. And as this little summary will demonstrate, Bienen is a very exceptional institution.

The school’s facilities, which include a major music school building with classrooms, teaching labs and studios, practice rooms, chorus and opera rehearsal rooms, a black box theater, and a recital hall with 400 seats, are what first set it apart.

Moreover, Bienen offers a number of performance venues, including the 400-seat Galvin Recital Hall, which has an opposing wall constructed of African moabi wood and a 40-foot glass wall.

The Chicago Tribune referred to the Hall as the “most remarkable new Chicago performance hall” because of its excellent acoustics.

The Alice Millar Chapel & Religious Center, a neo-gothic church with a 100-rank Aeolian-Skinner organ, is equally magnificent.

Nonetheless, Bienen’s unmatched faculty is its true claim to fame. Some of the most well-known musicians, composers, and instructors in the business teach students. This includes resident composers who are awarded the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Award by the university.

The most recent recipient of the Bienen School of Music’s Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition is the composer William Bolcom, who has also won the National Medal of Arts, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Grammy Award.

The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University has graduates who are employed in almost every major symphony orchestra in the globe.

Best Music Schools in Chicago
Best Music Schools in Chicago

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Chicago a nice place for musicians?

The music scene in Chicago is among the most vibrant in the nation. Ever hear of house, contemporary gospel, or Chicago-style blues? It is the birthplace of influential genres. and a hub for fresh, intriguing musical developments.

Which musical genres are prevalent in Chicago?

Chicago, Illinois is a significant musical hub in the Midwest of the United States, where different blues styles (which had a significant influence on the development of rock and roll) and house music, a subgenre of electronic dance music, were created.

Which nation is best for a career in music?

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada are a few nations with well-established and prosperous music businesses.

What kind of income do musicians earn?

The average annual salary for a professional musician in the United States as of February 19, 2023 is $43,675. That comes out to about $21.00 an hour, in case you need a quick pay calculator. This amounts to $839 per week or $3,639 per month.

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