Getting into Juilliard

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Hi Greg,
I'm 14 and I'm wondering if I could go to Juilliard when I graduate high school. I've played for three years, but have only been serious about it for a couple months. In 4 months, I've gotten considerably better. I went and saw the 5 Browns last Saturday, and they were amazing. It was the only classical concert I haven't almost fallen asleep in. So, my questions are: 1.) is it at all realistic that I could get into Juilliard? and 2.) how much would I have to practice to achieve this? 2 or 3 hours a day? Thanks!
 - Holly

Hi Greg,
I have been what you could call a "lost soul" when it comes to my future and what I would like to do musically once I reach college (I'm a junior in highschool). I feel pretty set on doing something music related. But I'm not sure what. So you wont be left in the dark, a little background on my music situation: I took two years of piano when I was nine years old, and after then have been playing for my own enjoyment and only recently was able to get back into lessons; at thirteen I played violin, again for two years, before switching to cello which I've found much more to my liking. I've only played for nearly half a year so far. I want to major in music but I don't know if that's possible for me, seeing as I've started so late and may only make five or so years of decent progress. I'm not sure if I could be an extremely advanced pianist, though it is an instrument I hold close to my heart and can usually learn on quickly; I've progressed well on cello so far and I think I may be able to learn quickly enough if I really practice hard. All of this worry about being "advanced enough" points to one college in particular... you guessed it: Juilliard. My family encourages me that I can do it. I've had the notion in my head for a while but I was too ignorant (and a little too self-assured) to study more seriously until now. Has there ever been a person advanced enough to study there who hasn't been playing since they were three? Can one reach that level in a short amount of time if they work at it? Am I crazy to want to go there still?
 - Caroline

Hi Holly and Caroline,
Yes, it's unlikely that you would get into Juilliard, just as it is unlikely that any pianist will get into the school. But it isn't impossible. I can think of at least two pianists who began playing the piano when they were 13 and still got into the undergraduate program. As far as practice goes, I typically practiced a couple hours on piano and a couple hours on violin every day when I was in junior high school. I quit the violin later in high school and relegated its practice time to the piano. This, by no means, reflects what other students would need to invest to get into the school.
Having said all that, I advise you to remain flexible with your future. Don't pigeon-hole yourself into one path to happiness. While Juilliard is a fantastic place to be, it certainly is not the be-all and end-all of music schools. I received my doctorate at Yale, and my experience at the school was similarly wonderful and refreshing (the facilities there, btw, are incredible -- top notch). Who knows how your life will progress! If you don't get into Juilliard, please don't treat that as a sign of failure; the rejection could lead to a transformational experience at another music school... maybe you'll meet the love of your life, or you'll work with an amazing and magical teacher, or maybe your group of friends will ultimately band together to form a chamber ensemble of awesomeness. I always tell myself, "things work out the way they should."
Happy practicing!
 - Greg (Oct. 23, 2009)