I hope this question is relevant to this site's themes, if not let me know and I will delete it.I have started to plan the plot for a story that takes place in a music conservatory. The problem is I have little to no idea when it comes to how it actually is and what it feels like to be a student there and I don't even know where to begin my research. If anyone has some advice or first hand experience I would really appreciate it!

  • I think this is not the right place as the SE sites are fact-oriented and deal with specific questions and specific answers. Maybe it's better to ask in some forum or on social media. You could try to conduct (written) interviews by preparing a few specific questions to get people to start talking, and let them add things as they like. And maybe search youtube for musicians telling about their experience.
    – Matt
    Jun 26 '20 at 6:07
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    How can being educated not be part of musical practice? The question is clearly on-topic, and I'd bet there's a better chance of getting informed answers here than on any old social media. Jun 26 '20 at 6:17
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    @Kilian Foth Yes, It is just that this can turn quite biographical and I'm not sure if that fits here. My comment is more like a suggestion that this might not be the right format in my opinion. I didn't say it would be off-topic.
    – Matt
    Jun 26 '20 at 6:40
  • @Kilian Foth And yes, you're probably right, social media wouldn't work well. But you can chat there. Here the OP and interviewees need at least 20 rep for talking in chat.
    – Matt
    Jun 26 '20 at 6:51
  • +1, There is no reason to say there cannot be objective answers. I can't answer, I didn't go to a conservatory. But, typical practice schedules, group classes vs. private lessons, reading load, final exams, etc. etc. Surely there is a common experience on such points. Jun 26 '20 at 19:33

Music conservatories vary greatly: by era, by location, by reputation, by the level of demand placed on students, by the instrument or type of music being studied, etc. So your answer will ultimately depend on the time period, location, and personal specifics of your character (e.g., what instrument?).

That said, here are some resources (in no particular order) that might get you started:

  • Ruttencutter, Helen Drees. 1979. Pianist's progress. New York: Crowell.

This started out as an article in The New Yorker (Sept. 19, 1977), describing pianist Robin McCabe's journey through the Julliard Ph.D. program.

  • Rosen, Charles. 2002. Piano Notes. Chapter 4, "Conservatories and Contests." The Free Press.

  • There is some first-person discussion here.

  • Look up biographies of musicians who are a close-enough fit to your character. For example, here's a list of names of famous attendees (and faculty) of the New England Conservatory.

  • Yep, I second that. I have experiences with conservatoriums in 2 different countries, and they are vastly different.
    – Pyromonk
    Jul 13 '20 at 21:45

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