If you’re thinking about becoming a professional singer, your career path can follow several different routes. And I am talking about a professional singer, not someone who fronts a rock band. There have been a few of those that could sing, though. Freddie Mercury, Paul Rodgers, and Don Henley come to mind.
But generally speaking, I am talking about “singers.” Those who will be looking for fantastic singing schools for aspiring vocalists.
A Long and Winding Road
When discussing how to become a professional singer, the road is long and hard, filled with many disappointments along the way. If you think that all you need is fancy clothes and a bit of luck you’d better find another job. And even if you have all the skills, it still won’t happen overnight.
Not unlike Playing an instrument
It takes years of hard work and dedication, just like any instrument. If you don’t put in the hard work and practice, people will see through you.
Maybe you are currently taking singing lessons, or possibly thinking about it. If you’re looking for good schools that teach professional singing, there are quite a few around. So, let’s take a look at some.
The Juilliard School (New York)
Let’s start with one of the most prestigious schools in the US, based in New York. It is a performing arts school but has a very notable vocal program. It was founded in 1905 and has built a reputation based on several criteria.
To enter the Vocal program, you will not only have to excel at an audition. You will also have to demonstrate you are a highly competent musician on a recognized instrument. The focus of your studies will be on Opera, and you will perform one each year.
This will also be under scrutiny if you get invited to interview. They believe that performers need to be forthright and not be afraid to give their best. As you might expect, the fees are expensive, and they accept about 8% of those who apply.
The Royal Academy of Music (London)
Over to London now for possibly the most famous music school in the world. Founded in 1822, it was where Elton John honed his vocal skills. Annie Lennox, amongst others, is a former pupil. If you are looking to study overseas, there aren’t many better places. They accept students from all around the world.
Entry by Ability
This is not one of those music schools that accept you on how much money you might have. They do not reject you if you can’t afford it. Entry is assessed on ability, rather like a UK University. In fact, the Royal Academy is linked to the University of London. Therefore, it’s possible to take another associated course with them if you choose, perhaps a language.
If you are a foreign student, you will need to pass an English speaking exam. All entrants must be at least Grade 8 on one, preferably two instruments, which includes vocals. It is a four-year course.
Fees are as per University entrance in the UK and are currently between 100-150 UK Pounds per year. Acceptance levels are very low, so you will have to be good. They are very strict about who they accept.
Royal College of Music (London)
While we’re in London, let’s go across to another music college with a worldwide reputation. Are you considering the Royal Academy? If so, the Royal College is another institution that should also be at the top of your list.
Similar names with similar standards, they are both members of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. They are part of four colleges dedicated to teaching performing arts.
A fee-paying college
This is a fee-paying college that costs between 9000-10000 UK Pounds per year, plus living expenses. London is not a cheap city to live in.
Part of your course will be taken from research the college does into the staging and production of live concerts. Standards of entry are high and require an audition. Acceptance rates are between 15-18%.
Founded in 1882, it has produced some impressive names in the music world in recent years. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Vanessa-Mae, and Rick Wakeman are just some.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow)
While in the UK, let’s travel north to Glasgow in Scotland for the RCS or the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. While some of you may be unaware of this notable institution, it has an enviable reputation. It also carries a wide prospectus of musical study.
Founded In 1847, you will undertake a four-year Bachelor of Music course. This allows you to focus on a range of specialties, including composition, Jazz as well as Vocal studies. It also covers music psychology and technology, and classical improvisation.
You can continue your master’s degree studies that will further prepare you for a music career. This might be in composition, conducting, as a concert performer or opera singer. Doctorate opportunities are available once you have achieved your Master of Arts degree.
A wonderful music college that often flies under the radar and certainly one to consider.
University of Music & Performing Arts (Vienna)
If there is a better place to study music than Vienna, then I haven’t heard of it. It is the place where Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert worked and performed. A place where musical history calls at you from the walls of the buildings that these luminaries once graced.
Established in 1817, it is one of the oldest music colleges in the world. It is also one of the best. There are twenty-five music departments, of which Voice, is just one. It is one of the centers of European music study. It lists former students as Mahler and Brahms. Clearly, they can do a decent job of producing great musicians, composers, and performers.
Fees are approximately $1000 per year. For entry, please check with the school.
Berklee College of Music (Boston)
Let’s complete our look at some of the best music colleges in the US by including Berklee. It was founded in 1945 and is, therefore, one of the original US music colleges. They have a tradition of producing a high level of performance vocalists, one of which was Melissa Etheridge.
Entry is by audition or submission of a performance tape. Fees are usually around $40,000-50,000 for a full undergraduate course, but these can vary. There are grants and scholarships offered.
Berklee is a College much more geared towards today’s Modern music rather than the classics or opera. Entry acceptance is around 50%. You will therefore have a good chance of gaining a place, providing you fulfill the criteria for entry.
Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London)
For our final look at fantastic singing schools for aspiring vocalists, let’s go back to London. The bigger colleges and music universities around the world might educate anything between 15-20,000 students at a time. The Guildhall has only 800. The attention then is far more student-focused.
The quality of its courses attracts students from over 60 countries. Courses include plenty of one-on-one time, especially for composition. As a music and drama college, it specializes in designing its courses for those who want to pursue a singing career.
A Masters Degree in Vocal Studies is available for those who have completed undergraduate degrees to a satisfactory level. Please note that this College only runs Master’s Courses. A prerequisite of entry is that you have already gained a degree with Honours in Music.
Additional Resources for Aspiring Vocalists
That was a very quick look at some of the best music colleges in the world. If you are studying for entry to college, these materials may help.
- Owning Our Voices (Routledge Voice Studies)
- GREAT SINGERS ON THE ART OF SINGING
- Voices Found: Free Jazz and Singing
Looking to Improve Your Singing Skills?
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Fantastic Singing Schools for Aspiring Vocalists – Final Thoughts
Studying music can be an intense experience when you play an instrument. But for the singer, it becomes more intense. The sound is you, not the instrument. The instrument is your voice.
That is why the use of “your instrument” needs great training. This has been a list of some colleges that will provide that training. There are others, of course, but I have chosen what I think to be some of the best in the world.
Until next time, make yourself heard.