I woke up my new iPad last week and several top online music schools and colleges flicked across my lap as I munched on a breakfast bagel. And by top, I mean like Juilliard. The Juilliard School, prima ballerina of American music colleges, will begin offering online music courses this year. Juilliard elearning will be targeted to K-12 kids and their music teachers. Juilliard has virtual "master classes" in the works too. Rumor has it these new top online courses will be marketed to aspiring master musicians who can’t make it to Manhattan.
Juilliard’s Manhattan campus houses only 846 gifted souls each year. Yet the Internet cranks out new American Idols nightly. iTunes is atwitter with aspiring artists, guitars in one hand, beating hearts in the other. If you can’t quite cough up the quarter of a million dollar tuition at Juilliard, don’t fret, you can still get a decent music education online. Whether you burn to perform, or itch to produce, there’s an online music course just for you. The Get Educated editors have scoured the Internet in search of top online music colleges and course options. Our editorial top picks showcase how online music education is evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of master musicians, producers, and performers. For our list, we selected online music schools, courses, and degrees, that met the dual criteria of being high in intellectual rigor and national reputation while also preparing musicians for a real life career. In short, we selected music schools that offer a great online music education that is also “top” of the line in terms of real world career clout.
Berklee College of Music, in Boston, is Juilliard’s working class sister. Juilliard wears ballet slippers. Berklee wears high-top sneakers – tap shoes at times. Berklee has earned the right to call itself “the world’s premiere learning lab for contemporary music.” Berklee alumni have grabbed more than 200 Grammys. That’s enough to qualify this 50 year-old music school as a top online music college contender. Berklee Music Online does not offer degrees, but they do offer 150 practical music courses online. Learn Music Production for TV – hey, a Berklee alum is the lead composer for the Simpson’s TV show – or master Music Business, Songwriting, or Classical Guitar. Online courses are 12-weeks long and can be bundled into virtual certificates for students who want to build specific skill sets. We like that Berklee offers career certificates online. Online certificates are trending – they cost less than a degree and convert well to job currency – and a certificate from this top music school is certain to jazz up any resume. You can sample online music courses for free through the Berklee Shares program. But we don’t give these freebies a standing ovation. They are designed mostly to up-sell Berklee’s online music certificate programs. Still, a free lesson in guitar chords never hurt anyone.
Juilliard produces artists; Full Sail produces entertainers. Graduates of this top online music school kick ass in the entertainment business. Rolling Stone once called Full Sail one of the 5 top music programs in the country. Amen. We proclaim Full Sail one of America’s coolest ever online music career colleges. Full Sail was founded over thirty years ago in Ohio, and is now a Floridian oasis for musicians whose goal is to crack the musical career nut known as Hollywood. Gamers and graphic artists, as well as musicians, flock like gulls to the Florida campus, and now to the school’s large line-up of online music degrees. We recommend this online music school as a top pick for anyone interested in the business side of music. Agents, producers, talent handlers, directors, business managers, and multimedia developers, get on the digital bus for this hot school. Full Sail offers online bachelors in music production, and the entertainment business, as well as an online master’s in the entertainment business.
Many musicians suffer pedestrian careers. In fact, musicians may be second only to poets in the job ghetto otherwise known as the “creative careers.” Think gifted Aunt Betty pounding out piano lessons and slogging shots in Toledo, and you get the picture. But musicians can draw a decent wage. One of today’s best musical gigs isn’t in performance or in production. And it isn’t in music education either. It’s in music therapy. Recent medical research has uncovered that the human brain, when sick or senile, can be calmed or lulled back to life by music. The aging of America, coupled with the discovery that music can revive a muddled brain, is driving demand for music therapists. For this reason, one of our top picks for music school online is the music therapy program at Colorado State University. Grip that tuning fork folks. Music has the power to do more than entertain. Just ask a neurological music therapist. If you don’t know one, you can become one by attending this high-value public university which now offers its lauded residential music degree online.
Indiana University, in Bloomington, makes every maestro’s list of the top music colleges in America. The Bloomington campus does not offer online music degrees, but the IUPUI commuter campus in Indianapolis does offer an online master’s in music technology which can be taken in-residence or through distance learning. This degree focuses on digital and multimedia music. This program teaches practical skills in mixing, engineering, and sound design in the exploding world of digital media production. For the online music entrepreneur, the program also offers fresh courses in using distance learning techniques to teach music, website design for musicians, and podcasting. If you happen to be a Hoosier you can steal this online degree for under $9,000. Eat your heart out Groupon. According to Get Educated cost surveys, that sticker price is half the average cost of an online education degree.
If you miss high school band, or college show choir, stop by the MIT open course site and get a free intellectual slushie. MIT offers 30 free online music courses, some with videos, and exams, all from the esteemed arts faculty at MIT. Selected online course topics: Harmony and Counterpoint, Electronic Music Composition, and Reggae as Transnational Culture. You can’t earn college credit for these online courses but each one is mind-expanding. And FREE. P.S. – Rest assured no school paid to be on the Get Educated list of top online music colleges. These top schools earned their merit badges as hang-outs where online music education is evolving. If you feel we missed someone, twitter a tune to our editorial team. As always, we’re eager to review innovative online learning programs. If you work inside digital music, and want to blog your own list of top online music education innovations or innovators for us, we’re all ears. Help us help consumers Get Educated about America’s top online music colleges.
About the Author: Vicky Phillips was cited in 2009 by US News & World Report as "for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students." In 1989 she designed America's first online counseling center for distance learners on AOL. In 1998 she authored the first print guide to online graduate degrees - Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools put out by the Princeton Review. In 2001 she authored Never Too Late to Learn the Adult Student's Guide to College.
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