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The Best Music Colleges in California

by Ashley Mackenzie, Demand Media

    California hosts several conservatories and accredited universities with competitive music programs. While the most notable is the San Francisco Conservatory of Music according to the U.S. News and World Report's ranking, there are several other options in Southern California offering bachelor's and master's degrees as well as diplomas for students who want to focus solely on music without other academic courses. This wide range of programs allows music students to choose the program that suits their education needs.

    San Francisco Conservatory of Music

    The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) is ranked number 8 on the U.S. News & World Report's list of the top 10 music colleges in the country, making it the top ranked music college in California. SFCM has a music diploma course that focuses solely on music study, as well as bachelor and master of music degrees that include academic study in addition to music practice. Departments include voice, strings, keyboard, chamber music, conducting and composition, and the wide variety of classes include jazz and improvisation, musical theater workshop, and the conservatory opera program. With approximately 400 students, SFCM gives students performance practice and individual teaching. The school also allows qualifying students to participate in community outreach, performing in hospitals and schools. San Francisco Conservatory of Music 50 Oak Street San Francisco, CA 94102-6011 415-503-6231 www.sfcm.edu

    University of Southern California

    In Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is home to the Thornton School of Music, which offers degrees in a wide range of musical concentrations including choral music, jazz studies, vocal arts and opera and scoring for motion pictures and television. Graduates of USC Thornton include composers James Horner and James Newton Howard. The school has over 500 events--such as concerts and lectures--every year. USC Thornton also has an outreach program that gives music students the opportunity to teach music to children. USC Thornton School of Music Los Angeles, CA 90089 213-740-6935 www.usc.edu/schools/music

    California Institute of the Arts

    Thirty miles north of Los Angeles, the California Institute of the Arts offers music programs through the Herb Alpert School of Music. Degrees include composition, jazz, music technology and several performance programs. The school prides itself on the variety of music taught, introducing students to music from various cultures and a wide range of styles. With only 260 students, the school offers individual training with a mentor as well as the opportunity to perform in ensembles. California Institute of the Arts 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, CA 91355 music.calarts.edu

    Colburn School of Performing Arts

    The Colburn School in Los Angeles educates students from preschool through college, but most students are college students at the conservatory. Colburn offers four main degrees: a bachelor of music degree that combines music study and academic courses, a four-year performance diploma with two years of music theory, an artist's diploma for students who already have a bachelor's degree and a professional studies certificate for focused studies. Aside from application fees and a one-time enrollment deposit, education at Colburn is entirely tuition free, and all college students at the conservatory live in residence halls free of charge. The Colburn School of Performing Arts 200 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012 213-621-2200 www.colburnschool.edu

    California State University, Northridge

    Located in the Los Angeles area, California State University, Northridge, offers an accredited music program, offering both bachelor's and master's degrees in music. With over 500 students, it has several ensembles: choral, concert band, jazz, orchestra, opera and small ensembles. Cal State, Northridge, also has a Music Therapy Association that helps children with autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities through music therapy. Other music clubs include the Media Composition Club and the Northridge Musician's Association. California State University, Northridge 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330 818-677-1200 www.csun.edu/~hfmus003/

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    About the Author

    Ashley Mackenzie has been writing professionally since 2009. Her travel, consumer-related and instructional articles are regularly published online. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and history.

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