I think we all may have had the same preconceived notions of Juilliard before we started going here:
It’s a lifeless building full of teachers who yell at the students à la Whiplash, or the world’s greatest prodigies all go here, August-Rush-style. In reality, it’s a diverse collection of hardworking students and faculty and it has pros and cons, just like any school. Here are some Juilliard myths debunked:
The teachers are mean and scary and the students all hate each other. I almost expected Juilliard to be an incredibly cutthroat, merciless place, but the faculty are all understanding of the rigors of school and New York life, and all of us students are focused on our own personal growth and artistic process. While we have to compete against each other in auditions or performance competitions, I think seeing others succeed and grow is far more rewarding than considering them rivals! School is the place to make mistakes and experiment with our art with no judgment or harsh criticism. Our teachers know what it takes to have a career in the arts, so they certainly push us, but then again, why would we want to go somewhere easy?
All of the students here are rich and famous. (Or, rather, you have to be rich and famous in order to come to this school.) The majority of students here receive financial aid, and there are plenty of resources available to help students with finances while attending school. Juilliard’s application process is incredibly fair, and every student here is accepted based on talent and potential—regardless of income level or social status. Now, there certainly are some well-renowned students and faculty here—which is so cool!—but it really doesn’t change the fact that we are all attending school to learn and grow as future artists in the real world.
The students are snobby and think they’re better than everyone else. Personally, nothing makes me feel more humbled and inspired than being surrounded by dedicated, hardworking, and talented individuals! If anything, my personal journey in my time here has been one of finding my niche in the arts world and focusing on my growth rather than finding worth in my achievements. We are so privileged to study our art forms at such a high caliber, but there’s no reason to be cocky!
The music students only do classical music. I certainly thought this growing up, but Juilliard is also world-renowned for its Jazz and Historical Performance programs. My primary studies as an orchestral performance major are mostly rooted in classical training, but I have gotten to grow my skills in new music, improvisation, and different types of flutes as well. Just because I primarily study classical music doesn’t mean I can only play classical music, and indeed, I find plenty of opportunities to play other styles of music, which has only helped me evolve more in all respects.
Juilliard didn’t turn out to be the magical arts haven nor the scary performance boot camp that I had anticipated, but I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would. My little circle of friends and colleagues are all so supportive and understanding, and we push each other to grow and work hard. I get to share the stage with people of vastly different backgrounds and perspectives, and I’m proud to say that in a few months I will be a Juilliard graduate!
Attend a student performance on campus.