By Johannah Carmona

The Bienen School of Music ranks among the nation’s best music schools, and there are so many aspects that set it apart from the rest. The combination of faculty, academic options, facilities, and school culture makes the whole college experience here one that is highly personalized. At Bienen, your potential is endless! 


When I use the phrase “world-class faculty,” I mean it! The Bienen School of Music’s faculty includes some of classical music and jazz’s top soloists, scholars, competition winners, pedagogues, composers, members of the world’s greatest ensembles, and Grammy-winning artists. Our faculty provide endless knowledge to enrich the lives of Bienen students in all areas, whether it be in your instrument’s studio, your ensemble, your chamber group, or the classroom. I urge you to read a few faculty biographies and contact them directly to ask questions or take a trial lesson.


There are other music schools housed within universities, but it is rare to find the combination of an exceptional-level music program that also offers its students opportunities to study at such a prominent academic and research institution. At Northwestern, it’s possible to study another academic discipline in addition to music. Our dual degree and double major options are well established, and academic advising is easily accessible should you need any help with designing your degree, registering for classes, or navigating schedule conflicts. I can tell you from personal experience that your academic advisor can truly be a lifesaver.

Contrastingly, you also can treat your time at Northwestern as an immersive music conservatory experience. There are many Bienen students who are solely music majors, whether that be in music performance, education, composition, or any of the school's other areas of study. As a performance major, I can personally share that the school's performance instruction is tailored to the musician. You will have a lot of time to practice while also taking all of the necessary classes to enhance your musical growth.

At Northwestern, you’ll also find yourself getting to know many different types of people with a wide variety of viewpoints. Our vibrant student body creates Bienen and Northwestern’s diverse population and welcoming community. As a Bienen student, you’ll get to know engineers, future doctors, historians, linguists, and many more passionate students.


Imagine this: you have been practicing for many hours, but still need to further prepare for your lesson tomorrow. You’re tired and feel stumped. If you need a pick-me-up, all you need to do is put your instrument down and look out the window to see the sunset on sparkling Lake Michigan. In addition to our gorgeous performance venues—two of which overlook Lake Michigan—the Bienen School’s facilities are second to none. The sheer amount of practice rooms (almost 150 spaces to choose from) ensure that you will always have access to a practice space.

Bienen’s three buildings are also close to Northwestern’s Norris University Center, which features a food court, convenience store, study and lounge areas, and both Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks!

Culture and Fun

Located in Evanston, Illinois, the Bienen School is a part of a college-town community that includes a downtown area within walking distance from campus. There are restaurants and cafes, coffee shops, places to relax or study, a Target, Whole Foods, and more. Evanston also is a bike-friendly community with bicycle lanes, rental bikes, and racks available everywhere.

Being close to Chicago has its perks, too. With several available transportation options, you’re just a train ride or short drive away from one of the greatest cultural hubs in the world. You’ll have access to practically any kind of food, entertainment, or shopping experience you want. Bienen and Northwestern students also love to attend Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera performances (yay for discounted student tickets), jazz shows, or just explore the city with friends. There are also plenty of performance opportunities through Northwestern and musician/faculty networking. 

The Bienen School of Music is the perfect environment for personal and musical growth during this important and exciting new phase of your life. This is the place for someone looking for a complete experience personalized to you as a musician and human being. The Bienen School of Music wants to nurture your mind, talent, and artistry! 

Johannah Carmona is a third-year viola performance and arts administration student.

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